By Karen Daniels
It’s been 44 years since the City of Stafford has initiated a comprehensive development plan, but now they are one step closer to making this happen. Shad Comeaux, an urban planner with Freese and Nichols, gave a presentation to the December’s Planning and Zoning Commission about his company and what the City of Stafford can expect from them.
Freese and Nichols was selected by the City working through H-GAC’s list of pre-certified consultants. They were founded in 1894 as engineering company, but over time have adapted to also include planning, architecture, environmental sciences, and program management services. The winner of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, they were also voted as one of best companies to work for in Texas in 2013 by The Houston Chronicle.
Project completion will take an estimated 17 months. The comprehensive plan will “put the pieces together” for Stafford to have a roadmap that considers future land use and the protection of private property rights over the next 10 to 20 years. Comeaux said that this will be a “collaborative effort by citizens, elected and appointed leaders, and businesses” taking into consideration city policy, zoning, and capital investment. This will not be a “rigid and unchanging document.”
If passed by City Council on December 18, the study will begin in January 2014, and have a three-phase approach. Phase One: Community snapshot and visioning. Phase Two: Future land use, infrastructure, transportation, parks and open space, community livability, growth management, and economic development. Phase Three: Implementation.
Mayor Leonard Scarcella asked if “financial considerations played into this (report) and how are they addressed in a plan of this nature?” He also mentioned that Stafford’s general obligation debt will be eliminated in 2014. Mr. Comeaux explained that they give “general price gauges for specific projects” but approximate costs on future projects could change based on the current economic situation. The Commission made the unanimous recommendation for approval.