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Champaign County developing first comprehensive plan since 2004

Champaign County is asking residents to fill out a survey on issues that stretch from housing preferences to what kinds of entertainment should be available as part of a long-term comprehensive plan.

The county is working with the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commissioner to develop the plan, which is expected to be finished by the end of this year, said Steve Hess, Champaign County commissioner. It’s been more than a decade since the last plan was updated in 2004, he said. But the project is helpful when local entities are seeking grants or when local government officials determine which priorities to focus on, he said.

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“We’re trying to create a foundation for the future of the county,” Hess said.

As part of the process, the LUC developed a 30-question survey and is asking for input from residents, said Dave Gulden, director of the LUC. The questions focus on a range of issues, including the kind of housing people would prefer to be developed over the next decade and how residents rate the quality of the county’s infrastructure.

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For example, one question asks residents whether they’d prefer to see more residential subdivisions, loft apartments or more housing for the elderly. Another asks what kinds of recreational activities would benefit the county most, including concerts, community gardens, festivals or art exhibitions.

The plans ideally are updated at least about every 10 years, Gulden said.

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“With the way things are changing with technology and the economy we’re eventually seeking five-year updates but we’re going to get this big update out of the way this year,” Gulden said.

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The plan will also guide how local officials will develop zoning regulations and land use plans for the region for the future. The LUC will make the survey available on its website until June 22, Gulden said. Both Hess and Gulden said one key reason for an update is to have a better shot at acquiring grants for various projects in the county.

“Those who award the grants like to see that the community has identified the need for those grant dollars, whether its transportation projects, preservation of natural area or bike trails,” Hess said.

He said Urbana, the county and other entities in the county are each chipping in to cover the cost of developing the plan.

A steering committee, made up from representatives from all across the county will periodically review whether local officials are following the plan when making decisions, Gulden said. He pointed to the development of the Simon Kenton Trail bike path after the 1993 comprehensive plan as one success tied to past planning.

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