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The city has published the latest draft of a comprehensive plan designed to guide the city to 2040 and is soliciting comments from the public.

City Council hired Gould Evans to produce the plan in 2017, and the current proposal -- which includes analysis of the community and its assets, prospects and difficulties as well as discussions on how to mitigate those challenges and maximize the city's strong points -- is the result of several rounds of revision.

The full plan can be found on the city's website at and comments can be sent to city council members or Community Development Services director Doug Tapp.

Mayor Peter Christie previously stated he believes the plan could go before council for a final vote to adopt by August.

The as-yet unadopted plan identifies Bella Vista's natural setting as its strongest asset, providing aesthetic value as well as the potential for outdoor recreation and tourism. Recent growth in Northwest Arkansas is another significant potential advantage identified in the document.

By contrast, the plan identifies a lack of publicly-accessible amenities, limited access to water and development being limited and rendered more expensive by the city's topography are cited as significant challenges.

And while growth is a potential strength, according to the document, Bella Vista has seen less of it than neighboring cities and sees a very small share of the area's labor or its own populations retail in the city.

Data for 2014 from the American Community Survey included in the document shows 1,382 people living outside of and working in Bella Vista and another 689 living and working in town, while 10,673 lived in town and worked elsewhere.

Likewise, of the city's estimated $137 million retail market, the city sees $8 million, while the remainder goes to neighboring communities -- leaving the city heavily reliant on state and county sales tax revenues.

The document cites a lack of goods and services providers necessary to develop the city beyond its current bedroom community status.

The plan identified a few key areas -- with some emphasis on pedestrian and trail-based access -- the city might seek to encourage commercial and residential development, including the Highlands Gate, Towncenter, the Loch Lomond recreational area, Metfield Park and a variety of spaces alongside U.S. Highway 71.

Potential development locations designated as trailside stops, where trail users could ostensibly pick up a meal or supplies, are also highlighted in the plan.

Different types of potential mixed-use developments are also highlighted, including vertical structures with residential office spaces on the upper floors and retail at the ground levels near locations with trail and street access.

Different types of residential development can become very important for the city, which currently features single-family residences almost exclusively, according to the document.

"In more compact residential settings, housing types should be expanded to include duplexes, rowhouses, and small apartment buildings, and should be well-connected to or integrated into commercial activity centers," it reads.

While the city's divided governance, with the POA handling water services and some things a different city's parks and recreation office would head up, can provide some headaches on things like supplying water for potential development, it does mean the city has a few services off its plate.

A functional partnership between the city and other entities, like Cooper Communities, the POA and the Townhouse Association are all essential, according to the plan.

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