11/02/05 — Committee begins study of land use in Wayne County

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Committee begins study of land use in Wayne County

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 2, 2005 1:50 PM

With an eye toward the future, a group of 30 people gathered at the Wayne County Public Library on Tuesday night to begin shaping policies that will guide the county's development well into the 21st century.

The Wayne County Comprehensive Land Use Steering Committee met for the first time Tuesday, with representatives from around the county putting their minds together to address concerns, ask questions and come up with ideas to handle the expected expansion of homes, businesses, schools, public utilities and other services in the county.

The committee will spend the next 12 to 16 months developing a plan for the physical growth of the county and the best ways to handle that growth, said planning consultant Glenn Harbeck. The meeting was the first step in a process that county leaders have hoped to get started for several years.

"The county Board of Commissioners and Planning board have wanted this for a long time," said Planning Director Connie Price. "It came to be when the time was right and we believe the time is now to tackle this big bear."

Over the next year and a half, members of the steering committee, Planning Board and various county offices will provide input, analyze information, seek insight from county residents and draft policies regarding the direction the county should take in its development.

To begin the brainstorming process, Harbeck had the 30 people in attendance write down what aspects of growth they believe need to be focused on and ways to handle that growth. Ideas ranged from construction to consolidated water and sewage service.

The reasoning behind having each individual express his or her concerns to the group was simple, said Price.

"What might be a problem for you might not be a problem for me," he said.

In order for each person to hear as many different aspects or ideas concerning growth, Price and Harbeck had members of the steering committee, planning board and county offices evenly divided among the smaller groups.

Once each smaller group completed its list of concerns, the entire committee came together to focus on the individual items that are a priority for their community and county.

As a group, the committee decided that the best plan would not be counterproductive to the growth already taking place every day in the county. Provisions discussed included creating a consolidated water and sewage system, preserving areas of farmland, creating a business-friendly atmosphere, and promoting development that does not impede on county residents' personal property.

Although there were many strides taken at the first meeting, Harbeck said there are many more to come. The important thing is to maintain progress on the plan's development, he said, without going so fast that residents' concerns are not adequately and fairly addressed.

"We have to move quick enough to where people don't lose interest," Harbeck said, "but not so fast that we shove it down their throats."

In the coming months, the public will be given opportunities to discuss their own concerns and ideas for the betterment of the community. The first public input forum has tentatively been scheduled for Jan. 6. A specific location and time has not been determined.

But when the meetings start, they will need input from people all over the county, said J.D. Evans, the chairman of the county Board of Commissioners. The process is critical to Wayne's continued development, he said.

"We are trying to move the county to the next level," said Evans. "It will take all of us to do it."