The Planning Commission voted to adopt and approve the Growth Management Plan as written 4-1, with Tony Atkins voting against it. I want to commend and thank Deanne Hall, Dean Thompson, and newly elected chairman, Tom Sprague for their long history of following and respecting our Growth Management Plan. They have exemplary character and are a great asset to the county.
The plan is the culmination of a year's work by consultants, Planning and Development staff and a steering committee comprised of 30 citizens who represented a cross-section of stakeholders throughout the county. The plan is now ready for final approval by the Board of Commissioners.
The plan is required by state law, but is considered a "guideline." Some may feel that a guideline isn't binding, and gives leeway to ignore the plan when "non-compliant" rezonings are requested. I am of the opinion that a guideline is meant to actually guide all decisions regarding both residential and commercial development. I believe that enforcement of the intent and content of the plan is key to our plan's worth and usefulness.
Our GMP deserves the utmost respect and our Board of Commissioners should consider it an authoritative instrument, and not a mere guideline. There is no state law that prevents the commissioners from adhering to the plan. It is a matter of choice, and all citizens should keep watch on the choices they make to comply or not comply with the plan, and cast their votes accordingly at election time.
I am a steering committee member. Even though I didn't get everything I wanted in the plan, I will support, respect and defend the plan. All the committee members worked together and made compromises for the good of the county. Citizens had the opportunity to provide input, too. The result is an excellent plan of our vision for our future growth.
The fate of our plan is now in the hands of the Planning Commission and the commissioners. I'm asking them and all citizens to respect the plan and treat it as if it were "law." Any requested and allowed deviation from the plan sends a message that it is a worthless document that can't be trusted to guide our future, and disavows the year's worth of work and the thousands of taxpayer dollars that were spent on the plan.
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