Stanford centers comprehensive plan update around 2020 Census

Published 9:35 am Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Stanford Planning and Zoning Commission may be altering its plans to update its comprehensive plan due to the impending U.S. Census in 2020.

Stanford has not updated its comprehensive plan, which lays planned future land use, since 2008, according to Ward Hart with the P&Z Commission. By law, the comprehensive plan is supposed to be updated every five years. Stanford is now in the process of that update.

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Hart told Stanford City Council members Thursday that P&Z is currently working through a draft of the “goals and objectives,” the first part of the comprehensive plan.

“We’ve already got those in our old comprehensive plan,” Hart said. “Basically, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference, and the goals and objectives that are in there are still very relevant to what we feel like the goals and objectives would be for the city at this point.”

Hart said comprehensive plans are largely “built on statistics from the census,” which is conducted nationally every 10 years.

The current 2008 comprehensive plan used data from the 2000 Census, meaning the statistics it cites are closing in on two decades old.

“We’re going to be having another census in basically two years,” Hart said.

It could be “silly” to spend a lot of money updating the comprehensive plan, “when in two years, it’s outdated because of the new statistics,” he said.

Hart said it’s possible Stanford could do a comprehensive plan update that basically plugs in the newest Census data from 2010, then the city could do a more substantial update after the 2020 Census comes out.

“If we can just update the figures … we can almost just readopt what we’ve got, and that cuts out a lot of the expense, I’m hoping,” he said. “… Then we will be up-to-date and then we’re going to have to do it again in probably three years or at least the next five years.”

Council Member Scottie Ernst asked if the city could just delay completion of the current update until after the 2020 Census data becomes available.

“I doubt if they’ll let us go that long, though,” Hart said.

“It’s gone so long now,” Ernst said. “… If they see that you’re working on it, why not have everything in place and be ready when the 2020 Census is done?”

Hart said at that point, Stanford would be more than 10 years out-of-date on its comprehensive plan.

“I think we need to get it done,” Council member Peggy Hester said. “It’s been so long.”

Hart said P&Z plans to have a final draft of the “goals and objectives” for the public to look at during a public hearing in early December, then “we can get into the meat of actually building the comprehensive plan.

Hester also questioned if there would be a penalty for failing to complete the comprehensive plan.

“There’s not penalty, but the state — I mean, they could come in and say, ‘you haven’t done it.’ But if you just ignore it, I guess they would say ‘you’re out-of-compliance,” Hart said. 

Hart said an adviser told P&Z that “as long as we’re working on it and making progress, he said ‘I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble at all.’”

Council member Ronnie Deatherage said he would like to see the city achieving the goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan in the future, so that each time the plan is updated, the completed goals can be moved off in favor of new ones still needing to be accomplished.

Hart said he liked Deatherage’s idea, but “I think it’s probably above my pay grade.” He promised to bring it up to those helping P&Z update the comprehensive plan.