Friday, February 08, 2002

Envisioning Warren's future

Planning summit generates ideas

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Officials and business leaders from across Warren County gathered Thursday for an unprecedented brainstorming session over where the county is headed.

        “Elected officials are scared to do things that are different and out of the ordinary, but I think it's going to take something different and out of the ordinary to affect this monster,” County Commissioner Mike Kilburn said of growth here.

        The group of about 50 turned up no single, magical answer, but did seem enthusiastic about several suggestions:

        • Doing a comprehensive or strategic plan that would include both cities and townships and meld different topics, such as school districts, transportation and land use.

        • Bringing in a community college. The Area Progress Council of Warren County said Thursday it plans to conduct a survey to test interest in the idea, first floated last year.

        • Holding additional planning summit sessions. The group agreed to meet March 7 to further explore how to improve countywide planning.

        “I think we're all on the right track,” said Arla Storer, executive director of the Area Progress Council. “I'm so glad this is happening.”

        Explosive residential growth here — Warren has been the second-fastest-growing county in Ohio for more than a decade — was the impetus for the summit, county planner Robert Ware said.

        “The times are a-changing,” Mr. Ware said. “The more people who move into the county, they don't want to see the reasons they moved here erode or disappear.”

        Mr. Kilburn said: “We must get a hold of this right now, or it's going to eat us up. We have an opportunity to slow this thing down.”

        Richelle Thompson contributed to this report.


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