The meeting was a precursor to a three-day event in the conference center at Bradley Square Mall April 17-19. Information gathered during those three days will be used to write guidelines for dealing with future growth.
Planning Consultant Greg Dale with McBride, Dale & Clarion of Cincinnati, said the most recent meeting was to help them better prepare for the public event at the mall where development goals will be displayed.
Material will be available for people who have never attended the strategic planning meetings in 2010 or the more detailed comprehensive planning sessions in 2012. Information is also available on the Internet.
“For anyone who has never attended a meeting, it will be easy for them to catch up and we want to hear from them as well as anyone else,” Dale said. “We’ll be there all day and people can talk to us one-on-one or in groups.”
McDonald residents discussed zoning changes and zoning overlays as methods to stop development from swallowing up their rural lifestyle and from polluting Brymer Creek.
Charleston City Commissioner Larry Anderson wants to find ways to encourage truck drivers to use the interstate instead of passing through two school zones to get to Bowater, and discussions in the Cleveland group discussed redevelopment of old industrial sites.
Richard Russell, of Brown Pearman Russell LLC, of Knoxville, said residents have told him they want to see the downtown master plan produced in 2004 move forward.
“The other concern is what’s going to happen to the Whirlpool site and how is that Whirlpool site and that general area of some of those abandoned brownfield sites be developed into something that will support a strong downtown area,” Russell said.
Dale said there are different people with different views, but that is the purpose of taking the time to go through a planning process.
“I thought we had good discussions and it was very productive,” he said.
While there are concerns unique to each area of the county, there is concern the comprehensive planning effort is agenda-driven by outside consultants with “cookie-cutter” solutions to growth.
Local business owner Dan Rawls, who is with the Liberty Coalition and a member of the Bradley County Tea Party said, “My main issue here is that it seems to be an agenda-driven meeting. No matter how you answer most of these questions it always leads you back to their agenda.”
He said the county should not have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in outside consulting firms loaded with bureaucrats “to give us a cookie-cutter plan that doesn’t fit Bradley County. I think these plans should be drawn up by the County Commission so we have elected representatives, people we pay and that we have the ability to deal with from an electoral standpoint. If we don’t like what the County Commission does we can vote them out. If we don’t like what these guys do, what do we do there?”
Bradley County, Cleveland, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland Utilities and Volunteer Energy began working on planning in October 2009 when it was announced the U.S. Economic Development Agency awarded the city of Cleveland a $50,000 grant to assist in the development of the BCC2035 Joint Strategic Plan to address anticipated regional growth. The total cost of that study was about $221,720. The local share was paid by the participants. The end result of that six-month effort ended in the regional plan that looked 25 years into the future.
The BCC Comprehensive Plan is paid for by a 50 percent matching grant of $125,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Agency. Bradley County and the city of Cleveland each contributed $60,000 and the city of Charleston contributed $5,000.
The BCC Comprehensive Plan is a continuation of the BCC2035 Strategic Plan. The current effort takes a closer look at Charleston, Cleveland and unincorporated areas of Bradley County. It will also include a detailed look at the northern corridor around Mouse Creek Road and Interstate 75 Exit 33; the southern corridor around Exit 20, APD 40 and McDonald; the central city of Cleveland, and the soon to be vacated Whirlpool manufacturing plant.
For more information about the BCC Comprehensive Plan, visit www.bcctncompplans.com on the Internet; call the city of Cleveland Development & Engineering Services Department’s Planning Director Greg Thomas at 423-479-1913; or Bradley County Planner Corey Divel at 423-728-7108.