The Transylvania Times -

By Jeremiah Reed
Staff Writer 

Public Gives Feedback On Planning - Brevard NC


City of Brevard Planning Director Josh Freeman (far right) facilitates one of the roundtable discussions during Tuesday night's comprehensive plan input session. Roughly 100 people were in attendance for the meeting that sought to solicit feedback as the county Planning Board continues its work in gathering information that will ultimately be used to craft the 2025 Comprehensive Plan. (Times photos by Jeremiah Reed)

Roughly 100 people were in attendance Tuesday night at the Brevard Community Church as part of the 2025 Comprehensive Plan Public Input Session.

The gathering was the first opportunity members of the public had to offer direct feedback, as the county Planning Board continues their work on developing the new comprehensive plan.

The meeting involved attendees discussing various issues regarding the county's future in a small, roundtable format. Feedback from the multiple roundtables was then gathered and assembled to represent the most overarching issues.

Members of the Planning Board, who were all in attendance, made it clear to the audience that the comprehensive plan would ultimately be something they created through public feedback.

"You are the tip of the spear here tonight," Planning Board Chair Wayne Hennie said at the beginning of the meeting. "We all feel that the comprehensive plan should represent the wishes of the citizens of the county."

Hennie said the purpose of Tuesday's meeting wasn't to solve any issues but rather to solicit a wide array of feedback for Planning Board members to consider moving forward.

Following a brief introductory video, Mark Burrows, planning and community development director, discussed the community survey component of the comprehensive plan. Burrows said he hoped to get 3,000 responses to the survey, which was available at the meeting and will be distributed through a variety of channels.

Burrows then introduced Angela Owen and John Fenner, who served as head moderators for Tuesday's meeting. Both Owen and Fenner are Transylvania County natives and live in the area with their families.

The input session asked attendees three main questions: What assets does the county have that should be supported and maintained to enhance the lives of county residents; what are some components you think of when you envision what the county would look like in 2025; and what obstacles or challenges must the county overcome to achieve that vision?

Answers to those questions were gathered first among the various roundtables, before county planning staff tallied them. The top responses were then presented to the entire group at the end of the meeting.

Some of the top responses to the question regarding county assets were: education, natural resources, community environment, services, culture, water, and economy.

The top keywords that attendees used to respond to the second question regarding what they envision the county like in 2025 included: well-paying jobs, growth, increased employment, cultural destination, living wage, youth, housing, and infrastructure.

The top obstacles that were identified included: lack of infrastructure, lack of housing, increased community needs, need for jobs, funding, and investment.

Overall, Burrows said he felt the meeting was successful and felt members of the public appreciated the opportunity to offer their direct input.

"I thought it was a very positive and informative meeting," he said. "We had a good turnout and those that were there were very engaged and I think very appreciative of the process."

In regards to the follow-up community input meetings, one of which is scheduled for this Saturday at noon in the Williamson Creek community, Burrows said staff is continuing to plan more meetings which will take place over the next couple of months.

Mark Burrows (far left), county planning and community development director, stands alongside John Fenner and Angela Owen, as he provided a few introductory comments at Tuesday's meeting. Fenner and Owen served as primary moderators for the input session.

Some of those meetings will be stand-alone sessions; others might piggyback onto events already scheduled. This Saturday's event, for instance, will take place simultaneously with a Stoneybrook homeowners association meeting.

Burrows said the community meetings would probably run into late June and possibly early July. From there, the Planning Board would begin reviewing all the feedback – including Tuesday's public input session, the community meetings, as well as the community survey. Burrows anticipates a draft would be ready by late fall.

Once the draft is prepared, Burrows said planning staff would meet with different community stakeholders to solicit their input as well. He anticipated the final version of the 2025 Comprehensive Plan would be ready to present to commissioners by January or February 2016.

To access the community survey or to learn more about the comprehensive planning process, go to planning.transylvani and click on the 2025 Comprehensive Plan link.


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