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The Nebraska Chapter of the American Planning Association recently awarded the “Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Plan” to The Lex-Plan 2013, a comprehensive plan developed through the partnership of JEO Consulting Group, Inc. and the City of Lexington, Nebraska. The Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan is a prestigious award that recognizes comprehensive plans that advances the science and art of planning.

Lexington is a community of approximately 10,200 people and is located in the central part of the state. In addition to being one of the most diverse cities in the state of Nebraska, Lexington is also one of the fastest growing cities. Wanting to manage its rapidly growing community effectively, the leaders of Lexington sought a new comprehensive plan as a management tool to use in decision-making processes.

After working closely with JEO and its sub-consultant HDR Inc., the City of Lexington adopted The Lex-Plan 2013 on July 23, 2013. The City of Lexington should regularly review and revise this dynamic document, which weaves the city’s long-range transportation plan into its future land use plan.

4PARTSExamining Lexington’s past and present to illustrate what Lexington’s future can be, the Lex-Plan 2013 has four main components:

  1. Profile Lexington illustrates the characteristics of Lexington, including its historical context, population demographics, and the city’s current social, economic and environmental conditions.
  2. Envision Lexington translates community-collected input regarding Lexington’s future into attainable goals and objectives, both of which serve as the foundation of the plan.
  3. Achieve Lexington offers guidance on how to manage future growth and development of the community, as it specifically relates to the findings of the previous two sections.
  4. Implement Lexington outlines actionable short-term strategies and projects that are important to the people of Lexington and contribute to Lexington’s long-term growth and development.

Compared to the comprehensive plans of other communities, which often focus on the outward growth of a community, The Lex-Plan 2013 is unique in that it focuses first on redevelopment and second on expanding the corporate limits of the city. By focusing on redevelopment, through efforts such as efficiently utilizing existing infrastructure and controlling city expenditures, The Lex-Plan 2013 conveys that the City of Lexington is reinvesting in itself, rather than abandoning its roots. In a rapidly changing community, this is a meaningful message to convey because Lexington is not just a city to current residents…Lexington is their home. Additionally, the redevelopment focus allows for the plan to directly address two community-identified issues: housing and overall image of the city.

Another significant aspect of The Lex-Plan 2013 is its actionable short-term strategies and graphics to inspire civic-minded citizens to implement the vision. The City of Lexington previously had a comprehensive plan, and while that plan had an overarching vision for the city, the plan did not readily translate into specific objectives or achievable projects; this left community leaders unsure of how to move the vision forward. The Lex-Plan 2013, however, features a long-range vision for the City of Lexington, as well as manageable community projects that will have substantial impact in the near future and contribute to the long-term development of Lexington. While this plan is still in its infancy, the city has already began further developing a few of the tangible projects envisioned in the plan.

While receiving the Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Plan is a significant accomplishment, the true success of The Lex-Plan 2013 is the city’s satisfaction and ability to use the plan.

“When searching for a consultant to assist our community with a comprehensive plan update, we were looking for a firm that would provide a fresh perspective, provide contemporary development strategies, and inject energy into a thorough planning process” said John Fagot, Mayor of Lexington. He continued on to say,

“The staff at JEO surpassed our expectations, and the final product is a plan that clearly represents our position and a direction moving forward.”

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