Honing in on zoning: lessons in city planning

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The only way Jackson's East Main Street will look remotely like Cape Girardeau's LaSalle Avenue is if each city knows what the other is planning.

That's one reason for Wednesday's joint meeting between the cities' planning and zoning boards.

The two main arteries leading to the new I-55 interchange are developing at different paces. East Main Street is done, but still not open to traffic, Janet Sanders, Jackson's city planner, told the gathering. She said the city has spent months creating an overlay zoning along the new interchange to create commercial zones and buffer residential areas.

Jackson officials sorted out ordinance details, from signs -- they banned banners -- to the aesthetics of light poles in creating the overlay zoning. Jackson had intended on using decorative concrete light poles but they were too expensive. So large metal poles were used instead and "created a bit of an outcry," Sanders said.

Ken Eftink, named Cape Gir-ardeau's development services director Sept. 17, spoke briefly about the LaSalle Avenue side of I-55's new interchange.

"We want to be good neighbors," he said. "We want to be compatible."

Both cities are planning to put secondary north-south roads parallel to the interstate, reducing traffic.

Asked if the development of LaSalle will draw traffic away from the heart of Cape Girardeau, City Manager Doug Leslie said he didn't anticipate that happening. If anything, he said, "It could have a very positive effect."

Harry Rediger, a member of Cape Girardeau's planning board, suggested traffic in that area could get MoDOT to "pay more attention to Route W."

Charlie Haubold, who chairs Cape Girardeau's board, talked about the draft comprehensive plan.

"I don't think any of us were quite prepared for what was delivered," he said of nearly 300-page book.

He invited Jackson's board to attend upcoming Cape Gir-ardeau planning meetings. A public hearing will be held Oct. 10. On Oct. 17, the planning board will meet with the city council to take an in-depth look at transportation options.

Haubold said he expects as many as four special-interest groups will appear for public hearings, but "I don't expect John Doe will come."

Cape Girardeau's last comprehensive plan was done in 1987.

The city wants to make sure the new plan "totally fits what the community thinks we ought to be doing," Leslie said.

Jackson's planning board chairwoman Mary Miller was particularly interested in details. She's on a Jackson committee for her city's next comprehensive plan.

What everyone seemed to agree, as Cape Girardeau County Commissioner Jay Purcell said after the meeting, is that cities need to see themselves as important parts of a region where 71,892 people live.

Purcell said he was impressed that both cities are thinking about what happens to shared streets, and seeing long-term ways to connect residents to commercial areas.


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