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Firms pitch plans to supervisors, public

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors heard from the two finalists vying for the opportunity to update the county’s comprehensive plan on Friday.

Both Slaughter & Associates and A2H presented final pitches to the supervisors before the board votes on which firm to use. Both firms met with the board several weeks ago, but this was the first time the public had an opportunity to hear the proposals and make comments.

Mike Slaughter said his company will take a straight-forward approach if selected and focus on community input and implementation of the comprehensive plan.

“You need a plan that is simple and easy to understand,” Slaughter said. “It needs to be the community’s plan. If it’s not the community’s plan, it will not be implemented and money will be wasted.”

Slaughter said he also believes the county needs land use and levels of zoning regulations.

“But you have to zone the entire county,” Slaughter said. “It may be a large portion of the county will be zoned agriculture use. But the way I look at zoning is it’s an ordinance telling my neighbor what they can or cannot do with their property, rather than what I can do with my property. “

Slaughter said zoning will protect property values and directly impact the overall tax levy.

“It will keep taxes low on citizens and promote economic development,” Slaughter said.

He also pointed out that zoning is not the only issue with a comprehensive plan. Transportation, community facilities and implementation must all be addressed.

Slaughter said he could have a completed comprehensive plan in six months at a cost of $60,000. For an additional $10,000 to $20,000, he could develop a zoning ordinance if the county decided to pursue it.

Andy Reynolds, who also has ties to Oxford, represented A2H in its presentation and said the firm also will focus on the four basic areas required by state law – goals and objectives, land use plan, transportation plan and a community facilities plan – but the difference is they have all the experts in-house while they partner with Clarion Associates.

In addition, A2H suggests four other items to make the comprehensive plan more usable and successful: an inter-jurisdictional opportunities plan, implementation plan, zoning ordinance and fiscal and economic strategies.

A2H also would include public hearings to be held in each district of the county to gain public input.

Supervisor Chad McLarty pointed out that the original proposal from A2H was $97,000 for “the Cadillac plan.” Reynolds said its new proposal of $57,000 to update the current comprehensive plan was negotiable. In addition, the zoning ordinance would cost $40,000, the implementation plan would cost $30,000, inter-jurisdictional plan would be $5,000 and fiscal and economic strategies would be $5,000, for a total of $137,000.

“There’s a considerable cost difference,” McLarty said. “Both firms, no doubt, would do an excellent job. But how do I go about spending an additional $70,000 in Lafayette County taxpayer money? What makes A2H and Clarion that much better?”

Reynolds said his firm will bring a better value.

“We work not just a phone call away, but the next cubicle to each other,” said Reynolds.

The board is expected to discuss both proposals at their next meeting scheduled for Feb. 1.