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Stakeholders’ moving forward with a comprehensive plan

The community’s quest to formulate a Joint Comprehensive Plan took another step forward when the second stakeholders’ meeting was held on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Chattahoochee Tech.

            One requirement in the process is public input, which will be gathered through a survey, and that survey was the focus of the meeting. Remarkably, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission had a preliminary survey available, which was compiled from information gathered at the first stakeholders meeting held just two weeks prior. The first meeting was in the form of a “work session,” while the second meeting was more of a question and answer format. Alex Smith of the NWGRC once again served as facilitator for the meeting, and after distributing copies of the survey to all those present, he reviewed each question one-by-one and asked for any suggestions.

            Besides the expected demographic questions (age, residence, etc.), questions were concerned with internet access, strengths and weaknesses of the community, housing, and other issues in the community.

            Sample questions and responses from the survey included: What type of housing are you most interested in seeing in your community? Possible responses included middle income housing, senior/retiree housing,  high-end housing, apartments, among others. Other questions were concerned with the strengths and threats to the community. Responses for strengths included: Small town atmosphere, natural beauty, public services, proximity to Atlanta via highways 515 and I-575, and others. For threats to the community, answers provided were sprawl development, loss of natural resources and agriculture, inadequate land ordinances, and proximity to Atlanta via highways 515 and I-575 and others.

            The stakeholders, officials of Pickens County, and the municipalities of Jasper, Nelson, and Talking Rock, offered their suggestions. The main point of contention seemed to revolve around the survey question, “How does your community rate overall?” The question did not allow for respondents to specify which particular community in which they resided. The stakeholders requested a “qualifier” to the question which would allow a more specific answer and Smith agreed to address that issue.

            Within the next few days, the survey will be made available to Pickens County citizens both online and in a printed paper form, and the Pickens County Progress will publish how the survey can be accessed. Those concerned citizens who would like to express their opinions in the survey will be allowed approximately a month to respond.

            A Joint Comprehensive Plan is mandated by the state every five years. The next stakeholders’ meeting will not be scheduled until after the upcoming holidays when work will continue to complete the plan which is due by June of 2023.

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