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Residents have opportunity to review land-use strategy

By Staff
Updated version is much different from existing plan
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
An informational meeting regarding the city’s proposed updated land-use plan will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 31 at the Washington Civic Center.
The meeting is open to the public.
Roberson and Dale Holland, representing Holland Consulting Planners, will be at the meeting to answer people’s questions and explain elements of the draft plan. Holland Consulting Planners is helping the city update the land-use plan.
The Coastal Area Management Act requires counties in the state’s coastal region to develop land-use plans, which must be updated every five years. Municipalities in a CAMA county come under that county’s land-use plan, unless they opt to develop their own land-use plan. Washington chose to develop its own land-use plan.
For example, the draft land-use plan for the city, which was crafted by the Planning Board, calls for a sea change when it comes to mooring fields. The draft supports placing mooring fields in some of the city’s waterways. The existing CAMA plan does not support doing that.
The updated plan also reflects an increasing development demand on the city’s land, especially its waterfront areas, and addresses how that development should be handled, Holland said.
Last month during a meeting of the Planning Board, which has been drafting the revised land-use plan, Roberson said the difference between the revised plan and the existing plan is as different as “night and day.”
Land-use plans are used to help guide growth. They help local governments determine where growth should occur, decide what types of growth are appropriate for specific areas and provide strategies and policies that address the following conservation-related policies: public access, conservation, stormwater control, natural hazard areas, water quality and cultural, historical and scenic areas.
During a Planning Board meeting in April, Holland said the draft has been reviewed by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, which made several recommendations and changes that are reflected in the latest version of the draft. The revised plan is comprehensive and user-friendly Holland said. The current plan is outdated and not a suitable document to guide planning decisions by the city in the future, he said.
The revised plan includes the following elements:
After the informational meeting, the revised plan will go to the City Council for action. The council’s public hearing on the plan should take place Aug. 27, according to a proposed schedule. If approved by the council on that date, the plan will be sent to the Coastal Resources Commission for its approval. The commission is scheduled to meet Sept. 27-28 to consider the plan and other commission business.