Community Appearance Plan

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

The city of Milan initiated a “grassroots” Community Appearance Planning effort through the office of the City Administrator, in conjunction with the Police Department and other staff, to develop a strategic vision that will address local problems that lead to the poor appearance of our community in various locations throughout the city. It will take a collective effort of community partners – city staff (including the Board of Alderman) residents in the affected neighborhoods, local businesses, private developers, etc. – to make this plan a reality. The conditions that negatively affect our neighborhoods and community did not happen overnight, and we will not be able to alleviate the community appearance problems overnight.

Maintaining and improving community appearance is a key quality of life issue. It is also an important economic development issue. Community-wide efforts to improve the city’s appearance can play a key role in attracting and retaining new residents and business investors.

Step 1Identify key community appearance issues or hot button items.

Initial scanning of the community identified the following 7 areas that should be addressed in the Milan Community Appearance Plan.

1. Code-compliance Needs:

The appearance of the community is largely affected by the responsible maintenance of the property by property owners and the Police Department and other city staff’s ability to prevent and and/or remove nuisances that detract from the aesthetic environment of the community and infringe upon other property owners’ rights.

All too often, residents of a community will tell city staff they were not aware of the Code requirements property owners must abide by. Through this Plan, city staff will implement an education program designed to inform the community of local Code Regulations as well as the importance of keeping their properties up to code.

It will take more than a concentrated effort of city staff to ensure that property owners remain in compliance, but the judicial/legal support for Code compliance through fines, community service and other remedies to eliminate “repeat offenders” who are constantly in violation of property maintenance issues.

2.      Neighborhood Stabilization

For years, communities across the country have placed strong emphasis on the importance of vital neighborhoods. Through this plan, we are attempting to react proactively to prevent neighborhood decline before it becomes an overwhelming problem.

Throughout this year, staff will be working to make the City neighborhoods and business areas stronger and more viable, while introducing new strategies to accomplish our goals and objectives included in this Plan. Staff activities will focus on addressing some of the following needs:

A. Owner-occupied housing issues, i.e., property maintenance, funding for improvements, etc.

B. Rental housing issues.

C. First-time home buyers.

** Vacant housing units – increase number of re-occupied homes.

** Increase home replacement through demolition of vacant structures as well as new home construction.

** Trailer park(s)

3.      Retail/Commercial Area Stabilization

The residential neighborhoods are not the only areas of focus. A concentrated effort will need to be achieved in our two main commercial districts:

A. Downtown square

B. Highway 5 corridor

4.      Re-development or Infill Opportunities

Focus on areas and/or properties in the community that foster re-development or infill opportunities.   The Downtown Milan Plan states future housing construction in the near-term should be focused on infill development on vacant lots located throughout the city and completing existing subdivision projects in the southeast area of the city. Milan’s population has remained relatively steady over 70 years, while its land development has expanded at a more aggressive rate. Spreading services, including utility and maintenance, to outlying areas thins the city’s budget. Focusing development near downtown may improve the efficiency of services and persuade commercial services to locate close by.

5.      Transportation System

Transportation is a vital part of the downtown framework and streets primarily laid out on a grid system. The following section comes from the Downtown Milan Plan:

** Regional Access: State Highways 5 and 6 provide access to Milan. Highway 5 connects Milan with Unionville and Brookfield, while Highway 6 connects Milan to Kirksville and Trenton. State Highway E connects Milan to Princeton.

Eventually, Highway 5 will be the principal route to the East Locust Creek Reservoir, linking Milan with the region’s latest outdoor recreation. Improvements along these regional routes should (1) inform travelers of available services and activities and (2) announce the arrival to Milan.

A. Downtown Circulation. Third Street forms the backbone of the district’s transportation network. Traffic moves through the area efficiently, stopping at Main and Market Street. Intersections along 2nd Street near the Courthouse do not have four-way stops, primarily because they would be set too far back from the driver’s field of vision. The intersections are difficult to navigate and safety should be improved.

