Brevard City Council Talks ‘Vision’
“Brevard is a safe, friendly, family-oriented city with small-town charm, outdoor recreation, arts and culture that bring investment opportunities, environmental consciousness and economic diversity; a place where our children can live, work and play.”
This is the vision the Brevard City Council laid out during its second meeting working toward a comprehensive community development strategy. The council is continuing its discussions tonight in the city chambers building beside town hall.
Along with defining its vision, the council came up with three tentative strategies (see below) during the meeting. The goal is to have policies in place by the council’s retreat in February that can then be incorporated into the next city budget.
The policies will answer key questions, including which nonprofits, special events and economic development groups the city will financially support, and what type of recreation services and utility services will it provide.
A strategy on how to implement the recent recommendations by the music/arts and outdoor recreation task forces will be sought, as well.
The council discussion that led to the three strategies was wide ranging.
One of the central questions asked was how much would the council like to see the city grow and the impact on its infrastructure.
Councilman Larry Canady said he’d like to hear from the public on the question but also said that when the economy improves and Davidson River Village is developed it will put a strain on the city’s infrastructure.
Mayor Jimmy Harris said the city can control how much growth it wants. Annexation doesn’t make financial sense to the city, while state lawmakers have made it tougher to do involuntary annexation.
Risks to the city’s “charm” and safety concern can accompany growth, he said.
Harris said the council has the responsibility to approve policies that allow the city to sustain its services.
Councilman Rodney Locks questioned whether the city can afford to extend its utilities, but it could, he suggested, allow more density within the city limits.
The city keeps “band aiding” its utility system, Locks said, but will eventually have to build a new plant.
Staff were asked to bring back options.
The council also talked about the kinds of businesses the city should try to attract.
Councilman Mack McKeller debated why the city should seek major manufacturers when there is a limited amount of space to locate a large business.
He said the city should concentrate on small and medium-sized businesses, something Councilman Mac Morrow agreed with. Councilwoman Dee Dee Perkins, however, believed there are still “opportunities” for small manufacturers in Brevard.
Harris also posed the question on whether the council would be willing to change current policy to allow utilities to be expanded outside the city limits.
Harris suggested a strategy of better promoting what the city already has and working on partnerships with the county and others.
McKeller agreed. The city needs to form policies to “leverage” the assets already here, he said.
Locks said they need to show, for one, that Brevard and Pisgah National Forest are “connected.”
The Brevard City Council has come up with the following possible strategies as it works on its community development project :
Strategy: Develop and sustain infrastructure within the compelling imperative (need or passion) that supports natural growth (2.5 percent), fosters access to our public and natural resources and the global economy, and acts as an economic engine for Transylvania County. (The council noted a tension between maintaining a natural growth and being an economic engine).
Strategy: Foster economic diversity while enhancing the quality of life in an environmentally friendly way by 1. Utilizing and leveraging what is already here (Brevard College, Blue Ridge Community College, summer camps, Brevard Music Center, public schools, national and state forests); 2. Creating an environment that promotes: tourism, small manufacturing, small- and mid-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, virtual employee/office/work from home, globally connected; and 3. Encouraging businesses that promote our branding.
Strategy: Encourage and enhance our cultural, natural, economic and historic assets through promotion, investment and infrastructure.