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Previous plan lays dormant for a decade
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MONROE - Ten years after the second Monroe Comprehensive Plan was adopted, the city has yet to implement one change based on the goals outlined in the plan. Now it prepares to adopt another proposal.

Assistant City Administrator Martin Shanks said a problem with the 2005 Comprehensive Plan was that the goals for proposed improvements throughout the area were too generic and less applicable to Monroe. Due to Wisconsin Statute 66.1001, the city must update the plan at a minimum of once per decade. Shanks said when city administration went to review the plan from 2005, the non-specific wording indicated they should revamp the entire plan rather than apply a basic update to last for another 10 years.

One goal from the 2005 plan urged a policy to "encourage programs that educate local residents about the importance of agriculture, natural and cultural resources," without a specific aim or the requirement of an action. More than 60 other goals listed under categories such as land use, intergovernmental cooperation and economic development indicated they needed no specific action but were added as guidelines if certain developments were to occur, such as new construction of a business. A number of the goals outline actions to be taken by the city which are steps in a process, such as utilizing grant programs to aid city projects.

Mayor Bill Ross explained that he had not seen any steps taken by the city to complete a goal from the plan and said no significant change was made, partly due to the vague wording of the document.

"The tragedy of the '05 Comprehensive Plan was that it was good ideas, but the implementation, for whatever reason, got pushed aside," Ross said. "This new plan is the best comprehensive plan we've ever had."

Ross credited the hopeful success of the newest plan to the extensive outreach conducted in order to ensure community feedback. Pieces of the last plan have continued as a topic of interest for the city; for instance, one transportation goal of the 2005 plan asks that the city consider bike and pedestrian use and safety when new roads are proposed or when improvements are made. Survey respondents for the new plan included concerns for more walking and bike paths.

A difference between the last plan and the most current one is the body implementing the changes. In 2005, both the Monroe Common Council and the Plan Commission were in charge of ensuring action be taken, with the commission as the recommending body to the council. This time around, the planning process includes the selection of an implementation committee to ensure goals are followed through and local government is no longer responsible for implementing plan changes within the community.