The impetus for recreating a Comprehensive Plan is a growing awareness by Village officials that expansion of the housing market within the Village's boundaries and the potential need for additional retail development may be needed to sustain the Village.

An unused planning document created nearly two dozen years ago for the Village of Four Seasons will be getting a facelift.

The Village has decided to update its Comprehensive Plan, which has seen little or no use since it was adopted in August 1993. City officials found the 84-page plan tucked away in a drawer several months ago, and were startled to learn that it should have been replaced in 2003 upon the recommendation of the St. Louis firm that prepared it.

"It wasn't managed as it was supposed to be managed," Village Trustee Jim Holcomb said during a planning meeting late last year.

The impetus for recreating a Comprehensive Plan is a growing awareness by Village officials that expansion of the housing market within the Village's boundaries and the potential need for additional retail development may be needed to sustain the Village.

"In that passage of time, since 1993, we've become stagnant," Holcomb said at a recent Planning and Zoning workshop. "We have a whole bunch of undeveloped lots out here that can be built on and have some nice prospective homesites and we hope that people continue to build. But we also need to recognize we don't have lot in the way of commercial services. There aren't any commercial enterprises going on because so much of the land use is restricted."

Holcomb said it's important to recognize that the Village of Four Seasons does not have a lot of commercial services because much of the land use is restricted by Property Owners Association covenants.

The Village recently approved a contract with the Center for Resource Planning & Management through Missouri State University in Springfield to develop a Comprehensive Plan. Total project cost is $15,750 based on up to 525 hours of planning by staff members, students and support staff. Jason Ray, executive director for the Southwest Missouri Council of Local Governments and director of CRPM, is spearheading the project.

Part of the planning process is to develop a volunteer Planning Committee to oversee the work with CRPM. The Village P&Z Committee met last week to begin the process, although the Planning Committee will be a separate group that will include P&Z members. A kickoff meeting will be held in March at which time the newly-formed committee will take the reigns.

Village Trustees met at least twice late last year to consider moving forward with a re-write of the Comprehensive Plan. CRPM's Ray attended one of the meetings and told the trustees that MSU has tools at its disposal to help in developing a master plan. He estimated drafting a plan could take as long as a year, but that depends on how aggressive the Planning Committee is. 

Motivation

Village Trustees and the Four Seasons Property Owners Association have indicated a willingness in recent months to pursue possible housing and commercial expansion within their respective areas.

The POA is a non-profit organization that represents homeowners within specific boundaries and is funded through permits and fines. It has a set of restrictive covenants regulating property owners within the POA. The Village of Four Seasons is an incorporated village under the auspices of the State of Missouri and has boundaries that overlap the POA. The Village is guided by ordinances and planning and zoning regulations. Not everyone in the POA lives within the Village, and not everyone within the Village lives in the POA.

Holcomb told P&Z members last week that an updated Comprehensive Plan could include guidelines for expanding the housing fortunes and retail base of the Village.

Holcomb said he was impressed that Booker Associates, Inc., the original developers of the aging Comprehensive Plan, had such vision for the community. Today's Village is relatively unchanged from what Booker established as part of the original plan.

"But we're stuck in limbo today," he said. "This is a planned community not from the Village standpoint, but from what the Village contains and that is the POA. Because of that there are a number of restrictive covenants and conditions on real estate that prohibit what we can do. Booker recognized that from the start."

Holcomb anticipates a new master plan could find that there are certain areas along Horseshoe Bend Parkway that will never be developed into homesites. The Comprehensive Plan and the Planning Committee could recommend that planning go beyond single family housing that dominates the Village today and focus on multi-family housing, commercial expansion or light industrial.

"Why is that important? Right now residents are not paying any property tax," he noted. "Our revenue is generated by sales tax from what few businesses we have out here, from fines and permits. We hope we never have to have property taxes."

Holcomb said he feels the POA and the developer (the Peter Brown family) are now more inclined to allow changes in the restrictive covenants and the philosophy that the Village and POA should always remain single-family housing.

"I do think there's a change in attitudes," he said during an early-November special meeting to discuss a new Comprehensive Plan.

What next?

The Planning Committee will meet with CRPM's Ray in March and begin the lengthy process of developing the Comprehensive Plan. A recommendation will eventually be made to the Village Planning and Zoning Committee which will consider the plan and then make a recommendation to the Village Trustees.

The entire process is expected to take about a year.