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Neighborhood schools not required in new city plan

VALPARAISO — The strong emphasis on neighborhood schools in the 2030 Envision Valparaiso Comprehensive Plan has been softened in the version adopted by the City Council on Monday.

That’s more in keeping with what the drafting committee intended before the Plan Commission made it more stringent in April, City Council Member John Bowker said.

Bowker said that the committee favored neighborhood schools, but the version of the 2030 Envision strategic plan made it sound like the school board was locked into keeping neighborhood schools.

The committee asked consultants Kendig Keast Collaborative, which has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin, to either remove it or change the nature of it.

The new wording states, “If, after all options have been considered, a determination is made to vacate any existing neighborhood school, it is important that its site is reused beneficially.”

The addition to the inch-thick document cites the reuse of the Banta Elementary School as a senior center.

The Valparaiso Community Schools Board is revisiting plans to study all school buildings to decide how they are able to fit into the demands of 21st century education.

City Planner Tyler Kent said the 2030 Envision plan differs from the strategic plan that Mayor Jon Costas has made the center of his third term.

That plan, now under way, is more social and economic, where the 2030 comprehensive plan is more planning oriented.

“It’ll reflect some of the visions of the comprehensive plan, but it’ll address some of the issued that the comprehensive plan doesn’t,” Kent said.

Mac Birch of Kendig Keast said the 2030 comprehensive plan looks at where growth will happen and what the city needs to do to position itself to take advantage of economic development and to identify growth areas.

Subjects include Unified Development Ordinance amendments, annexation plans, capital investments and economic development policies.

Kent didn’t have costs for 2030 Envision available at Monday’s meeting.

Also at the meeting, the council had the first reading for increases to the city’s building permit fee schedule, and the members will vote on it July 8.

Inspection fees for duplexes would go from $125 to $150, and multi-family dwellings would go from $150 to $100 per structure plus $25 per unit.

Commercial/industrial inspections would go from $175 to $200, and weekend or after hours inspections will cost $50 more.

There will also be additional $25 fees for additional inspections beyond 13 for residential construction and 21 for commercial.



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