By Stan Welch
Jeff Parkey, of the Anderson County Planning Department, recently informed the various town councils in the area that the department had reached the stage in their development of the ten year comprehensive plan where they were seeking reactions and input from the public.
The plan, which is used to project the county’s future needs in a number of categories, is subject to a mandatory review every five years, but must be reworked and updated thoroughly every ten years. That deadline will be reached next year; hence the efforts to gather information and opinions from the general public.
The comprehensive plan deals with nine basic areas.
Not surprisingly, population is first and foremost – how much, if at all it is growing; how its makeup is changing, in terms of age, race, sex, education levels, income and other aspects. Anderson County, for example, is currently growing at a rate several percentage points higher than the national average, with the northern end of the county (Powdersville) exploding at better than three times the national rate.
The Pendleton, Williamston, and Anderson census districts are all growing at almost 13%: Powdersville is at 34%.
For the most part, the county’s population is also aging at a significant rate, with the median age rising by almost five years between census reports. Since 1990, the percentage of whites in the county has dropped almost three per cent, with almost all of that decrease reflected in a parallel increase in the Hispanic population.
The African American population has remained between sixteen and seventeen per cent, while the percentage of Asians and mixed races ( 2 or more races) have both doubled, although both categories are still miniscule.
Other points of focus in the comprehensive plan include economic development, which focuses largely on the nature of the local work force, as well as where people work in relation to where they live, and the effects on the local economy. As Anderson’s job creation efforts have succeeded in recent years, both the per capita (individual) and median household income, while still below the national and state averages, has increased.
Natural resources, such as agricultural and forest lands, plant and animal habitats, park areas, wetlands, flood plains and soil types are all studied in order to create elements of the future land use plan. Cultural resources, such as historic sites and structures, the area’s agricultural history and the presence of the visual and performing arts communities all enter into any discussion of quality of life issues.
The presence or absence of community facilities, such as police and fire services, emergency services, water supply, wastewater treatment, solid waste collection and other public and government services are studied as well, with a special eye toward those services distribution across a given part of the county.
Housing is also an area of great focus, with attention paid to the location, type, age and condition of the housing, as well as affordability and availability. The study also examines the impact of the regulatory environment on creating unnecessary barriers to the ability of all income levels to access decent housing.
The land use portion of the plan is intended to encourage and allow effective planning for the future use of the county’s lands and to manage growth in the other areas as well. While all other areas of the study tie into and impact the land use, the land use also affects many of those areas as well. Transportation deals with major road projects and new road construction, along with bicycle and pedestrian projects that might be considered. Under priority investment concerns, the location and nature of future capital improvement projects is considered, as well as how to match those projects to the local, state and federal funding that might be available for them.
A meeting will be held at the Pelzer Monkey Park at 7 p.m. Monday , August 2 to allow the public to participate.
A similar meeting will be held in the Belton Honea Path area the following week.