Comprehensive plan is a term that Bobbi Pettit would rather not hear when it comes to helping cities and counties develop plans for development.
The planner from Kearney who has more than 10 years of experience in planning in more than 20 villages and cities in Nebraska is leading the effort to update the comprehensive plans for Madison and Pierce counties.
Along with updating both county plans, every community in Madison County except Tilden — and possibly Madison — will update their plans. Tilden’s plan was recently updated and Madison’s plan was a few years earlier.
“I think the word comprehensive is unfortunate,” Pettit told the Madison County Joint Planning Commission on Thursday evening.
That’s because it can bog down the process of updating the plan because comprehensive makes everyone think “of all these potential things.”
“It makes it scary to approve it,” she said.
Rather, Pettit said she hopes to have the county streamline the process or concentrate on just the “bare bones.” Sometimes there can be too much information and it gets difficult to read it all, she said.
If a county is going to have zoning regulations that it intends to enforce and defend in court, it should have a comprehensive plan. The plan should focus on four elements: the land use elements, roads, energy and public facilities, she said.
ECAP, or the Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process, is run by the University of Nebraska. It will be conducting a strategic planning process for the communities in Madison County.
Pettit said she is putting together the planning process for the rural portions of Madison County and Pierce County. This is the first county comprehensive plan she has written, she said.
Pettit asked the Madison County Joint Planning Commission on Wednesday evening to consider what groups or individuals should be included in the planning process for the rural areas. Members should be thinking of this in the next few weeks and then contacting Heather McWhorter with the names.
Commissioner Jim Prauner suggested some of the county department heads, including Dick Johnson, Madison County’s road superintendent.
Pettit said the standard process includes focus group interviews or one-on-one interviews with those who will be identified. There also will be a countywide survey, she said.
Roger Acklie, chairman of the commission, said it is important to have agricultural interests represented — from both crop and livestock feeders.
“I would like them to be located locally,” Acklie said. “We have a couple of large feedlots that do mostly custom feeding. I would like to see them be involved rather than the holders of the cattle.”
The focus group meetings likely will begin in April or May. The county will have up to two years to get the entire plan finished.
Pettit said she knows it is cumbersome and time-consuming to have all these preparations in the beginning, but it will make the effort more efficient.
And until the meetings start happening, Pettit will be working behind the scenes to get land use data and to identify and rate all the roads.
“I look forward to working with you,” she said. “I hope you are looking forward to working with me.”
Madison County last updated its comprehensive plan in 2003.