City’s Comprehensive Plan Still Work in Progress

Members of Wheeling’s comprehensive plan steering committee agreed Thursday the document is nowhere close to ready for presentation to the city’s Planning Commission.

Wheeling is in the midst of updating its comprehensive plan – intended to be a guiding document for important decisions such as zoning – for the first time since 1997. Steering committee members – including Planning Commission members Councilman Don Atkinson, Barry Crow, James Mauck Jr. and Howard Monroe, and residents Terence Burke, Jeremy Morris and Elizabeth Paulhus – met Thursday to review a draft of the comprehensive plan presented by the city’s hired consultant, Compass Point Planning of Blue Ash, Ohio. An eighth committee member, Christopher Dean, did not attend.

Committee members’ chief complaints with the draft included readability, an absence of data to support suggestions in the plan and the lack of a strategy to implement the plan.

Paulhus said while there are good suggestions in the plan, some of them felt forced, as though they were incorporated into the plan simply because someone brought them up but without any concrete data supporting their inclusion.

“It felt very disjointed to me, and it was very difficult to get through,” she said.

Several members also said they would like to see more maps and graphics included in the plan.

According to Burke, the draft document does not adequately address strategies for implementation. He said it’s important to set timeframes for specific goals and hold the city accountable for meeting them.

“We’ve seen so many plans come out of the city that just went nowhere,” Burke said.

The committee had hoped to hold a public meeting concerning the plan next week, but agreed such a meeting would be premature based on their concerns with the initial draft. They asked Tom Connelly, assistant director of Wheeling’s Economic and Community Development Department, to share those concerns with the consultant and possibly set up a face-to-face meeting.

Wheeling is paying Compass Point Planning $81,000 to help craft the comprehensive plan. City Council must adopt the plan by the end of the year to comply with a state law passed in 2004 that now requires cities to update their plans at least once every 10 years.