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VisionKershaw 2030

County seeks citizen input for future growth plan

Posted: July 24, 2015 2:18 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2015 1:00 a.m.
From Kershaw County website/

With Kershaw County growing at a steady pace, the county government is looking to the future and asking for citizen input on priorities and concerns for the next 15 years and beyond. State law requires counties to have a comprehensive plan and update it every 10 years. Kershaw County Planning and Zoning Department Director Carolyn Hammond said she and county planners realize their role as public servants and want to know in which direction county residents and taxpayers want to go.

“We want to know what people in the county want the county to look like by 2030,” Hammond said. “It’s the road map of what the county does and how we write the county zoning ordinances. It tells us what we are supposed to do as planning people.”

Hammond said the first step in crafting the vision plan is to have a series of public meetings all through the county to get ideas from diverse areas and people. The first is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in Camden High School’s media center. 

“We want to know what people want and need, as far as economic development, land use, public spaces, county services, schools, infrastructure, transportation, recreation, cultural things, health -- so it has to do with all sorts of areas,” Hammond said. “The first phase of it is going to continue through October. We’re going to go all over the county from one end to the other, to all areas and try to get as much input from as many citizens as we can, because we want to know.”

Hammond said the second phase will see a committee using the community input to build a vision document to be presented to Kershaw County Council, with council’s approval being the third and final phase. She said the schedule calls for plan’s approval by year’s end.

Hammond said Kershaw County is one of the fastest growing counties in South Carolina in terms of population and planning for future growth is a must.

“We know we’re going to have increased population and, therefore, we know we’re going to have needs for schools (and) transportation needs; that brings along additional law enforcement and fire service needs, health care. It also brings along county service needs like waste management, utilities,” she said. “We know what we’re going to need as far as services, but we also want to know what people want and how they want this growth to occur.”

Senior Planner Michael Conley said having a vision plan to accompany the comprehensive plan will be ideal, since having a destination in mind is essential in planning how to get there.

“We have this grand idea to have this vision plan, that every person in the county has a voice. We can come up with an idea of where we want to take the county, but is that the way everybody in the county wants to go? We have the development issue that everyone knows about. Whether you want to accept it or not, it’s out there. How are we going to deal with that?” Conley said. “Do we want to be more strict on development and strangle them and control them? Do we want to go in another direction of allowing good development and using our public infrastructures to support that?”

Conley said while the growth in western Kershaw County is evident due to the proximity to Columbia, planners want to look at the county as a whole and get ideas from all areas.

“The vision plan is a longer look. It’s going to take a while to do all these things. If we can’t do it all at once, where do we want to be in 15 years? What is that long-range look? Do we want a four-lane Highway 1? Do we want to put a school in another area of the county? Do we need more elementary schools? Do we need to have county water? Do we need a county fire department?” Conley asked. “These are all things at some point in time we’re going to have to address. Do we want to address them now or do we want to address them five years from now or 10 years from now?”

Hammond used the example of building a house you know you will want to add to later.

“Instead of having to remodel, go ahead and plan for that now, because it’s going to be less expensive to start planning for it now that to have to undo it and redo it later,” she said. “If we know what people want and what the vision is, let’s plan it now. These aren’t things you go out and buy. They are things you have to save your money for, find a place to put them and plan where they’re going to go.”

Hammond and Conley agree they are public servants and truly want the public to be directly involved in the vision plan.

“What is our vision for our county? It’s not my county. It’s not Carolyn’s county. It’s not the administrator’s county. We really want it to be as all encompassing as possible,” Conley said. “Some of the other counties we’ve looked at that have done this have accepted it and embraced the vision and it really helped them focus on the direction they wanted to go.”

Hammond will make a presentation to county council at its regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kershaw County Government Center, 515 Walnut St., Camden. The meeting is open to the public.

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