B. Community Circulation. The City has limited north/south connecting streets through the community. Pearl Street is the principal north-south street, while Market Street providing some relief to neighborhoods. Improving the alignment of Broadway Street at 1st Street would enable Broadway Street to become a better through route.

6.      Demolition Needs

Removing dilapidated and abandoned structures that are cost-prohibitive for rehabilitation improves not only residential neighborhoods but the city’s two main retail areas, by eliminating blighting conditions, fire hazards, and other unsafe conditions. Demolition or repair and securing of structurally unsafe structures will improve the streetscape and encourage or increase interest in re-development activities by private investors.

7.      General Community Image and Character

An attractive and distinctive community image and character that build upon Milan’s unique traditional qualities and characteristics, and help distinguish it from other communities in the surrounding region.

A community’s image is the way it is perceived, both by the citizens and by those outside. Not only is this image a mental picture held in common by a larger number of persons, but it is also used as a communication mechanism about the city.

Step 2Study and Photograph Specific Examples.

Key project photos and nuisance issue photos were generated.

Step 3Prioritize Key Issues and Opportunities

This section of the Community Appearance Plan is an ongoing process and will be completed in conjunction with the Board.

 Step 4Identify, Select and Refine Solutions

The Action Plans for these Focus Areas form the remainder of the Community Appearance Plan.

 Step 5Write and Refine Action Plan Recommendations

The CAP document will be refined after the Board has had an opportunity to review and provide input.

Funding Issues:

 Financing recommendations for initiative identified in the Community Appearance Plan, particularly downtown projects, will require both public and private participation. Project staging is also likely to manage capital requirements.

 This document provides a master plan of many projects. However, real implementation is an incremental process that requires setting priorities, completing initial steps, and evaluating new conditions along the way.

I. Code-compliance Needs

 GOAL:  Continue to Improve the Appearance of Milan.

1. Create and implement Community Appearance Plan. April 1, 2012 (Tracy/Staff)
2. Implement strict but courteous enforcement of City Code. Immediately — Staff
3. Develop an exterior property maintenance program that identifies, prioritizes and cleans up properties in violation.
  • Meet with judge and city attorney to discuss this program. March 23, 2012 (Staff) March 15, 2012 (Tracy/Police Chief)

4. Establish a Stewardship Improvement Program that encourages volunteer organizations to sponsor community improvement, clean-up projects, and/or street adoption. Tracy/Staff (May 1, 2012)

5. Maintain a continuous education program that will create awareness among business owners and citizens about what is acceptable in this community from an appearance perspective.

  • Look for opportunities, such as Old Timers event, city-sponsored activities, etc. to get word out.
  • Develop newspaper article for early May, 2012 publication.
  • Create Code Compliance brochure. April 1, 2012 (Staff/Tracy)

6. Expand case management of problem properties. Case managing problem properties recognizes the multiple problem nature of these properties; proactive, aggressive and frequent inspection of those properties that have history of code violations. Ongoing Police Chief, staff, city attorney

7. Conduct Spring and Fall clean-up program. Tracy

8. Explore some type of Awards program that instills pride in community.

9. Develop program that identifies “special financing” alternatives to encourage code compliance and/or property improvements, i.e., Green Hills Community Action Agency.

10. Develop strategies for eliminating blighted conditions that exist as a result of vacant properties or structures, i.e., acquisition through condemnation efforts, purchase at Sheriff’s Auction, etc.

II. Neighborhood Stabilization

GOAL:  A housing inventory and living environment that supports the local population, attracts new families, and enhances the image and character of the city.

1. Create and implement Community Appearance Plan. April 1, 2012 (Tracy/Staff)
2. Implement strict but courteous enforcement of City Code. Immediately — Staff
3. Develop an exterior property maintenance program that identifies, prioritizes and cleans up properties in violation.

