Nearly 70% of towns and municipalities in Rogers County have updated or are in the process of updating their own comprehensive plan, Place Strategies representative Ivan Gonzalez said at Monday's regular County Commissioner meeting.
Rogers County Planning Commission began working on a new comprehensive plan – Imagine Rogers County – at the beginning of 2022 with the company Place Strategies and Velocity Group helping to navigate the process. Part of that process aims to help individual towns in the county create their own plan to help guide the entire county's plan, Gonzalez said.
Two representatives from Place Strategies and one from Velocity Group presented the work they have done in the last several months to the County Commissioners Monday morning. The Imagine Rogers County group created a State of the County report that analyzes community engagement, demographics and economics, land use, mobility, housing, natural resources and conservation.
“This will be our starting point as we move into recommendations in the coming months,” Place Strategies representative Brad Lonberger said.
The report outlined five key takeaways;
• Rogers County continues to grow at unprecedented levels and is set to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. County population grew 37% from 2000 to 2020 based on the Census.
• Rogers County has developed its land use in a traditional way but has become more constrained with flood plains the more it has grown.
• Rogers County transportation methods are built for industrial connections.
• There is a high demand for housing and it remains attainable in Rogers County.
• Natural resources and conservation are both a high valued asset and a constraint within Rogers County.
The entire report is available to download on imaginerogerscounty.com and contains full statistical comparisons of land usage, employment industries, housing and mobility in the county.
In culminating the report, Lonberger said the planning commission has been able to see what communities want for their future.
“Our comprehensive plan is to educate, provide a vision and a roadmap for the future of Rogers County using community input as that tool to inform that plan process,” Lonberger said.
Velocity Group representative Daniel Hintz said Imagine Rogers County is working on the tail-end of the core feedback from the community and is starting to move into the drafting and refining stage of the plan. After the plan has been refined, a public hearing will be held for final approval of the plan.
“Then it goes into the public hearing so there is going to be tons of time for people who may not have heard about the process to begin with or may not have been able to attend to still provide feed back and thats really really important,” Hintz said.
Hintz said the goal with the planning process and getting feedback from the community is to establish a level of trust and collaboration between the community and their representatives.
“Our 'why' going into this was fostering trust, which was a major issue that we heard when we came in,” Hintz said. “There was a lot of people that were concerned about the process, didn’t understand the process and the only time the county would ever engage with people is when they were frustrated.”
Hintz reported 179,000 impressions and 11,000 engagements on Imagine Rogers County social media. He said video recordings of community meetings about the comprehensive plan have been viewed over 6,000 times. Imagine Rogers County has had 253 survey responses, 878 community activation attendees and 47 one-on-one conversations about the plan.
“When you think about the spirit of what is going on here in Rogers County you are seeing a level of collaboration and coordination,” Hintz said. “The feedback we are getting has been unprecedented in the last several years.”
The Commissioners each expressed their excitement for the plan. District III Commissioner Ron Burrows said the tourism co-operative and the comprehensive plan have helped bring communities together under a shared goal.
“We had Lieutenant Governor in town last week talking about how tourism is the third largest industry in Oklahoma – thats where we have always had that around the globe visitor, but we've not had a vision of where we want to take the assets that we've got,” Burrows said. “What you guys are doing really adds layers on top of that, so I'm extremely excited about the direction we are headed.”
District II Commissioner Steve Hendrix said the county is stronger when it works together and the comprehensive plan will help need collaboration.
“We are not telling these communities what to do, we are asking them what they want and offering to help them accomplish what their vision is for each and every community,” Hendrix said. “That's very exciting because this is promoting Rogers County as a whole.”