DOBSON — Surry County is set to get a new land use plan, but it’s probably going to be another few weeks before it happens.
Following a public hearing during which no one spoke, the Board of Commissioners decided to hold off for a little while before adopting Land Use Plan 2020, a document that is designed to address land use issues and conservation strategies over the next several years.
Rather than call for a vote on the plan, the board decided to postpone action on the plan in order to study it a little more, saying that the vote will be rescheduled for “sometime next month.”
The action came as the board met for its regular meeting Monday night in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room at the Surry County Government Center in Dobson.
Prior to opening the public hearing, commissioners heard from County Planner Kim Bates, who noted that the document should be viewed as a guideline rather than a mandate.
“This plan is just a plan and isn’t an ordinance,” he said. “It’s a framework for thought when we’re trying to make difficult land use decisions.”
The new plan takes into account current trends in tourism and the economic climate, and tightens down on the amount of land designated as rural growth areas, Bates said.
The planner noted that the proposal doesn’t restrict growth in other areas of the county, rather singles out areas planners say are ripe for growth.
“This isn’t meant to discourage development in other areas, rather to designate areas for growth,” Bates said. “This is a map of preferred development plans for the county. It’s basically a reminder to conserve our available resources.”
In addition to constricting areas designated for rural growth, the new land use plan updates the small area plans and takes into account economic factors including:
• The 60 percent decline in manufacturing jobs in the county since 2000;
• The doubling of the county’s jobless rate over the past seven years;
• The slowing of residential development in the county;
The county updates its land use plan roughly every five years, and and this update was timed to coincide with the release of federal census data.
Updates to the county’s comprehensive land use plan are also encouraged by many state and federal agencies, and a comprehensive land use plan can factor into grant money for potential economic development opportunities.
The county’s current plan was adopted by the Board of Commissioners in October 2006.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.