  • Meet with judge and city attorney to discuss this program
  • Identify nuisance properties (ongoing effort)
March 23, 2012 (Staff) March 15, 2012 (Tracy/Police Chief)April 1, 2012 (Staff)
4. Identify sites for additional infill housing opportunities. Prospective developer(s) will also have to be identified. May 1, 2012
5. Develop program that identifies “special financing” alternatives to encourage code compliance and/or property improvements, i.e., Community Action Partnership of North Central Missouri or a paint voucher program.
6. Work with members of the Amos group to identify a strategy to provide additional affordable senior housing options in Milan.
7. Explore the feasibility of implementing a landlord registration or licensing program. Absentee landlords can create difficulties in abating nuisance properties – some type of licensing will help track investor/owners of these properties.
8. Explore feasibility of a Land Bank program – assemble parcels into single tract large enough to encourage development.
9. Explore the potential for creating a Volunteer Code Enforcement Program. Through this program, residents would work with city staff to preserve and improve residential neighborhoods and make Milan a better place to live and do business.
10. The centerpiece of funding for many stabilization plans is the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to aid in purchase of foreclosed or abandoned homes and to rehabilitate, resell, or redevelop these homes in order to stabilize neighborhoods and stem the decline of house values of neighboring homes.
11. Work with local banks and realtors to identify homes that are in foreclosure or close to it. Develop plan to address individual properties.

III. Retail/Commercial Area Stabilization: Downtown Area

GOAL:  A system of retail, service and office development that provides local residents with needed goods and services, increases the city’s tax base, and is a vital part of the Milan community.

1. Complete sidewalk restoration project in downtown and surrounding area. STP Funding: Completed by August 1, 2012
2. Future development of senior living projects near downtown will improve the density of the area and attract services that target seniors to locate within walking distance. The Village Apartments directly north of downtown establishes some momentum for community services to appear in the downtown area.
3. The rear of the Shipley building collapsed in early 2011 and continues to deteriorate. Explore options to acquire and demolish
4.  Once business fronts are all occupied, spaces used for churches and office uses should be converted retail and services. The block faces surrounding the courthouse should be dominated by retail, service, and entertainment uses.
5. Prioritize recommendations from the Downtown Milan Plan and create multi-year strategy to implement them.
6. Explore the feasibility of street signage in the downtown area as recommended in the Downtown Milan Plan.
7. Participants in the Downtown Milan Plan perceive that parking around the square is competitive and inadequate.• Consider improvements to increase supply, efficiency and accessibility.

The Downtown Plan establishes over 20 major project areas, including recommendations beyond downtown. The plan provides a master list of many projects. However, real implementation is an incremental process that requires setting priorities, completing initial steps, and evaluating new conditions along the way.

The City with coordinating agencies, such as the Green Hills Community Action Agency, and BID if formed, and other principals in the development process should maintain a five year Downtown capital program. Appendix “B” identifies individual projects and provides a conceptual schedule for implementation. However, market demands, funding availability, and opportunities will inevitably affect this schedule. Annually, the Downtown capital development group should update the schedule, based on priority criteria. These evaluative criteria may involve applying the following questions to specific projects at the time of consideration:

A. Does project respond to specific or high-profile community issues or needs?

B. Does the project generate maximum private market response?

C. What is the project’s potential to transform the image of the area and community?

D. Does the project attract both local residents and visitors, increasing business traffic and creating new reasons for people to be downtown?

E. Does the project support the growth of existing businesses?

F. Does the project capitalize on established, but unmet, market needs?

G. Can the project be realistically implemented within a reasonable time frame with potentially available resources?

H. Does the project generate substantial community support or consensus?

I. Does the project incorporate and leverage outside funding sources, such as state grants or charitable contributions?

The Downtown Milan Plan proposes a long-term program for investment in this important and active business district. This program is built of many individual projects and recommendations that, over time, create an economically strong city center that offers customers, residents, and visitors a diverse and attractive environment. However, not everything can be done at once, and the downtown development is a process that moves forward in increments. The plan proposes several basic principles:

A. Public investments in early phases of the process should create a “chain reaction” – a strong and desirable private market response that leads to self-sustaining investment. Thus, the ability of initial projects to generate positive momentum is very important. Milan’s re-investment in its streetscape is an example. Continued public improvements will help stimulate private investment.

