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Waynesville land use plan back on the drawing board

Waynesville leaders will finally kick off the town’s much-anticipated review of its six-year-old land use plan on April 22.

Town aldermen have hired the Davidson-based Lawrence Group, renowned in planning circles, as the consultant for the project. A $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation will pay for a portion of the $54,000 consulting fee.

The lead consultant, Craig Lewis, will be in Waynesville Wednesday, April 22, through Friday, April 24, to interview stakeholders and attend a meeting of the land use plan steering committee.

Stakeholders will be selected individually and could include the county Board of Realtors, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission, for example. Mayor Gavin Brown had a broad definition of what a stakeholder is — “basically anybody in the community that’s involved in the use of land in Waynesville.”

However, Brown said the process will place particular importance on collecting feedback from developers.

“To be quite honest, this (review) is geared to some extent toward the developer segment of the community,” Brown said. “The last go around, for whatever reason, they weren’t engaged, and now we’re trying to engage those folks.”

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Mounting complaints from developers that the strict architectural guidelines and other aesthetic criteria are too arduous prompted town aldermen to launch a review of the land use plan. Town leaders resisted making piece-meal or knee-jerk changes to the plan’s smart growth principles, and instead opted for a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the pros and cons of the town’s development standards.

The stakeholder interview process is not the same as a public hearing, which is planned though a date has not been set. Brown assured the public will get a chance to have their say at some point.

“There’s no question about that — I believe in everybody having their say,” Brown said.

Town planner Paul Benson said at least two public hearings must be held according to law, and he hopes the town will hold even more. But Benson added that the public already has a voice in the process through the eight members of the land use plan steering committee, which was appointed by alderman.

“The general public basically has eight permanent seats in the process,” Benson said.

Before public hearings are held, town officials and stakeholders will work with the consultant to amend various sections of the land use plan, bringing each section back before the land use plan steering committee to review. In total, 29 districts will be reviewed, and Benson says they’ll all receive equal attention.


What is the Waynesville land use plan?

Waynesville’s land use plan is based on smart growth principles. It requires commercial developers to build sidewalks, plant trees along the street and in their parking lots, and adhere to architectural standards. Signs are kept short and parking lots are kept small, or at least not oversized. Parking is placed to the side or rear so that building facades and not parking lots define the streetscape.

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