The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 18, 2013

Ashtabula County’s coastal management plan complete

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The county’s new coastal management plan was rolled out Monday afternoon during the planning commission’s meeting.

Several hard copies of the thick document were passed around to members and commissioners who attended the meeting. The public can view the document by going online to Select the “Ashtabula County Coastal Management Plan” folder.

The document pertains only to public property along the lakefront. It incorporates existing plans from those lakefront communities with an existing plan and establishes a new baseline vision for those previously devoid of the document.

Responsibility for producing the long-awaited plan was originally placed upon the county’s planning department, which was merged with community services when the planning director retired and his assistant departed shortly thereafter. The county received a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to produce the plan and intended to use the planning department’s work as an in-kind match. The Poggemeyer Design Group was hired to produce the document after the merger.

Poggemeyer held several public meetings to collect input on how the county can best use its lakefront public lands. The various ideas were prioritized and refined over the course of those meetings and then developed into a written plan.

The planning commission endorsed the completed document on Monday, but final approval rests with the board of commissioners. The board discussed the plan in a work session Tuesday but did not pass a resolution adopting it.

“They did a very good job,” said Commissioner Peggy Carlo. The board is likely to vote on a resolution adopting the plan at its next agenda meeting, 3 p.m. April 25.

A grant writer who is a member of the planning commission committee that worked on the plan said that the county has been at a competitive disadvantage in seeking grants because it lacked a formal plan for the coastline. Both Erie County, Pa., and Lake County have plans in place. Ashtabula County has been ineligible to apply for some grants because it lacked a coastal management plan.

She said a grant writer who is trying to obtain money for infrastructure located in the plan’s jurisdiction will now have an official document that can be cited in support of the request, such as historical preservation or development of the lakefront for tourism.

Commissioners said they want to hold one more meeting for the volunteers who worked on the plan and formally thank them for their input and dedication to completing the work.

“We’ve had some nice collaboration and cooperation,” Carlo said.