He said the BCC Comprehensive Plan is near the mid-point of development. The next step is to present a draft copy to the public in the next few weeks.
Five guiding principles serve as overarching themes for all elements of the planning process and as a foundation for the goal statements:
- The community highly values private property rights and responsibilities. Tools to help the community manage the demands of growth will need to respect this value placed on private property rights;
- The community enjoys a relatively low-tax environment and the plan and recommended tools should be designed to maintain a low tax structure, while adequately providing for the safety and well-being of the current and future citizens;
- Given the strong possibility that the cities and county will continue to face a fiscally challenging future due to national economic trends, as well as the low-tax environment of this region, decisions about the issues addressed in this plan should be made with careful consideration of fiscal impacts;
- The community highly values citizen-driven initiatives, private investment, a market-based economy, and nongovernment approaches, rather than a focus on government-oriented approaches to community development;
- As a result, these multiple considerations should be balanced when making public decisions.
Dale said the goals were broad statements of desired outcomes reflecting the community’s vision for the future. Goal statements serve as guidelines to direct policy decisions, development, and general progress toward this community vision.
“Strategies provide some action steps that can be taken to accomplish the goals,” he said. “The combination of goals and strategies allows the community vision expressed in the plan — to expand beyond the document and be reflected in other planning efforts, adopted regulations, government decisions and general practices.”
Initial staff discussions and public participation revealed seven thematic areas which are to be addressed in the plan: traffic/transportation; quality of life; education; administration/coordination; housing; economic/community development; utilities/public facilities.
Dale said that for the past five months, the cities of Cleveland and Charleston, and Bradley County, have been working together to prepare comprehensive plans for their futures.
“Comprehensive plans are locally driven statements of policy. They are statements of intent that serve as the basis for supporting legal tools such as infrastructure plans, capital improvements plans, zoning codes, subdivision regulations, and others,” he said. “Comprehensive plans have long served as community guides in Tennessee and in Bradley County. Comprehensive plans are called for in Title 13 of the Tennessee Code, and have been prevalent throughout Tennessee since the 1920s. This comprehensive planning effort, in fact, is actually an update to existing comprehensive plans (Bradley County Future Land Use Plan adopted in 2004; city of Cleveland Land Use Plan adopted in 1995).”
Dale said a coordinated but separate comprehensive planning process was called for in the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan as a growth coordination recommendation.
The BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan was a planning process initiated in response to anticipate growth generated by the Volkswagen plant in adjacent Hamilton County, as well as other economic developments.
In anticipation of the arrival of the Volkswagen plant in July 2008, a group of local elected officials, Chamber of Commerce representatives, and others traveled to Greer, S.C., to observe how the BMW plant there impacted the area since its arrival in 1994. As a result of the BMW plant locating in nearby Greer, the Greenville area grew quickly and extending services in a fiscally balanced manner became challenging. The message from local leaders was clear: growth in this area was not planned and the area was no longer in an ideal position to deal with the growth.
In early 2009, Wacker Chemie expressed interest in locating in northern Bradley County. With the impacts of the BMW plant on the Greenville area fresh in local officials’ minds, the local governments agreed that the anticipated growth was at a scale that required additional planning. As a result, a joint city-county strategic planning process was initiated.
The strategic planning process aimed to understand the anticipated growth at a broad level, to identify potential levels of population and employment growth, to assess the amount of usable land in the region, and to provide the BCC Region with a coordinated growth plan for future development. The result was the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan. The Joint Strategic Plan included goals reflecting the themes of efficient growth, economic competitiveness, fiscal sustainability, transportation choices, housing choices, natural and cultural resource protection, livability and quality of life, placing value on existing communities and neighborhoods, and intergovernmental coordination.
The BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan included population growth projections for the BCC Region over the next 25 years, forecasting steady growth. The plan estimated Bradley County would see a total increase of more than 32,000 residents during this time period, with an influx of about 8,300 new residents within the next five years. The plan estimated this population growth would create demand for approximately 14,000 new homes and 19,000 new jobs within the county.
“These forecasts are based on historic or current trends — the plan does not advocate or call for this growth, it merely forecasts a likely future, whether planning occurs or not,” he said. “The separate yet coordinated comprehensive plans serve as guides for the future, as a way to assess development proposals, as a roadmap to tools needed to implement the vision of the plans, and as an organizing framework for growth that can be used by other agencies.”In addition, the targeted Small Area Plans identify three areas within the county requiring additional planning detail due to their position in relation to economic development and reinvestment potential.The two cities and Bradley County coordinated to prepare plans according to these recommendations. While the Joint Strategic Plan began the discussion of the growth and future of the county, the current comprehensive planning process is a step toward coordinated, responsible growth.The recommendations of the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan acted as a catalyst for the current planning process. This process will result in the eventual adoption of separate yet coordinated comprehensive plans and Small Area Plans. Currently, the plans are at an approximate mid-point.
The comprehensive planning process began in January 2012 with a public kickoff event to identify general issues and concerns. Since the initial meeting, several committee meetings have been held to process public participation into goals and strategies. Public participation to date culminated in the three-day public charrette, giving the public the opportunity to review progress made and provide comments on all elements of the plans. As a result, future land use maps were drafted, reviewed by the public and representatives from local government departments, and revised accordingly.
He said public outreach kiosk sessions were held at the Wildwood Market, McDonald Market and teachers’ credit union. The steering committee meeting discussed draft goals, and area plan committee meetings were held to discuss draft goals and maps for each area plan.
The three-day public charrette resulted in refined goals, draft area plans with future land uses, and draft citywide future land use and draft countywide future land use plans. Other public outreach included the Blythe-Bower Bike Rodeo.