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Residents review draft plan, bringing greater clarity to its ambitions and issues

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Community contributions help strengthen draft.

Ranson’s Plan 2033, the comprehensive plan for the city’s next decade, took another step forward when area residents dropped by two open houses held Monday, October 30 to review the initial draft.

It was an exercise in contrasts.


On the one hand, the vast majority of the plan’s content — focused on city services, recreational amenities and quality of life ambitions — brought out no substantive concerns or opposition. In multiple cases, residents even urged the plan to go further.

Among such sentiments were those focused on stronger connection and community among Ranson residents: increased affordable housing; services for veterans; more parks and trails; block parties and food truck events; stronger engagement with young families; more activities for kids; valuing diversity; and more.

But these optimistic aspirations for a better Ranson were countered by environmental concerns, particularly as they relate to areas of the city adjacent to the Rockwool manufacturing facility.

A communications breakdown


At the heart of those concerns was the area due east of the facility, currently zoned for traditional neighborhood development. Given current on-the-ground conditions — including the 1000’ buffer around Rockwool which makes the previously-envisioned residential development impossible — it’s anticipated that the property owner may seek a rezoning in the future to a complementary use.

Given the context and its limitations, the most likely future use for the property is light industrial — non-emission producing activities like warehousing, distribution, product assembly, etc. This expectation was detailed in the plan’s narrative but the land use recommendation reflected on the Future Land Use Map showed “Production” — the same land use applied to the Rockwool property.

In a lengthy table discussion, surrounding neighbors raised alarm bells that under the “Production” designation the land could theoretically be rezoned in the future to allow for more heavy industry, despite the city’s current preference for light industrial. They expressed concerns over air and water quality, as well as the geological feasibility of the land itself.

Protective revisions

These nuanced contributions spotlighted a potentially exploitable weakness in the map.


In response, the land use for the area in question has been divided. The Rockwool facility remains “Production,” which allows for the continuation of its Special District zoning. The remaining portion has been reclassified as Large Parcel Mixed Use, which excludes heavy industry. This reclassification would allow for a future zoning change to the site’s most obvious use — light industrial — but would also allow for rezoning to develop commercial or even a mixed-use environment that included residential at the outer edges.


Furthermore, neighboring concerns over the parcel’s soil structure and resulting sinkholes have since been addressed in the city’s development priority map, where the area has been downgraded from second-level priority to third.



The results are a testament to enthusiastic community participation: an instance where both the city’s and the community’s interests are better protected.


What’s next?


The draft plan’s public comment period concludes today, Friday, December 1 to allow for editing and production of a revised second draft prior to consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council in the new year. Stay tuned for that, as well as specific dates for when those meetings will be scheduled.

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