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Kannapolis looks to the future

KANNAPOLIS  The Kannapolis City Council discussed tentative plans for the future at its meeting Monday night.

The discussion follows a broad initiative called “Move Kannapolis Forward 2030,” an effort using objective findings about the city alongside  residential input to create a comprehensive plan for the city’s development in the coming years.

Gathering this information is vital, as the city’s population is expected to increase by 20,000 by 2030.

Planning Director Zachary Gordon and Leigh Anne King of Clarion Associates presented a draft at a previous council meeting.

Gordon and King said officials and researchers have been working to develop the plan for 13 months. Planners hosted spring and summer public forums, called the Move Kannapolis Forward Summit, to hear input from those who live and work in the city.

Some 100 people attended the sessions, and 365 responded online.

Community input allows planners to include the values and aspirations of residents as they move forward in revitalization in terms of transportation, housing, environment and economic development, they said.

The long-range vision, King said, is for Kannapolis to be vibrant and connected, fiscally and economically balanced, and healthy and active.

King’s presentation detailed several key areas of focus: carefully choosing where and how to develop; evaluating traffic and transportation; revitalizing and growing neighborhoods; developing the economy; enhancing or adding assets; conserving natural assets; and building and maintaining partnerships.

Council members responded with frank discussion on how to take the plan and move it forward.

Councilman Ryan Dayvault said the plan is a strong statement about the city’s position in the region and what planners are trying to accomplish.

“One of the first things I saw in this was the statement … ‘Kannapolis is on the verge of an economic renaissance,'” he said. “How do we take what we’re going to adopt … and communicate that to home developers, commercial developers, the development community at large … ?”

Councilman Roger Haas expressed concern about the transportation measures in the plan.

“Our growth usually outstrips our transportation planning. We start creating a lot of issues when it happens,” he said. “You don’t plan to put sidewalks on every street because there’s certain places that walkability doesn’t happen. … How much weight do you put to the ideal … versus what we know the reality is going to be?”

There will be one final chance for residents to weigh in on the long-term plan at 6 p.m. Nov. 20 at Kannapolis City Hall, 401 Laureate Way.

The meeting, Mayor Darrell Hinnant said, comes in direct opposition to rhetoric used during this year’s municipal campaign. City officials are ready and willing to listen to the opinions of residents, he said.

“I think that’s important because we’re talking of a plan for 2030, but it’s really a plan for the next generation,” said Hinnant. “The results of the 2030 efforts are going to be with us for another 20 to 30 years.”

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