09/17/06 — Opinions sought for county land-use plans

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Opinions sought for county land-use plans

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 17, 2006 2:02 AM

Young adults might not yet see themselves as leaders in the community, but they will one day be called upon to make decisions about where and how the Wayne County will grow.

And county leaders want them to be ready to answer the call by talking now about the future.

The Wayne County Comprehensive Land Use Plan Steering Committee will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. to hear from residents about the need to improve the county's infrastructure -- from highways to schools to utilities.

The meeting will be held at the Wayne Agriculture Center at the corner of Chestnut and George streets.

County Planning Director Connie Price said young adults, especially parents, should have a deep interest in how development in the county progresses. Their comments are needed to help guide the committee in its efforts to set a path for that growth, Price said.

Men and women in their 20s and 30s need to step up and express their opinions about where the county is going, Price said, and committee members are eager to hear from them. They are the next generation of leaders, he noted.

Over the past year, the committee has studied issues that many residents have said they are most concerned about, including transportation, economic development, agriculture, water and sewer services, schools, public safety and housing, and developed vision statements regarding those topics. Each vision statement describes what the steering committee wants to see come to pass in the next 20 years and how county officials plan to approach each issue.

The statements are written in the past tense, as if the county has already accomplished them. For example, the schools' vision statement says "schools and school sites in Wayne County have been planned well in advance of growth to avoid overcrowding and the need for mobile classrooms. Older schools have been restored and modernized while new schools have been built to serve new growth areas." Also, elementary schools have been designed to be accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods, and walking or riding a bike has become an alternative to cars and buses.

Price said residents of all ages are encouraged to attend the meeting and express themselves. Discussion of one subject often leads to discussion of another, he said.

"We're seeking ideas on how the visions should be carried forward," Price said. "What steps can we take now?"

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and is expected to last until about 9 p.m. Steering committee members will present their visions for a better Wayne County and residents will be given the opportunity to discuss strategies to make those visions a success. Residents will also rank what they believe to be the most important issues in the coming years.