Pedestrians cross Clinton St. and enter the Pedestrian Mall in Downtown Iowa City on Monday June 27, 2016. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Johnson County seeks comprehensive plan

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By Madeleine Neal

madeleine-neal@uiowa.edu

Johnson County held its first public input session to create a comprehensive plan Tuesday evening at the Lone Tree Community Center.

In a press release on the Johnson County website, residents were invited to help create “the first-ever comprehensive plan for the county.”

Nate Mueller, an assistant director of Johnson County planning, development, and sustainability, said the comprehensive plan will be much more encompassing than the county’s current “land use” plan.

“For [the county] specifically, [the plan is] much more encompassing,” he said. “[The plan is] making sure we really address all the areas that need addressing.”

Five public input sessions are set to take place through March.

“We’re really curious as to what everyone will say,” Mueller said. “We like to hear from as many people as possible — [people feel] strongly about one way or another.”

The release calls the county’s latest plan “JoCo 2.0 — Sustaining Success Through 2028.”

“[The plan] will involve updating the current land use plan for the unincorporated areas,” according to the release. “And adding sections to more fully address agriculture and natural resources, economic development, housing, public infrastructure, natural hazards, and sustainability.”

Mike Carberry, the vice chairman of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, said some decisions will be made based on information gathered from the hearings.

“[We are] hoping for a lot of public input,” he said. “[There will] obviously [be a] difference in opinions.”

Carberry said he hopes to see people who represent all different constituents — farmers and members of rural communities to prevent a suburban sprawl.

“[I am] not sure how it’ll go over,” he said. “[The plan is a] little more than [just] land use.”

The website’s release said a “steering committee” of 21 members from across Johnson County will help lead the process.

The website also said JEO Consulting Group and Confluence, a group focused on engineering, architecture, surveying and planning throughout the Midwest, and Johnson County’s Planning, Development and Sustainability Department, will arrange the public-input sessions.

Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said she hopes the new plan will be all-encompassing.

Rettig said the plan will be carefully defined on where the county will allow growth — she hopes the plan will limit “urban sprawl.”

“I hope it protects sensitive areas and agricultural areas,” she said. “[I hope areas] best used for agriculture stay that way.”

The next public input session will take place Feb. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kent Park Education Center in Oxford.

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