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Lake City's New Master Plan Moving Into Primetime: "Now we have to follow through"

IBI's Master Planner Kurt Easton explains Lake City's new Master Plan as IBI's Suzanne Thompson take notes. CRA Advisory Committee member Matt Vann looks on as CRA Director Jackie Kite reviews an e mail from the Planning Council.

LAKE CITY, FL – Signed, sealed and almost delivered, Lake City's new Master Plan was moving into primetime toward City Council acceptance after last night's joint P&Z - Community Redevelopment Advisory Committee meeting. Begun in February 2010, there were no real questions left as IBI's master planner, Kurt Easton put the finishing touches on the yearlong $100,000 process.

The CRA Master Plan is available here. (25 meg - not suitable for dial-up)

The meeting, chaired by City Councilwoman Melinda Moses, once again demonstrated Lake City's commitment to keeping its meetings a "marketplace of ideas," as Ms. Moses asked for questions and comments from both participants and guests throughout the meeting.

The meeting kicked off with legendary Lake City Attorney Herbert Darby's presentation on the requirements of Florida's Sunshine Laws. Lake City resident and former Lake City Reporter employee, Karl Burkhardt, asked from the gallery if board members were allowed to speak to the media. Mr. Darby told him they were.

Kurt Easton explained that the Planning and Zoning Board, sitting as the City's Planning Agency, was required by Florida statute to approve the Plan, "determining that it is consistent with the intent of the City's Comprehensive Plan."

Mr. Easton said, "Essentially, the intent of the City's Plan supports generally redevelopment within the area that's been defined... When you get down into a greater level of detail there may be specific portions of the study area that call for a change in use. We need to acknowledge that that may have taken place and agree to amend the Comprehensive Plan at a later date."

Mr. Easton said that IBI is recommending that the City incorporate into its zoning code and land development regulations urban design standards and architectural standards.

Lake City's Building Department Director, Larry Lee, explained that the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council reviewed the CRA Master Plan and advised the City via e-mail that, "There will need to be amendments to the City's Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations in order to help implement the new vision for the expanded boundary of the CRA."

CRA Director Jackie Kite distributed copies of the Planning Council e mail. 

The key is flexibility

One of the three questions that came up during the meeting involved changing the Master Plan.

In a roundabout way, Mr. Easton advised against setting a precedent by changing the plan. He said, "You don't necessarily want to set precedent. You want to be able to be flexible enough to deal with the idiosyncrasies associated with any individual properties. The key is flexibility and incentive for the investment."

The first order of business

Mr. Easton explained the process: In terms of the implementation of this Plan, the first order of business for the staff is going to be to put together a one year, a three-year, and a five-year work program... you are going to work towards those goals on an annual basis.

City Manager Wendell Johnson explains the Committee as City Attorney Herbert Darby and Larry Lee look on.

City Manager Wendell Johnson gave a history of the CRA and the CRA Advisory Committee and the Plan. "It's going to be a learning process for all of us," he said.

CM Johnson added, "The CRA Advisory Committee is the backbone of the CRA program."

He continued, "I hope to have the plan ready to be adopted by the City Council by March. Then it will be full steam ahead... Hopefully in a couple of years what you see on the front page of this document will become a reality of what you see downtown."

The Master Plan - Not a legislative document

Before the plan was approved by the Planning and Zoning Board Mr. Easton told the gathering, "This is not a legislative document. It does not replace your Comprehensive Plan. It doesn't replace your codes [Land Development Regulations]."

Councilwoman Moses asked for a motion from the P&Z to approve the Plan and send it along to the City Council for final approval.

Without further discussion the Plan is moving on to the City Council for final approval and a little over a year and hundred grand later Lake City has a real Downtown Master Plan for its future.


After the meeting, CRA Advisory Committee member Mat Vann explained the process and the lack of questions at the evening's meeting.

Mr. Vann explained that the Committee got the Plan in November and went over it extensively with IBI's Suzanne Thompson. "She answered all our questions," he said.

Mr. Vann, whose family business has been a fixture in the downtown for decades, reflected the thoughts of many as he concluded his conversation.

"I am excited for the future of Lake City. We have a Plan, which had input from all the stakeholders and anybody who wanted to contribute. Now we have to follow through."


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