Lincoln County is now part of a new metropolitan planning organization, a shift local officials hope will be a beneficial one moving forward.
The Board of Commissioners approved a “memorandum of understanding” with the Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln MPO during its meeting Monday night. Before the vote, Planning Director Andrew Bryant presented background information on the situation.
The process to change the boundaries began over a year ago, he said, after local leaders started to feel that the county’s census-determined alignment with Mecklenburg “wasn’t moving forward in a positive manner.”
At the time, Lincoln County was a member of both the Mecklenburg-Union MPO and the Southwestern Piedmont RPO.
Commissioner Carl Robinson has previously expressed his frustration with Lincoln County’s minimal representation and funding allocations.
This past spring, the opportunity arose for the county to look at a new planning organization to join, when, in March, they received notification that Cleveland County was considering moving forward with an injunction in federal court related to those boundaries, ultimately hoping to enter the Gaston Urban Area MPO.
Commissioners agreed to opt for the whole of Lincoln County to do the same.
Former County Manager George Wood and Bryant began discussions on the issue in April.
With both Lincoln and Cleveland counties expressing interest in creating a three-county MPO that would consolidate the Gaston Urban Area MPO and Lake Norman RPO, a move officials believe will eliminate regional fragmentation and create a more balanced share in the transportation-planning process, the MPO’s governing board approved the new boundary in June.
The Board of Commissioners is expected to make appointments to the group at its next meeting.