Wednesday, October 10, 2012
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Planning commission looks at revisions for comprehensive plan

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[October 10, 2012]  The Logan County Regional Planning Commission met Oct. 3 to discuss the comprehensive plan that was put together after the planning commission was established. The commission is currently working toward revising the plan in order to better reflect what Logan County represents.

Planning commission members present were director Will D'Andrea, chairman Bill Graff, Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder, Bill Martin, Dave Evans and Derrick Crane. While this was not enough members to vote on issues or take action, those present still used the opportunity for discussion.

Before the group began discussing the comprehensive plan, Martin made a comment about the bicycle plan meeting the night before. He praised the efforts undertaken by the Farnsworth Group, saying that Jeff Martin, the employee who is working with the county on the bicycle trail, has "really taken an interest in this county."

"He has driven down here multiple times just to drive around, even by himself. He'll drive down or take somebody with him, and I kinda appreciate that," Bill Martin said. "He's really taken an interest in it."

Crane mentioned that he had heard that the Illinois Department of Transportation is also looking into a bicycle trail plan for the state as a whole. Graff said he believes the state would likely attempt to connect Logan County with Sangamon and McLean County via trails splitting off from Route 66.

D'Andrea, the GIS director, reported that the Farnsworth Group is going to compile the results of the bicycle trail meeting, and they will be in touch with the county when they are ready to proceed with the next step.

Moving on to the comprehensive plan, most of the changes that will be made to the plan concern updating statistics to better reflect Logan County. Examples of these updates include:

  • Whether or not certain businesses are still operating in Logan County. One example brought up by the planning commission members was FedEx, as a couple of the members were not sure if it was still present.

  • The current unemployment rate. The most recent figures the planning commission has access to revealed that the unemployment rate in Logan County is 8.9 percent.

  • Updated population figures to reflect the 2010 census. As of 2010, the population is 30,305 people, a decrease from 2000.

  • Snyder expressed an interest in creating a statistic for the age of homes available in Logan County.

  • A possible update to county maps to show more of the smaller towns.

  • Crane questioned whether or not the planning commission could ask the National Weather Service for updated information on the Logan County climate.

  • The loss in jobs. From 2005 to 2010, the county lost 544 jobs, which is a 5.8 percent downturn.

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  • The planning commission was conflicted on whether or not to include the increase in property tax receipts. This statistic could keep people and businesses from moving into the county.

  • An update to reflect current income and poverty levels in Logan County.

  • Graff commented that he would like to see examples of crop receipts put into the comprehensive plan, to reflect the quality of farmland. In 2010, Logan County had the 12th-largest number in the nation for incoming receipts for crops.

  • The change in demographics of the county as of the 2010 census. While the changes are only slight, the numbers should still be updated.

One of the larger concerns of the planning commission is the state of the older population of Logan County. Bill Martin explained that a loss in the elderly population in Atlanta (as an example) is likely to stem from retirees moving to either Lincoln or Bloomington.

"We've just lost a very, very valuable asset," said Martin, referring to when these retirees move away.

On the topic of the older population, Snyder added that Castle Manor in Lincoln filled up very fast, and many of the residents were rural residents. Graff said that a second Castle Manor would likely have the same effect. An influx of elderly people is still an increase in population, however.

"That's population," said Graff. "Those are people that are shopping; those are services, people employed to take care of those people."

The question becomes: Should the county try to attract more elderly people to move here?

"Do we want to become a destination?" asked D'Andrea. "Do we purposefully as a community want to attract that demographic?"

"I think we want to retain our elderly," said Martin.

The group did not come to a complete answer to this question, and they will likely return to it as they update the comprehensive plan.


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