03/21/08 — County approves long-range plan, goals

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County approves long-range plan, goals

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 21, 2008 1:46 PM

After nearly two years of discussion and planning, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners has finally approved the county's long-term comprehensive plan.

The plan, which features 12 different focus points, each with its own overarching vision statement, policy recommendations and action steps, also includes a county growth map showing where the most likely areas are for industrial development, urban sprawl and continued agricultural uses.

It is not, County Manager Lee Smith emphasized, countywide zoning -- even though it's a tool that can be used in such future efforts.

"It is a set of policies and action steps to help set direction," he explained. "It is a planning document by which you look at issues of zoning and smart growth."

Among the 12 focus areas are transportation, education, housing and neighborhoods, community appearance, farmland preservation, downtown development, parks and recreation, economic development, intergovernmental cooperation, public safety, and county funding.

It is something that is intended to be used during decision-making processes on every level of the county government.

Already, department heads are using its recommendations to help create budget proposals for the coming fiscal year in areas such as economic development, infrastructure development and agricultural preservation.

"This will be a working document that we will look at on an annual basis," Smith said. "It's not something you put on a shelf."

And it was, the commissioners felt, time to finally have it implemented.

"This has been a long time coming," Commissioner J.D. Evans said. "I'm so glad to see it come to fruition. I think it sets the direction for where we need to go from here and that's very important."

Also at their meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners approved a resolution to the state General Assembly and Department of Transportation requesting $135,000 to fund bridge repairs this year.

"We have a lot of issues with some of our bridges," Smith said.

In particular, they are focused on the ability of commercial farm vehicles to access some of the county's roadways -- not necessarily because of safety issues, but out of a concern about the economic impact of farmers and agribusinesses being hindered in accessing warehouses and farm production areas because of tonnage limits.

The funds are expected to help make repairs on three bridges throughout the county -- Beston Road, Mark Edwards Road and Parkstown Road.