Show up for the 2050 Plan

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Here’s some of what we have heard from con­cerned cit­i­zens over the last two weeks: “It’s un­con­sti­tu­tional.” “How can they tell me what to do with my land?” “Why weren’t we in­volved?” “This plan is for a few selected people in po­si­tion to make pol­icy.”

Here are two be­hind-the-scenes-of-a-news­pa­per truths we’ll let you in on from all this:

First, we love people com­ing to us about their com­mu­nity con­cerns; that’s why we’re here. We want to be New­ton County’s in­for­ma­tion arm, and you are let­ting us know that’s what you want, too.

The other is that we want you to do some­thing about it. Your con­cerns are real. This is your county, your land, your home.

The Fourth of July showed us New­ton County still has a strong Amer­i­can spirit. The pa­rades, pa­tri­o­tism and fer­vor all were re­minders of this coun­try’s his­toric strength.

You know what else is Amer­i­can’s his­toric strength? How this coun­try came to be?

The people spoke out when they needed to. When people thought there was too much govern­ment con­trol, for­eign or do­mes­tic, they fought for change.

And it wasn’t just Thomas Jef­fer­son, Abra­ham Lin­coln, Su­san B. Anthony, Martin Luther King and other pop­u­lar his­toric fig­ures. Chances are it was people of your re­la­tions — it has been a lit­tle of ev­ery­one.

They spoke up, stood their ground or showed up. They didn’t post, Tweet, blog or just sec­ond-hand com­plain.

The in­for­ma­tion age brought huge quan­ti­ties of knowl­edge right to our fin­ger tips. Then it pro­gressed into the new me­dia age, then the so­cial me­dia age. We can now speak up on all the in­for­ma­tion that is ac­ces­si­ble every­where we go, when­ever we want.

But it has seem­ingly dulled us to just com­plain to com­put­ers, not pol­icy mak­ers.

New­ton County, we be­lieve we have a chance to speak up to the pol­icy mak­ers.

Those con­struct­ing the 2050 Plan have told us flat out “we want them to par­tic­i­pate.”

There are still plenty of drafts left be­fore the 2050 Plan be­comes of­fi­cial.

Now, that doesn’t mean all the scary talk of land reg­u­la­tions and uni­form struc­tures and govern­ment over­sight will nec­es­sar­ily go away. But it does mean you can tell Keith El­lis, Kay Lee, Scott Sirotkin and any­one else in­volved what you think, what you want, what you don’t like. And it may be pro­duc­tive.

There are five pub­lic hear­ings ap­proach­ing on v1 of the 2050 Plan, the first com­ing Mon­day. You know what would be great? If Live Oak El­e­men­tary School was over­flow­ing with people at 6:30 p.m.

We’re not writ­ing the plan, so we can’t say for sure that if you voice your con­cerns and sug­ges­tions at these hear­ings they will be in­cluded when the plan goes to the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers prob­a­bly in 2015, 2016.

But we can with­out a doubt tell you that if you’re given a chance to show your con­cerns, as strong as they are, and there is lit­tle or no ac­tion taken, it is shame­ful.

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