What is LaGrange County Together?
Initiated by the LaGrange County Plan Commission and the LaGrange County Community Foundation, the comprehensive plan for the communities of LaGrange County is a collaborative process among the Community Foundation, the Plan Commission, Region 3A, and County and Town elected and appointed officials.
This is a special moment and a unique opportunity to engage and work with each resident who cares about the future of the communities of the County. Significant technical work and community engagement will create a foundation for a bold, resilient and fiscally-sound future.
What is a comprehensive plan?
A comprehensive plan is the broadest public policy document a community can create and expresses the values and aspirations of a place. The plan:
- Is based on the aspirations, assets and needs of the community.
- Establishes a long-range vision for quality of life, growth, land use, housing, environment, economic development, transportation, community facilities and services, public health and related topics.
- Acts as a guidebook for decision-makers.
- Documents community needs and expectations.
Why does our community need a comprehensive plan?
In general, planning is good stewardship. A comprehensive plan can have far reaching effects in the community and improve the County’s potential for growth, talent attraction, and job creation. The comprehensive plan is the logical tool to move a community forward, to wisely accommodate growth, and to address challenges. Fortunately for LaGrange County, there are important physical assets and personal assets (collaborative leadership). More specifically, the motivation for the plan includes:
- Evaluating community trends and identifying progress since past plans
- Educating the community on the value and use of a comprehensive plan
- Coordinating efforts and defining a shared vision for the County, Towns, and unincorporated areas
- Engaging a diverse set of citizens to understand the broad range of perspectives in the County
- Identifying and capitalizing on existing assets
- Preserving agricultural and natural resources while supporting growth
- Creating decision making tools and policies for future development
- Assuring action plans are implemented
What has been done to prepare for the planning process?
Leaders of the County—spearheaded by the Plan Commission and the Community Foundation—have spent months carefully convening conversations, building a coalition, securing funding, conducting research and hiring a consulting team. This work has demonstrated the importance of working together and the urgency of addressing our growth challenges and opportunities. The following local governments are participating in the preparation and execution of the planning process: LaGrange County and the Towns of LaGrange, Shipshewana, Topeka, and Wolcottville.
What will be the benefits of having a county-wide plan?
A multi-jurisdiction plan like the LaGrange County Comprehensive Plan will have many benefits for the communities, including:
- A shared vision that connects the entire county.
- A clear statement about current conditions and a preferred future.
- Research, analysis and recommendations across a wide range of topics including land use, housing, economic development, downtown vitality, public health and well-being, and several others.
- Specific project, policies and programs tailored for the communities to deliver the vision.
- Clarity for each community regarding a financial strategy for major recommendations
- Momentum for implementation and getting results.
- More prosperous future for individuals, institutions, government and business.
Who is involved?
The process is led by a 30-member Steering Committee that is made up of representatives from each local government, members of the Planning Commission, civic organizations, and community members. The Steering Committee will identify a range of Stakeholder Groups to invite into focus meetings and one-on-one conversations throughout the process. Finally, each person who cares about the well-being and future of LaGrange County is invited and encouraged to participate!
How can I get involved?
This process will include two rounds of Community Engagement. Community members will be given the opportunity to share their input and provide feedback throughout the planning process, both online and in person. Check out our website and sign up for email updates at www.lagrangecountytogether.org.
How will COVID-19 impact the plan, including the process?
Confronting uncertainty is the very reason planning is so critical. Our planning process will proceed in a deliberate and safe manner. Much of the early work of the planning process (beginning in May 2020) includes research and coordination, which requires very little in-person work. As the process unfolds, there will be opportunities and the need for broad community engagement.
Our consultants have many options for successfully gathering community insight, including in-person and remote. In terms of substance, COVID-19 has created an intense awareness of a host of topics that can be addressed in this plan, including public health, resiliency, risk management, public spaces, coordination, and so on.
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