Members of Pembroke City Council voted Monday to start a process they hope will make the city a better place to live and work in the future.
The vote, taken at Monday’s council meeting at City Hall, means Pembroke will work with the Coastal Regional Commission on an urban redevelopment plan beginning later this month.
The $35,000 effort – a down payment on which will come from the city’s Planning and Zoning Budget – will take two years and give the city staffing and technological help from the CRC. It will also involve input from local stakeholders, according to Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell.
The plan is an effort to stay ahead of expected growth, she said.
“As Pembroke continues to get more businesses and more opportunities, more people will be able to stay at home rather than commute,” said Warnell, who often refers to the city as “a cross roads of opportunity.”
“We want to make this an easy community in which to live and work, and enjoy recreation,” she said.
The urban redevelopment plan will tie in to the city’s push for affordable housing through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, which recently landed Pembroke tax credits for a 60-unit “workforce housing:” development called Sawmill Landing. The development, a combination of townhomes and apartments, is scheduled to be finished in 2016.
Council member Tiffany Walraven, who has led the council’s efforts to bring affordable housing to Pembroke, said the URP is a continuation of plans already on the books, but will allow leaders, residents and other stakeholders to look at “where (development) is going to go and how it’s going to go there,” she said, noting it will take into account both residential and business development.
“We’ll be bringing citizens in, engineers in, all the major players in the community,” Walraven said. “(CRC) will do charette’s for us, they’ll take input and come back with drawings so people can visualize the future of the city.”
The idea came after Warnell and other city officials took a trip to Covington, which sits 35 miles east of Atlanta, for training on planning and zoning.
“They have a 2050 plan, a plan for what they want their community to look like in the year 2050,” she said.
That plan includes renderings of what the community might look like and showed which natural resources are to be protected and where development can go – and also spelled out where water was available for growth and where it wasn’t. The plan was the result of a grassroots effort, Warnell said.
“They were forced to do that because of the influx of growth coming out of Atlanta,” she said. “They didn’t have a plan, but knew if they didn’t do something it would be completely out of control. We want to be ahead of the game, too.”