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Columbus approves $39K contract for comprehensive plan


COLUMBUS—The Town of Columbus is creating a new comprehensive plan. 

Council met last week and approved a contract with Holland Consulting Partners not to exceed $39,000. The funding for the comprehensive plan was included in this year’s budget, with the town also receiving a $12,000 grant from the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission to go towards the comprehensive plan. The grant is to help create a wildlife corridor between Chocolate Drop and White Oak Mountain. 

“There are three reasons that this firm is the best firm to do this work for the town,” said town manager Tim Barth. “First, they were the only firm that even mentioned the possibility of getting a grant to help with the comprehensive plan. Second, their price is about $5,000-$6,000 less than other firms that had quoted a price. Third, they are familiar with the county because they had done Polk County’s comprehensive plan a few years ago.” 

Councilman Robert Williamson said he is excited about the plan and the process as well as the grant. He said the grant will help with the Foster Creek area and Chocolate Drop. 

Williamson also said other good news about the plan is it is scheduled to be complete by May 2020, with a public hearing scheduled for June 2020. 

Holland plans to conduct a one-day study area visit to refine the consultant’s understanding of the existing conditions of the town. Holland also plans to develop a specific citizen participation plan in order to define a collaborative effort with the partners/stakeholders, public at-large, town and affected organizations. 

The plan will establish an interactive project website dedicated to the comprehensive plan. 

The process of creating the plan will include up to four work sessions with the planning board and one work session with town council, which will all be advertised and posted to the project website. 

Holland will conduct a mid-project public review work session to report the overall project status and obtain public input. The work session will be scheduled approximately five months into the project. 

The project will end with a presentation of the final plan at a public meeting and will include a public hearing.

By Leah Justice