UNION COUNTY — The residents of Union County are being invited to take part in a county forum reviewing growth options for the 14 counties making up the greater Charlotte region.
The greater Charlotte region is composed of the North Carolina counties of Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly, and Union, and the South Carolina counties of Chester, Lancaster, Union, and York. The region’s population — which currently stands at approximately 2.4 million — is projected to grow by 50 percent in 20 years and to double within 40 years, an increase of 1.8 million people and 860,000 new jobs.
The Catawba Regional Council of Governments which serves the South Carolina counties and the Centralia Council of Governments which serves the North Carolina counties that make up the greater Charlotte region have undertaken an initiative to plan for this expected growth. This is because of the economic interconnectedness of the region which is centered on the urban area of Charlotte, N.C., and linked with the ring of suburban communities that includes Rock Hill in South Carolina and Gastonia in North Carolina and rural areas like Union County in South Carolina and Lincoln County in North Carolina. This interconnectedness means that all the region’s constituent counties will be affected by the expected growth and officials in both councils of government are working to prepare for it.
The initiative the councils have undertaken is called CONNECT Our Future which over the past 18 months has developed four distinct growth options which will be reviewed during a series of public forums during the next few weeks. From input gathered at the forums, CONNECT Our Future will develop a preferred growth option that produces the long-term outcomes the region most values. Results will be shared throughout the region this summer.
“We’re in the homestretch of listening to residents across the region to create a shared growth plan for our future,” said Dr. J. Edward Lee, York mayor and board chair of Catawba Regional Council of Governments. “Our hope is that CONNECT Our Future information will be helpful to area governments as they address the rapid growth anticipated for the region – another 1.8 million people and 860,000 jobs by 2050.”
One of those forums will be held Monday, April 7 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Union County Advanced Technology Center. The four options that will be reviewed are:
Growth Option 1
Maintain Suburban Focus
This shows how the region might develop if current zoning and land use practices are continued, or if current community plans are not followed.
• Most new housing and jobs are in large subdivisions or employment centers located outside existing cities and towns, on farmland or open space.
• Most people need cars to get from their houses to jobs, shopping or recreation.
• The region’s most urban areas provide opportunities for people to use mass transit, walk or bike from homes to nearby work, play, or parks.
• Water, sewer, roads, schools, and other infrastructure investments will be focused on supporting the new growth outside existing cities/towns.
Growth Option 2
Follow Community Plans
This shows how the region might develop if adopted community plans are followed.
• Most new housing and jobs are within existing cities and towns, but many parts of the region continue suburban or rural growth.
• Limited transit is available in urban areas. People in the rest of the region will rely on cars to meet travel needs.
• Housing choices and types will stay about the same as today.
• Farmland will be preserved in some counties.
• Some communities will shift infrastructure investment to support growth within existing cities/towns, while other communities will invest more in infrastructure to support “outward growth.”
Growth Option 3
Grow Cities, Towns, Centers And Transit
This shows how the region might develop using all the ideas that have emerged from the public throughout CONNECT.
• Most growth happens within existing communities. There are more areas — called “activity centers” — where people can walk, bike, shop, access parks and use transit for daily trips.
• Urban, suburban, and rural living choices remain available, since land outside activity centers is open space, farmland or rural living.
• Mass transit serves some counties, and other counties have express bus connections.
• Infrastructure investments focus mostly on growth within cities/towns, or supporting new activity centers.
Growth Option 4
Focus On Regional Transportation
This shows how the region might develop based on ideas of people who came to the community growth workshops held in each county. It addresses the great interest in regional transit, transportation connections, and walkability.
• Most new residents will live in the many “activity centers” in or near existing communities. Housing, work, and shopping options are close by.
• People are able to walk, bike, or use local bus service or transit to get around.
• There are many opportunities for suburban or rural living in most counties.
• Region-wide, major investments in transit means people can travel between most counties using transit and roads. Local bus service is also available at destinations.
• There’s more focus on supporting infrastructure systems within cities, towns and
At the forums, after reviewing the four growth options, residents can share thoughts through an online, interactive website or complete a written questionnaire.
Residents can also consider the options and give their opinions online at http://ConnectOurFuture.metroquest.com.
Over 4,000 area residents have already participated in 160 other CONNECT Our Future events to date, including open houses, small groups, community growth workshops and RealityCheck 2050, a day-long visioning session. The CONNECT Our Future effort is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For more information on CONNECT Our Future go to http://www.ConnectOurFuture.org.