Get in­volved with the 2050 Plan

The Covington News - - OPINION - HUNTER HALL GUEST COLUM­NIST Hunter Hall is the Pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton/ New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

I would like to pro­vide a brief his­tory on the in­tent and ori­gin of the 2050 Plan that I think is im­por­tant as we be­gin the pub­lic in­put ses­sions on the Base Line Or­di­nances (BLO).

The New­ton County Lead­er­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive (LC) was formed back in 2005 with the in­tent of get­ting elected and non-elected lead­ers in New­ton County to­gether to dis­cuss is­sues that dealt with the ex­plo­sive growth in our county and what, if any­thing, we should do about it. Rep­re­sented at the ta­ble were the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, Cities of Cov­ing­ton, Ox­ford, Por­terdale, New­born, Mans­field, the New­ton County Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Sewer, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, and the Cham­ber of Com­merce. Early dis­cus­sions dealt with the hous­ing boom, trans­porta­tion cor­ri­dors re­lated to traf­fic, the cause and ef­fect of pop­u­la­tion growth on our school sys­tem, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment goals and strate­gies, sewer ser­vice ar­eas to ac­com­mo­date growth, etc. While Al­covy High School was be­ing con­structed in 2004/2005, there was dis­cus­sion about the cost of plac­ing the school in south­ern New­ton County and what the added tax bur­den would be for run­ning bus ser­vice to that lo­ca­tion as well as the cost of buy­ing additional acreage for sep­tic needs. It was the re­al­iza­tion of the added tax bur­den on the cit­i­zens of New­ton County that led to the mem­bers of the Lead­er­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing to­gether to sup­port the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion as they selected the lo­ca­tion of Flint Hill. With the BOE choos­ing the lo­ca­tion of Flint Hill El­e­men­tary School — a lo­ca­tion that was closer to the pop­u­la­tion cen­ter (sav­ing tax pay­ers money on bus fuel), was on sewer (sav­ing money on land ac­qui­si­tion for sep­tic) — ev­ery­one won. That is just a small ex­am­ple of how the LC had been work­ing to­gether for the good of the tax pay­ers. It is also an ex­am­ple of a com­mu­nity try­ing to proac­tively man­age its growth as well as learn from its past.

Now, in re­spects to the ac­tual 2050 Plan — the LC never set out to cre­ate a Land Plan. It has grown very or­gan­i­cally over the past 8 years. Mem­bers of the Boards, Coun­cils and Au­thor­i­ties that make up the Lead­er­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive have been meet­ing ev­ery month since 2006. Over that time there has been var­i­ous county and city staff rep­re­sented, tran­si­tioned sev­eral elec­tion cy­cles, ap­point­ments, dif­fer­ent board mem­bers, and var­i­ous cham­ber pres­i­dents. Each of the en­ti­ties in­volved have funded the LC and its goals through their var­i­ous bud­gets when ap­pli­ca­ble. The 2050 Plan and ver­sion 1 of the BLO is not a prod­uct of a hand­ful of in­di­vid­u­als who have an agenda to push — very much to the con­trary. They are in fact the by-prod­uct of years of col­lab­o­ra­tive work done by hun­dreds of people rep­re­sent­ing all New­ton County res­i­dents and businesses. In a nut shell, it is a Com­pre­hen­sive Land Use Plan de­signed by our elected and non-elected of­fi­cials, their key staff mem­bers and the Cham­ber of Com­merce to help us plan re­spon­si­bly and proac­tively for the ab­so­lute cer­tainty of pop­u­la­tion growth in New­ton County We have seen the im­pact of un­planned growth in our neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties and this plan, in prin­ci­ple and pur­pose, en­ables us to pro­tect a qual­ity of life we de­sire and main­tain our unique com­mu­nity char­ac­ter.

So where are we in the process? The LC asked the con­sul­tants to cre­ate or­di­nances that would fa­cil­i­tate the county land use plan (2050 Plan). They have cre­ated Ver­sion 1. The elected of­fi­cials have had a chance to re­view this ver­sion with the con­sul­tants. A group of stake­hold­ers from a va­ri­ety of back­grounds, de- mo­graph­ics and in­ter­ests, from de­vel­op­ers to home own­ers, have been given the chance to re­view the or­di­nances as well. Now we are ask­ing the cit­i­zens of New­ton County to re­view and of­fer feed­back. The con­sul­tants will take all the var­i­ous feed­back and cre­ate Ver­sion 2 of the BLO, and we will fa­cil­i­tate pub­lic in­put once again. When Ver­sion 3 of the base­line or­di­nances are com­plete, each govern­ment will work with con­sul­tants to cus­tom­ize the base­line or­di­nance to their unique needs, leading to Ver­sion 4. For in­stance, each govern­ment will plug in their own his­toric preser­va­tion or­di­nance or tree or­di­nances, etc. In­put from the pub­lic will be sought with each sub­se­quent ver­sion. Lastly the con­sul­tants will cre­ate a Fi­nal Ver­sion that will be brought to the people through the pub­lic hear­ing process and fi­nally to our var­i­ous elected bod­ies for re­view and adop­tion.

So here is what we are ask­ing you to do. En­gage. Par­tic­i­pate. Please go to the web­site at www.2050plan. org to get the full story and de­tails. At­tend the pub­lic in­put ses­sions. There are five, held in pub­lic schools through­out New­ton County. We look for­ward to see­ing you there.

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