It may be called a general plan, but Gilbert residents will need to get pretty specific about what should be in it before the document is put to a public vote in two years.
Every 10 years, Arizona requires all counties and municipalities to forge a vision of how residential and commercial development should unfold so leaders and residents will have some idea about what to expect as they plan the future.
"We have people moving here who come in and look at the general plan to find out what's going to go into that empty field next to them," said Town Councilman Les Presmyk, who is chairing the town's General Plan Steering Committee.
More than just a map book, the plan includes chapters that explain the town's approach to numerous aspects of community life, such as economic development, transportation, parks and open space, housing, community design and revitalization, environmental planning, and policies to encourage efficient and renewable energy.
The committee began meeting in January and has been spending most of its time setting up four subcommittees, each assigned to assemble ideas incore areas.
The goal is to have a draft by the beginning of next year, which will be rolled out for two months of public meetings. It will then be brought back for revisions and another round of public hearings.
The vote will be held in November 2011, the first time Gilbert's election cycle will have to shift to the fall under state law.
With the town's population now estimated at 215,000, or about two-thirds of the size that is expected once the town is built out, this general plan takes on particular importance. By the time of the next general plan update, the town will be nearly full grown.
"We'll be so far along that there's not much that's going to change," Presmyk said.
He said residents not serving on a committee are welcome to attend the subcommittee meetings that will be held through the end of the year, but public input won't begin until late this year or early in 2010.