B. Projects proposed by this revitalization plan fall into three categories: catalytic, enhancement, and sustaining projects.

C. Different projects mature at different times during the downtown development process. Appendix “B”, the Implementation Schedule, is based on this principle.

IV. Retail/Commercial Area Stabilization: Highway 5 & 6 Corridor

GOAL:  A system of retail, service and office development that provides local residents with needed goods and services, increases the city’s tax base, and is a vital part of the Milan community.

1. Identify re-development and/or infill opportunities. April 1, 2012  (Tracy)
2. Stormwater management might be an issue on this corridor.
3. Explore the feasibility of street signage in the downtown area as recommended in the Downtown Milan Plan.

V. Re-development or Infill Opportunities

GOAL: Enhance the city’s tax base by identifying those properties/areas in the community that will attract investors to convert the properties/areas into viable uses.

  • Re-development and infill opportunities will be discussed in greater detail in the Economic Development Strategy
  • Identify infill and/or re-development opportunities in the community.

VI. Transportation System

GOAL: A balanced transportation system that provides for the safe and efficient movement of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, and complements the city’s image and character.

1. Complete sidewalk Project in downtown area STP Funding: Completed by August 1, 2012
2. Develop 5-year street repair/maintenance/upgrade program plan that identifies and targets specific streets within the community. The plan will specify specific treatment mechanism, i.e., chip & seal, hot/cold asphalt mix, etc.  Plan will also identify opportunities to improve traffic safety and traffic safety and flow, bicycle traffic, and pedestrian circulation.  A number of recommendations were contained in the Milan Downtown Plan.     Todd/Tracy
3. Maintain the community “gateways” along the major streets that enter the city of Milan through the use of special signage, landscaping, and other entry design features.
4. Explore the feasibility of street signage in the downtown area as recommended in the Downtown Milan Plan.
5. Participants in the Downtown Milan Plan perceive that parking around the square is competitive and inadequate.• Consider improvements to increase supply, efficiency and accessibility.
6. Re-stripe paking lines in downtown area. Todd

VII. Demolition Needs

1. Identify structures that are in need of demolition as well as develop a funding mechanism to accomplish that.  Police Chief/Tracy
2. The rear of the Shipley building collapsed in early 2011 and continues to deteriorate. Significant improvements are necessary to return the building to operational use. Develop a strategy to address this serious problem.  Tracy

VIII. General Community Image and Character

GOAL: A system of community facilities and a city inventory of capital equipment that provides for the top quality delivery of services and enhances the city as a desirable place in which to live and do business.

  • IMPLEMENT COMMUNITY APPEARANCE PLAN.
1. Review the recommendations contained in the Downtown Milan Plan and identify specific components that could be implemented.
2. Develop Marketing Plan for Milan.
3. Maintain the community “gateways” along the major streets that enter the city of Milan through the use of special signage, landscaping, and other entry design features.
4. Create CIP that includes equipment replacement.
5. Explore creating city of Milan website and interface with the Chamber’s website.
6. Create monthly “City Corner” article for newspaper discussing city activities and projects.
7. Improve information delivery to the minority communities about city programs and services.
8. Improve communications with state legislative delegation through formal information programs and individual contacts.
9. Survey state and Federal representatives for opinions on relevant issues on a regular basis.
10.City Administrator will attend regular meetings of the regional City Managers Association.
11. If local government is to be responsive to the community’s needs, active citizen engagement and involvement is essential. Identify stakeholders in the community that are willing to become involved.

 

 

 

 

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