Public input, recommendations on tap for plan commission

COLUMBIA CITY — Some degree of ambiguity surrounds business that’s on the agenda for the Whitley County Plan Commission tonight.The panel meets a day earlier than usual due to scheduling conflicts.Atop the agenda will be a public hearing for the county’s new comprehensive plan, Draft D.According to Dave Sewell, executive director of the Whitley County Building and Planning Department, the commission could vote tonight to approve the plan, barring any major obstacles.He added, though, that official ratification would be done by the Whitley County Board of Commissioners.Clearing the first hurdle, the nod from the plan commission, is contingent on several factors.“It’s going to depend of what discussion the plan commission members want to make and who is in attendance,” he said.But it’s likely the commission might also collect names for consideration on a steering committee aimed at discussing wind energy.That committee, when created, would be presented for approval to the commissioners as well.The committee, which has yet to be formed, is the product of strong suggestion, bordering on demands, from citizens concerned about the county’s wind energy policies.Currently the county has no policies, which the plan commission set out to establish in November of last year before a wave of public outcry helped to bring those efforts to a halt.“It’s going to be interesting,” said Sewell of tonight’s meeting.“It isn’t exactly clear as to whose committee this is.“One one hand’s it’s a steering committee for the study, so there could be an argument that it’s Brad’s committee.”Brad Johnson is a consultant with Ground Rules, Inc., the firm that has authored the county’s comprehensive plan.Ground Rules will conduct a study prior to the drafting of a new county ordinance governing wind power.Sewell said there could be argument that the committee will fall under the authority of the plan commission or possibly the county commissioners.“It’s not as clear as it could be,” he said.The board will convene at 7 p.m. tonight in the lower level of the Whitley County Government Center.