Comprehensive plan sets new path for Garden Plain

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By Travis Mounts
TSnews

GARDEN PLAIN – “Think 2040.”
That was the advice to the Garden Plain City Council at its March 3 meeting, and was provided by Kelly McElroy, who has been helping craft a new comprehensive plan for the city. McElroy lives just outside of the city and also serves as the city administrator for Newton.
She explained that a comprehensive plan sets the big picture for a city and typically looks 20 years out. It is used to answer questions about where a city will grow, what its transportation needs are, and what it will set as commercial and residential priorities.
The plan was submitted to council members for review. It has not been formally adopted yet.
“You can grow and keep your community identity,” she said. Schools have long been a major part of the community’s identity in Garden Plain, and McElroy said local schools were a top reason her family moved here. She also said that community leadership is not limited to just the city council members.
“Leadership is not a position. Leadership is an activity,” she said. McElroy said that the community needs to ask what is its brand and how is it selling itself to others.
The next step in the process will be to schedule a public meeting. The goal is to adopt the plan in April. Once it is finalized, it will be sent to the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. City clerk Kim McCormick noted that step is required as the city tries to convince Sedgwick County to revise Garden Plain’s most recent area of influence. Sedgwick County cities are able to have input on planning and zoning issues in the area immediately outside of their boundaries. Those areas are determined by the county.
In other business:
• Randy Ford provided an audit of the city’s finances for the 2020 fiscal year.
• The council discussed but ultimately tabled a proposal to subscribe to a service that would archive its social media posts. McCormick explained that the service would allow the city to easily obtain information in the event of a Kansas Open Records Act request. Social media are considered to be covered under KORA, even if a post or tweet is deleted. The cost would be $240 per month. Council members asked staff to research other options.
• The council renewed its insurance policies with United Insurance of Cheney, which is owned by Garden Plain State Bank. United Insurance has provided the city’s insurance for many years.
• Council members voted 5-0 to approve ordinance 747, which changes the tap-in fee for natural gas. It was explained that the fee increase was needed to cover the city’s costs.
• The final plat for the Trail Ridge addition was approved on a 5-0 vote. Planning commission chair Chris Drum said some easements were added, but that the final version was mostly unchanged from the original one.