AUBURN – Keeping track of a committee of 40 people sounds daunting, but Planning Director David Galbraith said it won’t be a problem.

That’s the number expected in Auburn Hall on Tuesday night to begin the work of designing a new comprehensive plan for the city.

“Traditionally, you don’t meet with a group of 40 the entire time,” he said. “They break into smaller committees, and many will drop out by the end. It’s much more manageable than it sounds.”

Galbraith said he will kick off the first few meetings with historical overviews of the city’s previous planning efforts. The first meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Auburn Hall.

The group will work for the next year writing the planning document to guide the City Council and staff decisions for the next decade. The results should be presented to the City Council in the fall of 2008, then sent to the State Planning Office for review.

The city’s last plan was written in 1995 and designed to guide planning and development decisions through 2005. It looked at all aspects of life in the city, including population, transportation trends, possible commercial development and public finances.

But Galbraith said he’s just there to support the group’s effort, from answering questions about planning, zoning and other legal issues to doing research and writing drafts. Committee members will decide themselves how often they’ll meet and what topics will be handed off to subcommittees.

“I have suggestions, but I expect they’ll have some ideas of their own,” Galbraith said. He expects the group to break into smaller groups discussing transportation, recreation and open space, the economy, housing, public facilities, natural resources and land use.

“And I expect there will be many instances where the groups overlap,” he said.

The committee is made up of people who volunteered during City Council ward meetings last spring. Others contacted Mayor John Jenkins with suggestions or to volunteer their help.