Efforts to shape Douglas County’s future through conservation and development got underway Thursday, May 7.

A steering committee will guide the 10-year update of the county’s comprehensive plan with the help of Northwest Regional Planning Commission. The original plan was developed between 2007 and 2009.

“What we’re doing in the update context is substantially less than creating the plan,” said Jason Laumann of Northwest Regional Planning. “That is the bulk of the work; we are just refining that work.”

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The comprehensive plan is a guide to the social, physical and economic development of the county. It includes nine elements such as issues and opportunities; housing; transportation; utilities and community facilities; agricultural; natural and cultural resources; economic development; intergovernmental cooperation; land use and implementation.

“First and foremost, it is an advisory document to the decision-making process, so in the county’s situation the relationship to zoning regulations, subdivision regulations and other regulations, the plan is used to advise decisions," Laumann said.

The plan describes a series of goals, objectives, policies, maps and actions to achieve the future vision of the county. However, it is not a regulation like zoning, which outlines acceptable land uses.

He said zoning regulations are an implementation tool to get to what the county wants in its vision of the community.

“Zoning should be consistent with what the plan is stating,” Laumann said.

During the process, the steering committee will meet regularly and will host at least one public event to engage the community in conversation on what they would like to see in the plan to determine what should be included in the plan before sending the revisions to the County Board.

Dates for the committee meetings and the public input session have not been set.

For information on Douglas County’s comprehensive plan, visit nwrpc.com/988/Douglas-County-Comprehensive-Plan-Update.