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Council discusses needs at special meeting

By Staff, 12/12/17 8:46 AM

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PRESCOTT – Several issues were discussed at a special meeting of the Prescott City Council Monday evening.

The primary focus of the special meeting was planning and zoning for the city. James Walden, ACIP planning manager, addressed the council with preliminary data gathered from the 2010 census. He talked about the importance of updating the plans and land use requirements for the city, especially as nothing’s been done on the topic in 40 years, though a lot has changed, including laws concerning what cities can and can’t restrict when it comes to zoning.

“You need to think of the strategic issues of Prescott’s future and how you want the city to grow,” he said. To do this, he continued, the council will have to address problems facing the community, the city’s assets and the best way to develop strategies.

The meeting began with Walden handing out questionnaires before delving into census information. He pointed out when all is said and done, the plans will be developed in a GIS (geological information system) format that will be on line for all to have access to.

One of the problems, he said, of using information from a small county, such as Nevada, is having smaller samples to work with, and this isn’t always the most accurate. He told the panel Prescott has been losing population since 1980 and the county has been suffering a decline in population since the 1930s. However, he added, the information from the 2010 census may not have been complete as a lot of people declined or refused to fill out the forms.

The area is suffering a loss of people in the 18-34 age group which is resulting in a flattening of the age distribution, yet the Hispanic population is growing as is the school population. Prescott and Nevada County, he said, is racially diverse, which has its own set of problems with the needs and desires of the different groups coming into play.

Prescott, he continued, does a good job with education and economic growth, but there is a concern about the lack of retail growth from a community located on the interstate. He added the economy is fairly diverse, but the nation, as a whole, is in the midst of an economic restructuring as manufacturing jobs are leaving and not returning. Those manufacturing jobs not going overseas are mostly being done by robots and automation, requiring few people. “This is why you need an educated population.”

The per capita income of the area is dropping, he said, but added, it’s also declining statewide. There are also problems with the affordability and quality of housing in the area for those who want to rent, but not for those wanting to buy. He told the council no more than 30 percent of the household income should be spent on household costs.

“You need to think about how much land you need to develop,” he said, “and participation with the census is key.”

The council was asked what the aldermen thought the community’s major problems were. The list included: aging infrastructure, utility rates, lack of jobs, lack of retail business, the quality and quantity of housing, industry, the need for a hospital, zoning, improved education, street improvements, better communications, drugs, the good old boy network, recreation and going wet. Several of these issues were combined into one.

This list was pared down to the top three, which were: aging infrastructure/utilities; housing and zoning when it comes to rental and sale properties; and the lack of jobs and industry.

 

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