The Starke County Commissioners opened a public hearing concerning the application for a planning grant to get the county closer to a possible finalist status in the selection of next year’s Regional Stellar Communities Designation Program.
KIRPC Representative Edwin Buswell explained that the hearing was to gather public comment on the county’s proposed application to Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a planning grant to help fund the completion of a comprehensive plan for the county.
“The grant request will be $48,600 and the local match is $5,400 for a total project cost of $54,000,” said Buswell. “The grant application will go in by Nov. 15 and they should have it scored by the end of the month so it will be awarded by Dec. 1.”
HWC Consultants will complete the plan for the county as previously approved by the commissioners.
Commissioner Kathy Norem asked if there will be a time crunch to get it done before the Stellar Communities application is due in May. Buswell said it was a concern for company officials, but it should be completed in time.
County Attorney Marty Lucas said there are four municipalities involved in the application and all four entities need to have a current comprehensive plan in order to move forward as a region. Three of the four municipalities don’t have a current plan. The City of Knox has one, but it expires in June of 2019. But OCRA Project Manager Michael Sinnet told Lucas said it couldn’t hurt to go ahead.
“He really didn’t report any downside to doing it,” commented Lucas. “If you do it this year and you’re not successful, you’re still going to get a review of your application from all of the same people that will review it the next year which will help. You’ll have a better chance of making it the next year.”
Following the public hearing, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the submission of the grant application and the grant match.