Richland, Columbia to kick off meetings to discuss growth

04/07/2014 10:58 AM

04/07/2014 10:59 AM

This week, Richland County residents are invited to attend the initial meetings in what will be a year-long process of updating the county’s growth plan.

The city of Columbia, meanwhile, is preparing to embark on a series of summer meetings to talk with residents about land use issues.

County meetings are scheduled in five geographic areas, with residents encouraged to join community conversations. If one location is more convenient than another, participants may attend a meeting outside their community and still get the information that most interests them, said comprehensive planner LaToya Grate.

“We’ll have some maps set up just for that particular region, but then there will also be ... countywide maps,” she said.

The plan has three major topics: land use, transportation and areas for economic investment. That last topic has to do with a dozen spots the county has identified for county investments to jump-start commercial or residential growth. Many are in a one-mile radius of an interstate interchange, Grate said.

The comprehensive plan typically is designed to look ahead 20 years.

It will include follow-up meetings in July and again in September, when planners present a final draft. Participants are encouraged to attend meetings each of the three months.

Interested residents should choose one of the following “conversation” meetings for April:

Monday , 6:30-8:30 p.m., EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St. (a session that will include a discussion of the city’s comprehensive plan, with city staff members present)

Tuesday , 6:30-8:30 p.m., Denny Terrace Community Center, 6429 Bishop Ave.

Tuesday , 6:30-8:30 p.m., St. Andrews Park, 920 Beatty Road

Wednesday , 10:30 a.m.-noon, Garners Ferry Adult Activity Center, 8620 Garners Ferry Road

Wednesday , 6:30-8:30 p.m., Parklane Adult Activity Center, 7494 Parklane Road

While the county has sponsored recent community planning sessions – notably for Lower Richland and Spring Hill – the comprehensive plan is a broad blueprint that is useful to policymakers and planners “on a regular basis,” Grate said.

“The comprehensive plan is reviewed every time a rezoning request comes in,” she said. “It is definitely not a plan that sits on a shelf.”

Columbia residents can expect to hear more soon about opportunities to discuss land use in the city, planning administrator John Fellows said.

Those meetings will be held in mid-summer.

“We’re on a little bit different schedule than the county,” Fellows said. “We have a slightly different process.”

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