Two areas that will dominate Richland County's future, according to Councilwoman Kit Smith:
"This is going to be a huge year for transportation. We're going to see a whole lot of progress in trying to get a good public-transit plan before the public, and then the public will have to decide whether to support it."
Smith said "the same old, same old" just won't cut it, and the county must look at transit in combination with transit-oriented subdivisions, clogged streets and adding bike lanes and sidewalks.
She predicted the transportation debate - including how to pay for improvements - may continue for a decade.
Council's core conflict, she said, is a desire to protect rural beauty, clean air and water - paired with an unwillingness to enact policies that would control development.
"We can't have it both ways. We can't manage growth and not change, and that's the rub."
A case in point: The council has not passed its comprehensive plan, which was presented nearly a year ago by its planning staff. "Until we come together with a clear statement of what we want to be, we will never get there."
She said the city, county and region lack a unified vision. "Part of the problem is we don't spend enough time together learning the possibilities."
- Dawn Hinshaw