By JIM MAURER
TIFFIN — It has been 15 years since a comprehensive land use plan was developed for Seneca County, and Charlene Watkins, executive director of Seneca Regional Planning Commission, feels it is time for a new one.
She met with township, village and county personnel Thursday night and made a presentation on potential assessment increases to partially fund a land use plan, which is estimated to cost $100,000 to $130,000.
The plan would take about a year to complete. The planning commission is expected to vote on an assessment plan during its Oct. 5 meeting, she said.
She presented two options, which were outlined for the commission earlier this month.
One proposes a 25-cent per person increase beginning in 2017. The assessment would generate about $28,372 annually. The first-year funds would be used toward the comprehensive land use plan.
In future years, the funds would be used for “the cost of doing business,” she said. There has not been an assessment increase for 19 years, she said.
The second option would assess a 25-cent per person increase beginning in 2017, and assess an additional 25-cent per person increase for one year. The double amount would provide about $56,745 and reduce the amount of grants, donations or other funds Watkins would have to find to cover the cost of the new plan.
Payments could be split in two for the year, she said, and if a township, village or city did not pay, they would not receive regional planning services for the year.
A new plan could provide: a guide to county development; 10- to 20-year goals; guide the expenditure of public funds; assist with tax incentives; aid in farmland preservation; help determine areas for economic growth; and identify neighborhoods that need assistance with rehabilitation.
To do the plan, “requests for proposals” would be sought from companies. Their proposals would be reviewed by the commission. A company would be hired which would prepare the new plan, with various maps, following extensive research and development.
The nearly a dozen individuals who attended the presentation Thursday generally agreed an updated plan and assessment increase is warranted since there has been no plan update since 2001 and no assessment hike since 1997.
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