ELWOOD – A handful of Elwood area residents expressed frustration with government officials not following the Madison County comprehensive plan.
About a dozen residents met Tuesday with representatives from the Madison County Council of Governments, often referred to as COG, in the final of second-round meetings to prepare a new comprehensive plan.
Frankton resident Larry Shively said the current comprehensive plan is not being followed by the government leaders.
“A consistent message has to come from the top,” he said. “The comprehensive plan has to be detailed and explain how it will be accomplished.”
Jerry Bridges, executive director of COG, said there is a frustration level among county residents and people are looking for change.
“There has to be continuity,” Bridges said. “The public has to make sure the people in office follow through with the plan.”
Local farmer Garland Antrim said the political climate has been a part of the problem, but he added that not everything proposed by a particular administration is bad.
“We have to work together,” he said. “You can’t do anything in two or three years.”
Bridges said county officials have been talking about expanding broadband internet coverage for 14 years.
“It still has not been accomplished,” he said.
The residents agreed there is a disconnection between the northern third of the county with the remainder of Madison County.
“The loss of business in north Anderson has hurt the northern part of Madison County,” Shively said. “People used to come to north Anderson to shop.”
Bridges said COG and the steering committee have not started the work on establishing the goal and objectives of a new comprehensive plan.
COG will be seeking public input on establishing the goals in the next round of meetings and hopes to get a response from 3 to 5 percent of the county’s population.
Bridges said, to date, there has not been enough participation from the agriculture community and the plan is to establish a focus group.
He said approximately 80 percent of the land in Madison County is used for agriculture.
“A lot of land was not developed correctly,” Antrim said. “We need to protect the land and have an overall plan that benefits everybody.”
The group discussed the needs for a skilled work force to help economic development, better regional connections, health care options for senior citizens, and for healthy foods.