Comprehensive Plan: Chapter 2
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.
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.
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
Education, Health and Community Services
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.
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.
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.
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.