Have you taken the Eastern Oklahoma County Partnership survey about Luther? There is one day left to participate. The survey shuts down at midnight Monday, September 11. EOCP made the survey available to its five communities a month ago.
And as of a couple of weeks ago, Luther was in the top two of responding communities that are members of the public-private group that is supposed to create jobs, economic development, innovation and “entrepreneurial energy.” EOCP Executive Director Tim Hight said that Luther respondents made up about 85 responses of the 500 that had been turned in. In addition to Luther, the other communities are Nicoma Park, Jones, Harrah and Choctaw.
Has the survey prompted conversations with your family, or over coffee with your neighbor? Luther is growing. How do you want it to look? This survey will help determine a direction the Town might go.
Connected to the survey is action to modernize Luther’s outdated (and in some cases non-existent) zoning laws. Anyone who has tried to build a home or add on to their business in town knows this when trying to get a permit. Anyone who wants to find out what the commercial, residential and park areas are in town also know, there’s not a map. YET.
The Town Board of Trustees created a new committee last month to build a Town Masterplan that will eventually help the Town’s Planning Commission and building inspectors to do their work, and be able to respond professionally and efficeintly to builder’s and developers and others looking to build in Luther. Matthew Winton, local business owner of the 116 Farmstead, Market and Table and an attorney is serving as chair of the committee. Other members are Luther residents Craig Jackson and Chris Ivich.
Winton kindly emailed a few answers to our questions about the new committee’s work.
LR: What can you tell us about this master planning effort for the Town of Luther?
WINTON: A master plan, also called a comprehensive plan, is a long-range vision for the growth and development of a community. It differs from zoning in that the plan casts a vision and zoning implements that vision. Towns adopt plans to manage the scope, style, and density of development. This means identifying the wants and needs of a community, from infrastructure, design, and amenities, to quality of life and place. A plan derives from a variety of sources: community input and feedback, existing goals or vision, and economic realities of the community and surrounding areas. And, a good plan sets goals for not only the undeveloped areas (sometimes called greenfield development) but also the existing developed areas (sometimes called infill or redevelopment).
LR: Is community feedback important in this process?
WINTON: For Luther, I see a plan as vitally important given Luther’s unique location within Oklahoma County as well as the incredible town history and fullness of current residents. Sometimes people are wary of the discussions brought about by comprehensive planning, but I see planning as a natural conversation; it’s what we talk about over meals or drinks, plans for our futures, dreams we think about and share with others. The sources of these planning conversations vary, one of which is this online survey currently available to citizens.
I’ll give you a fairly recent personal example of another form of planning conversation. A friend and I spent a lot of time a few years ago on our hands and knees renovating a pre-statehood building in downtown Luther. The time was spent thinking about the building and its potential uses, taking in the weight of century-old history contained in its walls, and listening to others tell us their thoughts on what they’d like to see go into the old building. We needed that time to listen and think because we truly had no idea what we wanted to do with the building; we just knew that buildings like that needed to be preserved. That’s a planning conversation – evaluating where you’ve been, listening to your neighbors on where they’d like to go, and setting specific steps on how to get there.
LR: What is your end goal for this master planning process?
WINTON: Speaking personally, and not to step on anyone’s toes, I hope our planning process results in a vision that fits Luther. What I mean is that I think it would be a mistake to make it our goal to end up with Luther cast in a mold like Edmond or OKC. Luther’s specialness is rooted in its history, one that involves a strong base in agriculture supported by vibrant businesses, a proud school system, and great town center. As chair of Luther’s new rural urbanism committee (which by the way is a made up committee name representing a somewhat funny, Lutherized version of “new urbanism” which is a fairly established urban land use technique primarily focused on city dwellers.). The committee was created in August 2017 by a resolution adopted by the Town trustees and is tasked with doing research and making recommendations to the Town trustees. The committee is not funded, has no discretion, and is a recommending committee only. It meets according to a published notice each month in the second floor studio at 116 S. Main.
Watch for future urbanism committee meetings and if you haven’t, take the EOCP survey before Monday is over.