Comprehensive plan can be viewed at final open house

COLUMBIA CITY — Concerned citizens can view the third incarnation of Whitley County’s newest comprehensive plan during an open house today, according to the county’s Building and Planning Department.Dave Sewell, the department’s executive director said last month there have been few changes between the plan’s second and third draft, citing mostly semantics, grammatical and spelling changes, adding the most notable changes stemmed from public input meetings and involved windmills.Sewell said the public comments have pertained to wind energy, turbines and alternative energy devices.During meetings last month, consultants fielded questions and concerns about wind energy and documented those issues in the newest version of the plan, named Draft C.For nearly a year, Whitley County has been developing a new comprehensive plan for land use and development.The plan is being constructed by consultants from Ground Rules, Inc.The consultants will host today’s open house from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Whitley County Government Center, 220 W. Van Buren Street in Columbia City. The purpose of the open house is to seek comments, questions, and additional input from county residents before the official adoption process begins.Sewell pointed out the most significant changes to the document last month.In Part 2, Planning Principles on Page 16, a new objective, Objective 1.4 was added which reads “Initiate a community-based process to recommend standards for wind generation facilities.”On Page 30, Part 3, or Land Classification Plan, under land uses, the words Wind Energy Facility were changed to alternative energy facility.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 plan 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. Sewell said the current plan is nearly 20 years old, adding that 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.To download a copy of the plan from Whitley County’s website, go to and select “Departments” and “Planning & Building.” The document is on the Planning and Building Department homepage. Or, simply type the direct link, in any Internet browser.