Johnston council to discuss Merle Hay plan: Des Moines IA Register, 10/14/07

By Juli Probasco-Sowers

Johnston City [IA] Council members will consider Monday whether to adopt a plan to guide development along a section of the Merle Hay Road north of Interstate Highways 35/80.

A recommendation to approve the plan came last week from a joint meeting of Planning and Zoning Commission and the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.

The plan, which primarily looks at an area north of Northwest 62nd Avenue, was drafted following a series of meetings and a land use design workshop. Planners have said they want to create a hometown feel with a metropolitan edge by making the area more pedestrian-friendly.

Officials could accomplish that by creating a destination shopping area smaller in scale but similar to Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines. The metropolitan feel would continue in the residential developments, with more urban-type townhouses on the east side of Merle Hay Road, north of Northwest 63rd Place, for people who want a city-type setting.

City officials and planners assured more than 80 people at a September public meeting about the plan that eminent domain will not be used as a way to improve commercial or residential property in the area. Eminent domain is a practice of condemning property for city use.

"This is not about taking your property," said Gary Lozano of RDG, the company which put the proposal together. "It's about creating a vision."

David Wilwerding, Johnston's community development director, said the Merle Hay Road corridor guidelines will become part of the city's comprehensive plan. City officials use the comprehensive plan to guide development decisions.

Des Moines IA Register: http://desmoinesregister.com