SHERIDAN — A community workshop at the Sheridan County Courthouse Thursday wrapped up the first week of Sheridan County’s Comprehensive Plan update, and provided a snapshot of the priorities local residents have for the plan.
Orion Planning and Design, the consulting firm the county hired to assist with the plan update, hosted four public workshops this week — one each in Ranchester, Clearmont, Big Horn and Sheridan — as well as “coffee with consultants” drop-in sessions at Java Moon throughout the week. During those sessions, the consultants asked county residents to talk about the aspects of Sheridan County they most valued and the issues in Sheridan County that cause them the most concern.
Bob Barber, a planner for Orion, conducted Thursday’s workshop. Barber asked residents to discuss questions in small groups and collected priorities the different groups identified.
The answers residents provided Thursday night, combined with the answers Orion collected throughout the week, provided an early look at what county residents hope to see in the updated comprehensive plan.
County residents provided many similar answers to those questions during the different meetings this week.
For instance, residents emphasized Sheridan County’s natural beauty, open spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities as qualities they valued in several of the meetings this week. Similarly, residents reported that they appreciated the county’s low population density and agricultural lands.
Other common responses were cultural, and many residents said they valued the character and generosity of the Sheridan County community.
Many of the concerns county residents frequently expressed this week had to do with preserving those qualities they valued. Several of the groups during the different sessions this week were concerned that sprawling or unmanaged growth throughout the county could threaten its open and natural spaces, for example.
Economic concerns also recurred throughout this week’s meetings.
Residents said they remained concerned about diversifying the county’s economy to make it both more reliable and self-sufficient.
The rising cost of living in Sheridan County was also raised as a concern during several of the meetings this week, along with issues like affordable housing, insufficient wages and affordable health care.
County Planner Mark Reid estimated the entire planning process will take 12 months, and the county plans to continue soliciting community feedback throughout the coming year. The county will post overviews of the planning meetings, and other information about the comprehensive plan update, at sheridancountyplanupdate.com.
Sheridan County officials also announced the selections for a 12-member Citizens Advisory Committee, which will consult with the commissioners throughout the update.
The members chosen are: William Bass, Bill Bensel, Jane Clark, Peter Clark, Doyl Fritz, Karl Kukuchka, Bill Rapp, Carrie Rogaczewski, Jeremy Smith, Tim Thomas, Ken Thorpe and Anthony Wendtland.