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Input sought for Waynesville comprehensive plan

For months, town officials have been hard at work creating the framework and the process for updating the Town of Waynesville’s 16-year-old comprehensive plan. Now, it’s time for residents to have their say. 

“This is our first opportunity to allow for the community to weigh in,” said Jackie Turner, associate manager of planning for Stewart, Inc., the Raleigh-based engineering firm charged with facilitating the update process, including an upcoming workshop. “There are people who have been waiting to say something about a particular area of interest. It might be a developer, it might be someone who’s looking at particular housing needs, people wondering about the business climate. This is a chance to hear from all sorts of people, and there’s going to be someone there to listen, to take their information down, and to talk about what their vision is.”

Waynesville’s current comprehensive plan was created after a similar process played out around the turn of the century and is representative of the hopes, dreams and fears of the community, and the decisions made within it will go on to affect everything from agriculture to zoning for the next two decades; the current plan is referenced regularly in all manner of town decision making. 

The workshop will consist of an open house format featuring several stations where input will be collected, but will also feature short presentations from Turner at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Refreshments will be available, as will an activity table for children. 

“It’s self-paced. It will be engaging and can be fun, hopefully not stuffy. I will do a brief presentation so people can sit and get background, or if they have questions and answers as a group,” said Turner. “We’ll be giving people a little bit of an education. I know a lot of people understand what a comprehensive plan is, but a lot of people don’t. The last one was done in 2002, and 16 years is a while.”

“Even though it’s a comprehensive land use plan, it also looks at transportation, it looks at economic development, it looks at the preservation of open space, or natural and cultural land features,” she said. “So it covers a lot more than just someone thinking it’s about residential versus commercial versus industrial development.”

A steering committee has already weighed in, as have a number of stakeholders, however their input carries no more weight than that of the public. 

“The one thing we don’t want people to say four months or six months from now is, ‘You know, you prepared this comprehensive plan for the community, and only 50 people had a chance to have input,’ or ‘These are all the consultant’s ideas.’ We very much want this to be Waynesville’s plan — it needs to be by, for, and about Waynesville.”

To that end, residents who miss the workshop can always leave input with the town’s planning department, or in an online survey that will be available at least through the end of this month. 

After the workshop is completed, Turner and Stewart will compile all the information collected. Based on that feedback they’ll begin to identify oft-repeated themes repeated that reveal the community’s goals, which will be compared to the goals from other plans including the existing 2020 plan. 

Once that’s complete, Stewart will draft specific recommendations and action steps for how those goals might be accomplished. These will be presented in a draft report that will be presented to the public some time this fall.

 

Comprehensive plan workshop

• Time: 3 to 7 p.m.

• Date: Thursday, June 21

• Location: Town of Waynesville Recreation Center, 430 Vance St., Waynesville

• For more information or to follow the development of the plan, visit www.waynesvillenc.gov/comprehensive-plan-update. To take a brief survey on your vision of and goals for the town, visit www.bit.ly/towcomp.

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