‘Parks and Rec’ district considered

Commissioners asking community for land use plan input

By Martin Graham - mgraham@civitasmedia.com

The commissioners of Fayette County – one of two counties in the state lacking a parks and recreation committee – will hold a meeting Sept. 6 to receive community input concerning the 2016 Land Use Plan and the possible development of a parks and recreation district.

Every five years, it is a strong suggestion from the state that counties review their land use plan document. The Fayette County “Comprehensive Land Use Plan” is a vision of what Fayette County wants to be in the future according to the citizens of Fayette County. Thus, the people of Fayette County have worked together to develop a land use plan which addresses the issues of future land use in the county.

This process was recently started here in the county in the last six to eight weeks, according to commissioner Tony Anderson, and previously the last land use plan was completed in 2006.

“We had a very solid group of people who worked on the document in 2006 and had some real lively interest in the group working with us in 2016,” Anderson said. “Fayette County has enjoyed the utilization of a regional planning class from OSU students. The mentality is that this will be a sprint and not a marathon. We really went through it tooth and comb in 2006, it was an 18-month program to get the land use document done, and we used it to build into what is currently our zoning changes. The 2006 plan directed the establishment of the industrial park, and we had some pretty heated discussions about land use preservation of farmland. It is one of the zoning areas that we thought the community wanted to present. While there was a lot of interest in maintaining green space and farm land preservation, a lot of the landowners decided that they did not want it to be zoned that way. They wanted to maintain the utilization of the property they had worked, earned and paid for. We did away with an overview of the entire county from a farmland preservation standpoint for this group this time.”

Anderson said they have put ads in the Record-Herald and the plan is under their care and consideration, but any changes that come forward from the land use plan are directed to start out with the planning commission if there will be any at all.

“I really wanted to talk about, now that we have this groundwork, one of the areas that have come with considerable interest in this setting is a parks and recreation development district being created,” Anderson said. “It is pretty solid from the evidence submitted by that sub-committee that there is the interest to do that. It is supported by the fact that Fayette County stays, within the state, in the bottom 10 for general health. Is it because we don’t have an established parks and recreation district? Is it because we have just come to the table so late with the rails to trails? Is it because we have lost the city swimming pool? Is it because in our last document 10 years ago it said that we hoped to get a YMCA, which is here and is utilized quite heavily, and used by both schools? We did not just want this to be another Monday morning agenda item and we shoulder the weight of the decision. So in an effort to hear from the community, we wanted to hold this meeting.”

The commissioner said that a park and recreation district can be of any size or shape. It can cover all of the county, just a township, an incorporated community or it can cover pretty much whatever the definers suggest that it be. The discussion that the commissioners and planners say they really want to delve into would be what is the level of interest and what will be the cost associated with developing an entire county/city, parks and recreation district.

“There is very explicit language within the Ohio Revised Code that dictates how a three-member parks and recreation committee be established,” Anderson said. “Those three people will have an ability to generate revenue in order to operate. That would be defined as: they have complete authority to place a half-mill tax on hard property within the county, the city and every community that is incorporated or not incorporated.”

Anderson invited the community to attend the meeting on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. and share a testimony or opinion on the parks and recreation district. Presentations should be completed in writing and the meeting will be held at the Fayette County Extension Office in the large conference room. He encourages everyone to “bring your passion, but leave your emotions at the door,” and continued by saying that the community should do their homework. If need be, the commissioners said they will keep comments from residents to three minutes to allow all others to give their testimony.

For more information residents should attend the meeting or contact the commissioners’ office at (740) 335-0720.

Commissioners asking community for land use plan input

By Martin Graham