Matanuska-Susitna Borough

MSB Comprehensive Plan Update

Scope

Project Scope: https://my.visme.co/v/mxwnwwzn-6gnd07g

Project Purpose:

The purpose of the comprehensive plan update is to develop goals, policies, and implementation actions to bring the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s (MSB) vision of being the greatest community to live, work, and play to life. 

Once adopted, the comprehensive plan will be a tool used by Borough staff and the Assembly to make policy decisions that are aligned with the long-term vision and goals of the organization. The vision and goals will be developed by partnerships across MSB departments, partner agencies, organizations, private industry, and communities. The comprehensive plan will also be used by communities and individuals for Capital Improvement Program nominations, transportation project nominations, external grant applications, and any other program that requires a project or initiative have documented planning priority. The comprehensive plan will provide a shared vision that guides land use actions for the next 25 years. 

Comprehensive planning is a government’s opportunity to ask the question, “Who benefits and who suffers from our policies?” Oftentimes, governments make decisions that are good intentioned, but miss the mark and leave people feeling disheartened and frustrated, and like they were not heard. The comprehensive plan will meet people where they are to ensure that if people want to be involved, they have that opportunity. To be a flexible and responsive government, the MSB needs a comprehensive plan to balance the needs of current development with the common vision and aspirations of the community. Engaging the public and our agency partners early and often during this process will allow the MSB’s comprehensive plan to guide those near-term decisions in the greater context of our goals for the future. 

Project Benefits

Why We Plan

Local governments are created by every state to provide services to its residents. Local governments are flexible, adaptable, and responsive to the needs of their communities in a way that the state and federal governments cannot be. In Alaska, boroughs are charged with three distinct and overarching areawide powers: Education, Taxation, and Land Use Regulation (AS 29.35160-180). The tool that local governments are given to carry out this awesome responsibility of guiding how land is used is the comprehensive plan. Planning for, rather than reacting to, land use provides communities and local governments with the time they need to make decisions that protect the quality of life and shared resources of all residents. 

The Assembly’s Strategic Plan recognized “Preservation of qualities that attract people to live, work and play in the Mat-Su" as a measurable result of their strategic goals. The MSB comprehensive plan update will dive into the community issues that prevent those goals and develop an implementation plan that aims at reducing land use conflicts while promoting economic growth. The comprehensive plan is drafted by staff but designed by communities through extensive and creative public outreach. The Mat-Su continues to be the fastest-growing borough in Alaska, with a projected 38% population increase by 2050 (DOL&WD). Because of this growth, the MSB Assembly has seen an increase in land use conflicts that are historically dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The MSB uses conditional use permits as a reactionary tool, instead of planning for land uses through the platting process, land use mapping, and zoning. The Borough also spends time and resources every year in litigation over appeals on land use decisions. However, through recent planning efforts, MSB planners now know that many residents, business owners, investors, and developers agree: If the MSB wants to foster economic development and be the best place to live, work, and play, then it must provide security and stability to potential investors and current property owners by proactively planning for compatible land uses. The MSB needs a comprehensive plan that highlights both the community its residents want to be, and the aspirations of the MSB as an organization.

 

Project Status

Project Manager has been hired and and scope of work and preliminary work plan have been drafted.

Project Timeline

The planning process was initiated in November 2022 and is scheduled to go through 2024.