County comprehensive planning underway
By Kevin Frye
Lafayette County’s comprehensive planning process began in earnest last week with meetings of the two committees that were formed to advise and assist the Board of Supervisors and its planning team. Both committees were presented with an overview of the comprehensive planning process by Slaughter & Associates.
The process is governed by state law, and requires four minimum elements which are described in more detail below. Mr. Slaughter suggested that members of the community view the comprehensive plan as a “Long-Range Quality of Life Plan” and explained that the final plan will detail public policy for the development and growth of Lafayette County over the next 20 to 25 years.
The first required element of a comprehensive plan is a statement of goals and objectives for the future of the community. Included are policy statements that address residential, commercial and industrial development; parks, open space and recreation; infrastructure improvements; public schools; community facilities and services; and economic development. The action items in the final plan should align with a vision for the future of the community that is shared by residents — and yes, that means you.
The second element is a land use plan, in the form of a map, which is designed to encourage certain types of development to occur in areas most compatible with that development. This is particularly important given the rapid growth that Lafayette County is experiencing. We live in the fastest-growing county in Mississippi, and while you may prefer the growth to slow, current projections are that this rapid pace will continue and likely accelerate throughout the planning horizon.
Third is a transportation plan, again in map form, which shows current and future streets, roads, highways and other forms of transportation infrastructure such as bus, bike and pedestrian routes. The Board of Supervisors has worked with the city of Oxford to add new road infrastructure over the last four years, and those efforts are continuing. The transportation plan will identify other areas of need and will prioritize those improvements so that they are accomplished before growth pressures overwhelm existing infrastructure.
Finally, a community facilities plan evaluates the adequacy of public buildings and other services, including utilities such as water, sewer, natural gas and fiber, and serves as the foundation for a capital improvement program. During campaign season I fielded the most questions about these issues: Will we ever have access to natural gas or the Internet? Is there a way to improve our water system? Is the county ever going to build a Multi-Purpose Building? When will the county build a fire station on Highway 6 East? The comprehensive plan will address each of these questions, and many more.
The Board understands that a successful planning process begins with meaningful input from the community.
We are in the process of scheduling public meetings to be held in each of the supervisor districts in late May and early June, and notice will be publicized well in advance. We encourage you to attend and be involved in the planning process, and in the meantime, take a few minutes to imagine what Lafayette County could or should look like in 2036.
While 20 years may seem a long way off, ponder this: 2036 is a significant date in the life of Lafayette County, as that is the year we will gather to commemorate her bicentennial anniversary. Let’s work together to ensure that the growth we experience between now and then gives us more reasons to celebrate.
Kevin Frye is a member of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors and can be reached at