Summit County leaders to kick off yearlong process of updating county’s comprehensive plan
Initial outreach begins with online survey as officials seek to refine the document that will guide future community growth and development plans for years
Summit County officials are kicking off what is likely to be a yearlong endeavor of updating the county’s comprehensive plan, the guiding document on future growth and community development.
As mandated by state statute, local governments are required to produce these plans to ensure there is a framework for policies including zoning, subdivision regulations and annexations over the long term.
According to Senior Planner Susan Lee, the last time the county’s plan was updated was in 2009.
“We’re a little overdue, but we’re excited to get started,” said Lee during a Sept. 12 Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting. “This serves as sort of the long-range guiding document, long-range vision for how we would like our community to grow and look over time. So this is an important document for us.”
The county has contracted with planning firm Logan Simpson to help facilitate outreach, review existing plans and codes and ultimately deliver a final draft update by the end of next year.
Logan Simpson senior associate Megan Moore outlined a project timeline that begins this fall with community listening sessions, interviews and tours around the county to collect initial feedback from residents. An online survey is currently live.
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“In addition to the outreach in October, we’re starting off with an internal audit of the existing plan,” Moore said. “We don’t want to recreate the wheel and what’s good in the existing plan. We want to carry that forward. But we also want to know what’s not working, what hasn’t been working.”
Community outreach will be key for ensuring there is community buy-in for the overall vision for the county, Moore said.
Such input will help officials “understand what people love about the community” and the “things that need to be preserved in the county long term.”
Community leaders hope to draft an initial plan update by summer of next year, Moore said, adding, “Public engagement is really the most important part of this process.”
“If we’re not getting the numbers or the demographics that we expect to see, we will try to reassess and reposition ourselves,” Moore said.
Commissioner Tamara Pogue recommended the firm attempt to replicate the partnerships made between local nonprofits and researchers during the recent county housing needs assessment. As part of that effort, consultants for Root Policy Research worked with Mountain Dreamers, an immigrant advocacy organization, to survey Spanish-speaking residents who may not have taken the online poll.
“Certainly, if there are ways to capitalize on what Mountain Dreamers and Root learned from their process, that may be wise,” Pogue said.
“I think it will be successful if it really does incorporate the variety of voices that exist in our community,” she added.
Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she also wanted to see collaboration with county employers, from hospitality to healthcare, adding, “This is important to their employees and as employers to make sure that everyone’s included.”
Along with direct outreach, public review for the plan will also come in the form of an advisory committee that will consist of residents who will provide input as the process continues. And as the draft plan becomes more refined, officials plan to hold numerous open houses to provide opportunities for community comment.
“This is the opportunity for us to really shape what our future looks like,” said Commissioner Nina Waters.
More information on the plan including access to the online survey can be found at BluePrintSummitCounty.com/.
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