PC recommends adoption of 2020-30 comp plan

BLYTHEWOOD – Cultivating economic development, encouraging growth and ensuring that adequate infrastructure exists to accommodate that growth lead the list of goals in the proposed Blythewood Comprehensive Plan.

On Monday, the Blythewood Planning Commission unanimously approved the 97-page plan, which charts the town’s goals through 2030.

The plan now heads to Town Council, where two public readings and a public hearing must take place.

“It’s very hard to summarize this very weighty document in a few words,” said Malcolm Gordge, commission chairman. “It’s very important to highlight this is largely a reflection of the views and desires and concerns of the residents of the town of Blythewood.”

The proposed plan contains 10 key elements, which are required by state law. Those elements are intended to address population, housing, natural resources, cultural resources, economic development, transportation, community facilities, land use, priority investment and resiliency.

Town Administrator Carol Williamson said the goals are one of the most “critical things” in the comprehensive plan.

“We will be taking those goals and creating a spreadsheet adding specific items under each of those goals, and how they will be met.”

South Carolina counties and cities with planning departments are required by state law to maintain comprehensive plans.

Comprehensive plans must be re-evaluated every five years and updated every 10 years to “ensure it continues to accurately reflect the community’s values,” according to the Municipal Association of South Carolina.

The Blythewood 2020-2030 plan was postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Development of the plan began when the town surveyed residents in spring 2021, and then followed with a public meeting in the fall.

The town fielded at least 400 responses. Leading the list of concerns were worries over uncontrolled growth, traffic congestion, inadequate infrastructure, and loss of community character, according to the draft plan.

“That really was the guiding light in determining what the goals and objectives and strategy would look like” in the comprehensive plan, Gordge said.

Two residents commented on the draft plan during public input.

The first resident’s comments were inaudible in the You Tube recording of the meeting.

In response to the man’s comments, Gordge pledged that the commission would discuss the plan on a “regular basis,” as well as discuss it extensively with Town Council.

Gordge also noted that some components of the plan hinged on funding.

“Some of these will only be achieved if we receive a huge amount of funding from somewhere,” he said. “We’ll be doing our level best to explore those opportunities to make sure money is not preventing us from bringing out these very important improvements to the town.”

Also addressing the commission was Phil Frye, director of the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce. Frye voiced concerns about Blythewood’s 13 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2020.

“After what’s happened in the last 10 years, I shudder to think what will happen in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s an important document and something we must adhere to. We need to enact as many of these [goals] as we can.”

A date for first reading of the comprehensive plan had not been set as of press time.

The town must schedule a public hearing at least 30 days after publishing a public notice, according to town documents.

Once the plan receives council approval, additions and revisions to the town’s land development code would likely follow.

“That was the result of [Richland] County’s comprehensive plan,” Williamson said. “A follow up to this [Blythewood’s plan] would be to take a look at our zoning ordinance, getting it updated to reflect goals in the comprehensive plan, as well as revisions to the town’s zoning map. That’s the most tangible piece that comes out of our comprehensive plan.”

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