Story County wants Ames to focus growth inside boundaries as they develop fringe plan

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune
Story County, the city of Ames and the city of Gilbert developed a draft Ames Urban Fringe Plan, an agreement between the three entities as Ames and Gilbert predict future growth.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify Story County officials are in support of the Ames growth areas identified in the Ames Urban Fringe Plan draft. 

Story County will prioritize Ames growth within existing boundaries and limited density in rural areas as it participates in the Ames Urban Fringe Plan process. 

Ames is in the process of updating its urban fringe plan, an agreement with Story County and Gilbert as they look to future growth. The plan does not greatly differ from the land-use plan Ames 2040 approved last year but is a way to coordinate the neighboring cities' and county's needs with Ames' changing borders. 

A draft has been developed and the cities and county will now seek public input before finalizing the plan. The Story County Board of Supervisors discussed the draft and next steps at Tuesday's meeting. 

Story County is in support of the Ames growth areas identified in the draft but would like to limit building subdivisions in areas without the infrastructure to support them, Story County planning and development director Amelia Amelia Schoeneman said. 

View the interactive, draft land-use framework map here

"It's partially kind of like a subdivision code and partially kind of like a future land-use plan," Schoeneman said Tuesday. "Ames' bubble and Gilbert's bubble overlap, so we have to figure out who has authority and come up with provisions for that."

According to a letter from the county to the city, the county will prioritize setting density maximums for rural residential developments, limiting the intensity of certain agribusiness uses, ensuring natural area mapping is updated and discouraging development in floodplains. 

They are also recommending inviting the city of Kelley and Boone County to participate in the urban fringe planning process. Ames housing director Kelly Diekmann said at last week's council meeting he was set to meet with Boone to discuss the plan. 

Additionally, the county would like to prioritize coordinating trails between cities and mapping them as part of the urban fringe plan. 

Schoeneman said the county received comments at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that the urban reserve was too restrictive and from a subdivision southwest of Ames that is marked for urban growth. 

The county will seek more public input by holding public meetings and launching an interactive survey tool over the next 30 days, Schoeneman said. 

"It's important because when we're looking at rural areas we have review authority over, we also need standards because if we're citing large new developments, it can create congestion on roads ... it removes agricultural land and natural resources," Schoeneman said. "So we really have to be conscious."

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.