The open house was the first of at least three such sessions scheduled during the planning phase of the comprehensive plan update process. In addition, meetings of a citizen steering committee and of homeowner association leaders were held last month as part of the year-long effort.
City leaders and members of the i5Group, the St. Louis firm hired to handle the plan’s preparation, also are urging residents to offer their input via an online survey at www.ballwinsblueprint.com. Primarily a multiple-choice questionnaire with space for additional comments, the survey will be open until June 15.
Stephen Ibendahl, a principal with the i5Group, said 180-200 residents already had completed the survey and he anticipates that number will grow considerably in the weeks ahead.
Those involved with the planning effort stress that the resulting plan is not a zoning ordinance, a subdivision regulation tool, budget or other regulatory document. Instead, it will lay out a vision for the city’s future growth and development – what the community will be like and look like in the future.
The second step in the update process will focus on developing a community vision and goals while the third phase will center on drafting plan components and recommendations. Both parts will include open houses for residents’ review and feedback
A draft of the comprehensive plan will be prepared during the last part of the planning process for review by city officials, the steering committee and the public. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a hearing on the document before the measure comes up for adoption, first by the commission and then by the Ballwin Board of Aldermen.
As for the open house, Ibendahl said he was pleased with the turnout. “We had a steady stream of people and it was a good start in the public engagement process,” he said.
Those attending were invited to jot down their ideas and priorities on sticky notes that could be placed on display boards describing and illustrating the city’s history, growth and development over the years and asking for input.
One of those doing so was Katie Aiken, who said she would like the city to have more housing for young families and more locally owned shops and restaurants, as opposed to chain operations.
Judy Neary, a 39-year Ballwin resident, said she thinks the city needs more housing for seniors but not residences crammed together with little or no green space.
“It seems all you see being built now are the really big homes that seniors don’t need and are unable to take care of,” she observed. “But I truly like Ballwin. It’s safe and there’s a good sense of community here.”