Comprehensive planning

Published 6:36 pm Friday, February 19, 2010

The road show for the new, long awaited, much needed Polk County comprehensive plan begins tomorrow with an open house meeting from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Womack Justice and Administration Building in Columbus.

The 158-page document contains a complete assessment of the current status of Polk County, its population, housing, economy, current land uses and natural resources, current needs and projected needs. The plan moves from this baseline to set goals and objectives for what the county might look like in the future. Once accepted, the plan will become the legal basis for the countys land use regulations and a guide for budgeting.

The plan answers questions that were being asked much more frequently a couple of years ago how will the county develop, in what direction and at what pace? These are questions which will arise again, and it will be good to have answers next time.

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Just as the Polk County School children are now learning about the interdependence of the global economy, the plan assesses the interdependence of the region and defines a 5,526-square-mile area as the Polk Economic Impact Area. The impact area ranges from west of Brevard east to Gastonia, north to Asheville and Morganton and south to Greer, S.C.

The Polk Economic Impact Area has a population of 1.2 million people, and is at the center of a megaregion linked by transportation and communications networks extending from Raleigh/Durham to Atlanta/Birmingham.

Polk County is a valuable natural asset located in the middle of the souths most rapidly developing urban area, the planners wrote. Generally, they foresee a stable and growing economy here as a result.

Of course, there are many challenges, such as affordable housing for the work force. To reach any of these goals will require public awareness and participation. JB