Clark County’s existing master plan was written in 1983, back when it had only 530,000 residents.
It’s been updated over the years, but with a population of 2.2 million and all the issues that come from that kind of growth, its commissioners have decided it’s time for an overhaul of the entire document, as well as the county development code.
Justin Jones is one county commissioner who has been vocal about changing the plans.
“It’s really the guiding principles of what types of decisions we make at the county, particularly when it comes to zoning and planning,” he said.
Jones explained that a master plan helps guide where roads, schools, businesses, houses, parks and a lot more will be allowed to be built.
“The idea of the master plan is really to set the very ideas of what development ought to look like, where development makes the most sense, what type of development is appropriate in different areas of town,” he said.
The county is also working on updating its development code, which is the code that governs each type of development. For example, a neighborhood might be zoned Residential 2, or a plot of land might be zoned Commercial.
He said most people don't know what that means until someone wants to put up something different. The county wants to make the code easier to understand and better integrated.
Jones said his vision for the new master plan is a document that is more cohesive, which he doesn't believe planning has been for several years.
“I think really a big part of this re-write is thinking about where we want to be in 10 years, 20 years from now, and make sure we make the decision today about how we get to that point,” he said.
He would like to see neighborhoods be more walkable and livable, with better connectivity to more modes of transportation. Jones said it is easier to do that at the front end than at the back end.
For example, Jones pointed to the location for schools.
“I think definitely as part of this process we want to make sure that not just these schools are aligned with where additional developments are going to go, but how do those schools match up [with] transportation corridors and parks and walking trails,” he said.
Another critical piece for planning is affordable housing. Jones said the county has several sites set aside for affordable housing development, but for a variety of reasons, the sites have not been developed.
The sites are held by the Bureau of Land Management and that has delayed development. The county has also run into issues with neighbors who don't want affordable housing built near them.
Jones said the county is at the beginning of the process to create the master plan and wants residents to take an active role in creating it. There is an online poll that residents can take to give input and suggestions. And more opportunities to offer input will be available in the future.
He sees the document as the guide to the future of the community.
“I think that as we talk through zoning, in particular, it’s a lot harder to ignore something that we passed ourselves - we the elected officials passed ourselves – than it is to override or ignore something that might have been passed by folks when we were still in middle school,” he said.
Justin Jones, commissioner, Clark County Commission
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