Public offers input for county land use plan

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Marion County Commission and Planning and Zoning Commission took the first major step toward an updated comprehensive land-use plan by sponsoring a public input meeting Wednesday evening at the Marion Middle School commons.



About 40 people from across the county attended the open meeting, the first of two planned to solicit community input.



The format of the evening was one-on-one conversation and reporting, followed by large- and small-group interaction.



Moderating the meeting was Scott Michie and three assistants from Bucher, Willis & Ratliff, a consulting firm from Kansas City.



The interaction was designed to identify issues of concern to county residents and to gather participants’ feelings about them. The county’s development plan has not being updated since 1972.



The consultants achieved their goal of getting input and feedback. Numerous issues emerged during reporting sessions, ranging from concerns about landfills and rural residential requirements to dreams for economic development and population growth to support schools and health-care facilities.



In a summary session, the following issues were identified and listed by small groups meeting in three broad categories.



Quality of life



1. Population growth and increasing school enrollments.



2. Strengthen the county’s tax base by encouraging appropriate economic development.



3. Environmental impact of new land uses.



4. Preserve the rural way of life, including the natural habitat and limiting the sell-off of properties for residential uses.



5. Health-care services and facilities.



6. Drugs, crime and litter.



Economic development



1. Look at alternatives, such as value-added agricultural products and electronics.



2. Positive development, including “spec” buildings and investments that might attract industry.



3. Develop and capitalize on Marion Reservoir.



4. The loss of the family farm, handle the transition/aging.



5. Develop residential lots in specific areas, county-wide development.



6. Economic growth and population growth are related and impact schools and health care.



Land use



1. Opposition to landfill.



2. Keep ag land ag land.



3. In-fill (residential) developments around cities.



4. Reduce home sites to three to five acres and protect agricultural lands.



5. Protect the agricultural tax value.



A second public meeting will be held later this month at a time, date, and place to be announced.

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