Where do we grow? What areas do we preserve? Through the GroWNC process, participants identified places where growth should be encouraged in “Consensus Growth Areas.” These areas included parts of towns and cities that have a critical amount of existing infrastructure and services. Brownfields and vacant/underutilized properties were also areas where participants wanted to see growth or were more amenable to higher intensity uses.
It became evident that there are many places in the rural areas of the GroWNC region that will continue to serve a vital role in the local communities. Sandy Mush, Dana, Spring Creek, and other rural centers have served as traditional places of activity. Participants supported reinforcing these areas, and would like to see additional jobs and non-residential uses locating there. Local governments can respond to these desires by conducting small areas studies, determining the feasibility of augmenting existing infrastructure, and allowing flexibility in uses where appropriate.
Participants were very adamant about the need to grow in ways that protected the natural resources that make this region unique. Public involvement efforts consistently showed that residents from throughout the region, from a variety of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, place a high value on the region’s scenic views and natural resources. Policies should be implemented that protect landscape-level features from over-development. Critical watersheds, ecological corridors and prime habitats, and agricultural areas are landscape-level features that were most important to participants. At the site level, land use decisions and design considerations will also be key to the region’s future.
Read more about this theme in the Land Use Policies section (pdf) of the Regional Plan.