Buncombe's 20-Year Plan: County Wants to Hear from Citizens - TribPapers

Buncombe’s 20-Year Plan: County Wants to Hear from Citizens

A screenshot of part of the camphensive plan. Graphic submitted.

Buncombe County – The Buncombe County government says they want you, the citizens, to have a final say about the 20-year comprehensive plan for the county at a January 12 meeting. “Buncombe’s plan will focus on the next 20-year period and will look at the relationships between land uses, infrastructure, and key community needs.”

The process so far has resulted in a 100-page draft document to start the process.

The draft starts off by “acknowledging” what the plan calls “our past.” Buncombe County acknowledges that the land our county occupies is the ancestral territory of many Indigenous peoples, acquired by European settlers through violence, oppression, and coercion, as well as legally and illegally executed treaties.”

The draft goes on to say, “We acknowledge the many vibrant American Indian communities that continue to call this occupied land home. In Western North Carolina, this includes members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and many others who identify with and belong to other Indigenous cultures and groups. We also acknowledge that Western North Carolina was home to thousands of enslaved Black or African American laborers who suffered at the hands of an oppressive system that exploited their labor, their bodies, and their culture.”

It then goes into an overview of the plan and states the purpose of the comprehensive plan as “to create a shared vision of the community over the next 20 years and define objectives to be achieved during that time. The Plan considers the relationships between land uses, infrastructure (roads, utilities, etc.), and community needs, and outlines policy guidance for addressing these objectives.”

Here is what the input says it found:

According to the draft, “During the first Public Input Window, Buncombe County experienced delays in the planning process due to COVID-19shutdowns and limits on social gatherings. Despite those setbacks, staff was able to reach many residents through online meetings and public input activities. Once the shutdowns lifted, staff held in-person and intercept meetings all around the county in both urban and rural areas. This first round of public input reached many people from varying backgrounds, with five community meetings, five drop-in meetings, and four virtual meetings. A total of 1,243 people participated in the onlineactivities. In addition, 347 people attended an in-person, virtual, or hybrid meeting.”

“During the second Public Input Window, staff endeavored to improve their outreach methods to connect with as many community members as possible. This involved a different approach to engagement, focusing less on the traditional meeting structure and involving more informal events. From June until September 2022, staff hosted information tables at 16 intercept events, six festivals, and 14 community markets. A total of 2,699 people participated in this public input opportunity; approximately 60% of this group were participating in the planning process for the first time.”

According to the draft, what the county has learned so far is that “public input was clear: the community envisions an equitable and sustainable future for Buncombe County that leverages its place in the region.” From the public’s input, they drafted five vision themes. They are “Strive to Achieve Equality,” “Commit to Sustainability,” “Achieve Livability and Affordability,” “Focus on Conservation,” and “Root Efforts in Community.”

To achieve these themes, “the Plan organized policy direction into sevenplanning topics:

• Growth, equity, and conservation;

• Transportation and Connectivity;

• Farms, Forests, and Environmental Conservation;• Health & Recreation;

• Hazards and Resilience;

• Infrastructure and Energy; and

• Economic Development, Education, and Jobs

In addition, several key themes are integrated throughout these chapters that were priorities for this planning process:

• Equity

• Sustainability

• Regionalism”

Each topic delves into how it relates to the themes and then into the policies they intend to implement to achieve these objectives.

County wants to hear from citizens on the plan

The county wants to hear one final time from citizens as they move “into finalizing the draft version of the county’s 2043 Comprehensive Plan. Don’t miss this opportunity to review the draft plan and share your feedback.

“The Buncombe 2043 Comprehensive Plan will guide the county’s decision-making for the next twenty years when it comes to development, infrastructure, recreation, and new programs.”

The final public review will be held at the Buncombe County Health and Human Services Building on January 12 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.