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"I could tell you that when you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself you’ll settle it by flipping a coin. But don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?"
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 6 June 2019  

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  Residents provide more input on master plan
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On May 15, the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department, along with Houseal Lavigne Associates, a professional consulting firm from Chicago that specializes in community planning, urban design and economic development, held the last in a series of meetings throughout the county to gather community input on the development of a countywide comprehensive land use plan.
   
   About 30 people attended the meeting, held at Grace Community Church in Falcon. Mark Gebhart, deputy director of the EPC Development Services Department, said the goal of the meetings was to gather information from the community to consolidate the multiple land use plans that date back to 1977 or earlier.
   
   Carly Peterson, senior associate from Houseal Lavigne, said the county hired her firm to interact with the community and ensure that the end point of the process reflects the values of the community. “At the very outset of this process, we need to determine what we are planning for in the first place,” she said. “The next step is then uploading our findings to the (county’s) website and then determine where to go from there. That will probably happen in the fall of 2019. The last step is to determine how we are going to get there.”
   
   Peterson asked attendees to fill out a questionnaire and identify their concerns, make suggestions for how the county can address those concerns and pinpoint the strengths the county currently has. Because the majority of the people attending the meeting live in Falcon, most of the concerns related to Falcon.
   
   After obtaining one area of concern from each person who volunteered to name one, Peterson said the top three were the water supply, overcrowding and maintaining the rural character of the Falcon area.
   
   Peterson said the exercise showed the distinction among different areas of the county: Some residents in certain parts of the county were not concerned with the water supply, but the latter was a huge concern with residents in other areas.
   
   The information gathered at each meeting will influence the next steps in the process, which is not a quick one, Gebhart said. “This will be a plan for growth in the whole county,” he said. “We are at the information-gathering stage of an about two-year process.”
   
   Additional information-gathering meetings will likely happen, Gebhart said. Interested parties can visit the county website to get the latest updates on the development of the master plan at https://elpasoco.com.
  
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