CHAPTER 2: PREMIER COMMUNITY

OVERVIEW


The City of Meridian, uniquely situated within the Treasure Valley, has distinguished itself with thriving neighborhoods; a vibrant job market; broad educational opportunities; and extensive community services. Meridian has become a top-choice community for businesses and residents in the United States.

Meridian’s Comprehensive Plan embraces the next steps to solidifying itself as the region’s Premier Community. The Plan encourages the attraction of diverse businesses by fostering an inviting, creative, and enriching environment. Employment will be located in emerging walkable centers and along multi-modal corridors. The Plan encourages an exceptional educational system creating an employment base attractive to the right type of employers and provides the foundation for a new generation of Meridian residents. This Premier Community will continue to evolve from an edge community into a complete city with safe neighborhoods, diverse housing, well-designed buildings, and amenities. The Plan encourages enriching and inviting environments for all lifestyle choices, ages, and backgrounds.

As part of the Premier Community Vision, the following elements are included in this chapter:

PREMIER COMMUNITY VISION

A vibrant, diverse, clean, safe, and secure community in which to live, work, and thrive.

HOUSING


INTRODUCTION

Opportunities for housing should be available for all income groups with a diverse mix including rural, modular, townhouses, apartments, workforce housing, large lot subdivision, and single-family homes ranging in size from one-bedroom to estate homes. A premier community needs a good cross-section of housing and therefore must guard against an abundance of subdivisions in similar and repetitive densities, appearances, and price ranges. Neighborhoods should also enhance and retain livability and value through innovatively designed amenities, pathways, public spaces, gathering spaces, and elements that promote social interaction and provide the city with a sustainable tax base. High-density housing must be strategically located to public transportation, community services, and employment areas.

As part of the City’s Vision, new neighborhoods should emphasize diverse open spaces and amenities, distinct, engaging places and identities, and Meridian’s strong historic character and charm. As such, this section relates closely with the policies in Chapters 3, 4, and 5.

BACKGROUND

Until 2014, Meridian’s population was distributed throughout the community primarily in detached single-family suburban-style developments. Increasingly, however, higher density housing is being constructed throughout the community, particularly near employment areas, major roadways, and regional attractions.

The City realizes that the baby boomer generation is aging and creating an increased demand for 55-plus-age non-single-family detached dwellings. Coupled with the fact that more young adults are waiting longer to have children and may not want large homes on large lots, this necessitates providing more diversity in housing choices. The majority of the growing senior population will prefer to “age in place” within existing neighborhoods. Many will seek residential accommodations to suit their emerging health and mobility needs. However, there will also be a growing demand for highly specialized senior living facilities within the community.

This Comprehensive Plan supports and encourages a variety of housing types ranging from large single-family detached homes to multi-family dwellings. Future Land Use designations allow the City to integrate a range of residential unit densities, from Low Residential to High Density Residential. These land uses and other supportive policies are intended to ensure opportunities exist for a variety of incomes, housing preferences, lifestyles, household sizes, and age groups integrated within neighborhoods and across the community. See the Future Land Use element in Chapter 3 for more details. For character, design, and identity elements related to housing, see the Vibrant Community, Chapter 5.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Anatole France

For additional information, refer to the following resources:

EDUCATION, HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES


INTRODUCTION

This element discusses the educational and community services provided by Meridian and partner organizations that enhance Meridian residents’ well-being. To address the physical and mental health needs of the community, a wide array of services are needed, including educational, social, cultural, and health services. Some other services, like sewer, water, and transportation, are addressed in other parts of this Plan and are not duplicated here.

BACKGROUND

Educational facilities and programs in the City of Meridian are provided by the West Ada School District, a growing variety of charter and private schools, and several college and university campuses. K-12 student enrollment growth has placed tremendous demands on schools in the recent past resulting in a record-setting pace of new schools. This rate of school construction is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, as Meridian and its neighbors continue to grow. New school locations require land acquisition and are based on residential density of an area and other build-out factors.

To support access to quality lifelong learning opportunities, the City of Meridian seeks to continue joint long range and site planning, continued exploration into multi-use and shared facilities, and providing increased safety through school resource officers and efficient use of multi-modal transportation corridors servicing schools. The City will continue to support appropriate locations of school sites, encourage communication between essential service providers to plan for and accommodate growth associated with schools, and further explore opportunities to cut operating costs through joint land use agreements. Thoughtful communication and coordination will help to ensure residents in the City of Meridian have accessible and safe educational opportunities.

Partner organizations such as the Meridian Library District, Meridian Senior Center, Meridian Food Bank, Meridian Boys and Girls Club, and many others also support the community by providing a variety of important services, facilities, and programs. Even with the increasing demand and availability of digital resources, community facilities still play a key role in connecting residents with those services.

