Yorkville officials want input from the community about what the city’s downtown should look like.
The city is hosting an interactive public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Yorkville High School library, 797 Game Farm Road, to review the city’s downtown overlay planning district project.
Farr Associates, the Chicago-based planning and architecture firm hired to draft the overlay district plan, will lead the meeting. The workshop will include discussion of the project and its goals, urban design, street and building character and scale, according to city officials.
Krysti Barksdale-Noble, the city’s director of community development, said the meeting is open to everyone in the community, including kids. Barksdale-Noble said it won’t be run like a traditional “stand-and-deliver” meeting where the audience sits there during a presentation.
“We want to encourage our youth to come out to this event,” she said. “The earlier they know about policy, about how the environment that they live in is made, then they can begin to participate in that process. Because they’re the ones who are going to be living with whatever we plan.”
Barksdale-Noble explained that an overlay district gives developers a vision of what the city wants to see in a certain designated area, such as downtown. She said zoning dictates what a city prohibits on certain properties and lists certain restrictions, but an overlay district has a different goal.
“(Zoning) tells them what we don’t want, but it’s not giving them any ideas as to what we do want,” she said.
Barksdale-Noble said an overlay district won’t have the same criteria and standards as straight zoning areas.
“It’s going to say, we want you to build here, we want you to build this close to the road, we want a lot of windows along the frontage, and we want your building to be this tall,” she said. “It’s giving a physical identity to what we want in a downtown.”
Barksdale-Noble said the city is at the “very beginning” of the process to establish an overlay district in the downtown. The city hired Farr Associates in January, and this is the first workshop meeting in the process.
“What we’re trying to do with this first public meeting is to get an idea of what the residents want to see in the downtown,” she said. “We already identified in the city’s comprehensive plan that we want the downtown to still be within the historic commercial core of the city which is along Route 47. But we don’t want it oriented north-south; we want it oriented east-west.”
She added, “We need to know where they want to gather, what kind of activities do they want to see – do they want to see all retail or do they want some recreation, do they want some open space? That’s the kind of input we’re trying to get.”
Barksdale-Noble said the firm will be meeting individually with other stakeholders such as business owners and government officials during the spring, and then will present a draft plan to the public in May or June.
Barksdale-Noble said city officials hope to get the final plan in front of the City Council by July or August.
Those who want information on the project can call the city’s Community Development Department office at 630-553-8545 or visit the project’s website at downtownyorkville.com.