On a 4-1 vote, the Decorah Planning & Zoning Commission has approved an updated Comprehensive Plan for the City of Decorah, sending the document to the City Council for a vote.
The Commission held a public hearing Monday night on the document, with about two dozen people attending. Comment centered on flooding issues and a part of the Comprehensive Plan that discusses a population projection "based on a goal of 15,000 people by 2020."
Decorah attorney Karl Knudson raised both questions. Knudson said the Comprehensive Plan showed high density housing in areas known to have problems with water drainage--and he suggested that city officials "recognize the possibility of flooding" and have low density housing in those areas instead.
The Comprehensive Plan shows two estimates of future population growth: one prediction that placed Decorah's population at 8,802 in the year 2030 and a second that placed it at 15,112 in 2020. Knudson questioned whether the community could handle a population increase to 15,000 people in nine years. Commission members said they developed the second population estimate as a "worst case" or "best case' scenario to make sure the community would be prepared for such growth--if it occurred. City Engineer Lindsay Erdman pointed out that while population has remained stagnant within the City of Decorah, the Decorah area as a whole now has more than half of Winneshiek County's 21,000 population.
Comments made at Monday night's public hearing will be added to the documents presented to the City Council at its October 17th meeting.