What do we want Georgetown County to look and feel like in the next 10 years? What are our collective community priorities and needs and how will we meet them? Planning Commissioner Sandra Bundy is spot on that the County’s Comprehensive Plan should be driven by a vision for our future (letter on 8/26), and answers to these overarching questions are critical to creating an inclusive vision.
A collective vision for our County should then drive the goals and priorities of the Plan, and cohesively weave together the various elements of the Plan. The County is already well beyond the 10-year statutory deadline for updating the Comp Plan, and the Plan appears to be proceeding without the benefit of a vision. Thankfully the County is planning to disseminate a survey for residents to provide input into the Plan update this month – something that community groups have been seeking for many months – even though work on various elements has proceeded without the benefit of this information. Hopefully the County will make a meaningful effort to solicit input from residents throughout the County, and maybe it will even harness the energy, expertise and passion of people who live, work and play here as it did with prior Comp Plan updates. Having participated in the development of our last natural resources element, I see a valuable opportunity for such engagement and willingly offer the legal expertise of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project.
Despite the prior visioning and Comprehensive Plan work, our County is facing even greater threats and challenges and we must be bold in tackling them. A new state law passed in 2020 now requires the County to adopt a resiliency element as part of the Plan in order to drive policies that protect people and structures from increasingly frequent and intense storm events. Together with the natural resources element, the resiliency element should inform the land use element, and ultimately ordinances that effectuate our vision. We have a one-time opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we want to go, and to use that vision to plan for how and where the County will grow. Let us hope that the County seeks and embraces a community vision.
A print version of this Letter to the Editor ran in the Sept. 9 edition of the Coastal Observer.