Commission looks to future, wants input

COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Plan Commission will be taking public input on the latest draft of its long-range blueprint prior to its monthly meeting Wednesday.Draft B of the county’s Comprehensive Plan will be the focus of an open house from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Wednesday in the Whitley County Government Center. prior to the 7 p.m. start of the plan commission meeting.Planners have been developing the new guide for land use and development over the last year, working with Ground Rules, Inc., a consulting firm.According to the county’s Building and Planning Department, the purpose of the open house is to seek comments, questions, and additional input from the Whitley County community about the plan before the official adoption process begins.A draft of the new comprehensive plan is now available and county planners are asking for the community’s help in reviewing it.Copies of the plan are available at the Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department at 220 West Van Buren Street, Suite 204, Columbia City. The office is open weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.A copy of the plan can also be downloaded from Whitley County’s website. Go to “” select “Departments” and then “Planning & Building.”The document is on the Planning and Building Department homepage. Or, simply type the direct link, in any internet browser. The process of developing the new Comprehensive Plan began in the spring of 2010 with opportunities for community leaders, representative groups, and the general public to provide initial input.The draft highlights specific ways to manage land use and growth, foster safe and convenient circulation, nurture environmental quality, advance economic development efforts, and enhance quality of life. According to Dave Sewell of the Whitley County Joint Planning and Building Department, the current plan is nearly 20 years old.He said state law requires communities to have a comprehensive plan if they “utilize a zoning ordinance to manage new development.”The plan will also serve as a guide to local decision-makers and will be used to support and stimulate economic development and local investment in Whitley County.At Wednesday’s Plan Commission meeting, the commission will also discuss the next steps in the process of drafting a new wind ordinance.The previous ordinance was scrapped last month by the commission and the board voted to start over.