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Trail remains sticking point in comprehensive plan

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GREENFIELD — The Hancock County Plan Commission will have to revisit the proposed update to the county’s comprehensive plan.

County commissioners voted Tuesday on an amendment to the update that will strike down a portion of the proposal involving the development of recreational trails – specifically a trail that might have been built along CR 300N; the amendment will go back to the Plan Commission for a final recommendation.

The plan is a conceptual blueprint for growth and was last updated in 2005. The most significant changes were made in the trails portion of the plan. The steering committee that drafted the update identified several areas as possible locations for future trails.

At their meeting two weeks ago, commissioners Brad Armstrong and Derek Towle expressed concern with part of the new trails plan, but the commissioners tabled the issue until their next meeting to look into the issue further.

Armstrong and Towle voted Tuesday to remove the portion of the plan that suggested a future trail along CR 300N through an area targeted for industrial growth.

Towle said he had heard from several constituents who expressed concerns about it.

“They can’t understand why a trail would be on a major thoroughfare like that,” Towle said.

County Planning Director Mike Dale spearheaded the comp plan update. He said the trail along CR 300N was proposed to connect trails between Mt. Comfort and Greenfield.

“The trails plan is not written in stone,” Dale said. “As time moves on I would expect there to be changes.”

Now Dale will take the amendment back to the Plan Commission for review at its meeting next Tuesday night. The commission will make a recommendation before sending it back to the County Commissioners for final approval, which will likely come at the July 2 or July 16 commissioners’ meetings.

Plan Commission President Tom Nigh said the proposal will have to go back before the nine-member board that originally supported the plan revisions, but he doesn’t expect much discussion.

“Trails are popular right now in industrial areas, so I don’t think anyone was too concerned one way or another,” Nigh said. “If the commissioners are, I don’t think it will be any problem.”

The third commissioner, Tom Stevens, spoke in favor of the proposal for a trail along CR 300N, saying he supports separating bicycles from cars during road projects, so it makes sense to add trails in industrial areas as they grow.

For now, though, any potential trail connecting Mt. Comfort to Greenfield will be absent from the plan. That will likely be revisited when the plan is next updated, probably about five years from now.

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