Should the county continue to protect prime farmland from suburban sprawl?
Should more emphasis be placed on road and sewer repairs?
Should more attention be paid to racial issues in the county?
These are questions Douglas County residents may raise at a town meeting Thursday aimed at choosing the issues that will receive special attention in the Horizon 2020 land-use plan.
Participants will rate in importance the community concerns and problems voiced in previous Horizon 2020 meetings and found through economic research and surveys of residents.
"We'll take that and essentially ask them to chew that up. We'll ask, do you agree with this? Is this what you think?" said Graham Toft, a consultant with the Indianapolis firm Stratplan, which is helping build resident consensus on the plan.
The three-hour meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the South Junior High School auditorium, 2734 La.
Horizon 2020 will replace Plan 95 and the Douglas County Guide Plan as the official manual for managing growth in Lawrence and the unincorporated areas of Douglas County.
THE FINAL planning document probably will be ready toward the end of 1993, according to Phil Hanegraaf of Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne, the Chicago-based firm chosen to guide the community in drafting the document.
Horizon 2020 organizers have amassed mounds of paperwork and research over several months detailing the state of the county, including its economic health, crime rate, and quality of life.
During the first of three parts of Thursday's meeting, Horizon 2020 consultants will review the key points.
Participants will then break into small groups and hash over a draft of a "vision statement," a broad declaration of what county residents want from the community. The vision statement was created from resident input at the Horizon 2020 town meeting held Aug. 13.
The vision of an ideal county includes fostering a strong retail center, preserving rural areas and quality urban development, fostering new jobs in research and development, advanced technologies, and education.
A leader for each group will record the group's critique of the vision statement. "We'll read a few of them out loud to give people a feeling for what people are saying," Toft said.
RESIDENTS then will look at strengths and weaknesses of the county gathered from research, as well as possible strategies for growth.
Some of the threats facing the county include:
Loss of prime agricultural land to unchecked suburban development.
Continuing "bedroom community" development, in which county residents work in a different community. New homes without new industries don't provide enough tax base to support the community.
Loss of sales of high-price retail goods to Johnson County stores.
Residents will rank the issues they feel are most important to the health of the county and give the ratings to consultants.
The issues will be addressed by task groups residents who have agreed to brainstorm strategies to deal with problems.
Their ideas will be boiled down into policies that local officials can use when they make decisions that affect the county.
"The group at this meeting will help enormously in identifying and prioritizing the needs of the community," Hanegraaf said.