Wayne County, OH

For the first time in more than a decade, Wayne County updated its comprehensive plan. The County, which benefits from a strong economy, including thriving agricultural industry, proactively took measures to manage growth and change. With focus on topics such as retaining and attracting young people, supporting the Amish community, protecting the agricultural sector, preventing rural sprawl, promoting vibrancy of urbanized areas, and ensuring strong workforce development strategies, the plan will set the direction for the decades to come. A commitment to fiscal responsibility and an interest in finding creative solutions to challenging problems established a strong foundation for the plan.

Support for agriculture

Wayne County is proud of its agricultural heritage as well as the continued strength of the sector today. A significant focus of the plan was directing new development to existing cities and towns, while preserving existing rural areas. Proactive strategies to support the County’s strong agricultural base were developed to promote agriculture-related industry, ensure ample space for agricultural land uses and minimize incompatibilities with other activities.

Assessing potential tools

The County was aware that certain tools were working well to help manage growth and change. However, in some ways the existing regulations and incentives were not completely fulfilling the County’s needs. The planning process included an assessment of potential revisions to existing tools (e.g. subdivision regulations, zoning, easement programs), as well as potential new tools to help achieve desired outcomes. This work included some comparative assessment of other similar counties in the region.

Building trust and understanding

In a county with very limited zoning and an individualistic orientation toward land management, creating trust in government and the planning process was especially important. Through a range of outreach techniques, the planning team made sure that all community members felt they were being heard. Throughout the planning process, 99% of exit survey respondents said they felt their input was heard and reported accurately.