On Dec. 18, the Spring Grove Planning Commission held a public hearing on the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan (comp plan) for the city. No residents attended except for members of the board.

Commissioners reviewed the entire plan, which was drawn up with the assistance of Davy Engineering of La Crosse, Wis. The document has been in development for approximately two years.

Intended to help city officials mark out a strategy for growth, the comp plan doesn't set out a series of zoning ordinances. Instead, it provides a rationale or framework for where those decisions should lead.

The stated scope of the plan is to address community development decisions for 2012 through 2022.

"It is intended to be an authoritative guide and source of information used by city officials, property owners, developers and citizens," page one states. The document consists of 29 pages and three maps.

Among the most interesting aspects for city residents may be the "2011 Existing Land Use" and "Future Land Use" maps, especially the latter. That document provides proposed areas for urban density housing, low-density housing, urban reserve, industrial/agribusiness locations, including long-range projections, areas for future redevelopment and park facilities.

It also includes major drainages/flows and major components of sewer infrastructure, including lift stations, along with wells. A thumbnail sketch of a coherent plan for the city's future is the goal.

"The critical thing is the land-use element," Commissioner Robert Vogel said, "What we envision the city looking like in the next 20 years, that it's not going to quadruple in size and that the downtown is going to stay downtown, that kind of thing."

"The city has never, since 1887 probably, issued a public statement on what they have wanted to do."

When members reached the economic development section, Vogel asked them to consider leaving those pages out of the plan, since the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority (EDA) should have the latitude to make decisions along those lines. That included pages 21 to 27.

"We appreciate the consultants providing us with something to give to the EDA as a place to start," Vogel said, "but they should have a little more to say on that."

Vogel also asked the board to consider striking paragraph seven on page 28, which asks planners to consider the development of an "Impact Fee" ordinance.

That could have an effect on economic development, since the paragraph states the fees would enable "the city to collect impact fees related to developments of a certain size and impact on the city. Cities are finding that such fees are necessary to help offset the direct and indirect cost of city services related to such development."

Commissioners decided to comb through the document, making minor tweaks where needed, such as editing the language of specific paragraphs. The possibility of a few minor factual adjustments was also discussed.

Following the public hearing, Vogel made a motion to accept and send the document to the city council for approval with the aforementioned changes. It passed by unanimous vote.

Later that evening, council members accepted the comp. plan by unanimous vote.

More about the commission

The Spring Grove Planning Commission was established in June of 2011 and its board is made up of five members - three citizens and two council members. Current members are Lee Hoekstra, Dana Kjome, Lorilyn Dehning and Robert Vogel.

Original member Tom Falbo resigned several months ago and his replacement was just appointed at the Dec. 18 council meeting when Deb Lesnar was appointed.

The board meets once a month at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday in City Hall.