County planning is vital

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Updating Lafayette County’s comprehensive plan is a necessary expense for officials and taxpayers.

The county and its leaders had a first public meeting this week on the issue and more will come.

Lafayette County and its residents are more varied than most places in Mississippi due to the area’s population explosion. Right on the edge of the city limits are subdivisions, popping up for people who need more affordable living than the city limits can offer. Just another mile or two out is just about anything. You can have a subdivision next to an industrial business. Then another couple miles out you will find charming communities like Taylor and Abbeville surrounded by farms.

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Because Lafayette County is so varied, it is crucial to hire experts to examine the population, the land use and get to the unbiased root of what the county and its residents need.

Those county leaders who don’t want to spend funds on a comprehensive plan put together by unbiased experts should just step down from their seat right now. If issues facing the county due to growth are not solved immediately, the expenses down the line for roadwork, infrastructure and more will be through the roof and will make comprehensive planning costs look like parking meter feed. Another positive element to an updated comprehensive plan will be to look at housing regulations for builders. Once again, some costs now will be cheaper than lawsuits down the road from an entire subdivision of unhappy residents when something goes awry.

Two great ideas were mentioned at Monday’s public hearing.

The first was to involve residents of the smaller communities like Paris, Tula, Harmontown and more. Their needs must be addressed in any long-range planning and are just as critical as a couple-mile zone outside of Oxford that commands the most attention.

The other was less of an idea than it was a point. A resident said he did not envy the current board of supervisors because it is having to make hard decisions.

Those sitting on the board have had years to learn the county and decipher what residents want and need. Now it’s time to do what is right for the more than 50,000 residents as well as its visiting students and those who work in the county but commute. It’s everyone’s Lafayette County. Let’s be proud of where it is, where it is going and what it will accomplish to show the rest of the state how it’s done.