City Updating Comprehensive Plan

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The City of Oak Creek has recently begun the process of updating the existing Comprehensive Plan (“the Plan”), which was adopted in 2002. Much has changed in the City over the past 16 years since the Plan’s adoption: the demolition of Delphi and subsequent construction of Drexel Town Square, the expansion of Oak Creek High School, the creation of Lake Vista Park, and many more developments.  Some of these projects could not have been predicted, especially to the extent and within such a short timeframe, at the time the Comprehensive Plan was drafted. It is, therefore, time to include those developments and consider the future.  To achieve this, Community Development/Planning staff are working with consultants from Houseal Lavigne Associates to update the Plan.

What is a Comprehensive Plan and why does it need to be updated?

The Comprehensive Plan provides a vision for future development and redevelopment in the City, with goals, objectives, and policies and implementation strategies to obtain that vision.  In 1999, the State passed a “Smart Growth” law that required nine elements to be addressed in all Comprehensive Plans, ranging from demographic data to transportation and utilities requirements to land use planning.  While these elements are still required, and although periodic updates have been made on an as-needed basis, the Plan as a whole is updated approximately every 10-20 years to incorporate changes since adoption and to reevaluate the vision for the next 20 years.

Updating the Plan is essential to

  • Incorporate the developments that have occurred since 2002;
  • Serve as the official guide for future growth, development, land use, and physical improvements;
  • Provide a foundation for decision-making; and
  • Establish a framework for achieving the City’s goals and objectives. 

However, the Plan cannot be written in a vacuum.  Input from residents, business owners, community organizations, and other stakeholders is a critical component to ensure that Plan reflects the vision of the community, and an understanding of existing conditions and future potential of both the built and natural environment in Oak Creek. Our existing plan can be found online at www.oakcreekwi.org/CompPlan

What is the Process?

The Comprehensive Plan Update project will be completed over the next 12 months.  Below are HLA’s steps that form the project approach.

Step 1: Project Initiation. To “kick-off” the planning process, we will conduct meetings with key City staff, Common Council, Plan Commission, Community Development Authority, Steering Committee, and other collaborative partners.  These meetings will help establish a project framework before broader community outreach activities commence.

Step 2: Community Outreach & Engagement. Community outreach and citizen participation are the cornerstones of our proposed planning process.  Our proposed outreach process includes both traditional (face-to-face) and web-based activities to obtain the broadest levels of participation.  Community outreach is included throughout the entire planning process and will serve as the foundation for the remaining steps.

Step 3: Existing Conditions Analysis. This step will include the analysis of existing conditions and future potentials within the community.  The emphasis will be on the identification of existing conditions that will be taken into consideration during the formulation of goals, objectives, and planning recommendations.

Step 4: Community Vision, Goals & Objectives. The purpose of this step will be to establish an overall “vision” for the future of the City of Oak Creek that can provide focus and direction for subsequent planning and zoning update activities and serve as the “cornerstone” of the consensus building process.  Based on the Vision and previous steps in the planning process, preliminary Goals and Objectives will also be prepared.

Step 5: Community-wide Plans & Policies. This phase of the project will entail the preparation of plans that are consistent with the Wisconsin state statutes.  Each element of the plan will include the appropriate vision, goals, objectives, and implementation components required to fully capture the plan recommendations and community input.

Step 6: Plan Document & Adoption. The culmination of the planning process will be the preparation of the final comprehensive plan document that will be approved and adopted by the City of Oak Creek.*

*The final document will be reviewed by the Plan Commission and recommended for adoption by the Common Council at a public hearing.

Who is involved in the Plan Update?

Following a kickoff meeting with City staff at the end of May, staff and HLA worked together to form a volunteer Steering Committee of citizens, elected officials, and stakeholders.  The Steering Committee will “serve as a community sounding board, meeting at key points along the process to discuss issues and overall planning direction, and provide feedback for Plan Commission and Common Council consideration.”  The first Steering Committee meeting is scheduled for the beginning of August.

What can you do to help?

Public input is essential for the success of the project, and a variety of public outreach and engagement events will be held throughout the update process.  For information on upcoming events, participation opportunities, and project progress, visit the project website at www.hlplanning.com/portals/oakcreek/.  Events will also be posted the City’s website, social media, and throughout the City.

Questions or comments can be directed to City Planner Kari Papelbon, kpapelbon@oakcreekwi.org.