Meridian prides itself on maintaining a safe and caring community where residents of all ages and abilities feel accepted, respected, and connected. The City has developed several initiatives and organizations focused specifically on youth, and has invested in programs and facilities designed for older residents. With the provision of community services and a continuum of care, Meridian families and individuals have the opportunity to stay and thrive in their communities as they age.

For additional information, refer to the following resources:

ECONOMIC EXCELLENCE


INTRODUCTION

The Economic Excellence element gives context to the City’s goals, objectives, and action items regarding economic development and provides the framework for growing Meridian’s workforce and economy. Policy decisions reflect Meridian’s goal of improving and diversifying the local economy to ensure a sustainable economic tax base.

BACKGROUND

A strong and diverse business community that is “Built for Business and Designed for Living” is fundamental to the City’s vision to be a premier city in which to live, work, and grow. As part of its commitment to economic excellence, the City supports and grows new and existing businesses and has developed Specific Area Plans with partner agencies to encourage and promote a robust and sustainable economy.

New investment is increasingly seeking locations based on the quality of place rather than the utility of location.
Steve McKnight, Fourth Economy Consultants


The City realizes that the 21st century economy requires flexibility. Over the last several decades, Meridian has evolved from an economy based primarily on agriculture to one increasingly based on innovation and creativity. The City is striving to strengthen its competitive position by creating an environment and infrastructure where industries can create, respond, and adjust rapidly. Several of the goals, objectives, and action items contained in this Comprehensive Plan are meant to improve economic prosperity by ensuring that the economy grows in ways that strengthen industries, retain and create good jobs across a variety of sectors, increase average income, attracts companies willing to pay a living wage, and stimulate economic investment in the community. A strong and diverse economy provides the financial support and stability for Meridian residents that will ensure that public facilities, services, and quality of life are superior.

For additional information, refer to the following resources:

