Comprehensive plan will soon establish critical regulations

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Area residents concerned with land use issues involving commercial wind energy and livestock expansion, among other things, should be tuning into a process that will soon give all a chance to speak up and be heard.
Efforts to gather information and input to be used in updating Hamilton County’s comprehensive plan started almost two years ago, tabling a discussion which at that time had sparked an emotional debate. A proposal to build four large wind turbines south of Aurora raised the question of if and where such projects should be allowed, which is what the comprehensive plan and related subdivision and zoning regulations are all about.
Hamilton County commissioners noted that the local plan was decades old and thus did not address some of the more timely issues of the day, including commercial wind energy development. They hit the pause button, in essence, so that new regulations could be written, reviewed and put in place.
After nearly two years of reviewing land use maps, comparing other plans and visiting with village boards in Hampton, Giltner, Phillips, Marquette, Stockham and Hordville, rough draft plans are about to be unveiled for the county and all area villages. The City of Aurora has its own comprehensive plan, thus is not impacted by this process.
It seems to me in this day and age that too many people feel disconnected on local governance issues and that their input does not matter. That’s unfortunate, though part of the problem is a society that is less engaged than it once was.
It makes a difference when you tune in early on, paying attention to the details that may impact your life or property, rather that waiting until a decision is made and complaining after the legal process has unfolded. I’ve attended countless public hearings in recent years involving multi-million budgets and potentially sensitive policies where nobody shows up, much less speaks for or against. How then are elected officials to factor in public sentiment?
There will be one final chance to weigh in on these critical planning documents before the new regulations are approved and implemented. Rough draft copies are available to review, or soon will be, at the courthouse or online at https://hczoning.wixsite.com/update. Also watch the News-Register for public notices and stories updating the comprehensive plan status in the weeks ahead.
If ever there was a time for area residents to speak up and share their views on land use issues, now is that time.
Kurt Johnson

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