After more than two years of intensive study, Sevier County has adopted a long-range general plan for the future.

The plan is the work of 60 dedicated residents who considered numerous ideas and suggestions from the public and officials."It is not a document that was prepared by a few people in a back room and paraded out for adoption," said County Commissioner Ralph Okerlund.

"The degree of citizen involvement in producing this general plan is unprecedented in this county," added Commissioner Peggy Mason.

The target of the action is to avoid future growth problems like those facing other counties in the state. Sevier County is experiencing only moderate growth at a relatively slow and steady pace.

But in the case that changes, the new general plan will be of the utmost importance.

The early stages of developing the plan involved several months of preliminary planning by county officials and the appointment of Sam Ware, business administrator for the Sevier School District, as general committee chairman.

Several months later, eight subcommittees were formed, each with a chairman and responsibility for a specific category of planning. They addressed key issues regarding how these would affect the future of Sevier County.

The county's planning commission also was involved, along with Sevier County Economic Development Director Richard Leyba and consultant E. Odell Miner of the Rocky Mountain Institute of Public Affairs. Thousands of hours of volunteer work went into the plan.

Implementation may take up to another 18 months, but County Commission chairman Tex Olson said it is hoped that time frame can be accelerated. Developing new zoning will be required, along with capital improvement and subdivision ordinances to support the policies set forth in the general plan.

Among proposals is preservation of the county's rural lifestyle; adopting planned growth strategies; protecting private property rights; leaving agricultural lands intact and in production; encouraging population growth to occur within or immediately adjacent to areas where infrastructure and services exist; discouraging residential development in unincorporated areas and abandoning the current three-acre minimum for residential properties.

Specific criteria for development is emphasized, including site plan reviews, appropriate access, frontage on designated county roads and approved culinary water and wastewater discharge systems.

Subcommittees and their chairmen were: education and public facilities, Milo Medley; water and natural resources, Kirk Forbush; orderly growth and demographics, Roger Nielsen; agricultural industries and lands, Scott Johnson; recreation, tourism and historical preservation, Beverly Anderson; county, federal and state public lands, Cecelia Bytheway; economic development, Mark Cox; and housing and infrastructure, Ware.