Steering Committee discusses what to keep from previous Comprehensive Plan

Published 12:05 am Friday, July 22, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — The steering committee for Salisbury’s Comprehensive Plan talked about the aspects of the previous version they wanted to keep at their meeting on Thursday.

The committee met at 1 Water St. with czb consultants Charles Buki and Thomas Eddington to discuss updating the Salisbury Vision 2020 Comprehensive Plan, originally adopted by City Council in 2001.

czb is a neighborhood planning firm.

Buki asked the group what they liked from the original plan that they should keep and build on in the new plan.

Committee member Bill Burgin said he liked that the previous plan provided the City Council and other boards and commissions with guidance as to what the future of Salisbury should be.

In many decisions, the council and boards refer to the comprehensive plan to determine if a project should be approved.

Committee member Barbara Perry pointed out that although sometimes for good reasons, the city does not always strictly follow the plan.

To that point, Buki suggested that along with the comprehensive plan, the committee also advocates for the passage of a consistency policy. The comprehensive plan on its own is non-binding, so the consistency policy would require City Council to follow it. The council would still be free to amend the comprehensive plan as they saw fit.

Perry also mentioned that she liked the goal of making neighborhoods safe, secure and peaceful in every part of the city, but unfortunately that was not true of all neighborhoods.

Buki said they would have to talk about how to work with the new police chief and the Salisbury Police Department to solve that issue.

Committee member Mark Lewis said he liked the mixed use concept in the plan where there was more of a mixture of residential and small businesses.

“That’s what the whole driver, I think, behind (the comprehensive plan) was — the focus on pedestrians and mixed use versus segregated use,” he said.

Committee member Jtan Whisenent said she loved the downtown area, but she did not like the empty buildings. Part of the previous comprehensive plan envisioned a “healthy, vibrant downtown with attractive streets and well maintained sidewalks filled with people and activity.”

“I love all the things that our downtown does, and that has grown considerably, but it hurts to see the empty buildings…” Whisenant said.

Committee member Jason May mentioned the importance of getting public schools back on track.

Buki said they wouldn’t be able to address schools directly in the plan, but they could find a way to address some problems indirectly if the group uses boldness and creativity.

Throughout the conversation, Buki reminded the group that they had to develop a plan that could be put into action.

“We don’t want to write a vision that we can’t actually activate. We want to be very careful about having a vision that is in keeping with reality,” he said.

For next steps, the committee was tasked to continue the kitchen table conversations with the community. They were given a sheet of paper with topics and scenarios to discuss with small groups of people in the community to determine the values of the city.

The next steering committee meeting will be on August 25.

Steering Committee members:

Jehan Allen
Bill Burgin
Anne Scott Clement
Jane Creech
Andew DeGood
Eugene Goetz
Christel Hammond
Diane Hundley
Candice Johnson
Laurie Klaus
Mark Lewis
Dennis Lunsford
Jason May
Sue McHugh
Dan Mikkelson
Barbara Perry
Dennis Rivers
Tamara Sheffield
Yen-Nhu (Sarah) Tran
Robert Van Geons
Francis Vega Rodriguez
Bill Wagoner
Sarah Walker
Jtan Whisenant
Ella D. Woods

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.