Council discusses the future of Cherokee Village

Monday, November 29, 2010

It began in 1954 as one of the nation's first recreation and retirement communities.

Developer John Cooper's vision has grown into a wooded city of 4,800 residents who receive government services, recreational facilities, and are served by churches, clubs and organizations.

But growth has slowed, somewhat, and many wonder what Cherokee Village will be like in 20 years.

After months of work, an organization called ABCV (A Better Cherokee Village) has unveiled it's vision of the future.

After surveying residents, holding community meetings and examining data, Vision 2030 sees Cherokee Village growing to 7,000 residents over the next 20 years.

While the city will preserve its natural beauty, the forecast predicts it will boast a shopping area with attractive stores, a medical park with a hospital and doctors' offices, and new community centers with city gardens and walking paths.

Cherokee Village's infrastructure will keep up with the times. Streets and roads will be upgraded, low water bridges replaced and residents will have natural gas. The water system will be improved and a sewage system will be in development.

"This is our vision statement," Councilman Lynn Maxedon said as he held up the Vision 2030 plan at the Nov. 18 Cherokee Village City Council meeting. "By the end of the year, we will complete a plan suggesting how we can carry out the vision."

Maxedon proposed posting Vision 2030 on the city's Web site and mailing a copy to each city address, at a cost of around $1,600.

"We need to get citizens actively involved," said Maxedon. "Activate the community to work on positive change over the next 20 years."

The council supported forming the ABCV Steering Committee but some members questioned the cost of mailing the vision statement.

"Like everything, it's a question of worthiness versus cost," said Councilman Russ Stokes.

The council finally decided to delay a decision until next month.

In addition to mailing Vision 2030, Maxedon will check on the costs of printing it in newspapers or Avenues Magazine.

In other business, the council heard the third reading of a proposed ordinance to annex six areas of land into the city.

They are the Coopershares Addition (Los Indios), Folis Subdivision, Winnipesaukee Addition, Hall Heritage Addition, acreage above the Hall Heritage Addition and land on Okmulgee Drive, across from Fountain Place.

As discussion began, councilman Tom Thone announced he had "a change of heart."

Thone said the annexation involved a small geographic area and people in the annexed areas opposed it, so he intended to vote against the annexation.

Two council members, Russ Stokes and Verna Mae Newman, disagreed there was citizen opposition saying citizens of the affected areas had supported annexation in past discussions.

Councilman Peter Martin agreed with Thone, saying the annexation benefits no residents and there is no rush to bring the land into the city.

Cherokee Village resident Dave Gruger, who was allowed to speak, questioned the council's policy of annexing under-developed land into the city.

"It is not a revenue benefit," said Gruger. "It is a burden to the city."

According to Gruger, citizens who are annexed do not pay the Suburban Improvement District tax so "they get a free ride."

Councilman Ray Torbit responded, "I believe property within Village boundaries should be within the city and under control of Cherokee Village ordinances. Regardless of the cost, I will vote for annexation."

The vote on the issue was four in favor of annexation and three against.

Since this was the third reading, the measure passed and will become law.

Under new business, Councilman Maxedon proposed that the city begin paying $7 a month for a street light at Pottawattamie Drive and Patmos.

According to Maxedon, an elderly resident who had paid for the light for years, had requested the city take over the payment since the light illuminated the Santa Fe Addition sign.

Some council members expressed fear taking on the bill would set a bad precedent, that residents all over the city would want government to pay their street light expenses.

A decision on the issue was delayed until the December meeting.

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