New Comprehensive Plan Underway for the City of Fremont
22 Dec 2021
The City of Fremont is updating its Comprehensive Plan, a major undertaking that will guide future growth and development in Fremont for the next 20 to 25 years. The new plan will include updates to the Unified Development Code (UDC) and the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). The Comprehensive Plan will look at downtown Fremont as well as a generalized land use map to determine where future development should occur.
Fremont has retained the services of Houseal Lavigne, an urban planning and design firm based in Chicago, to help with the updates to the Comprehensive Plan, UDC, and LRTP. Part of their services will include reviewing the existing Comprehensive Plan and UDC and making recommendations for improvements.
Jennifer Dam, Director of Planning, City of Fremont, says the comprehensive plan and the LRTP are on track to be completed by early summer. The UDC should be drafted by late summer, then it will go through the approval process with the City Council and Planning Board before being finalized.
The Comprehensive Plan is being updated now because Fremont has experienced so much growth, “and to ensure the growth continues in a thoughtful and community-focused way,” shared Dam. The plan will also address the increasing need for housing in the area.
The Comprehensive Plan will guide thoughtful expansion as Fremont grows. “We want to grow in a way that is beneficial and positive for the community at large,” shared Dam.
Lauren Foster, Director of Quality of Life, Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC), added “Fremont has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, and we look forward to continued growth that is sustainable and takes into consideration the needs of residents, businesses, and the community as a whole. We look forward to the community’s ongoing participation in shaping the future of Fremont.”
Much of the plan has been informed by community input. The planning process started with a community-wide survey that collected data about what residents wanted the future of Fremont to look like. There were several meetings open to the public, as well as one with local students who drew maps of how they envisioned the future-Fremont. The GFDC and the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a special meeting in collaboration with the City of Fremont which gathered input from top employers, business owners, and housing developers building in the area. “Assuring all of the community’s voices are heard is an important part of developing the comprehensive plan,” said Dam.
The Comprehensive Plan and LRTP will work together in that land-use decisions will inform what the future transportation needs will be.
Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
The LRTP will focus on local traffic and projected patterns and will include recommendations for future traffic changes. “One important change will be to ensure truck routes are created that do not go through residential areas,” said Dam. The plan will address the need for new roads to support business and population growth in Fremont.
Unified Development Code (UDC)
The revised UDC will be an update to the code adopted in 2018 and will make it easier for businesses to operate in Fremont. One example Dam gave of an improvement is that the current UDC has strict landscaping guidelines without a lot of flexibility for different kinds of businesses. For example, there are the same landscaping requirements for a cold storage warehouse as a customer-oriented storefront. The new UDC would address the different kinds of businesses and the related landscaping requirements.
Dam also said there is a lot of streamlining that can be made to make the process of obtaining a permit smoother and simpler. Another important change will be simplifying zoning districts, especially in residential areas where the current zoning can be cumbersome for developers to navigate.
“We want to be friendly and flexible for businesses to work with,” explained Dam.
Fremont’s growth is expected to continue. “We have excellent infrastructure, proximity to highways and rail corridors, and a municipal airport. We have a great opportunity to create and be a regional attraction for northeastern Nebraska. Creating a new Comprehensive Plan based on community feedback and recommendations will be an integral part of making that happen,” said Dam.
Opportunities for Community Engagement
Dam stated that the planners really want and encourage public participation in the planning process. “We’ve held open houses, Zoom meetings, and continue to engage the community through meetings and workshops,” said Dam.
Community meetings are planned for the end of February when the long-range transportation plans will be shared and the community can provide feedback.
Dam also shared that there is a project website that contains information about all of the projects, news and updates, copies of documents that have been shared to date, as well as continued opportunities for involvement. The opportunities for involvement include an online mapping tool, “map.social,” which can be used to create a map showing community assets, desired development, problem areas, and more. Participants can also fill out a community questionnaire and Do-It-Yourself Workshop Kits are available to interested community groups to complete as part of the community outreach and engagement portion of the Comprehensive Plan.