Policy Table

Policies by Topic


I.D. Policy Section Section Symbols Type Chapter
2.00.00 Chapter 2 Premier Community 3 c I 2
2.01.00 Support a balance and integration of diverse housing and neighborhood types. Housing 3 G 2
2.01.01 Encourage diverse housing options suitable for various income levels, household sizes, and lifestyle preferences. Housing 3 O 2
2.01.01A Align City Code with the policies of the Comprehensive Plan to reflect the community's desires for various types, sizes, and designs of residential neighborhoods. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01B Regularly assess permitting activity and work to encourage a mix of housing types. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01C Maintain a range of residential land use designations that allow diverse lot sizes, housing types, and densities. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01D Regularly monitor local codes and ordinances to ensure compliance with state and federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01E Encourage development of universally accessible home designs within new developments and home retrofits, allowing residents to age in place and creating full accessibility for all residents of varying levels of physical ability. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01F Maintain clear and concise housing development ordinances, codes, requirements, restrictions, and policies that are consist with the Comprehensive Plan. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01G Avoid the concentration of any one housing type or lot size in any geographical area; provide for diverse housing types throughout the City. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01H Locate higher density housing near corridors with existing or planned transit, Downtown, and in proximity to employment centers. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01I Consider providing incentives to developers that produce affordable housing units as defined by federal and state agencies. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01J Support an open housing market for all persons, regardless of protected class. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01K Remove regulatory barriers and develop design criteria that support the construction of accessory dwelling units and micro homes where appropriate. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01L Ensure the Unified Development Code provides opportunities for diverse and innovative housing options. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01M Support active-adult or independent senior living developments. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.01N Work with the County/State on developing property tax relief programs for seniors and others on low/fixed incomes. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.02 Support a balance of housing tenure and supply and demand. Housing 3 O 2
2.01.02A Regularly monitor property tax revenue and vacancy rates in the rental and ownership market. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.02B Coordinate and align public and private housing development to improve consistency with local housing agency plans. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.02C Explore ways to encourage diversity of housing tenure and price points. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.02D Encourage a variety of housing types that meet the needs, preferences, and financial capabilities of Meridian's present and future residents. Housing 3 A 2
2.01.02E Support housing affordability, special-needs housing, ownership opportunities, and housing rehabilitation through programs administered by the State of Idaho, Ada County, nonprofits, and federal agencies. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.00 Plan for safe, attractive, and well-maintained neighborhoods that have ample open space, and generous amenities that provide varied lifestyle choices. Housing 3 G 2
2.02.01 Elevate and enhance the quality and connectivity of residential site and subdivision planning. Housing 3 O 2
2.02.01A With new subdivision plats, require the design and construction of pathways connections, easy pedestrian and bicycle access to parks, safe routes to schools, and the incorporation of usable open space with quality amenities. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01B Evaluate open space and amenity requirement and criteria for consistency with community needs and values. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01C Require all new residential neighborhoods to provide complete streets, consistent with the Transportation and Land Use Integration Plan. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01D Require pedestrian access in all new development to link subdivisions together and promote neighborhood connectivity. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01E Encourage the development of high quality, dense residential and mixed use areas near in and around Downtown, near employment, large shopping centers, public open spaces and parks, and along major transportation corridors, as shown on the Future Land Use Map. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01F Evaluate the potential to incentivize dedication of public school sites, public parks and other open spaces, and public access easements to linear open space corridors, which contain bicycle and/or pedestrian pathway systems. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01G Ensure development provides safe routes and access to schools, parks, and other community gathering places. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.01H Evaluate and improve the current grading and stormwater drainage requirements for subdivisions to ensure they reflect the community's values. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02 Maximize public services by prioritizing infill development of vacant and underdeveloped parcels within the City over parcels on the fringe. Housing 3 O 2
2.02.02A Develop standards for upkeep of vacant lots such as dust and weed mitigation requirements. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02B Consider incentives such as density bonuses, reduced open space requirements, and reduced fees for infill development in key areas near existing services. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02C Support infill development that does not negatively impact the abutting, existing development. Infill projects in Downtown should develop at higher densities, irrespective of existing development. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02D Apply appropriate design and construction standards to infill development in order to reduce adverse impacts to existing development. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02E Assist development groups to develop multiple plats into one cohesive plat. Housing 3 A 2
2.02.02F Ensure that new development within existing residential neighborhoods is cohesive and complementary in design and construction. Housing 3 A 2
2.03.00 Improve coordination of long range City and school district planning. Education and Community Services c G 2
2.03.01 Jointly plan and site schools and subdivisions to ensure mutual benefits, neighborhood identity, and community health. Education and Community Services c O 2
2.03.01A Assist West Ada School District in identifying potential future school sites, by providing information about anticipated future land uses, utilities, and entitlements. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.03.01B Support construction of multi-use facilities that can be used by both schools and the community. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.03.01C Invite West Ada School District staff to pre-application meetings with potential developers and discuss school siting and access needs. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.03.01D Ensure the location and design of schools are compatible with existing and planned neighborhoods and land uses. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.03.01E Work with West Ada School District to locate and connect schools to safe and accessible walking, bicycle, transit, and automobile routes. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.03.02 Coordinate with public safety officials and other local agencies to ensure safe school environments. Education and Community Services c O 2
2.03.02A Support educational and training programs lead by school resource officers and neighborhood contact officers. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.04.00 Support a diverse range of educational opportunities that continues lifelong learning. Education and Community Services c G 2
2.04.01 Partner with schools, non-profits, and other community-based organizations to provide a variety of educational opportunities throughout all stages of life. Education and Community Services c O 2
2.04.01A Support a network of public resources, schools, community centers and other public facilities that address the city's educational and training needs. Education and Community Services c A 2
3.04.01B Encourage educational institutions and community organizations to provide a broad set of programs within the community, including programs for special needs students, early childhood, the arts, math and science, English as a Second Language, and life-skills. Education and Community Services c A 3
2.04.01C Investigate potential public-private partnerships to provide additional health and educational programs. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.00 Plan for a multi-generational city with adequate public services and health care resources for existing and future residents of all ages. Education and Community Services c G 2
2.05.01 Cooperate with other agencies and service providers around the Valley. Education and Community Services c O 2
