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Lack of representation affects the process
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One of the most important issues facing Bryan County – and coastal Georgia, for that matter – comes in the form of a pretty simple question, namely, where do we go from here?

One way to answer that question is through planning for the future. That's what the upcoming comprehensive plan, which is due to be finished next summer, is all about. And fortunately for Bryan County, we have a county-commissioner-appointed comprehensive plan committee, which is no doubt made up of talented folks willing to give their time to help come up with a vision for the future of the unincorported areas of the county.

But there's a catch. From our vantage point there doesn't seem to be much in the way of representation from the environmental community or those who may be opposed to continuing down the road of unabated residential development.

And please note that when it comes to the lack of representation from environmentalists on the committee, we aren't the only ones who noticed.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs also singled out the lack of representation from the environmental community and a handful of other groups, including environmental health and Fort Stewart, after reviewing the county commissioners community participation program, which is all part of putting together the comprehensive plan.

This was in May, mind you, and nothing seems to have changed. But to be fair to county commissioners, it isn't necessarily easy to be all inclusive, and besides, one can argue that advocates for everything from affordable housing to adult education deserve a place at the table.

Yet the bottom line at the moment is the biggest issues facing Bryan County involve growth and development. Hence our belief that only by including those who may view both growth and development through a more skeptical eye can compromises be reached that, hopefully, will be in the best interest of all residents.

It's our view that since this plan is supposed to lay out the way the county grows, it is a must that different perspectives and viewpoints be brought to the table in order to shape a strong, responsible policy that balances the need for growth with the need to preserve whenever and wherever possible the things that make Bryan County special.

After all, while this plan is intended to someday be a guideline for local governments to help them deal with growth, we also tend to think it's going to serve as a blueprint for what happens to Bryan County – and Bryan Countians – for years to come. Without the proper balance of representation in the planning stages now, that blueprint could well be flawed despite the best efforts of planners at every level.

Finally, it should be noted this part of the planning process is far from complete and it isn't being done behind closed doors. The comprehensive plan committee will hold two more workshops – both open to the public – and a public hearing in the coming months. .If you care about the future of Bryan County, you may want to plan to attend.

Bryan County News

Aug. 29, 2007

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