Hillsboro officials are seeking input from local residents to form a comprehensive plan outlining the city’s future.
Charlie Guarino, vice chairman of the Hillsboro Planning Commission, will serve as the chairman of the Master Planning Committee, a steering committee that will gather information from the public through various routes and draft the plan.
Guarino said having a comprehensive plan is “very important” to the city’s future.
“We’re trying to see where Hillsboro is going to be five, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” he said. “We want input from the community, citizens, those working in Hillsboro — whether it’s companies or anyone who feels they can be part of this… We want this to be comprehensive.”
Guarino said an online survey, available for the next few weeks, will give his committee a starting point before they meet in October.
The survey can be taken at hillsboro.net/imaginehillsboro, or requested from the City of Hillsboro and filled out as a hard copy. The city can be reached at 937-393-5219.
Guarino said the drafting will take about a year, and his committee will meet every six weeks to discuss progress and hear input from the public. Each meeting will have a public comment portion, he said.
“The ultimate goal is to have a plan in place that has some deliverables that can be used to move the city forward,” he said. “We’ll try to get this done in a year, then provide a plan to city council for approval… Hopefully this is something we can use, continue to use, and build on in the future.”
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, who also sits on the planning commission, said he is a “big believer” in planning the city’s future.
“If you don’t plan for your town, somebody else will plan it for you,” he said. “If you’re going to plan for businesses coming into this town, you have to plan where you’re going to run water and sewer, where you’re going to find more land to annex if somebody wants to come into town, where you’re going to build new housing.”
Planning commission Chairman Tom Eichinger said the commission has discussed the plan on and off for the last few years, and members decided to get serious about it after the city updated its zoning code recently.
“It seemed to make sense to go ahead and start thinking more long-term,” he said. “From my perspective, I just think rather than putting out fires and kind of blowing with the wind, it would make a lot more sense for Hillsboro to try and do some visioning so we can plan for the future rather than just let it happen.”
Eichinger said the steering committee will work with the same consulting group that helped draft the city’s zoning code update.
Hastings said a key question asked in the survey is, “If you come back to Hillsboro in 10 or 20 years, what would you want it to look like?”
“The answer that you give to that question cannot possibly happen unless there’s a plan to make it happen,” he said.
The steering committee members are as follows, according to a news release from the city:
• Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie;
• Councilman and local business owner Justin Harsha;
• Councilwoman and local business owner Ann Morris;
• Highland County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Destiny Bryson;
• Retired pharmacist Loy Lutton;
• Planning commission member and Bagshaw Enterprises Technology Director Rob Holt;
• Southern State Community College Vice President of Business and Finance James Buck;
• Wilson National Real Estate owner Mark Wilson;
• Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.