NORMAL — Town officials made it clear Monday that their work is just beginning after the Normal City Council approved a new comprehensive plan.

In addition to tweaking policy and making future decisions in light of the plan, which lays out the town's highest priorities for development through 2040, officials will track progress with specific metrics, perhaps in an annual report.

"There are more than 30 metrics that are very specific to things like, 'How walkable is the neighborhood?' 'How transit-friendly is it?' (and) 'What kind of housing diversity do you have?' ... so we can actually measure with some real numbers," Town Planner Mercy Davison told the council, "and of course we'll want to set some targets."

Council member Kevin McCarthy said he hopes the metrics will keep not only town staff but also the City Council accountable for supporting the plan.

"Certainly not all of our objectives can be put down into a formula and tracked in that kind of a way, but the focus on holding ourselves accountable ... (for) giving you guys direction and budgeting dollars to execute on all this stuff (makes it) a great opportunity for the community," he said.

Among the highest priorities in the plan is housing, where officials hope to transition from a far-flung, overbuilt stock of single-family homes to smaller, more central units. Affordability also is a pressing concern.

The plan pulls heavily from the McLean County Regional Planning Commission's new Regional Housing Study, a first-of-its-kind document also released this fall.

"(Our) goal is being complete, connected and compact. ... We want neighborhoods, we want good centers, or destinations, and we want good corridors that connect all that stuff," said Davison. "Within our neighborhoods we want a variety of price points and a variety of styles."

Officials hope to spur growth in areas that are located near amenities and utilities, including near Heartland Community College, Ironwood Golf Course and the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant, now used by Rivian Automotive.

The plan also recommends specific areas for development near Illinois State University through first-of-their-kind "university impact zones." Officials hope to encourage multifamily units in the first such zone, for student living, while preserving single-family homes in nearby neighborhoods, a second zone.

The plan, developed over two years by town staff, elected officials and residents with the Regional Planning Commission, lists housing; economic vitality; health and sustainability; infrastructure and public safety; humanitarian and social aspects; and relationships with ISU as high priorities for Normal going forward.

"It's a document that will change our community for the better," said City Manager Mark Peterson.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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