Citizens offer ideas for future of city

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Suggestions may affect some long-term plans for Owenton

By Molly Haines

After 20 years without an up-to-date comprehensive plan, the ball is now rolling following a community meeting with input from the public on the city’s future.  
Approximately 40 people attended the Dec. 11 meeting and discussed everything from substance abuse programs to community pride.
Their suggestions could find their way into the city’s updated comprehensive plan.
The plan, which is about 75 pages long, outlines the city’s population, commercial and residential properties, as well as goals and objectives for the future.
Northern Kentucky Area Development District’s Development Planner Shannon Ratterman and NKADD interns Sara Jo Shipley and Emily Carnahan led the meeting and took suggestions on ways to improve the community from everyone in attendance.
Owenton Mayor Doug West said he was pleased with the community meeting, but wished more people had attended.
“I thought it went well,” West said. “There were a lot of good ideas that came out of it.”
Those attending discussed a variety of improvements to the city they would like to see – including more parking downtown to community activities for all ages.
Owen County’s Adult Education Director Veronica Gayle said she would like to see a deep campaign for buying local.
“The more you buy here, the more you could get here,” Gayle said. “I think we need to take a look at where we’re spending our money and make a conscious effort to start spending that money at home.”

Owenton City Councilman Larry Dale Perry said he would like to see more civic organizations within the community.
“We used to have the Jaycees here and they did a lot for the community and different events around town. I’d like to see something like that come back,” Perry said.
State Farm Insurance Agent Richard Green said he would like to see something similar to what’s done in Bell Buckle, Tenn., where an RC/MoonPie Festival is held each year.
“It’s a small community that has created something big,” Green said. “We wouldn’t have to do something exactly like their festival, but we have a lot of possibilities here to attract people.”
Ratterman said a community meeting isn’t always the route cities take on getting input from the public for a comprehensive plan, but felt it was an effective way of gathering information.
“We can only get so much information from statistics and other resources,” Ratterman said. “I think when you get a large group together like that you get more of a feel for the community itself.”
Ratterman and Shipley will write the comprehensive plan and Ratterman said she expects it to be finished by March.
“It really depends on how much give and take there is,” Ratterman said. “If we get a lot of feedback from planning and zoning and the community and have to go back and make changes it could take longer. But we’ll make changes as many times as needed.”
The plan is done by planning and zoning for planning and zoning, Ratterman said, but the city council can provide input at any point during the writing process.
A comprehensive plan is required by Kentucky law and must be updated or readopted every five years.
“The council can say ‘That’s still our plan’ and readopt it and that might be fine in five years, but in 10 years the community changes so much and goals and strategies to meet goals have changed too.”
The City of Owenton’s comprehensive plan has not been updated for 20 years.