Wednesday, October 6, 2010

County to update comp plan

P&Z to seek more public input


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Graphic courtesy of Jeff Adams, Blaine County Land Use and Building Services The new comprehensive plan includes 15 elements, shown above. Each element will have a separate section of the plan dedicated to it, a section that will be drafted by county staff and county residents in a public process.

A process and a steering committee for updating the Blaine County Comprehensive Plan took another step toward completion during a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Thursday as staff members stressed the need for more public input.

A new process splits the plan into 15 elements. One appointed county resident and three residents who have been randomly selected from a list of survey respondents will work with county staff and the P&Z to tackle issues such as agriculture, recreation and historic preservation.

"What you're looking for are new sources of information instead of having the same people sit in a room and make decisions," Regional Planner Jeff Adams said. "We're trying to get away from group think."

The residents and staff will form a task force that will be charged with rewriting the plan's various chapters, a process that Adams said he expected to take about four months per chapter.

While one resident with a certain amount of expertise will be appointed to work extensively with county staff, the three other residents on the task force will be called at random after participating in a county survey.

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The updating process is unique, Adams said, in that the county is doing its own work rather than hiring an outside consultant.

If the commissioners approve the new process, it would provide for a complete update of the entire comprehensive plan every five years, with three of 15 elements being updated each year on a rotating basis. The first complete revision would be expected in late 2015.

Adams said the process won't officially start until the steering committee has been voted in and public meetings begin, likely within the next two months.

The plan guides land use decisions and is required by Idaho code. It was originally drafted in 1989 and last comprehensively updated in 1994. An revised version will require approval by the county commissioners.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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