SHEPHERDSVILLE – A crowd of about 60 people got to hear “why” the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission was undertaking a revision of its comprehensive land-use plan.
On Thursday, April 4, the process of getting feedback from the community on “how” the plan should look will begin.
Kriss Lowry, whose firm has been contracted to undertake the revisions, told the crowd that she has quickly learned something about Bullitt County.
“Nobody trusts anybody else in this community,” said Lowry.
With that quick assessment came a bit of a chuckle.
Lowry said the initial meeting was a “nuts and bolts” look at the process and why the process must be followed.
At meetings on April 4 and April 25 at Paroquet Springs Conference Centre, Lowry said she is looking for a lot of comments from the community on how it believes the county should develop and any concerns they may have.
Under KRS Chapter 100, the county which has planning and zoning must have a commission and have an updated comprehensive plan. Anything else is optional.
The land-use plan, including goals and objectives, must be reviewed every five years. In Bullitt County, the 1997 revisions have been reviewed and adopted without change since that time.
The commission did revise its goals and objectives.
Elements of the comprehensive plan must include goals and objectives, land use plans, transportation plans, facility plans, and provisions for military, such as Fort Knox. There are other optional elements which can be included.
In the Bullitt County plan, Lowry plans to have options such as a vision statement, environmental information, housing data and historic preservation.
The first stage is doing research. Lowry said that is where her firm is currently located. Information gathering from many sources is being done now, as well as physically driving the entire county to map each tract.
The first two meetings will help provide information to prepare the vision statement.
“Public involvement is very important,” said Lowry.
One topic which gathered some public input was the roles of commissioners as they relate to members of the community.
Being in a quasi-judicial role when considering zoning map amendments, Lowry said commissioners, as well as magistrates or city councilmembers, should have contact with outside influences.
In order to meet the appearance of fairness, she said the only information officials need to consider in making a decision is from what has been heard during the public hearing or taken from the application file.
In communities where access to commissioners or elected officials is easy, she said it is difficult to not listen to the concerns of constituents.
However, those making recommendations or decisions must try to refrain from any of these communications.
And if a board member has a conflict in a case, she said it is best to disclose that at the beginning and then leave the room to dispel any thoughts that the person has any influence over the voting members.
Many in the public probably did not know that commissioners, board of adjustment members and the planning administration staff must undergo approved training annually.
In terms of her firm gathering information and sharing the findings, Lowry said she would not be attending meetings of city councils, agencies like the tourist commission, or private citizens groups.
Her role is to gather information from the public and then go to work to devise a plan. She may call upon some of the groups or individual for information but she is not going to attend meetings.
Instead, she is open to have such members attend any or all of the group’s meetings.
“The input we receive is very valuable,” said Lowry.
Residents wishing to see updates and meeting schedules can go to www.krisslowry.com/bullitt.