By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors agreed in principle Monday to enter into a reduced-cost comprehensive planning contract with Oxford-based firm Slaughter and Associates.
The board voted 3-2 to enter into the agreement after Mike Slaughter, the organization’s leader, told the board planning efforts would only cost $27,000-$32,000 after his group received Geographic Information Systems (GIS) surveys and other prep work from the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District. A previous contract submitted by the organization estimated planning efforts would cost $30,000-$35,000.
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson voted against the agreement.
The county previously entered into a deal with the GTPDD to develop a comprehensive plan. GTPDD GIS surveys detailing every county structure, road and landmark were conducted in preparation for the county’s switch to a new 911 addressing system. That data and other information was passed along to Slaughter and Associates after documents releasing GTPDD from the planning contract were signed in January.
GTPDD Executive Director Rudy Johnson said in November he was in favor of Slaughter and Associates handling planning efforts.
While his organization will handle developing the countywide comprehensive plan, it will tailor the plan to the board’s wishes, Slaughter told supervisors before the vote.
“You’ll be an integral part in this process the whole way. We’ll use your guidance on the type of document you want,” he said. “There will be no surprises.”
Slaughter also said the comprehensive plan will not include strict zoning ordinances or forced land-use mechanisms.
“This will be just a plan for goals and objectives, future land-use suggestions and plans for transportation and community facilities,” he said.
After Slaughter’s presentation, Jackson said he has heard many concerns from county residents regarding future zoning requirements. As for recommendations, he asked Slaughter why the county should spend almost $30,000 for a list of recommendations.
“I feel like when someone decides to build something in Oktibbeha County, they already have a plan that’s not based upon a suggestion,” Jackson said.
“That’s a good concern, and I wouldn’t want the county to spend money they didn’t feel was productive to get a return on,” Slaughter replied. “Say someone comes in saying they want to locate a plant or a business. You could then pull out this plan and give a recommendation. I see that as a plus. I do think having a plan beats having nothing at all.”