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Editorial, 9/19: Input, vision needed as Lincoln plans its path to 2050
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Editorial, 9/19: Input, vision needed as Lincoln plans its path to 2050

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Skyline, 09.10

New houses being constructed near 98th and Van Dorn streets are signs of Lincoln's continuing expansion which is expected to occur over the next 30 years mostly to the east, but also to the south.

By 2050, Lincoln will have a population of nearly 400,000, adding roughly 48,000 households to the city. Nearly a third of the city’s residents will be minorities, an increase from 20% today, and the number of those 65 and older is expected to increase to 17% of the city’s total.

Those are among the projections included in the draft of the latest update to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Comprehensive, the document that looks at future growth and creates a land use plan for housing, commercial, industrial and transportation to accommodate that growth.

And the proposal needs your input.

The draft, which is open for public comment through Oct. 6, incorporates about 36 square miles around Lincoln for future growth, using the city’s long-held fundamentals of consistent growth in all directions and following gravity flow wastewater systems, which means that drainage basin boundaries are a guiding factor for infrastructure growth.

Large areas of growth are planned for south and east of the current city limits, while areas to the northwest and southwest are also primed for development.

Those well-chosen areas that will be developed using traditional methods are to handle the bulk of the city’s housing growth. However, some 12,000 units, about a quarter of the growth, including apartments, townhouses, condominiums and rehabbed existing stock, are set for infill in the existing city, a process that will require additional changes in parking, transportation and other aspects of the plan.

The draft, however, raises questions that must be strongly considered by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission, Lincoln City Council and the Lancaster County Board when the final plan is submitted to them this fall.

First, does the plan provide enough land located in the right places for industrial development? At first glance, concerns have been raised that the draft doesn't have enough land in the best areas for industrial development that needs to accompany the city’s growth.

Second, and perhaps the most crucial element in handling future growth, is transportation. That includes a range of elements -- from building new streets and roads in the edge growth areas, to expanding existing streets and roads and increasing mass transportation to accommodate increased traffic.

But projections indicate that, funded at current levels, the city will only be able to pay for a portion of those. This raises the possibility that the city, now known for its relative ease in commuting could become gridlocked -- something that should be, obviously, be avoided.

There is time for discussion of these and other issues with the draft, starting with the first of three in-person public meetings on Sept. 28 at the Jayne Snyder Trail Center. Virtual meetings also are open through Oct. 6 at planforward2050.com.

Those who want to have input on the growth of the city are encouraged to take part in one of those meetings that will refine what appears to be a sensible, well-considered plan that will take Lincoln 30 years into the future, where it seems it will become a big city.

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