CALDWELL — Caldwell’s population is expected to grow at an annual rate of about 3.5%, resulting in a population of over 81,000 by 2040, according to forecasts from Intermountain Demographics.

The city’s forecasted growth and changes to comprehensive plan requirements have led the city council to redraft its 2035 comprehensive plan.

Jerome Mapp, Caldwell’s planning and zoning director, presented the finished draft to the city council and mayor on Monday, with special interest paid to the housing section.

Caldwell’s last comprehensive plan was adopted in 2010 and was meant to go through 2035, but the new plan will include strategies through 2040. The new plan comes after Idaho lawmakers added three new sections to the Local Land Use Planning Act, which requires counties and cities to develop a comprehensive plan.

The new sections — agriculture, national interest electric transmission corridors, and public airport facilities — required the Planning and Zoning Department to conduct new analysis in addition to the previously required 17 topics.

“This is just the beginning of developing this,” Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas said to the city council. “This is just the beginning, and we will make changes as you see fit. We will have another public workshop on this after you have a chance to review it.

Council could approve the new plan by the end of this year or early 2020, he said.

The plan “has to do with anything and everything about what we want the city to be,” Nancolas said.

The plan’s new additions focus on the expected population growth. Two new charter schools were added to the School Facilities section, and increases to the number of units in medium- and high-density residential districts were added to the Land Use section.

The plan identifies medium-density housing as housing with no more than 12 residential units, and high-density with no more than 25 units per gross acre.

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In the Transportation section, Mapp said goals around parking have been added to the plan.

“We are required to have parking, lots of parking,” Mapp said. He said the city needs to explore ways to mitigate that need for parking by looking at “alternative ways of getting to and from work.” He suggested a bus line or commuter van and making bike riding and walking to and from work safer.

“Those questions are what we are asking right now, and asking, do we need 300 parking spaces when that land could be used for something better?” he said.

With such an increase in population, Mapp said the city’s plan for housing has changed significantly. The plan says Caldwell “stands to gain” 28,133 units by 2040, according to Intermountain Demographics, a firm hired by the city to project population growth.

The plan says the growth of the city’s population has to do with citizen-initiated annexations and low housing prices in Canyon County.

According to the comprehensive plan, in 2014, the median price of a home in Canyon County was $152,300, and the median price of a home in Ada County was $239,500, a cost difference of $87,200.

The plan sets two housing goals: to support adequate housing for a range of income levels and residential needs, and to support enhanced housing standards that will improve the visual appearance of residential neighborhoods.

The plan also sets a few recommendations around encouraging developers to build more housing variety, evaluating senior citizen housing needs and incentivising the rehabilitation of dilapidated and neglected neighborhoods.

“Workforce housing is going to be very important,” Mapp told the council.

The mayor told the council that the housing section needed special attention from them. After the council has time to review the draft of the plan, another public work session will be held for the council and citizens to give the Planning and Zoning Department feedback.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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