Exeter City Council discusses growth

By Reggie Ellis

At a Feb. 28 study session, City Planner Greg Collins presented the Exeter City Council with two proposed maps of the Southwest Specific Plan.

The plan outlines and guides future development for a 320-acre block between Visalia Road and Glaze Avenue to the north and south and Belmont Road and Elberta Road to the east and west. Both plans showed four major east-west streets (Maple Street, Chestnut Street, Firebaugh Avenue and Powell Avenue) and two major north-south roads (Belmont Road and Elberta Road) extending through the development.

There will be two tree-lined boulevards that slightly bend through the development and a lighted pedestrian/bike path that will stretch from Visalia Road to Glaze Avenue. In order to build the 8-foot wide bike path, the Locust-Grove Ditch, also known as the Johnson Ditch, will be piped underground between Visalia Road and Glaze Avenue along Belmont Road. Four parks of 2.5 acres each will be spaced throughout single-family developments.

The maps also continued the trend of developing a commercial corridor along Visalia Road. On Jan. 20, the Exeter Planning Commission approved the first piece of the development in Citrus Plaza. The plaza will be located at the corner of Belmont and Visalia roads adjacent to Burger King and will include a drive-thru Starbucks. The design of the project includes three buildings, which will be subdivided into several retail stores and eateries, surrounding a large parking lot. Visalia and Belmont roads are two of the busiest streets in Exeter, which is why a new street will be added at the rear of the center connecting Belmont to Elberta. Both Visalia Road and Belmont will be widened following the construction of the plaza. Right and left turn lanes and signals will be added at the intersection.

The only difference between the two plans were two proposed locations of a future school site - either an elementary or middle school.

The plans were formed following meetings of the Southwest Specific Plan committee. The committee was formed last year to get the public involved with creating policies that are consistent with what the city wants, avoid urban sprawl, create affordable housing, develop a new school site and a new park site, and minimize impacts on the environment. The committee consists of representatives from the city council, school district, planning commission, business owners and concerned citizens. The group has tentatively been meeting on the third Thursday of each month following Exeter Planning Commission meetings at city hall.

The council also suggested a few plans of their own. During the meeting, it was suggested that the city close B Street or create a cul-de-sac between Rocky Hill Drive and Pine Street to connect the future site of the Exeter Historical Museum, the Courthouse Gallery of the Arts, Water Tower Park and Joyner Park together.

Other suggestions included creating a City of Exeter website for informational purposes, having a community Christmas Tree, either near the water tower or in Mixter Park. For more information on the study session call Exeter City Hall at 592-3710.

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