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June 15th, 2020
It’s not news that the City of Greenville is growing, and rapidly. To help accommodate this growth, the City is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan that will determine the course of the next 20 years.
We recently asked Courtney Powell, Senior Development Planner with the City of Greenville, to explain more about the comprehensive planning process, why it’s important for citizens to get involved, and what happens next.
Can you give us a basic overview of GVL2040 — what is it, what is the project timeline, and why is it important for citizens to be involved?
GVL2040 — the process behind the development of the City of Greenville’s comprehensive plan — is ultimately a community conversation about change, focusing on where we are now and where we want to go. The 20-month process began in 2019 and the goal is to adopt a final plan in late 2020.
The comprehensive plan will include recommendations for future land use, community facilities, connectivity, open space and recreation areas, cultural and natural resources and economic development. When complete, the comprehensive plan will provide a framework to guide decision-making and help shape the city’s growth and development over the next 20 years.
Public participation and input are critical to the success of the process. The comprehensive plan is based on the vision, priorities and expectations of the community and participation is open to anyone who cares about the future of Greenville. Citizens can register to receive updates on the process and announcements about engagement opportunities at www.gvl2040.com.
How have citizens been involved in GVL2040 so far and how has their collective input shaped the process? What have you heard from citizens (collectively)? What are they most concerned about looking ahead over the next 20 years in Greenville?
Since the process began, the consultant team has worked closely with a 44-member citizen steering committee. To date, input from the steering committee, three online surveys and three public open houses — along with many conversations with community stakeholders — has shaped numerous aspects of the emerging plan. Early on, public input pinpointed a set of core values, which were refined throughout 2019 and translated into planning principles that will serve as the plan’s decision-making framework. Additionally, based on public input, the project team identified three priority issues — affordable housing, open space/the environment and transportation — which were used to organize trend analysis work during the summer and fall of 2019. They were also critical in framing alternative growth scenarios in early 2020 and will be central to the outlining of goals and recommendations in emerging drafts of the plan.
Can you tell us a bit about the GVL2040 steering committee — how committee members were selected, the committee’s role and influence on the process, etc.?
The GVL2040 Steering Committee members were selected from a pool of 226 applications. The purpose of the steering committee is to represent the citizens of Greenville and work closely with the City’s planning staff, the consultant team and other community members to help guide the comprehensive planning process. The committee’s responsibilities include providing guidance and direction to the staff and consultants at crucial steps in the process, acting as spokespersons, disseminating information, presenting the vision of the plan and serving as stewards of the plan once it is adopted.
What is coming up next for GVL2040? What impact is COVID-19 having on the process? Are there plans to host GVL2040 open houses “virtually” in light of social distancing guidelines?
While the last round of in-person meetings took place the week of March 9, the project team has worked hard to ensure that the process continues to move forward. An online survey launched in May and the steering committee held a virtual meeting on May 19. More virtual meetings will be held with the steering committee, the Planning Commission, City Council and City department heads in June and a virtual open house will be held on June 17.
There are two goals for the June meetings: 1) Summarize choices made by the steering committee during Phase 4 of the project, along with feedback received through the online survey, and 2) launch Phase 5 of the project, which will center on the emergence of initial drafts of the plan for review and comment.
Another GVL2040 online public survey recently closed. What information did the survey seek from citizens at this stage in the process and why is it important that citizens participated?
Through meetings and engagement opportunities in February and March, steering committee members and the general public expressed their preference that Greenville keeps growing and does so in a manner that directs growth to a handful of higher density nodes and corridors.
The recent survey asked participants to rank potential nodes and corridors on their suitability to receive higher density development and affordable housing. Participants were also asked about their willingness to trade greater density to achieve community goals, as well as their willingness to use public dollars to fund goals around affordable housing, open space preservation and transportation improvements. The results of the survey, which closed on June 5, will help the project team finalize a preferred model for growth.
What other opportunities are coming up for citizens to be involved in GVL2040?
Citizens are invited and encouraged to participate in the next public open house, which will be held virtually on Wednesday, June 17 from 5:30-7:00 pm. You can find additional details and sign up for email updates at gvl2040.com.
During June, the steering committee, City staff and the planning consultants will also be working on plans for a wider range of GVL2040 conversations with the community during the summer months.
Once the plan is adopted, how does the City anticipate taking steps to implement its recommendations and how can citizens support that effort?
Phase 5 of GVL2040, which begins this month, will focus on the development of an action plan and implementation framework that are responsive to the goals and priorities established in recent months. This will include short, medium and longer-term implementation steps for the City and its diverse stakeholders to take, as well as direction on an annual public process to assess progress and adapt the plan as needed due to changing conditions and opportunities.
Our Land Planning & Policy team will stay involved as the GVL2040 comprehensive planning process moves forward and will keep you informed every step of the way. For more information on the City of Greenville's comprehensive planning process, visit gvl2040.com. Click here to receive updates and alerts for Greenville City and County comprehensive plans via email.