Looking Glass, making a Comprehensive Plan for Luther

Bison Blinds

If you could see into the future, what would your town look like?

There is a renewed effort in Luther to come up with a Master Plan for the town. Those involved are quick to emphasize that such a Master Plan doesn’t mean it’s a final plan, but it is a guiding post to chart the growth that is coming eastward from Oklahoma City.

The Town Board of Trustees appointed members to a new committee, tasked with grabbing the data, doing the research and listening to the public as they work toward a Master Plan, and zoning ordinances (to be considered by the board eventually). It’s a process many agree is long overdue and long ignored.

The Luther New Rural Urbanism Committee is made up of three persons: Matthew Winton, chair; Chris Ivich and Craig Jackson. Although the name of the committee doesn’t roll off of the tongue, the trio is tasked with gathering  data, evenutally making zoning recommendations, and through the process getting public input. In practical terms, the committee will make recommendations on things like whether Luther should have areas set aside for manufacturing, and will that be near housing, or shall there be increased retail (commercial development) areas, and how much of it? And if someone wants to build a new home, or business – how can the process be streamlined and not get stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire with the Town’s planning commission. Those who have tried to get permits, or built within Town limits are familiar with the lengthy process.  The committee is also working off of data received in a recent survey conducted by EOCP.

A public hearing on October 23, was the opening volley to the conversation, and although there was a Town Hall mistake on giving adequate public notice about the meeting, about a half-dozen persons attended. Winton, committee chair, led a discussion after sharing data from the last US Census as well as results from the recent EOCP survey many Luther residents completed.

The survey data and the public expressed ideas about keeping Luther a small town while acknowledging the need for more retail, commerce and job opportunities. The consensus that evening seemed to be “growth but not too much,” and “buy local if we can.” There was wide acknowledgment that the construction of the new turnpike and urban sprawl is causing quick growth in the area, and an urgency for the Town government to get on top of the infrastructure in preparation.

The following are slides shared at the meeting about population, demographics and other data that give insight to the future.

Population of Luther experienced a dramatic dip in the Census from 2000, but crept back up to a population of about 1,600 just ten years later, with continued projected growth.
Who lives here? The biggest population are adults 45 – 54 years and 60 – 64 years.
Homes. The housing numbers match the population numbers denoting “good times” and “bad times” in Luther.
Some results from the EOCP survey. Do you agree?
How do we want to grow when it comes to housing? Apartment buildings or single family homes?
Three out of four persons surveyed acknowledged Luther’s “lack of development” issue needs to be addressed, while almost half of those surveyed said they support high standards in construction and development type.
We are a family town! And Luther families would like things for families to do. And almost all of the survey respondents want more retail options.
Luther. That’s it. The “yellow” tells us we live in an agricultural area. The committee and board can only create zoning ordinances, and an eventual Master Plan, in this area.
Retail makes up just one percent of the Town, yet local sales taxes (the lowest in the area) help support infrastructure such as public safety (police and fire), beautification (including maintaining parks and razing condemned structures). Although residents pay for water and sewer, the Town Board says the income does not cover the cost, especially not planning for the future.

What’s next? Two more public meetings. November 27 and December 18. Mark your calendars.

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  1. We’re moving. Too much noise, too much traffic, the police are rude and we miss feeling like we live in the sticks.

  2. First of all, the census data is obviously wrong. With something as easy as counting from 1 to 1,600, how can anything else be trusted?
    Secondly, if the city isn’t providing water and sewage, then that property should not be in city limits. The town board should not be deciding the zoning east of the baseball field to county line. Reduce the city’s over reaching boundaries that aren’t even properly provided for by the city.

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