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Editorial: Land plan advances

Land plan advancesCongratulations to the Land Use Steering Committee for successfully completing its important portion of devising guidelines for the future growth of western Rowan County.
After more than a year of meetings, studying reams of data, gathering comments from the public and untold hours of sometimes intense discussions, the committee approved its draft study this week. It was perhaps fitting that the final vote came after one last round of debate over restrictions on residential and commercial development, since striking a balance between development and the protection of farmland and rural areas has been one of the thorniest issues for the committee.
Any land-use plan has to accommodate a variety of interests, from economic development to protection of natural resources to preservation of an area’s natural heritage ó in this case, western Rowan’s rich farmland ó and support for individual property rights. Those who peruse the land use study (which can be found on the county’s Web site, www.co.rowan.nc.us) will find a detailed document that offers reasonable recommendations in those areas. While farmland preservationists may view it as too weak and developers may view it as too restrictive, it encourages residential growth that’s compatible with the area’s rural character while discouraging the blight of haphazard, strip development. Given our rocky experience with land-use planning, that’s no small accomplishment.
The Steering Committee has worked through a sometimes contentious process with diligence and commitment to hammer out a viable blueprint for future growth. As the recommendations now go to the county Planning Board for the next phase of the process, let’s hope its members take up their task in the same spirit.

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