Amanda King @kingamandap

Columbia County is in the process of updating its vision for the county and seeking the public’s input on those decisions as it continues to grow and develop.

The state requires a comprehensive plan every 10 years and requires an update after five years. Vision 2035 was initially adopted in 2016. Scott Sterling, division director for the county’s Planning Services Division, said this will allow them to update background and demographics for the vision. A main focus of the update will be on land use and land use patterns. The final adoption for the update is expected to be complete in Feb. 2021.

Architecture and engineering firm Goodwin, Mills and Cawood will be assisting the county staff with the update and will do most of the heavy lifting in drawing up the plan, Sterling said. The staff will assist the firm in facilitating meetings and working with a steering committee, which will meet monthly as sounding board for project to talk through issues and guide direction for some of the decisions.

“(Goodwin, Mills and Cawood) be the ones kind of running the show,” he said. “They’ll be the ones handling the public input and involvement process throughout the county.”

A schedule has not been finalized for public meetings but Sterling said they are planning two to three meetings per district over the next year. There will be a public hearing at the March 5 Planning Commission meeting to begin the discussion, and the county hopes to have some meetings scheduled by that time.

The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on issues concerning traffic, land use development and other changes needed in the area. There will also be an option to submit input online for those unable to attend meetings.

“As we work through the process we’ll be able to see where (the community) wants to be in the next five or beyond years and that will help formulate plans,” Sterling said. “This process is intended to have a very robust public involvement process. It doesn’t mean everyone’s going to get what they want, but it is intended to give the public an opportunity with what they vision of Columbia County will be in the next five plus years,”

Once the plan has been updated it will be submitted to the Planning Commission in a public hearing before going to the Board of Commissioners for adoption in early 2021.

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