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More Than Lincoln: Springfield's 20-Year Plan Looks To Build New Legacy

The statehouse in downtown Springfield.

Springfield residents appreciate the city’s connection to the 16th U.S. president, but they hope to move beyond that, according to officials who developed a 20-year plan for the city.

“It’s important for us to honor our legacy, but we are more than just Lincoln and Lincoln sites,” said Val Yazell. She was on the 11-person committee that worked on the City of Springfield Comprehensive Plan: Forging A New Legacy.

The plan lays out a vision of a better connected and more beautiful capital city. It includes land-use and development strategies necessary to achieve that. It’s intended to inform decisions on where new shopping centers, offices or houses are built, and how infrastructure and other public amenities are developed.

“It’s fundamentally a blueprint… for how the city wants to grow,” said Norm Sims, executive director of the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission who was also on the committee that worked on the plan.

The Springfield City Council still has to approve the framework, which could happen by the end of the year.

The proposed comprehensive plan would replace one adopted in 2001. Members of the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission and city officials use it to guide decisions on how city land is used, but have been criticized for deviating from it by granting many zoning exceptions.

One concern from residents that the committee heard was piecemeal decision-making, Sims said.

“One of the reasons why you develop a plan is to try to get that decisions-making up-front,” he said. “It reduces the kinds of conflicts that we often see at a zoning hearing or at a council [meeting] over land use.”

Buy-in from aldermen and zoning commission members is essential to implementing the updated land-use blueprint, said Bonnie Drew, Springfield’s deputy mayor.

“Our aldermen need to take a good look at this, to look at the direction and the vision for the city, look at the best cost-effective way to move forward to grow our city and meet the needs of our city,” Drew said.

Residents can give their feedback at a public hearing scheduled for Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Center West or by emailing feedback@springfield.il.us.

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