Hiawatha Comprehensive Plan 2036 Summary

The City of Hiawatha has completed work on the proposed 2036 Comprehensive Plan. The document was presented for recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Commission on November 28th. The Plan was approved by the Commission and will be presented for Public Hearing on December 21st at the Hiawatha City Council meeting.  The public is invited to view the proposed Comprehensive Plan here and attend the Council meeting at Hiawatha City Hall to make comments.

The previous Comprehensive Plan for Hiawatha was written in 2010. Since that time the City has experienced significant growth, annexed more land and established the Center Point Road zoning districts. These changes made it imperative we re-evaluate the goals and strategies and clarify our vision for the community development.

The planning and visioning process included five project-team meetings and four public meetings. The public meetings include the hearings before the P&Z Commission and the Council. Additional input was received through an on-line survey and mapping tool in which citizens were allowed to contribute concerns and ideas regarding the future of Hiawatha. One public meeting had about 50 people in attendance and the on-line mapping tool had over 200 hundred participatory hits. The vision statement developed through this process encapsulates the unique role of Hiawatha in the Northeast Iowa corridor:

We are the Creative Corridor’s most welcoming community to live, work and experience. Residents and visitors love our small town feel, walkable neighborhoods and the unique restaurants and shops in our vibrant Village Center.

Public input and statistical analysis indicates Hiawatha has immense growth potential and faces some very important issues moving forward. Statistics indicate we only have about 50% of the required owner occupied and rental housing units needed for our residents with incomes from $25K to $50k. This group of people includes young professionals desiring to get established in our area.

Hiawatha is projected to need an additional 50% increase in overall housing stock in the next 20 years. This is about 1,600 units. Without adequate available housing our labor market may be adversely affected limiting the potential growth of our commercial and retail segments.

Another major issue faced by our community is traffic and transportation challenges. This issue ranked as a high priority in all of our surveys. Though it is an asset to have an interstate highway within our community we are not able to take full advantage due to limited access points. An additional interchange at Tower Terrace, a redesigned interchange at Boyson Road and the new intersection at North Center Point Road / Emmons /Robins Road should serve to relieve the traffic pressure on workers and residents of Hiawatha.

The Citizens of Hiawatha feel it is very important to manage growth through a balanced land use plan for commercial and residential uses. Our surveys noted the desire for outdoor and public amenities along with the development of commercial retail centers and restaurants. The concept of the village centers ranked high in providing ready access to these services. The village center concept includes developing high density multi-family units in and around centers of commerce. This describes our Center Point Road zoning objectives.

The significant opportunities reflected in this Plan include meeting updated housing needs, designing transportation strategies, designating zoning potential for an extended area around Hiawatha and a strategic goals format for monitoring our progress towards the 2036 vision. The new statistical information along with our vision gives us the necessary guidance and rationale for moving forward with our strategic goals.

With this plan city staff and elected and appointed officials will be able to make appropriate decisions regarding land use, development and enhancement of our City amenities such as parks, trails and public services. The plan will guide and coordinate our efforts to update our Unified Development Ordinance and strategic plan. Knowing we desire to be a growing community with a “small town feel” and that we are an integral part of the larger “corridor community” will keep our perspective focused on the present and future needs of our residence with a plan to accomplish that vision.