The recent adoption of the Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan has opened up the gates to our community. As stated in the executive summary of the plan, “A comprehensive plan is a living document for communities to refer to as they make strides for the future. This document will be a roadmap on how to achieve a shared community vision for Montgomery County. Comprehensive plans help underline county resources, issues, assets and weaknesses. A lack of planning can lead to missed opportunities and undesired consequences in the future for our county. The Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan aims to secure a vibrant, sustainable future for the county.”
In a presentation to the League of Women Voters “Lunch With the League” program, Montgomery County Commissioner John Frey explained how the plan is so important to all of us in ensuring growth and stability.
Frey has worked incredibly hard to promote the necessity of the plan, and he has listened just as hard to people throughout the county to address their concerns. Although this is a board of commissioners initiative, Frey has been the driving force of implementing public outreach such as “Coffee with the Commish.” This program has given commissioners the opportunity to connect with the public and get valuable input on current issues. From Waynetown to Darlington to Crawfordsville, they have used these sessions to learn first hand what is on the minds of the constituents. The weekly column, “Connect with the Commish” that appears in the Journal Review gives us all an insight of what is important to our friends and neighbors.
Frey believed early on in his position as commissioner that there was a missing link in the workings of county government and that missing link was, simply put, a plan. Soon after Frey took office, he was invited to Tippecanoe County’s “State of the Community” address. He was given a front row seat where he saw a presentation of the planning work done there both for the present and future. He realized that planning was the key to the economic viability of our neighbors to the north. He realized that we need to get our own community to come together and decide what we want to look like.
That was 2017 and in those two years, we have come a long way. Frey relayed a story about how he had recently met with a hotelier that was interested in expanding a franchise to our area. In preparation for his meeting, he had gathered up maps and other documents to show the hotelier; and although the timing for the franchise was not quite right, Frey realized just how far Montgomery County had come in terms of preparation and organizing all we have to offer.
Frey is aware that not everyone agrees that the tools needed to implement the comprehensive plan and grow our economy are the right way to go. He listens to everyone and also made it clear that this plan is not his — it is based on several years of work done in analyzing feedback from many public forums that we all were encouraged to participate in throughout the process.
Zoning has been a divisive issue for years. Zoning was never meant to be the end goal of the plan. Zoning is just one of the tools that can be used to assure stability and continuity to manufacturers and developers as they look to expand or relocate in our area. Without it, too many potential opportunities for growth will just never make it to the table.
The plan also helps us prioritize our goals. At the top of the list is encouraging residential developers to take a hard look at all of Montgomery County as a real opportunity for their growth as well as ours. We want people to live here as well as work here. It is important for our tax base as well as our quality of life. Our county has much to offer. Our excellent and well-maintained schools along with a comparatively solid infrastructure and proximity to the interstate all point to an area loaded with opportunity.
Obviously, we must first responsibly manage what we already have. At the same time, we need to look to the future. The plan gives us the opportunity to leverage all our resources into a unified effort to get more funding for major projects. There are government dollars that are available to us through all sorts of programs and initiatives. We can now leverage the information in the Plan to make a much more intelligent application for these funds.
We all want to protect what we already have, and the plan does just that by providing strategic focus to what we want as well as what we do not want in our community.