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County, city planning boards conduct joint meeting

Staff Writer

The Lincoln County Planning Board met jointly with the Lincolnton Planning Board and staff Tuesday evening for a workshop to discuss mutual planning issues.
Presided over by Jeff Frushtick, chair of the Lincoln County Planning Board, the meeting was the first of its kind in three years, and he noted that it was “probably way overdue.”
Kelly Atkins, director of the county’s Planning and Inspections Department, said the purpose of the meeting was to get both boards and staffs interacting and to initiate discussion, though he added that the staffs do talk regularly.
Following the presentation of updates on the Carolina Thread Trail and the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, county principal planner Randy Williams took time to spotlight some of the major areas throughout the county for future development.
Specifically, he listed the U.S. 321 corridor, the hospital area and the N.C. 27 corridor from Boger City to the airport as potential candidates for small-area plans, but he noted that these were simply “building blocks for the future” that would not be actualized for quite some time.
Atkins also pointed out that small-area plans often involve months of work and that his staff could probably complete two or three annually.
Jill Eaddy of the Lincolnton Planning Board questioned whether there could be more development along N.C. 150, but county planner Andrew Bryant said that would likely not happen due to issues related to North Carolina Department of Transportation funding.
Frushtick also asked whether a list of the differences in the city’s and county’s building standards could be put together for future reference. He said growth typically follows services.
Williams said the county commissioners give the department a list of priorities in terms of development each year but invited those present Tuesday night to talk later with elected officials and think about additional suggestions.
Planning board members also discussed the importance of educating local residents on information regarding planning issues and getting their feedback. Frushtick said it was their job to make businesses stronger and more attractive to encourage people to spend money locally, though one member joked that you can be in Hickory quicker than you can find a parking space in downtown Lincolnton.
Before the meeting was adjourned, the planning board members were asked to digest some of the ideas presented and to continue to look at potential areas for small-area plans. They also decided to try to continue meeting at least once a year, which Atkins said used to be the case. He recommended conducting another joint session in the spring or summer, during which board members can come back with any suggestions or findings.

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