Citizens Provide Input For County's Comprehensive Plan
Dozens of Mills County residents offered their input over the past two weeks during a series of Comprehensive Plan meetings held across the county.
The informational meetings addressed a variety of topics and issues regarding Mills County, including demographics, land use, housing, commercial and industrial development and renewable energy. After hearing a presentation and overview of the comprehensive planning process from representatives of Confluence, a Midwest-based team of community planning and architectural design consultants, workshop attendees participated in an engagement exercise through their smart phones and on paper to share their priorities and input for the future of Mills County. The attendees were also asked to highlight the county’s existing assets, challenges and potential for growth.
“We’ve been hired by the county to update two components of the comprehensive plan,” said workshop facilitator Christopher Shires of Confluence. “We need a renewable energy chapter to help fortify some of the regulations the county is wanting to put into place related to solar farms. We’re also just updating the land use map.
“In general, a comprehensive plan is a long-range guiding document to help the county make decisions on where it should invest its infrastructure dollars and where it should approve or not approve new types of development. Really, what’s the future for the county hold?”
Typically, Shires said, a comprehensive plan is a thick document with many components. It’s a plan for the county’s future that takes into account many variables.
Shires’ presentation included a “Community Snapshot” of Mills County that included a variety of statistics and demographics compiled by Confluence. Their data says the median age in Mills County is 42.5 but the largest age groups are 5-9 and 60-64. The median home value is just over $190,300 and the median monthly rent being paid is $815.
According to Confluence, over 77 percent of Mills County residents work in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area and a nearly identical percentage of people working in Mills County commute into the community from the metropolitan area. Those numbers are based on the most recent U.S. Census numbers, a member of the Confluence team stated at the meeting in Glenwood.
Lengthy discussion took place regarding renewable energy and a solar farm ordinance for Mills County. Shires said the comprehensive plan will help determine where solar farms should and shouldn’t be allowed to exist in the county. The comprehensive plan is being developed at the same time Mills County is determining a policy and regulations regarding solar energy.
Development of the comprehensive plan is a work in process, Shires said. In addition to the meeting in Glenwood, in which approximately 25 people participated, similar workshops were conducted in Malvern, Emerson and Mineola.