Bath residents provide opinions on future of town

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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On Monday night (Sept. 25), the Town of Bath Planning Department hosted an open house meeting where residents could provide their feedback on how they want to see the town progress in the next 10 years. 

“The Town of Bath was extremely pleased with the Land Use Plan open house…It was the most well attended open house in recent years,” Bubs Carson, Town Manager shared with the Daily News. “Input from the community was very supportive of the work of the Planning Board and their work.” 

The meeting is part of a process to write a land use plan. A land use plan helps local governments know what course of action to take when considering possible projects that are related to economic development, infrastructure improvement, parks and recreation and best uses of the town budget. Local governments can take residents’ wishes for their town’s future into consideration when making such decisions. Local governments in the coastal region of North Carolina are required by the Coastal Area Management Act to have land use plans which address both town or city growth and preservation of natural resources. 

Feedback received at Monday night’s meeting parallel that of a study the Town of Bath sent out to residents on February 1. 

Survey results were collected by Mid-East Commission in mid-March. Jaime Heath, a planner with Mid-East Commission provided the Daily News with results of the survey. 

There were 81 total responses to the survey. 

Over 38% of residents who participated in the survey have lived in Bath for 26 years or more. The second largest group to respond to the survey (22.4%) were residents who have lived in Bath between three and five years. 

Half of respondents were either 65 years or older. The second largest group to respond were residents between 51 and 64 years of age and the third largest group were residents between 41 and 50 years old. Almost half of respondents were male (49.1%), but 36.8% of respondents were female. The remaining 14.1% respondents were men and women answering together. And most respondents had two people in their household. 

Of the 30 respondents who selected a range for their annual income, 36.7% said they earn between $100,000 to $149,000 per year. Tying at 23.3% were incomes between $200,000 or more and $70,000 to $99,000. 

When asked what they like most about Bath, nearly all residents said they enjoy the peaceful and quiet atmosphere. The slower pace of life and friendly neighbors were common answers in addition to water views and preservation of historical sites. 

If any new housing was built to accommodate more residents, respondents said they would support construction of single family homes, but oppose or strongly oppose construction of apartments and/or townhomes. They would also strongly oppose manufactured (mobile) homes. 

The amount of responses supporting or opposing development of new subdivisions was equal at twenty responses. Other respondents either did not have an opinion or were strongly opposed. 

Looking at economic development, maintaining businesses and residential properties’ appearance was very important to respondents. Most had no opinion on attracting more business and residential development. They strongly support the availability of sewer and broadband, but few either supported or had no opinion on the availability of natural gas. 

Though respondents, when given the opportunity to write in what types of businesses they would like to see come to Bath, said; a grocery store, restaurants, small businesses that would support historical preservation and boutiques. 

One thing almost all respondents agreed upon was that beautification of town limits is important to them. Specifically, they support protection and/or designation of historic properties, landscaping and community beautification, improvement to appearance of entrance ways into town, preservation of open space and protection of natural resources. 

Also important to respondents are neighborhood parks, public waterfront access, greenways and off road trails, recreational facilities and more youth, adult and senior programs. Public bathrooms; a dog park; a kayak launch; a public boat ramp; pickleball, tennis and basketball courts; a playground and picnic areas were most of the suggestions respondents provided. 

Street improvements, completed streets, paved parking, increased street lighting and crosswalks were all important to respondents; however, the least important was electric vehicle charging stations. Respondents were very concerned about speed limit signs and road maintenance.