With the city’s population expected to jump from 24,000 to 38,000 in the next 30 years, Kerrville community leaders have a lot to consider for the 30-year plan it is now embarking upon.
During a community retreat Saturday, city officials and area residents gathered to share input and ideas for the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan.
Kerrville Mayor Bonnie White opened the event by thanking the audience members for their attendance.
“I am overwhelmed by the turnout,” she said.
City Manager Mark McDaniel said about 160 people registered to participate.
He followed with a message about the purpose and necessity of a long-term comprehensive plan to guide the city’s into the future.
“The (current) plan is 10 years old, and we need to plan out about 30 years,” he said. “It’s not about if Kerrville will grow, it’s about how we will grow.”
Mark Bowers, Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan project manager with Kimley-Horn, the firm the city has hired as its planning and design consultants, explained to attendees that there are three tiers to a successful city plan:
- physical opportunities,
- market potential, and,
- community aspiration, which “I feel is the most important aspect,” Bowers said.
The goal of the retreat was to “build on the work we’ve completed so far,” he added. “With your input, we can create alternate scenarios and visions for what you want in the community.”
The team used a remote keypad polling system to poll the audience about priorities for the comprehensive plan, such as developing affordable housing, creating and maintaining an attractive downtown area and encouraging job growth.
“This provides us with feedback from all of the individuals at the meeting,” Bowers said.
The poll also examined the demographics of the audience, the majority of whom were between 55 and 75 years old, had lived in Kerrville between seven and 20 years and were homeowners.
Before launching into discussion, the team reviewed maps and diagrams developed of the city.
“We’ve heard a lot about the beauty of this place. It’s why people want to come to live here,” Bowers said.
He first reviewed an aerial photograph of the city and its extra-territorial jurisdiction.
“We’re planning not just the city limits, but what may occur in the ETJ,” he said.
He also reviewed a map of the existing parks, floodplain and tree canopy.
“Trees are very important to the quality of life here,” he said, adding that the floodplain analysis was “very telling as to why Kerrville developed along a couple of key corridors.”
Bowers also reviewed diagrams detailing existing infrastructure and areas currently under development, encouraging the audience to question, “are there areas that should be re-developing?”
Bill Cunningham, principal with Ricker-Cunningham, a real estate advisory firm, presented the market analysis of the city and its growth potential for the next 30 years.
“We want to make sure the ideas we come up with are grounded in the market and reality,” he said, adding that market analysis is typically performed to “do some of the homework” for developers who are in Kerrville or are considering coming to the area.
The analysis also considered a larger area than Kerrville itself, including roughly five adjacent counties.
“In some ways, growth is coming to Kerrville, but as the largest community in that area, you’re already serving the larger area,” he said, therefore it was essential to identify “who is moving to this area and what will they be looking for?”
The comprehensive plan team looked at projections of housing demand growth between 2017 and 2050 provided by the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas Demographic Center, Cunningham said.
“The good news is, this area is growing, so you get to decide how much of that growth you want to accommodate,” he said. “We’re trying to hold up a mirror to show you, here’s how Kerrville looks to the private economic sector.”
Based on Cunningham’s market analysis, food and beverage businesses accounted for the majority of anticipated local growth, and educational and health-based business would be the majority of services seeking office space in the area.
“Not surprisingly, that’s where the most growth is anticipated over the next 30 years,” he said.
The takeaway, Cunningham said, is “there is plenty of demand and opportunity out there. The question is, how is Kerrville going to position itself? What can you do to attract what you want to attract?”
Cunningham urged city leaders and community members to determine a philosophy for comprehensive planning.
“Do we want to react to the market, or create the market? That’s a big philosophical difference as a community,” he said.
After review of the analysis, the audience was sectioned into groups by table to discuss ideas.