After two years of planning and a number of meetings held all over the county, the final copy of the Bryan County/Richmond Hill/Pembroke Joint Comprehensive Plan has been released – and is now available for public viewing. The state has mandated that each city and county must adopt a plan.
And what exactly is the comprehensive plan?Tricia Reynolds with the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center (CGRDC), the group contracted to compile the document, calls it a "road map for the next 20 years." That could be taken both literally and figuratively. Available for download at the county’s website ( www.bryancountyga.org ) are both the maps that project what the county will look like in 20 years, and also suggested guidelines on how the county should grow in regard to development, public safety, population, housing, natural and cultural resources, community facilities and services and a wide range of other factors that residents and public officials will encounter when presented with growth.
The content of the Comp Plan was arrived at through communication with local officials and input from three advisory committees – one made up of Pembroke residents, one of Richmond Hill residents and the third comprised of county residents residing outside municipal borders.
"It was that group who came up with the vision, the issues and opportunities, the policies and the implementation measures of this comp plan, and we believe we have created some solid guidelines for the future of Bryan County," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the process was made easier because "each of the three jurisdictions was willing to come together and find a common thread, which made it very cohesive as we put it together."
She said she was impressed by both the level of participation and the willingness of committee members to work together.
County resident and committee member Ray Pittman said the committee meetings represented a diverse cross-section of the community, which made for a well-rounded plan that represents many points of view.
"Each section of the population was represented well," Pittman said. "It wasn’t about my opinions or their opinions – it was about all of our opinions on how this community should grow."
Pittman said the environment was recognized as being the number one asset in Bryan County, and environmental and water quality issues were heavily discussed.
Pembroke City Clerk and committee member Betty Hill said the Comp Plan, "if used properly, will give a clear direction to what the people in the advisory committee would like to see in the future. This advisory committee was one of the best we’ve had here in that it was a healthy mixture of different folks and everyone was very vocal on how they want this city to grow."
Richmond Hill City Councilperson and committee member Marilyn Hodges said the Comp Plan was accurate at the time, but the goals and visions that were relevant then have changed a bit due to the current economic crisis.
"Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s a great plan, but the actions we had projected to start on are not usable at this time – although I am hopeful for the economy to turn around."
She said she is hopeful the city can at least fulfill its immediate plans for the center of town enhancement, which includes the Conference Center and Streetscape projects.
Reynolds said the Comp Plan is a "living document" and she encourages elected officials to regularly look at the document and make changes when they are prudent.