The Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission is continuing to reevaluate its comprehensive plans for zoning regulations.

The updated plan, which is expected to be in effect until 2027, is currently being developed by the commission and Hanna:Keelan Associates of Lincoln.

On Tuesday, Hanna:Keelan officials met with the commission a second time to discuss factors in the plan, focusing largely on housing issues.

The firm is the same one that worked on a comprehensive housing study of Gage County for the NGage economic development group last year, and Keith Carl with Hanna:Keelan said that study is being incorporated into the county’s comprehensive plan.

“One of the things that’s been consistent since we put together that housing study is the trend of a growing population in the county as a whole and also the balance of county, which is rural areas of Gage County,” he said. “A lot of the trends that we saw when we did the housing study are still--there’s a significant number of persons moving into the community, whether they live and work in any of your communities in the county or if they commute to Lancaster County or Lincoln. There are people looking at housing options and choosing to have more of a rural lifestyle.”

Carl said this trend is likely to continue, and rural areas of Gage County are expected to see a 1.6 percent population increase in the next 10 years.

“Right now for 2017, Gage County has an estimated population of 21,816, which, of that, 5,564 live in the rural areas,” he explained. “Balance of county is projected to grow to an estimated 5,646 in population, which is about 1.6 percent population growth over the next 10 years. A lot of that is because of the rural subdivisions.”

The overall process of reevaluating the county’s zoning regulations is expected to take about eight months.

Gage County adopted zoning regulations in 1997 and Hanna:Keelan last updated the regulations in 2010.

Hanna:Keelan will meet with the Planning and Zoning Commission four times, then once with the County Board.

Regarding the age distribution of Gage County, Carl said one demographic is expected to see a significant jump.

“From 2017 to 2027, the trends basically reflected through Gage County are those of the rural county,” he said. “The 55-64 age group is projected to experience the greatest amount of increase, or the highest population increase over the next 10 years.”

This anticipated increase is expected to result in new housing in the county.

“I think these statistics are showing that housing development in the county is not going to be existing housing but new housing, whether that’s replacing an abandoned farmstead, taking advantage of the siding,” said Lonnie Dickson of Hanna:Keelan. “What you see a lot of, happening in rural counties--especially along the Interstate 80 corridor--you’re going to see an influx of continuing growth.”

The next Planning and Zoning meeting with Hanna:Keelan is expected to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Reach Scott Koperski at scott.koperski@beatricedailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.

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