Community

Work is beginning in earnest to develop a plan to take Louisville into the next two decades.

Local governments are required by state law to adopt a comprehensive plan to guide land use regulation and enforcement.

Louisville’s current plan, Cornerstone 2020, was adopted in 2000 and is designed to guide development through 2020. The plan in the works will guide development through 2040.

Mayor Greg Fischer is tapping an advisory committee of some 40 city officials, scholars, housing industry leaders and developers to guide the drafting process of the city’s next comprehensive plan.

Residents are also a key component of the planning process, Fischer said.

The advisory committee will convene work groups, along with residents, to examine best practices of similar cities and solicit ideas to help update existing policies and add features related to mobility, health, sustainability, preservation and equity, according to a city report presented during the group’s inaugural meeting earlier this week.

A final plan is expected to be adopted by July 2018, according to the group’s report.

“We will take a deliberate approach with this update and hear as many voices as possible,” said Deborah Bilitski, director of Develop Louisville, the city department heading the planning process.

The process will center on projections of how Louisville will change during the next two decades.

Researchers at the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute and Kentucky State Data Center compiled a near 270-page report indicating just how the city is expected to change in this time.

The report shows the city’s population is expected to increase by about 131,000 people, or 18 percent, in the next two decades. The biggest population increases are expected to come in areas outside the Watterson Expressway and inside the Gene Snyder Freeway, per the report.

Only two areas of the city are expected to see population declines in the coming decades — the northwest portion, including the Shawnee and Portland neighborhoods, as well as the along the Bardstown Road corridor north of the Watterson Expressway, according to the report.

Manufacturing and construction jobs are expected to drop during the coming decades, while warehousing, education and healthcare jobs are expected to increase.

Other projections include a near 180 percent increase in vehicle traffic, 12,000 acres of new housing, three million square feet of new office space, and continued deterioration of air quality and heightened demands for energy and water use.

Cathy Hinko, the executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, has long called attention to the importance of devising an effective plan for the city’s future.

She said the city’s current plan, which has guided development during the last 15 years, has deprived residents of a vision to improve upon sustainability, fair housing and health.

Hinko contends citizen involvement is key in addressing these issues, including segregation and the demands of an aging population, moving forward.

“That takes planning toward a shared destination of a great city,” she said.

The advisory committee will hold regular meetings moving forward, which will be open to the public. The next meeting has yet to be scheduled, but information about meetings, work groups and guiding documents can be found here.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.