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Welcome to the premiere issue of SRPC’s electronic newsletter, Working the Plan. We created this digital newsletter to keep you updated on the latest developments at the Seneca Regional Planning Commission (SRPC), and significant regional news related to the issues SRPC addresses.

Our goal is to publish Plan the Work monthly. In this issue, SRPC explains the Joint Comprehensive Plan, provides information about the Active Transportation Plan, and provides information regarding the 911 address signs.

We have more news to share than we can include in this issue. Please browse www.senecarpc.org regularly for information about planning initiatives, publications, and meetings. Remember we have a very open office allowing you to visit and discuss ideas and potential planning opportunities. Visitors are always welcome at SRPC. Please pass along this e-newsletter to your contacts so they can sign up for it here.

Comprehensive Planning for Seneca County

When the Executive Director of Seneca Regional Planning Commission was hired in April of 2016 one of her main directives from the Board was to determine how to fund the Seneca County Comprehensive Plan and to get the Comprehensive Plan Completed. Here we are two years later and the planning process has started. Some ask, what is the purpose of a comprehensive plan? How much does this whole plan cost? And why did it take two years to get to the starting point? SRPC would like to explain all of this to you.
What is the purpose of a comprehensive plan? The purpose of a comprehensive plan is to guide the coordinated, orderly and harmonious development of the region and to advise the (regional planning agency), the region’s local governments, and special districts in the performance of their functions and duties as to extra-jurisdictional and regional interests and issues. In other words the purpose of the comprehensive plan is to:
(a) provide a mechanism by which the goals, policies, and guidelines in the Comprehensive Plan are interpreted and applied to the region and its local governments;
(b) provide a coordinating regional framework for local comprehensive planning and planning by special districts in the region;
(c) take into account adopted plans of local government to the extent that they affect state, extra-jurisdictional, or regional interests; [and]
(d) provide a unified physical design for the development of the region

LBS-Planning-Committee Seneca Regional Planning Commission interprets all of this to a more encompassing purpose of the plan. A Comprehensive Plan lays the ground work and foundation for the next 15 to 20 years of development throughout the county, municipalities, villages, and townships. We could even say that the Comprehensive Plan is the strategic plan for development in our communities. Regional Planning will use the Comprehensive Plan to aid in the growth and development of Seneca County. It is important to all of us to hear what our current elected officials feel is important for their area as well as community members.
Why did it take two years to get to the starting point? During Ms. Watkins’ first two years in Regional Planning she had many other obstacles and barriers to overcome to get the organization back up to acceptable functionality. During that time period she explored how other communities fund their Comprehensive Plans, researched alternative funding mechanisms, and developed relationships to partner with on the plan. After many conversations and meetings it was determined that doing just a comprehensive plan for Seneca County would not be cost effective to all parties involved. Ms. Watkins reviewed the current assessment rates to determine if they were supporting the functions of Regional Planning. It was determined that the assessments were not supportive enough to fund a plan of this nature.

The board voted to increase the assessments for three years with a portion of the increase to be allocated to the Comprehensive Plan. This decision made the funding of the Comprehensive Plan more feasible. The next step was working with the City of Tiffin to determine if they would like to participate in this as a joint effort. This would not only save the City of Tiffin money on their Comprehensive Plan, but it would ultimately create a more inclusive comprehensive plan. We then spoke with the City of Fostoria and determined that they may want to take part in this collaborative Comprehensive Plan. A committee was formed and we requested cost proposals that would show complete break downs on how much the plan would cost for each individually and then combined. Once all the cost proposals were received it was clear to Regional Planning and both cities that working together would be a large cost savings to everyone. After interviewing several firms, the steering committee chose a consultant and requested that Ms. Watkins negotiate the initial proposed cost of $196,000.00 to a lower more affordable rate for the services. Ms. Watkins successfully negotiated the rate to $120,000 for a joint Comprehensive Plan between Seneca County (including the townships), the City of Tiffin, and the City of Fostoria.

It is a true pleasure to see all the entities in Seneca County come together to make this project happen. This is one more sign of how Seneca County and every entity inside of the county is willing to collaborate and take part in activities that will be for the overall betterment of our community.
Then next 18 months will be very exciting for all of us as we attend meetings, interviews, and sessions discussing how to shape our community over the next 15 to 20 years. A since of community spirit and pride come from these meetings. Your attendance/participation at the very first initial interview will help CT Consultants and Seneca Regional Planning Commission determine the direction and tone of the plan as we get started. Over the next 18 months community members, leaders, and persons of influence will be asked their opinions and thoughts regarding the shaping of Seneca County.
We look forward to working through this historic Joint Comprehensive Plan and working towards the future success of Seneca County.

ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION PLANNING IN SENECA COUNTY

 

The Seneca Regional Planning Commission is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to develop an Active Transportation Plan for Seneca County. Active Transportation includes any human-powered mode of transportation such as walking, cycling, and using a wheelchair. Active Transportation provides opportunities for students, commuters, and shoppers to achieve health benefits while reaching their destinations.

Project team members will be collecting input on June 9th from 9 a.m. to Noon in downtown Tiffin about destinations, barriers, and desired routes for all forms of Active Transportation. This input will be considered in the development of the Seneca County Active Transportation Plan. Please visit the Seneca County Active Transportation booth at the first farmer’s market of the season on June 9th, 2018 and “Help Decide Where to Walk, Roll, and Ride.”  Please call Seneca Regional Planning Commission at 419-443-7936 ext. 1123 for further information.

911 Address Signs

Reflective Address Signs are needed in every community to properly identify the address of the property for better 911 services. Many of the townships and villages in Seneca County already have their 911 address signs available to their residents. Some are ready for replacement and have contacted Regional Planning to determine if there are any grant funds available to aid in the replacement. While SRPC does the best we can to research potential grants, we have not found one that will completely fund the cost of the 911 address signs. However, if you are able to find signs that are made of the majority of recycled material; you may apply for the OSS Recycling Grant. Jennifer Porter would be willing to work through this grant application with you. This grant requires a match. The OSS Grant meeting was the 31st of May at 10:30 AM. In the future, a representative from your community must attend the meeting to be able to qualify for the application process.

During our exploration of services and funding I spoke with Lori Zoeller of Hopewell Township regarding vendors. Lori provided me with the vendor that Hopewell Township used to purchase their new signs. She stated “this vendor is MUCH less expensive than all of the other companies they contacted.” Lori was willing to share this information with our office and asked us to please pass it along.
Vendor:
Lightle Enterprises
22 East Springfield St
Frankfort, OH 45628

Contact person: Dorsey Hessler
Phone Number: 740-998-5363