With a final public input on the Sampson County Land Use Plan on tap for Thursday, more avenues to give feedback are being opened for local residents to weigh in on the document utilized in making planning decisions that will impact the county’s future.
As the county grows, the document should likewise be updated as needed to accommodate the shifting landscape and plan for the future, local officials said. The Sampson County Planning Board, Clinton-Sampson Planning Department and Sampson County Land Use Plan Steering Committee are in the process of doing just that, with the help of the community.
A total of 25 participants have attended the first two Land Use Plan public input meetings, including 11 in Harrells and 14 at the one in Clinton. The final meeting is set for Thursday, July 27, at Spivey’s Corner Fire Department, 8200 Newton Grove Hwy, Dunn.
“We are hopeful our final meeting at the Spivey’s Corner Fire Department will be well attended,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary M. Rose. “In addition to these public input meetings we are developing a Land Use Plan survey which will be available by the end of this week.”
Copies will be made available in the Planning Office and other county offices, as well as on the county website. Planning staff will be available to speak to county churches, civic groups and other organizations upon request, an effort to take the message to the public, Rose noted.
“To date, public input received has identified the value of preserving farmland, rivers and managed growth, as well as maintenance of recreation areas, and the importance of infrastructure and community service facilities such as fire, rescue and schools facilities,” Rose said.
Economic development was highly valued by participants, with areas of concern including facility and infrastructure maintenance, the need for broader access to broadband across the county and workforce development.
“Additional areas of concern relate to the needs of an aging population in Sampson County, and the availability of land and infrastructure for continued pursuit of economic development opportunities,” said Rose, noting [participants’ concerns that continued economic development was necessary to grow tax base.
Leading up to the public input sessions, Ann Naylor, chairperson for the Sampson County Planning Board, said that the board’s decisions are based on the guidelines set forth in the Land Use Plan. She said it ensures that decision-making process is consistent.
“As our county has developed and changed, so should our thought process on how we view future growth,” Naylor stated.
Last summer, with approval of the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, staff with the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department began work on an in-house update to the land use plan. The in-house process, offered as part of the county’s ongoing cost-savings initiative, was anticipated to save the county as much as $50,000 compared with the price tag the would come with outsourcing the project, planning officials estimated.
Sampson County adopted its first land use plan in 2001, with other plans, ordinances and countywide zoning to follow. In 1998, Sampson County adopted a Manufactured Home Park Ordinance, and followed in 1999 with the adoption of subdivision regulations. Countywide zoning was pursued and adopted in 2004.
Various jurisdictions, like Sampson County, use such planning to manage growth and development. The elements of a land use plan may include land use/growth and development, economic development, transportation, open space and recreation, community facilities/infrastructure, conservation of environmentally-sensitive areas, and hazard mitigation.
“We encourage the participation of friends and neighbors during this process. In updating our existing plan, we will strive to formulate and recommend policies that allow for long-term growth,” Naylor attested. “We will focus on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of our county and make projections for growth that will benefit the county as a whole.”
“Public participation is critical in helping to identify these components as we move forward,” she noted.
“Public input is an important aspect of any plan and will help guide the development of the final plan and any recommended changes or additions,” she said.
To request a survey or to inquire about having a planning staff member speak to a group, contact the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department at 910-299-4904 or by email at [email protected]
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.