Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Comprehensive Plan shows county is ‘on track’ with economic growth

Dec 07, 2017

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Ten years later, Henry County residents agreed Tuesday night that the 2007 Henry County Comprehensive Plan was a good predictor of where the county is today, and that the new proposed plan will continue a positive trend of economic development.

During a community open forum on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Henry County Courthouse, 8 Henry County residents voiced their opinions on the 2017 Henry County Comprehensive Plan, which is created by the Henry County Planning and Zoning Commission.

Joseph Buffington, Director of Planning, opened the meeting, saying that the purpose of the meeting was to get community input, “What you think is good, what you don’t like, what you think we need to change.”

Dave Hellman, of Salem, was the first to speak. “While I think there are things we should consider, the Planning and Zoning Commission made a good call saying we are generally on track,” he said.

Hellman continued by saying that he thought the plan should include a more detailed mention of the Amtrak. While he appreciated the addition of the two four-lane highways, Highway 34 and Highway 218/27, in Henry County, Hellman said that in the economic development plan, the county should focus on how they can maximize the economic impact of the railroad.

“We are also extremely fortunate to have a major transcontinental railroad with all of it’s potential terminals and I just don’t sense that the county has done as much as it can to reach out,” Hellman said.

Buffington pointed out there is a separate railroad section. Hellman countered that the summary of economic analysis neglected to say anything about the railroad, to which Buffington said they can add more information.

Hellman also questioned why the Supervisors push for encouraging residential development in or near incorporated areas rather than in the more rural areas. “I think we could actually attract people to live in these rural areas as their retirement homes or family homes,” he said.

Buffington countered that the supervisors have been emphasizing rural development further away from a community has a “less positive” affect on the tax base. Buffington said “I will definitely address that,” but had no further comment on the matter.

Buffington reiterated that the plan is a guideline. “We’re trying to keep development closer in to where infrastructure exists,” he said.

Discussion turned to disposal of garbage and recycling. Hellman said that for Mt. Pleasant residents, if they want to get rid of electronics such as a TV, they have to take it all the way to Burlington and pay a fee. “So you know what folks are going to do,” Hellman said.

Buffington said he has spoken with the county about keeping track of how many electronics and appliances they are cleaning out of ditches, but it is not a priority.

“I’ve seen refrigerators dumped off of bridges,” Buffington said, adding that he will bring this to the attention of the Supervisors.

Towards the end of the meeting, Cathy Hellman wanted to take a moment to emphasize the uniqueness of the museums in Henry County and how the tourism museums bring in should be a part of the comprehensive plan.

Cathy said that the Lewelling Quaker Museum in Salem is registered on the U.S. National Park Service and draws around 1,000 visitors a year.

“I just thought it would be nice to have that included somewhere,” Cathy said.

Buffington said it is mentioned briefly in the plan and that the Dover Museum & Depot, in New London, the Wayland & Midwest Memories Museums, in Wayland, and the Swedish American Museum and Historical Society, in Swedesburg, are tremendous assets to Henry County.

“Our unique history, we’re the only ones who have that,” Buffington said. “No one can take that away. So for tourism, things that are based here, can be a draw that we can use.

Closing the meeting, he said, “I’ll take these recommendations and input back to the zoning commission and we will take it to the Supervisors.”

The county will be finalizing the plan through January, Buffington said. The entire Henry County Comprehensive Plan can be found at

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