News that the Bryan County Board of Commissioners is getting to work on its next comprehensive plan may be welcome to all who hope that it’ll provide some sanity to growth that’s already all but hijacked South Bryan’s infrastructure and ticked off at least a vocal minority of its residents. I hope so, too, but won’t get my hopes up.
That’s because Bryan County already has a 2008 comprehensive plan on the books, one that includes in its pages similar exercises from Pembroke and Richmond Hill that were finished in 2006.
The vision of the plan? I copy it verbatim here: "Bryan County is a family-oriented community that values its education system, coastal amenities and unique rural character, where location and quality of life are recognized as important features of our vibrant and growing county.
"Our goals are to master plan and prepare for growth, economic development and provide adequate facilities and services for our citizens while preserving our natural resources and native character.
"Our priorities include: preserving our natural heritage while providing for quality growth by evolving higher standards for all types of development; continuing our commitment to sustaining a family-friendly community through exceptional educational opportunities; continuing economic development through job creation and attracting wealth-building enterprises; increasing recreational options and housing affordability."
That statement was included early on in a 140-page document that called itself "concise and user friendly," without even a wink or a nod. Only in bureaucracy can 140 pages be considered concise.
And yet, despite such a plan, some are fed up. As a friend said recently, traffic in Richmond Hill, and he meant South Bryan too, is like somebody keeps poking sticks in fire ant beds and stirring them up. I’ve had longtime South Bryan residents, some of whom profited off development, tell me privately that continued growth is ruining the quality of life they enjoyed for years.
But go read the plan. It’s on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs website and you can find it by Googling "2008 Bryan County Joint Comprehensive Master Plan," or something similar. It’s a reminder it’s far easier to plan for something as nebulous as the future than it can be to follow those plans, and that’s even if there’s an intention to follow them fully to begin with.
What’s more, with so many moving parts and competing interests at work, including those of elected officials with vested economic interests at stake, and different definitions of such terms as "quality of life," it’s tough to manage growth even in the best of circumstances.
But it’s not because of a lack of planning.
It’s about the people we put in office by voting, or not voting. They’re the ones who make such plans and elect to follow them, or don’t.
Help them make the next plan, and then make them stick to it.