Monday night’s meeting at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park was billed as a Public Forum on the 2018 revision to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
Opportunities for feedback on the current draft of the plan were quite limited, and only a small number of people not engaged with creation of the draft were in the audience.
The meeting met the requirement that the public have a chance to talk about the plan, now being finalized by county consultants.
Citizens will have another opportunity to comment on the plan, probably next month, and also can offer feedback to the documents under discussion, which are available online.
Justin Crighton, a planner with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission hired by the county as a consultant on the update to the Comprehensive Plan, spoke for a little more than 20 minutes at the beginning of the meeting on Monday.
|Crighton Explaining Comprehensive Plan|
Crighton ran through what he considered to be the major features of the Comprehensive Plan dealing with land use, transportation, and parks, recreation and greenspace.
He then told audience members they could go to one of three posters in the room and offer feedback to him or to Eva Kennedy, another NEGRC planner, or Jordan Shoemaker, an NEGRC project specialist.
The chart at the front of the room contained the Future Development Map, while the two at the rear both dealt with transportation.
Crighton said he wanted feedback on parks, recreation and greenspace as well.
NEGRC, a resource for planning, serves 12 counties and 54 municipal governments in the Northeast Georgia Region. Oconee County is in the region.
County Administrator Justin Kirouac asked Creighton for clarification on the purpose of the meeting.
“What is your expectation out of the attendees tonight?” Kirouac said. “What is your ask of the attending public? What can they provide to help the process?”
“If you could give us feedback about the recommendations I just talked about I know I ran through a lot of them, but we can each talk about what they are specifically,” Crighton said.
“If you have specific issues that weren’t addressed in what I talked about that you feel needs to be incorporated into the plan, please let us know.
“If you have something that you don’t think needs to be in the plan. Just let us know what you feel about what you heard earlier and leave it with us. You can either write it on Post-It notes and stick in on the board or just capture it and write it down yourself.”
Crighton didn’t provide Post-It notes or paper for those comments.
Thirty-three people were in attendance when the meeting began at 6 p.m. on Monday.
That included the three staff members from NEGRC, all five of the members of the Board of Commissioners, at least two county administrators, and a number of Steering Committee members who helped to draft the Comprehensive Plan.
At least two other citizens dropped in as the meeting was underway.
A handful of citizens clustered around the Future Development Map at the end of the meeting, which broke up about 7 p.m.
Crighton took questions from and interacted with those citizens.
Contents Of Report
The 82-page draft document has eight different chapters, covering such things as land use, transportation, and parks and greenspace.
The draft document contains changes from the 2008 plan in what are called the Character Areas, or general descriptions of land use, in the county, as reflected in the Future Development Map.
It also creates a new commercial development area at U.S. 78 and Hog Mountain Road.
The draft of the Comprehensive Plan says more park space of all sizes is needed, including neighborhood pocket parks and another large-scale, multi-sport complex.
It also calls for decreasing truck traffic through the county’s cities by designating truck routes around the cities.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a part of the state government executive branch, requires cities and counties to submit a comprehensive plan. The plan is necessary to qualify for state grants, assistance and permitting programs.
Governments also are required to document implementation of the plan.
Schedule Of Future Meetings
Monday nights’s meeting was the second Public Forum on the revision to the Comprehensive Plan, and citizens will have one more opportunity to review the document in a public setting.
Crighton said there will be another, likely final, meeting of the 29-member citizen Steering Committee in March.
At that meeting, the Steering Committee will recommend that the document be forwarded to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for review, Crighton said.
Following that, Crighton said, the county will hold another public hearing at a Planning Commission meeting “and that will be in March maybe depending on when the schedule actually works out.”
“After we hear your input tonight, we’ll incorporate it into the plan, take it back to the (Steering) Committee and say this is what we’ve heard throughout the process,” Crighton said.
“This is the final draft of the plan, which will be available for public review,” Crighton added, referring to the document to be presented to the Steering Committee. “And what we’ll do is take that plan and transmit it to the state authority to review it and approve it. And once it is approved, the county will officially adopt it.”
About 75 people attended the first Public Forum on the plan, held in July.
Citizens also can review and comment on the current version of the Comprehensive Plan on the county web site.
The web page containing the documents that make up the Comprehensive Plan is confusing and difficult to navigate.
This web link provides access to the key documents.
The comment form at the center of the plage requires additional steps, including registration.
On the top of the left-hand side of the page is a link is to a document that still contains editing comments.
Three of the four remaining links are to documents that are part of the 2008 plan.
The link to the 2018 Future Development Map is here.
I attended the meeting on Monday night, but I arrived just as the meeting was starting because I also attended the meeting of the Board of Education that evening.
Penny Mills recorded the video of the meeting, which is below.