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Regional growth plan gets nod
Plan aims to control growth
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The 10 counties, including Bryan, that make up the state’s coastal region now have a new Regional Plan that is meant to help steer future growth and development in a way that is beneficial not only to the population but also to the nature, history, culture and economic resources of the area.
The state Coastal Regional Commission (CRC) Council unanimously approved the new plan Thursday during its regular monthly meeting at the Quality Inn in Richmond Hill
Tricia Reynolds, planning and government services director for the CRC, said the coastal region is the first of the state’s regional commissions to complete a new plan under the state’s new rules for regional planning.
This new plan will help make sure that local growth plans for counties and municipalities within the coastal region are on the same track, so to speak, for promoting quality growth. Pembroke and Richmond Hill currently have joint plans with Bryan County.
Rather than trying to regulate local governments, Reynolds said the Regional Plan is more about keeping local governments consistent throughout the region.
“The Regional Plan serves as a consistency check,” Reynolds told Bryan County News. “As a local government proposes something, like an extension to water and sewer services, we have the opportunity to ask, ‘Is this consistent with the Regional Plan?’”
She said the CRC won’t be seeking amendments to current local growth plans, though changes will be likely to come about over time.
Reynolds noted that economic development is a key part of the Regional Plan.
“We want to promote economic development for this region to capture a greater share of the economic development dollars that are out there,” for things like jobs and investments, she said.
But economic development isn’t the only piece of the Regional Plan puzzle. According to its vision statement, the Regional Plan seeks to promote:
- Preservation and restoration of natural and cultural resources.
- Quality growth through mixed-use developments.
- Walkable communities through clustered development that utilizes infrastructure wisely.
- Transportation alternatives.
- Abundant green space and greenways.
- Diverse population.
- Quality education systems.
- Significant port and federal government facilities.
- Coordinated planning and cooperation among local, regional and state agencies.
The Regional Plan includes a future development map that is based on current trends and regulations but is also meant to be “an overview of where do we want growth to go,” Reynolds said.
“It concerns me as a planner that the growth patterns appear to promote sprawl (throughout the region),” she said.
But with the new Regional Plan, hopefully those trends in sprawl will shift, she said.
“The average citizen might not notice the influence of a regional plan day to day,” Reynolds said. “But ideally, over time and if the strategies are implemented, they will notice a difference in development patterns, economic development, provisions of infrastructure and protection of natural resources.”

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