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In a narrow vote, Sedgwick County commissioners approved the use of $400,000 in federal grant funding for planning services to develop a regional growth plan for south central Kansas.
The county is involved with the Regional Economic Area Partnership in an effort to create a plan for "sustainable communities." The plan involves issues such as infrastructure, transportation, housing, natural resources and job growth.
County commissioners continue to be divided over the sustainable communities effort. Commissioner Richard Ranzau raised concerns about the influence of Agenda 21 from the United Nations. He and commissioner Karl Peterjohn voiced concern that the planning initiative would open the door to more federal control over local communities.
Commissioner Dave Unruh, who chairs the REAP organization, said it's "absurd" to think there would be any outside control over Sedgwick County and the surrounding area. He said there are 34 governments involved with REAP and the regional planning effort, and this will be a local plan that will provide conceptual ideas for communities in south central Kansas.
Commissioners voted 3-2, with Peterjohn and Ranzau voting no, to approve the use of the grant for a consulting firm that will work with REAP in creating the regional plan.