Sebring CRA master plan update

S&ME Project Manager John Jones provides the Sebring CRA Board with the timeline for updating the CRA’s master plan.

SEBRING — The six-month effort to update the Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency’s master plan started Monday.

At its meeting on Monday, the CRA Board received details on the update process from a representative from S&ME, the firm that is developing the master plan.

S&ME Project Manager John Jones said S&ME is an interdisciplinary planning firm with about 36 offices located in the Southeast United States.

“When you put together a redevelopment plan you have all of these different technical skills in-house: landscape architecture, urban design, economic development, transportation, survey, civil engineering, planning and environmental scientists.

“If we have a question that arises during the plan update, we can talk to these folks right down the hallway or pick up the phone and get an answer to the questions very quickly.”

The planning update process has six primary tasks that take approximately six months to complete.

They are at the kickoff and data collection task right now with the next step being analyzing the existing conditions, Jones said. The tasks include public involvement, putting together the actual document, the redevelopment plan update draft in April and then in May presenting it to the CRA Board for review and comment.

The draft update is also presented to the Planning and Zoning Board to make sure that it’s in compliance with the city’s comprehensive plan, he said. The last task is sending notice to the taxing authorities letting them know the CRA plan adoption is coming.

The CRA Board will adopt a plan with a resolution and the City of Sebring will adopt the plan with an ordinance.

One of the objectives of the plan is to also extend the operational timeframe up to 2041, Jones noted.

There will be three primary methods for public input — stakeholder interviews, an online survey and also an open house. The date for the open house has not been confirmed.

The day-long open house of stakeholder interviews started Monday with meetings with community leaders, members of the CRA Board, business owners and key city staff, Jones said.

Highlands News-Sun asked Jones about recent CRA master plan updates his firm has done in Florida.

Jones responded that they just finished one for the City of Kissimmee and also did one for the City of Lake Wales.

The Sebring CRA approved a contract with S&ME in November for $107,270 for the master plan update. The previous master plan update was completed in 2004.