COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County planners have been formulating a new document designed to spell out long-range goals for the county.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Whitley County Council, Dave Sewell, Whitley County’s Executive Director of Planning and Building presented each member of the board with a copy of Draft B of the Whitley County Comprehensive Plan.
Planners have been developing a new guide for land use and development over the last year, working with Ground Rules, Inc., a consulting firm.
The consultant, in conjunction with county planners, will be hosting an open house from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Jan. 19 in the Whitley County Government Center, 220 West Van Buren Street in Columbia City. The meeting will be held in Meeting Room C on the main level.
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 draft Comprehensive Plan before the official adoption process begins.”
Sewell said the plan has several steps ahead before the approval process.
“It is not in a state to be adopted at this moment,” said Sewell.
“We’re still trying to get input. So, the consultants have put together a second draft and we’re going through this round of inputs and then we’ll review/revise based accordingly upon the inputs.”
A draft of the new comprehensive plan is now available, 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 www.whitleygov.com  select “Departments” and then “Planning & Building.”
The document is on the Planning and Building Department homepage.
Or, simply type the direct link, www.whitleygov.com/egov/docs/1292006400_837249.pdf  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 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.
According to Sewell, 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.
Sewell is not sure how much the document will change as it proceeds through the input process.
“It may or may not change, probably not substantially but maybe some of the details might change,” he said.
“So, we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of input we’ll get from the meetings we’ll hold.”