2.05.01A Identify partnerships that support multi-generational activities. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01B Continue to support the Meridian senior citizens' organization as an important social program in the community. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01C Support joint use agreements with the West Ada School District, Meridian Library District, and other private and non-profit entities. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01D Coordinate planning efforts and strategic growth of the City with other service providers and local decision-makers. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01E Support and encourage involvement of seniors in activities, groups, and volunteer opportunities. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01F Support and encourage involvement of community youth in the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) and other youth activities, groups and volunteer opportunities. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.01G Strengthen public services, programs, and community resources to be responsive to and representative of Meridian's diversity. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.05.02 Support access to high-quality emergency care, primary, outpatient, home care, long-term care, and mental health care within the community. Education and Community Services c O 2
2.05.02A Encourage the expansion of medical service related industries that are needed. Education and Community Services c A 2
2.06.00 Enhance Meridian's economic vitality and position in the local and regional economy. Economic Excellence I G 2
2.06.01 Diversify Meridian's economic base to establish and maintain a self-sustaining, full-service economy. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.06.01A Provide location-specific standards as incentives to attract high-quality businesses and living-to-high wage jobs. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.01B Establish methods to support the business community by drafting an Economic Development Plan in partnership with the Meridian Chamber of Commerce and Meridian Development Corporation. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.01C Regularly conduct industry market analysis to determine feasibility of existing and emerging industries to better understand workforce, land use, and transportation needs. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.01D Encourage environmentally-friendly industries. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.01E Focus on developing industries that tend exceed the living wage, such as technology, healthcare and other similar industries. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.02 Support economic opportunities for a community with diverse income levels. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.06.02A Regularly assess changes in local income levels. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.02B Pursue public-private partnerships and economic development grants that bring additional job opportunities to the community. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.02C Coordinate with the public, private, and non-profit sectors on possibilities for creating/sustaining workforce housing. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.06.02D Work to encourage a diversity of housing, recreation, and mobility options to attract and sustain the local workforce. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.00 Create a business-friendly environment that supports and expands existing business opportunities by developing a diverse and qualified workforce through educational partnerships. Economic Excellence I G 2
2.07.01 Promote business retention, expansion, and improvement programs. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.07.01A Connect businesses with local, state, regional, and federal resources for incentives, resources, and opportunities. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.01B Establish and maintain relationships with existing businesses and industry groups to determine present and future needs. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.02 Implement a clear development application review process for new and expanding businesses. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.07.02A Streamline the approval process for development proposals that are consistent with the vision and values of the community. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.02B Maintain the integrity of public process and transparency of development review. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.02C Encourage developers to engage with the public early in the development proposal process. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.02D Review development regulations to ensure an efficient process and remove unnecessarily burdensome costs and delays. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.07.03 Support innovative workforce development, training, technology, and education to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.07.03A Coordinate with business leaders and local, regional, state, and non-profit job-oriented programs to match existing and anticipated business and industry needs and identify gaps in workforce education and training needs. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.00 Proactively recruit and attract new businesses to the area. Economic Excellence I G 2
2.08.01 Develop effective marketing tools and regional partnerships. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.08.01A Develop and maintain marketing materials to share with targeted industries. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.01B Strengthen relationships with economic development sources for new business referrals and opportunities. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.02 Pursue economic development opportunities with technology, healthcare, environmentally-friendly manufacturing, light industrial, and professional service industries. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.08.02A Make Meridian the premier place to create, attract, and retain high-quality businesses and a talented workforce. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.02B Capitalize on the City's central location by promoting more tourism and business growth along entryways and key corridors. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.03 Encourage new dynamic, sustainable, and collaborative opportunities that enhance Meridian's existing and planned industrial nodes. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.08.03A Keep the Future Land Use Map current by defining appropriate locations for industrial, commercial, and office businesses. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.03B Identify and consider services and programs desired by potential businesses within the industrial areas. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.08.03C Work with existing industrial businesses to expand or relocate operations to appropriate areas. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.00 Create positive, vibrant, and accessible commercial activity centers within the community. Economic Excellence I G 2
2.09.01 Support redevelopment and infill opportunities Downtown. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.09.01A Pursue public-private partnerships to develop parking facilities. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.01B Establish incentives to develop gathering spaces and civic facilities within Downtown. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.01C Work towards mitigating and removing floodplain issues around Downtown. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.01D Pursue grant and other funding mechanisms to fund complete street and streetscape improvements. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.01E Explore incentives for targeted projects that meet economic development goals. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02 Integrate and maintain quality public spaces throughout Downtown for recreation, social, and civic activities. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.09.02A Actively implement action items in the Destination Downtown Plan. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02B Pursue grants and public-private partnerships to enhance Downtown. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02C Develop programs with local partners to expand art, cultural, and educational facilities in Downtown. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02D Develop and support regular cultural activities and events Downtown, in partnership with the Downtown Business Association and other organizations. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02E Implement consistent landscaping, lighting, and historic preservation standards. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02F Support a compatible mix of land uses Downtown that activate the area during day and night. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.02G Implement the City of Meridian Design Standards and City of Meridian Architectural Standards Manual to ensure that Downtown remains the historic center for mixed-use tourism, business, retail, residential, and governmental activities. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.03 Cultivate unique and diverse destination-type activities within Meridian's centers. Economic Excellence I O 2
2.09.03A Establish distinct, engaging identities within commercial and mixed use centers through design standards. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.03B Promote Ten Mile, Downtown, and The Village as centers of activity and growth. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.03C Support public-private partnerships that provide plazas and public areas within activity centers. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.03D Develop a collaborative economic development strategy to recruit new businesses. Economic Excellence I A 2
2.09.03E Develop concept plans of potential destination activities and promote appropriate development, infill, and redevelopment of activity centers. Economic Excellence I A 2

Note: The Policy Table above depicts policies for this Chapter only. Too review policies for the entire Plan, see the Implementation Table.