Commissioners hear options for comprehensive planning

Marion County commissioners are looking at different proposals for developing a comprehensive plan for the county.

The commissioners met in a special meeting April 7 to hear presentations from various firms who put together the plans.

?No one has looked at it since it was developed in 1972,? Linda Peterson, commission chair, said.

Four firms presented different ways of completing plans for the county.

The first presentation was given by Ron Williamson and Scott Michie of Bucher, Willis and Ralliff.

They proposed a three-phase plan. Phase I would begin with discussion of planning issues and demographics. Phase II includes developing planning strategies with training and focus sessions. The plan would be completed with the plan implementation.

?It?s a process where we get folks talking to each other and listening,? Michie said.

The plan could be completed in six to eight months at a cost of $30,000.

The second proposal was given by members of two firms who would be working together. C. Bickley Foster of Foster & Associates Planning Consultants and J. Michael Rice of Jones, Rice, Foster proposed a simpler plan.

?We would like to suggest something different,? Foster said. ?We find that county plans are sometimes over done.?

He said cities need comprehensive plans, unlike counties and recommended a policy plan.

To do this, information would be taken from other plans and put together in a policy. The cost would be under $10,000 and could be completed in about eight months.

If done in a loose-leaf format, it could be added to or changed over the years.

Foster said they also provide a complete set of forms for zoning and other things.

The third proposal was made by Eric Strauss of Strauss and Associates.Strauss has experience working with Hillsboro and Marion.

He would focus on a balance of protecting agriculture and development and the growth of cities.

?We bring to you what other communities have done. You bring to us what issues you want to address,? Strauss said.

He said they try to make the planning process as open and inclusive as possible. They also go over the plan on a page by page basis with the planning commission, county commissioners and others involved. The cost of the plan would be $32,000.

A final proposal was given by David Yearout of Yearout Associates, Division of Austin Miller, P.A.

?We will be talking about everything the county government touches on or potentially could touch,? Yearout said.

He said they would work with the planning commission when developing the plan.

It would take from 18 months to two years to complete and would come between $15,000 to $20,000 for a complete update.

All of the costs were only estimates and would vary depending on what the county wanted to do.

The commissioners asked Eileen Sieger, planning commissioner director, to discuss the proposals with the planning commission and get their input. A report will be given to the commission.

After checking out the references for each of the firms, the county commissioners will make their decision in two or three weeks.

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