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Rapid City plans to make room for population growth

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - 2021 sees Rapid city with its highest population yet, over eighty thousand. Seventeen thousand more than just a decade ago.

Each year brings an array of people with diverse lives that are unique and specific to them.

This expansion has prompted the city to introduce strategic housing, which seeks to accommodate the spectrum of individuals that the city attracts.

Sarah Hanzel, the Long Range City Planner, has been working on developing strategies to accommodate the large range of financial capabilities each person brings with them.

“We have a growing population and we’re trying to diversify and grow the work force,” says Hanzel. ”There’s not enough housing to support that and we really need to have enough housing. It’s critical infrastructure. It’s similar to roads, sewer lines, water lines or anything like that.”

The city is hoping to build upon a comprehensive plan already in place since 2014 as a means to ensure the comfortability of all citizens.

The language typically used around the subject is affordable housing, but it’s important to acknowledge that what’s affordable varies drastically and words like these don’t serve justice to the masses.

“We’re looking at income levels that span from those making very low income up through what you might call market housing, and this plan in a lot of ways is really trying to encapsulate all of those needs and as many as those needs as possible,” Hanzel says regarding the diverse finances that each person brings to the table. “But, this plan is trying to be comprehensive in looking at the needs of many in Rapid City.”

There are two items that the plan would like to see in the near future, an administrative zoning exception and a building permit fee waiver. Both of which strive to benefit the accessibility and creation of living quarters.

Seeing as how different everyone’s experience can be, the city expresses a desire for communication as the strategic housing draft phase begins.

“A lot of the recommendations in the plan are really at the earliest stages of their development,” says Hanzel in agreeance with a public co-effort. " So, we’ll need more community dialogue and public input.”

The first meeting regarding the plan will take place on March 25.

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