A crowd of about 200 people -- eager to learn how to craft a plan for a Howard County 30 years in the future -- filled the banquet room at Savage Mill last night.
They heard about Ann Corley, a homemaker in the fast-growing Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Mo., who said at a similar meeting there six years ago:
"I am tired of paying for development. I'm tired of watching our poor, mistreated local developers drive around on weekends in their Mercedes Benzes, BMWs and Cadillacs, at the expense of citizens both for the price of housing and the lack of proper infrastructure."
That galvanized public opinion and "changed the face of Lee's Summit," Curt Wenson, the town's assistant city manager, told the Howard County crowd.
From people who wanted a five-minute response time for victims of medical emergencies to those with larger goals such as holding developers accountable for infrastructure improvements, Howard's residents learned how Lee's Summit residents created a plan for their county.
Despite the planning that went into the creation of Columbia more than 30 years ago and the county's steps to control growth since then, National Civic League President Christopher Gates said he feels people here "are hungry to talk about the issues."
Gates said the session last night launched the public phase of Howard County -- A United Vision, a process described as "the first really comprehensive look at this county for a long time."
After the general remarks from Gates and Wenson, people at each table introduced themselves and said what they like most about Howard County and what they want to change. After a break, they also talked about how to develop a plan for the county.
As project director for United Vision, Lynn Nemeth had been preparing for last night's meeting for months. The venture was initiated last year by the Columbia Foundation, which called on the 105-year-old National Civic League to help direct it.
With a new county executive, three new members on the five-member County Council and with the county about to begin writing a 10-year General Plan, foundation members thought it a good time to try to bind together a county whose population and number of homes have more than doubled since 1980.
"This is an opportunity to analyze where we are and where we go in the future," said Steven H. Adler, managing partner of Savage Mill and a member of the Columbia Foundation board. "If you don't have a plan, you won't get there."
Pub Date: 3/03/99