By Stan Welch
It’s official. The preliminary results of a study of the northeast part of Anderson County confirms that the people in Powdersville and surrounding areas want better roads, more recreational facilities, and more autonomy over the area’s future development, as long as getting those things doesn’t raise their taxes.
Aside from quite a bit of interesting data, those conclusions form the core of the Northeast County Area Plan (NECAP), a study conducted by the Anderson County Planning Department over the last several months. The area described by the acronym is defined by the Greenville and Pickens county lines to the north and east, and by Highway 8 (loosely) to the west and south. While portions of County Council Districts Four and Seven are included, the great bulk of the area is comprised of District Six, which is represented by Councilman Ken Waters.
Planning Director Michael Forman explained that the area in question is growing at a rate of three per cent each year; a figure put into perspective by the fact that the entire county is growing at one per cent. Further evidence of the rapid growth can be seen in the area population of 26,710 per the 2010 census, and the projected population of 52,608 by the year 2040. That is a virtual doubling of the population in just 30 years.
The area’s roads are designated as arterial (such as Hwys. 81, 8, 153, etc.), collectors, or roads that provide access to arterials, and local roads, which are usually residential and often end in cul de sacs. Most of the area’s bridges are considered to be in average condition, or better. The characteristic resulting suburban sprawl which is fed by poor access to arterial roads and a lack of bicycle and safe walking trails or sidewalks is inevitable if the current nature of the area’s growth is maintained.
One anomaly mentioned by Forman is the lack of coincidence between areas of growth and the presence of sewer lines. “Sewer lines are usually the lifeline of growth, but in this area, that simply isn’t the case. That will likely change as rapid growth continues.” Additionally, several water providers serve and compete within the area.
The NECAP area contains approximately thirty six thousand acres, with approximately twenty four thousand acres (66%) designated as agricultural or undeveloped. Approximately ninety seven hundred acres (27%) are residential. The vast majority of residential development is single unit, although more multi family construction is anticipated.
In the eight question survey that seventy five people have responded to so far, the top three services that people want to see are roads and maintenance (68%), parks and recreation (63%) and sidewalks and bike trails (46%). The favorite means of financing those services or improvements would be user fees, followed by fund raisers(33%) and property taxes (32%).
Forman stressed that the results presented are not complete, and are designed to provide information for the decisions makers. He also pointed out that more public meetings and two public hearings will be held prior to the full county council taking any action on the plan.