Local input will be critical to county’s comprehensive plan

So what’s the plan, Hamilton County?
How can we attract our best and brightest back home with jobs and opportunity? How can we preserve the ag-based foundation we have while also opening new doors without creating conflict?
How can we grow the population in area villages and throughout the county while protecting our precious valuable resources, including groundwater, soil and air quality?
How do we, as a county, feel about wind energy, solar energy, livestock expansion projects, adult entertainment and other issues of our time?
Bottom line: How do we determine the best land use policies for the future? Those are fundamental questions worth pondering these days, and they are among many area residents are about to be asked, on the record.
The first of many meetings kicked off a detailed planning endeavor last week which is expected to take two full years to complete. The end result will be an updated comprehensive development plan, the first for Hamilton County in 47 years. Holy cow, is this document due for an update!
A story in this week’s edition details the process Marvin Planning Consultants will use to draft our county’s official plan for the future. The driving force will be the county’s planning and zoning commission, which will meet every four to six weeks, though Keith Marvin explained that county commissioners and elected officials from all six area villages will be advised all along the way.
A key piece to this puzzle will be listening to area residents, and on that front Marvin explained that public meetings and online surveys will be used to document local input.
It’s logical for Marvin to bring a blueprint of rural Nebraska planning and zoning to the table, but this document can and should be specific to Hamilton County. Heated meetings last year on the wind energy proposal alone reflect just how important local control will be on decisions that impact people’s lives and livelihood.
Coincidentally, the Aurora Area Chamber & Development is about to launch its own strategic planning process, updating a list of community priorities last reviewed in 2010. Local voices will be critical to that process as well.
So be advised, your opinion on our community’s plan for the future is valid, welcome and needed. Now it’s up to you to speak up and engage in the process.
Kurt Johnson

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