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Article updated: 3/1/2013 4:57 PM

Elgin wants to update its comprehensive plan

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Elgin plans to hire a Chicago-based urban planning consultant to update its eight-year old comprehensive plan in a process that will include Spanish-speaking residents.

The city council's committee of the whole recommended in a 5-1 vote on Wednesday night hiring Houseal Lavigne Associates for $150,000.

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Councilman Richard Dunne cast the dissenting vote, saying more residents should have been made part of the selection process. Councilwoman Anna Moeller was absent.

The firm was picked from seven examined by a selection committee that included a local homebuilder and the chairman of the planning and zoning commission.

Homeowners are directly affected by urban planning, especially in the wake of property value losses they suffered in the recession, Dunne said.

"For us to hire a consultant without even contacting them is not good policy," he said.

Elgin's last comprehensive plan was adopted in 2005. It's time for an update because of significant changes in the economy and in the demands of the housing market, Director of Community Development Marc Mylott said.

For example, the plan calls for traditional, "big houses on big lots" developments west of Randall Road, but people these days seem to want smaller homes on smaller lots, Mylott said.

"People are placing greater value on connectivity, on being able to walk to those types of things they want to be able to do," he said.

The updated plan will also pave the way for an update of Elgin's land development regulations, including zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations, Mylott said.

Elgin is rife with potential for growth, said Devin Lavigne, principal of Houseal Lavigne.

"(Elgin) is a great community that has a great history," Lavigne said. "I think there's an enormous potential for both investment in areas like downtown and outward growth toward Illinois (Route) 47."

The plan will include meetings with residents and business owners, focus group discussions, an interactive website, an online questionnaire, and the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The initial phase of meetings will include either Spanish interpreters or sessions in Spanish, Lavigne said. The online questionnaire also will be offered in Spanish, and the website will have an embedded Google translation tool, he said.

The bilingual aspect is very important, Mylott said.

"We want some degree of comfort that at the end, we'll have consensus and agreement about what we wanted Elgin to look like in next 20 or 30 years," Mylott said.

Houseal Lavigne has done work for suburbs including Algonquin, Bartlett, Carpentersville, Geneva, Huntley, Mundelein and Naperville.

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