Board Gives Hancock County Comprehensive Plan a FavorableReport

Posted by on Oct 31, 2022 in News | 0 comments

Board Gives Hancock County Comprehensive Plan a FavorableReport

HANCOCK COUNTY, IND. – The Hancock County Area Plan Commission voted unanimously earlier this week to give the county’s new comprehensive plan a favorable recommendation. It now heads to the Hancock County Commissioners, Shirley Town Council and Spring Lake Town Council for their respective adoptions.

The updated plan culminates a $250,000 effort over a year in the making guided by a consulting firm, local steering committee and public feedback. At over 200 pages, officials will use the document to help guide development over the next 20 years. The new comprehensive plan also includes a thoroughfare plan and economic development strategy. It would replace the county’s current plan, which has been in place since 2005 and had an in-house update in 2012. 

Randy Sorrell, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, noted one of the themes of the plan’s economic development strategy is to recognize agriculture as a foundational asset in the county. 

“You’ve seen what we’ve done on the west side of the county,” Sorrell said, referring to the industrial surge there. “We’re going to do the opposite of that on the east side of the county, and create more opportunities for the ag community. That’s what the plan says we’re supposed to be doing.”

Scott Harrington, principal planner for Vandewalle & Associates, the firm the county hired to assist with the comprehensive plan, said that the projected acreage of future growth areas are not expected to develop in the 20-year period covered by the draft comprehensive plan, and that it may be decades beyond that if they ever would.

Harrington added the plan lists several factors the county must consider before amending it to allow something other than agriculture in future growth areas, likely further preserving their futures as agricultural.

He also wrote uses reflected in the existing land use map are assigned by the county assessor and typically reflect properties’ predominant land uses. The draft plan’s future land use section identifies a category labeled conservation/open space, Harrington continued, some of which is currently agricultural.

Harrington goes on to state that there are extensive agricultural areas in the county zoned for a different use following the adoption of the last comprehensive plan. The new plan recommends against this policy of proactive zoning, but rather considering rezoning as it’s proposed by property owners and developers prior to actual development.

Plan commission members do not want to wait until a new county planning director is hired before adopting the new comprehensive plan.

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