Saturday, March 10, 2012

Northwest Plan Doubles Open Space, Adds 'Villages'

The firm tasked with developing a new master plan for City owned land in Northwest El Paso has unveiled pieces of the plan in draft form. Dover Kohl held a charrette workshop in January of this year in which it narrowed down the changes to the master plan with the public's help.
Master Plan revision developed by Dover Kohl.
One major change is the amount of open space in the plan, which has increased to 65%, up from only 32% in the previous plan. This means that the amount of develop-able land has decreased from 1,182 acres to 824 acres. Despite the decrease in land that can be used for development, changes in zoning and density account for an actual increase in housing units, population, and employment options in the new plan.
As a result of density increases and use of mixed-use types of development, the plan envisions more walkable neighborhoods. Walking-distances from homes to restaurants and shops could decrease from 4,660 feet to 1,182 feet. Distances to parks and schools could go from 2,957 feet to 824 feet.
Neighborhoods nearest the eastern edges of the plan area could see additional entrances to Franklin Mountain State Park, with trailheads located at convenient points. Other amenities could include many playgrounds, a dog park, an amphitheater, gardens, an equestrian facility, a skate park, and two large regional parks with soccer fields, baseball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, a recreation center, gymnasium, and swimming pool.
The master plan envisions four or five distinct "village" type neighborhoods built with higher densities towards the center and surrounding gardens and public spaces. Preserved arroyos would run between these villages, providing other opportunities for natural parks and connected trails. The neighborhoods would be built in phases, and the first phase would be closest to existing development.
The Public Service Board voted at its March 5 meeting to approve the changes to the master plan. The next step is to create a smart code rezoning application to send to the City Plan Commission and then to City Council for approval. (There is a pending recommendation from the Open Space Advisory Board that could lead to changes to open space in the final master plan.)
Northwest Master Plan Presentation (PDF):
Original Master Plan from 2005: