Board seeks ‘fresh’ comprehensive plan

Published 1:18 am Friday, July 29, 2011

Washington’s Planning Board is looking for a “fresh” comprehensive plan from the firm hired by the city to help develop that plan.
During its meeting Monday, the board made it clear it wants the next comprehensive plan to include an implementation policy that includes identifying revenue sources to pay for the plan’s recommendations. The city awarded a $30,000 contract to Clarion Associates, a Denver-based firm with an office in Chapel Hill, to produce the updated plan.
Among the things a comprehensive plan addresses are land-use and zoning matters, along with other growth- and development-related issues, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of planning and community development. It also sets policies regarding those matters. The City Council has final say on the plan.
Roger Walden, a principal with Clarion Associates, told the board how the firm plans to update the plan. Walden was planning director in Chapel Hill for 20 years.
“When I think of a comprehensive plan, I think of it as a mechanism to answer three questions,” Walden said.
“The three questions that I think are important are: Where are we today? Where do we want to go with our community? … and most importantly, how do we get there?”
Board members offered items they want to see addressed in the plan.
Bob Henkel said he wants the plan to offer ways the city and Beaufort County can better unite and work together to address shared concerns and issues. John Tate said he wants the plan to look at ways to better streamline the development process in the city, removing hurdles that complicate plans by a new business, merchant or contractor to set up shop or build new houses and commercial structures. Chairwoman Dot Moate and Steve Moler want the updated plan to suggest ways to slow, if not stop, deterioration of the city’s neighborhoods.
Walden said input from city residents and property owners will be sought. Their input, gathered by several methods, will be valuable in drafting the plan update, he said. As for input, Moler said, he wants that input to come from city residents and taxpayers, not outsiders with little or no stake in the city’s future.
Tate would like for the updated plan to provide specific information on how to pay for implementing the plan’s recommendations and strategies without putting undue burden on taxpayers.
“If we can come up with some efficiencies and grow some tax base, we can come up with some money without raising (tax rates). … That implementation-action part … that’s what I’m talking about,” Tate said.
Board members said they want an updated plan that’s actionable, not one that will sit on a shelf gathering dust because there’s no money to make it happen.
“I’m looking forward to a really fresh approach here,” said board member Jane Alligood.
A comprehensive plan would outline what kinds of development are desired in the city and where those types of development should occur. It also would address the issue of preserving and protecting historical and cultural buildings, sites and landmarks in the city.
City officials use the comprehensive plan when reviewing requests for land to be rezoned to see if the requested rezoning would be in compliance with the comprehensive plan.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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