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City leaders adopt comprehensive plan

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City’s attorney: It describes how Cannelton could look in future

By KEVIN KOELLING
Managing Editor

CANNELTON – City attorney John Werner said he was acting in that role and also representing planning and zoning functions when he began a presentation Tuesday that led to a Cannelton Common Council adoption of a comprehensive plan for the city.

Two meetings were conducted that evening, the first an assembly of the city’s planning commission.

“Cannelton needs a comprehensive plan,” Werner told its members. “The background for doing it now is that Cannelton is seeking a grant to improve housing within the city … and the adoption of a comprehensive plan is one of the steps necessary in order to put the city in a position to qualify for that grant.”

Had the city not been applying for the housing-rehabilitation grant, it could adopt a plan at any other time, he said. “Since it fits in with this housing grant, why not now?”

The plan commission’s membership had just changed with new appointments, so Werner told them an election of officers would be appropriate. John Young was named president and Marian Lawalin won the vote for secretary. It wasn’t mandatory, but on Werner’s recommendation the commission named Phillip Ball their recording secretary.

The attorney then went into a hearing on the plan, which he called “the foundation for your zoning ordinance; it sets forth what you believe your current land uses to be (and) what you hope the city will look like in the future vis-à-vis land use. It is sort of like a constitution of a country upon which the actual laws are based.”

“Our vision is to return the city of Cannelton to a place that people will want to live, attracting tourists with small-river-town heritage full of history,” a vision statement contained in the proposed plan reads. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life and entertainment while building up the commercial base.”

The document describes existing city services and includes the opening last year of an eight-hole miniature-golf facility among Cannelton’s amenities. Also highlighted are the annual Kenny Kellems Camp with a Cop, farmers market, Cannelcade of Music, Cannelton River Trail and the city’s annual heritage festival. The city’s several parks, including Gazebo Park, the Cannelton Legion Ball Park, Hafele Park and Eagles Bluff Overlook are listed among recreational offerings.

The city is working to develop facilities such as an arcade, theater and roller-skating rink to provide both easily accessible entertainment and employment opportunities.

Also listed in the plan are challenges the city faces, such as its poverty rate and a need to improve housing, the latter described as “of the highest priority.” Solutions to challenges identified previously are under way, the document notes, such as certification of the city’s floodwall, correction of combined-sewer-overflow issues and damage to a Second Street bridge caused by flooding in 2011.

The city supports annexation of land into the city, according to the plan, believing it could add business or housing to Cannelton. Future development will encourage growth, expand employment opportunities and meet the living needs of citizens. Encouraging development of suitable housing for all ages and incomes and rehabilitation of existing owner-occupied homes are goals, as is “preservation of our unique historical district and natural assets,” also described as “an uppermost concern” along with the promotion of economic-development opportunities.

“We will continue to ask the Perry County Port Authority to consider connecting the city of Cannelton in order for it to be a part of future tourist-train plans and industrial development,” the plan includes under a land-use-development policy.

While it lists such specific goals, Werner pointed out the plan “is a broad-based, conceptual document.” It’s a replacement to a previous plan that “for a variety of  reasons is outdated,” he said in response to a question from a meeting participant.

The plan commission voted to recommend to the council approval of the plan, which it granted the same evening.