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Editorial: Prepare now for growth

With the local economy battered by the nationís economic problems, Rowan County residents are probably more concerned about attracting future growth than trying to control it.
Nonetheless, itís important they give county planners and local government leaders their thoughts on draft recommendations for a land-use plan for eastern Rowan that will be the subject of three public comment periods, beginning this evening (4-7 p.m., East Rowan High cafeteria). Growth may have stalled, but the economy eventually will recover. Development will rev up, and eastern Rowan ó like the rest of the county ó needs to be in a position to take advantage of growth opportunities without being overrun by them.
As weíve seen, land-use planning can be a contentious, frustrating experience. County leaders decided to tackle land-use in segments after repeatedly failing to reach a consensus on what a plan for the entire county should look like or who should oversee the process. Even then, hashing out the initial phase of the plan, for western Rowan County, was a slow, laborious process with clashes over farmland preservation and other issues. Eventually, a scaled-back version was approved.
Now, the focus shifts to eastern Rowan. Planning for growth in this portion of the county is especially important because sections abut the I-85 commercial/industrial corridor, as well as N.C. 152 and U.S. 52. The east planning area also wraps around many of Rowanís municipalities and includes High Rock Lake. It boasts pastoral farming country as well as historic sites such as Gold Hill Village, Shuping Mill and Organ Lutheran Church. This is an area rich in resources, history and economic possibilities.
Devising a plan that accommodates residential, commercial and industrial growth while preserving quality of life is no simple task. Perusing the draft recommendations posted on the county website, itís clear that planners are striving to make future growth compatible with existing ó which sounds simple until new growth comes knocking in the form of a subdivision, industry or land use that nearby residents donít want. A land-use plan canít prevent such clashes, but it can help minimize their likelihood.
This eveningís workshop and the two that follow provide an opportunity for residents to be part of the process and help set a course for the future.

In addition to this eveningís presentation, workshops will be held from 4-7 p.m. Thursday at North Rowan High and 4-7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Carson High.

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