Consultant promises residents' views will be reflected in Beaufort comprehensive plan

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Consultant promises residents' views will be reflected in Beaufort comprehensive plan

Report draft should be ready by end of January
By MARTI COVINGTON mcovington@beaufortgazette.com 843-986-5502
Published Monday, December 8, 2008 in The Beaufort Gazette  |  388 Words  |  local_news

A draft of Beaufort's new comprehensive plan should be in the hands of city leaders by the end of January, a dozen local officials were told Monday.
Craig Lewis, principal of The Lawrence Group, a town planning and architecture firm based in Davidson, N.C., met Monday afternoon with members of the city's Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee to discuss the results of the five public design meetings in November.
The Lawrence Group held the design charrettes to get residents' thoughts abouthow the city should lookduring the next 10 years.Beaufort's current comprehensive plan is about to expire.
The 2009 comprehensive plan will draw heavily on citizen feedback in sketching how neighborhoods, roads, trails and parks will be arranged as the city grows, Lewis said. The final plan must be passed by the City Council and will also influence government and development issues, such as traffic, parking, cultural facilities, taxes and transit.
The advisory committee will examine the draft and decide how to present it to the public for review and comment by mid-February, said city planning director Libby Anderson.
Committee members spent much of the hour-long Monday meeting discussing public response during charrettes and the closing presentation Nov. 17.
Turnout at the charrettes was higher than anticipated, but some advisory committee members said they hoped more residents from specific neighborhoods and groups would have attended. More than 80 people came to the final presentation, the largest attendance of the week.
"You could say they didn't care and they should have, but that's not the point," David Lott of the Joint Municipal Planning Commission said of residents who didn't attend the public meetings. "You've got to go to them."
John Gadson of the Historic District Review Board agreed. He hoped to see more members of Beaufort's black community after going door-to-door in many predominately black neighborhoods to distribute information about the charrettes.
"Planning is difficult to get people excited about," Gadson said. "That's the case until we get something more concrete."
Many committee members said they wanted to see the number of interested residents increase when the draft of the comprehensive plan is complete.
"I don't know what you do but go in and physically drag them," said Donnie Beer of the Beaufort City Council. "But I'm willing to try."