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From the chairman's desk: Residents should take advantage of public input opportunities
Carter Infinger
Carter Infinger is the current chairman of the Bryan County Commission.

Life is busy, and no one knows that more than our local residents and families. Once you factor in obligations such as work, church, family time, the kids’ activities, house upkeep, civic commitments and – if you’re lucky – a bit of relaxation, there’s scarcely time for anything else.

Since your local government leaders are in this same boat, we understand. It’s tough to carve out time, even for things that we know could have big implications later on down the road. If an item isn’t absolutely urgent, we can move it down the to-do list … right? Well, not always.

As you may have noticed, Bryan County has been asking somewhat frequently this past year for your input and opinions when it comes to sculpting our 20-year Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Unified Development Ordinance. Both of these documents are essential to the continued orderly growth of Bryan County and will determine how the local landscape develops. Which is why we’ve held many input sessions, forums and workshops to allow area residents to share their thoughts with us. We want your help on these initiatives to ensure the shape of our community is in line with the visions of those who call it home. It’s important to us that Bryan County residents continue to love their neighborhoods and take a vested interest in their management.

We do the same when it comes to things like transportation plans and the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Before passing a ballot referendum, we try to educate local residents on what SPLOST entails, how much money it will generate, which projects it will pay for, how long a cycle will last, etc. We believe in keeping our citizens very well-informed and listening to what they have to say about the issues that will affect them.

Unfortunately, though, these forums and input sessions usually are not well attended, which is disheartening. We’d love to see more faces present so we can engage in productive dialogue and get a feel for our residents’ future hopes and visions for this community.

Now, that’s not to say that we haven’t received any feedback. In addition to those in-person opportunities, we’ve also offered several online input opportunities over the past year or two, including surveys on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the North Bryan Land Use Plan Amendment and the Coastal Georgia Bike and Pedestrian Plan. Response to those surveys was solid, which tells us that local residents to care about the future of their community and are interested in helping to shape it.

We are certainly glad to receive your feedback and ideas in digital form, and we put them to good use when crafting our plans. If utilizing the internet is your preferred method of contributing and weighing in,

by all means, keep it up. However, if you do get the opportunity to attend one of our input sessions or local forums, we’d really like to see you there.

While online surveys are helpful, they can never really take the place of face-to-face meetings. When county leaders are given the opportunity to speak with you personally, to listen to your concerns and ideas, to ask questions about what you tell them, that’s priceless. Through an engaged conversation, we can ask follow-up questions that an online survey cannot. You can tell us about relevant experiences or stories that a carefully formatted online survey wouldn’t ask about. We can chat with you about circumstances or situations that are relevant to the matter at hand but would be tough to describe when filling out an online comment form.

For those reasons – and the fact that we just enjoy meeting our residents and learning about their lives – we’d like to invite you to come out to some future input sessions and forums. You’ll pick up valuable information, meet your neighbors and help shape your community in the process. It’s a win-win situation.

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