Our county will soon be embarking on the development of a County Comprehensive Plan. Up until this point we have spent the last five years working with individual municipalities with the development of their individual comprehensive plans. The methods of public participation we have used were limited to paper surveys, vision sessions, open houses etc. The general demographic responding to these types of public input methods are generally 50 and older.
In an effort to reach a younger population when doing the County Plan, we are seriously considering internet based public participation methods. On the slate for consideration would be a forum somewhat like Cyburbia where I would serve as the administrator. In addition to the forum there would be a gallery where folks could post their pictures of what they like and don’t like about the county (with narrative), and finally we are thinking about holding video workshops around the county where we would record people and what they had to say and post the videos on the county website.
Again, we are considering this approach to get input from a younger generation and to make the county planning process as transparent and real as possible. Yet there is some apprehension that going down this road may open up doors we may not be able to close—as in create massive amounts of trouble and problems. On the other hand it may offer the support and credibility we need to incorporate ideas like LEED certification, carbon dioxide caps and reductions, billboard prohibitions etc since these are the kinds of things younger people are thinking about (myself included).
So my question to Cyburbians is whether your community has used web based public participation and if so what is your site? Pros and Cons, what has worked and not worked and why? And do you know of any other communities that have done this?
We are definitely going to use the web based method. We have to get new and progressive ideas. So we’ll see. I am sure I will have updates as we go along.