Cottonwood's general plan is close to completion. Most of it was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday and the entire package should go to the public by Sept. 1.
After a 60-day review period, the commission will be asked to approve it. The city council gets it next, then it's on to the voters.
A city's general plan serves as a guide to growth and development. Arizona Growing Smarter legislation mandates that larger cities and towns create a plan and update it every 10 years. Though it's not law, a city's general plan often is a blueprint for growth.
"It's a statement of city policy that the city and most landowners would look to implement," said Jerry Owen, Cottonwood's community development director.
Cottonwood's last general plan was created in 1995. The newest one has more elements, nine of them, and it relies on a number of studies and documents that have been completed in recent years, including an extensive housing strategy and Focused Future II.
"It's a document that builds on other things we've done," Owen said.
The city's planning department has worked on the document for two years. Since the process began, there have been a number of big ideas that have subsequently been factored into the plan. The proposed Yavapai Ranch land exchange, Mingus land exchange and an Arizona Department of Transportation bypass have all been looked at and the impacts have been accounted for.
Cottonwood is not the only focus of the general plan. It looks at acres of state trust land near the city. The plan states that Cottonwood will work with other Verde Valley communities to preserve state land. If it looks like it's going to be developed, the land should be incorporated into Cottonwood, according to the plan.
Definitions are also included to help development grow smarter. Owen said it's the city's hope that developers will mix uses and housing styles.
"To get a real community," he said.
A number of areas within the city were designated as study areas, or areas that need to be examined more closely before their use can be determined.
Four focus areas were also defined within the general plan: Old Town, the Verde Valley Fairgrounds, Main and Mingus and the Clemenceau area were all targeted as places that may need city resources to help redevelop the areas.
Owen said there are some exciting opportunities within the city for growth and development. There are other opportunities that include pedestrian walkways and bridges and different ways to connect parts of the city. How Cottonwood fits in with the rest of the Verde Valley was also examined.
"We've tried to get a balance of the big picture of Cottonwood in this region," Owen said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will get another review of the plan Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Cottonwood city council chambers. During the 60-day public review period, the general plan will be available through the city and on Cottonwood's Web site, http://www.ci.cottonwood.az.us