The first phase of a year-long effort to create a plan for how the Tucson metro area should grow is finished.

Imagine Greater Tucson asked residents to weigh in on how the Tucson metro area will accommodate 2 million residents at some point in the future. That figure equals a doubling of the current population, and the idea was to let the people who already live in the area craft the plan for growth.

During the process, 10,000 people commented on what they want to see, through surveys and public meetings, said Mike Holmes, the IGT executive director.

“If we went at our current rate, if we went at our current patterns of settlement where people were spreading out more and more into the desert, that would eat up more than 300 square miles of desert. With the plan that people unveiled to us showed us would eat up about 100 square miles," he said.

Most people want to see urban growth, as opposed to sprawl, he said.

"What they really wanted, moving forward, were choices. They wanted to build a place where not only us, but our children and our children's' children would want to live," Holmes said.

Planning the way the area accommodates population expansion will help with other area planning efforts, he said. If the land use and transportation priorities the public established during the Imagine Greater Tucson process are incorporated into future growth plans, "we're going to be able to build a space that not only we'll retain those 20-year-olds, but also will attract the kinds of businesses that also that want to use that 20-year-old capital," Holmes said.

Imagine Greater Tucson plans to partner with local governments, asking them to incorporate the growth model residents say they prefer. The organization will also work with non-governmental organizations focused on lifestyle and growth issues, he said.