By Stan Welch -The West Pelzer Planning Commission received the draft copy of the town’s comprehensive plan Monday night. Several members of the county planning staff presented the report at the Commission’s meeting.
The county has been assisting the town prepare the plan, as required by state law. That law requires a plan to be prepared every ten years, with incremental five year updates.
Jeff Parkee handled the bulk of the presentation, which he explained was focused on one phase of the overall plan. “We have basically identified and commented on existing conditions in the community. In the future, we will be seeking input from the town’s residents about their vision for the town’s future and the direction of its growth.”
He also addressed some of those current conditions, with some seen as benefits and some seen as problems. He stressed the recent and continuing improvements in the town’s infrastructure, and the recent activity in the business community as being very beneficial. He also stressed that the town is in a very desirable location with growing cities such as Anderson, Greenville and Easley nearby.
He pointed out that recent signs of increased cooperation between West Pelzer and Pelzer are encouraging as well. “Two neighboring towns which actually abut each other is a positive thing, with benefits available to both towns. Improved planning and such things as force of economy can be very beneficial.”
The issue of heavy truck traffic was mentioned, as well as the lack of evidence that the local area is benefitting from the general countywide rise in employment. “The numbers we have on that are a little confusing. We are seven years away from the last census, and three years away from the next one, so the numbers aren’t as precise as we might like. But the nature of the employment is definitely shifting away from production based work, like in the past.”
Parkee also said that the study anticipates continued growth in the area; although the data provided indicates that the growth will be barely sufficient by the year 2040 to return population numbers to the levels of 1990. According to the 1990 U.S. census numbers, West Pelzer had 989 residents. By 2010, that number had leveled off at 880, when it began to rise again. From 2010 till 2015, a spurt of forty one new residents occurred. However, the average anticipated growth per five year period from 2015’s 921 residents is fifteen per five years, for the next twenty five years. By 2040, the study projects approximately 995 residents.
The study also defines the current land use in the town. Single family residential use is by far the lion’s share, with just under fifty six per cent. Just under twelve per cent of the 284 acres within the town limits is designated as undeveloped, while approximately nine per cent is taken up by public, institutional or service purposes. Commercial use is limited to only a bit over three per cent. But Parkee said that the undeveloped land offers some promise to attract and receive future development.
Public input is still being sought, mainly through a seven question survey that is available at the town hall or online. The survey asks the public to rate various services and amenities in terms of importance, or their willingness to pay to receive those services. It also asks what they see as the challenges facing the community, and what type of non-residential development people would prefer to see in the future. The survey is also attached to the monthly water bill. Data from the survey will be collected until May 1, and then turned over to the planning department for inclusion in the next phase of the study.
A future public meeting will also be held to directly gather public input.