Hickory By Choice 2030
Brian Frazier opened the meeting and gave a general overview of the orientation of what would be happening. He made introduction of Studio Cascade. He talked about the original document and reason for the creation of Hickory By Choice. There is a 16 member advisory committee that will be contributing to this process. They will also be working with City Staff, Studio Cascade, and the Hickory Regional Planning Commission.
Hickory By Choice is a document which is the Future Land Use and Transportation Plan. It is the vision statement and planning principle. It was adopted by Hickory City Council in 1999. For the most part it hasn't seen any amendments even though there were promises that it would be tweaked every year and majorly reviewed and rewritten every five years. The follow up Land Development Code (LDC) was introduced in 2001, which is the law. The LDC has been changed numerous times, because times, demographics, and the economy have changed.
1999 was pretty much the height of Hickory's economic prosperity. Things had changed for better and for worse in the previous 10 years. Things went well the first few years, but the documents now need to be addressed and changed. The LDC is over 430 pages. It needs to be made more user friendly. Hickory By Choice and the LDC need to be made copacetic. There are too many disconnects. The process will take 16 to 18 months. It will be all encompassing. There will be six workshops. Mr. Frazier wants participation.
William (Bill) Grimes of Studio Cascade addressed the workshop participants. He spoke about the demographic changes in the local area since 1999. Family income was a little over $54,000 per year. Household income was $17,000 less. In 2000, 29% of the people had a Bachelor's Degree and 20% of the population had not graduated from High School. Household size is 2.42 people per unit. The median value of the home is $143,000.
He stated that these plans are a monster. Hickory has done quite a bit of planning. They want to incorporate the policies of the smaller, special purpose plans into the LDCs. The comprehensive plans should be long range. The city will use these plans to prioritize what they will be spending their money on. Helps to make decisions about individual land use. It is a long range strategic tool. The development of this plan is an opportunity to let the community participate in the decision making process.
The best plans are built upon community input so that they truly fit the community. If written in a vacuum it will not be successfully implemented. Their needs to be a support system. He is not looking to drastically change the direction of Hickory By Choice. He wants to generate excitement among the populace.
This plan needs to have a large scope and it needs to be vision based. This will help it to be seen through. Plans are only as good as there implementation. Needs to be pragmatic. Elements should include land use, transportation, housing, economic development, the environment, energy, conservation, environmental protection, public facilities, services, utilities, and parks and recreation.
Hickory By Choice basically has not been changed in ten years. It is generalized. The Zoning map should be consistent with Hickory By Choice, but it hasn't been. The plan was supposed to develop neighborhood cores and centers, but our development has been along corridors. There is a definite disconnect. The Land Development Code has to be made more workable. Studio Cascade wants to bring consistency to these documents. This workshop was meant to critique Hickory By Choice.
The Vision is about empowering Hickory By Choice so that Hickory can be what it wants to be in the next 20 years. This is about ironing out our concerns and finding a way to address them. Hickory By Choice was developed during a time of optimism. We need to think about this a little more critically.
The overriding principle was to create a network of neighborhoods, housing, parks, and schools placed within walking distance of shops, civic services, and employment. Mr. Grimes believes this was pretty progressive statement for 1999. The neighborhood cores should only take 5 or 10 minutes to walk to a destination. The neighborhood core was complemented by a commercial core, which is a more intensely developed commercial area. 20% of the city's land was dedicated to industrial use.
The big issues are core development versus corridor. We have developed into corridors and this makes more sense, because of the movement of people. Development of "Cores" will necessitate strong policy intervention. We would have to view that there is something more important than economics. He isn't saying which is right or wrong.
Hickory is going to have to change its identity. How can Hickory change what it is known for. What will Hickory decide to become. The adaptability issue -- this plan will have to allow Hickory change what it is periodically. Identity, flexibility, and adaptation are the issues. Studio Cascade will help create a land use plan that is clear towards this direction and implementable through level policy. The goal is to get past Hickory By Choice (the vision) quickly and into the LDC (the laws) soon.
We tailed off into a group of 5 people (I estimate that there were 75 people at this meeting) and went over a worksheet that included statements on policy documents and goals that are vision related. These pertain to developments over the last 10 years. We were to rate the relative importance between 1(bad/totally disagree) and 5(great/totally agree). Mr. Grimes wanted us to spotlight what we felt were the most important issues.
The main issues that my group discussed were flexibility from any plan, a business friendly environment for development, reducing urban sprawl, reconciling commercial development with reality pertaining to costs and aesthetics, economic development based upon demand of consumers, Public Notification of City Changes in Ordinances by letters, and bureaucrats lack of understanding about what it takes to profit in specific businesses.
The larger group discussion: the first group discussed the inclusion and understanding of green industry, spoke of connectivity of travel, looking at social marketing instead of social engineering -- how do we promote this and get people to buy into it, channeling people to specific developed areas, what is the appropriate use for that, annexation and bringing in outside land, stoplights on 127 and working with the state.
The second group discussed business friendliness, businesses pick an area based upon employee lifestyle, issue of healthcare and the meaning -- does it mean increasing the identity or actual facilities, being change friendly -- environmentally, transportation, development, existing versus new structure development, historical protection versus preservation, redevelopment friendly -- need to be bold and visionary.
The third group wanted to add that we could use more flexibility and carrots towards developing new buildings. Instead of discussing what we don't want (negative), let's focus on what we do want (positive). Let's give density credits to attract businesses to locate in specific areas. Mr. Grimes contributed that this would mean that the community would be more proactive in determining what they would like to see and the city can facilitate the kind of growth that fulfills the vision.
The fourth group stated that we need a plan that is clearly articulated. The world has completely changed. How do we make Hickory attractive.
The Hickory By Choice 2030 Project
Studio Cascade awarded contract at November 4, 2008 City Council meeting