Members of the public are invited to the kickoff meeting for an update to a state-mandated plan intended to be a “vision statement” for county.
The Pickens County Joint Comprehensive Plan must be completely revised every 10 years, and updated every five years. The last update was in 2013.
Pickens County Planning & Development Director Richard Osborne said, “This is a locally, citizen-driven plan. We want business owners, farmers, residents to be involved, and they can be involved in the area of their interest. Say you’re interested in downtown Jasper, you can focus on that.”
Similar to the comprehensive plan adopted in 2008 and revised in 2013, there are separate sections for Jasper, Nelson, Talking Rock; unincorporated communities like Blaine, Hinton, and Tate; developments like Bent Tree and Big Canoe; as well as larger areas like conservation areas in the east or agricultural areas in the west, depending on what community residents, property owners, and others want.
Elected officials from Pickens County, and from the cities of Nelson, Talking Rock and Jasper, have been invited and are crucial to the process, he added.
“This plan is a general vision for the future,” Osborne said. “It’s one big document but it has many parts. It’s not just for the county [government]. It’s not one-size fits all. Down the road elected officials can use it in the decision-making process. It serves as a foundation for those decisions.”
Osborne said the plan could impact issues like zoning, emergency management planning, the county’s code of ordinances, and public safety.
The first public discussion meeting for the Pickens County Joint Comprehensive Plan will be on Tuesday, May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Pickens County Administration Building at 1266 E. Church Street, Jasper.
A representative from Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC) will do all coordination during the process and work with local government staff members, elected officials, citizens, business owners to make the update, which is not expected to be completed until next year. There are no additional costs to taxpayers for this service.
“This is a nine-month process,” Osborne said. “This is just the kickoff meeting and there will be plenty of opportunities in the future for people to get involved. This will not be finalized until early 2018.”
The comprehensive plan update must be recommended for approval by NWGRC and the Department of Community Affairs and approved by all local jurisdictions on or before June 30, 2018. The draft must be ready by March 2018.
During the first public hearing, the NWGRC representative will give an overview of the process, as well as goals and objectives. Elements of long-range planning that must be included in the plan are community goals, needs and opportunities, the community work program, and land use. Optional elements of the plan are economic development, housing, and transportation.
“Each element of the plan is developed with public participation,” Osborne said in an email. “Critical to development of the plan is having a good steering/stakeholder committee.