Candid, specific input needed on county’s comprehensive plan

If ever there was a time for area residents to speak up and share their views on land use issues, now is that time.
How do we, as a county, feel about wind energy, solar energy, livestock expansion projects, rural housing developments and other issues of the day? All of these are extremely relevant questions, which could and should be answered by local residents who share a vested interest in Hamilton County’s economy and quality of life.
How specific areas of our county should, or should not, be developed has been the subject of some spirited debate over the years. That’s to be expected, though oftentimes there is no immediate conclusion at the end of those discussions. Emotional 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.
A public hearing process is now underway which could very well help turn public opinion into policy. This is a golden opportunity to be candid and very detailed about specific areas of Hamilton County, whether out in rural areas, inside Aurora city limits or in and around the villages of Giltner, Hampton, Hordville, Marquette, Phillips and Stockham.
The first of several public hearings kicked off a detailed planning endeavor last week which is expected to take more than a year to complete. Hearings are scheduled Wednesday (June 14) in Aurora, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the fairgrounds, and again June 21 in Giltner, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the community center.
For those who can’t make the hearings or prefer to share their views privately, community and county surveys are also available to help people share their input. The county survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HamiltonCoNECompPlan. The village survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HamiltonCoVillages.
The online surveys are a terrific format, eliminating any potential scheduling conflicts and/or apprehension about going on the record, in public. Input will be collected through Aug. 1. The end result will be an updated comprehensive development plan, the first for Hamilton County in 47 years.
It’s logical for planning consultant Keith Marvin to bring a blueprint of rural Nebraska planning and zoning to the table for this process, but the final document can and should be specific to Hamilton County. For that to happen, people need to engage, and weigh in, on the record.
Now is that time.
Kurt Johnson

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