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Meetings likely on changes to plan

County commissioners are expected to seek public opinion on modifying the comprehensive plan.

By WILL VAN SANT
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003


BROOKSVILLE -- The County Commission is expected to initiate a series of community workshops today on improving the county comprehensive plan, a document that serves as a blueprint for long-term growth.

The workshops are an attempt by county planners to get the public involved in growth management issues -- an effort that began in October with release of a survey that asked residents to rank the social, economic and environmental concerns most important to them. Results of the survey are being compiled.

It's hoped that the series of four public workshops, conducted by the County Commission with Planning Department staff in attendance, will clarify concerns residents voiced in their survey responses and act as a basis for proposed changes to the comprehensive plan the county must provide to state regulators by Aug. 1, 2004.

"This to me is a very crucial project to do and do well," said commission Chairwoman Betty Whitehouse. "It's extremely important."

County planner Jim King said the meetings were not designed to be an open forum for the public to raise marginal issues specific to one individual.

A code enforcement officer will be in attendance to promptly deal with such concerns. What is desired, he said, is input on how the county should look in the years ahead and how to get there.

"We are looking for people's ideas of what they want for the future," King said.

In addition to making the comprehensive plan better conform to a shared vision of a Hernando County yet to come, the blueprint's present weaknesses must be eliminated. According to King, there are certain areas of the plan, particularly regarding rezonings from residential to commercial designations, that are ambiguous and need clarification.

Still to be determined is the composition of a policy advisory committee that will be charged with making specific recommendations regarding which parts of the plan must change.

Members will be appointed by the County Commission.

Whitehouse said she hoped to see community leaders from across the county sit on the policy board.

The meetings are tentatively scheduled to take place between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 6 at the Coast Guard Auxiliary Building in Hernando Beach; March 12 at the Springstead Performing Arts Center in Spring Hill; March 19 at the County Government Center in Brooksville; and April 3 at the Ridge Manor Community Center in Ridge Manor.

-- Will Van Sant covers Hernando County government and can be reached at 754-6127. Send e-mail to vansant@sptimes.com .

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