Have your say on area's growth

How should the Charlotte region grow over the next 50 years? It’s a complicated question, but planners from area towns and cities and the Centralina Council of Governments have been at work finding an answer. And once again, they’re looking for the public’s help. In March, the CONNECT Our Future program will hold open forums in each of the region’s 14 counties. Mecklenburg County’s forum will be March 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. See a complete list of forums below.

At all the forums, members of the public can offer opinions on four growth scenarios and how they would affect the region. Attendees can come any time between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. A presentation explaining the growth scenarios will be at 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. at each forum. Forums for South Carolina counties in the region (York, Chester, Lancaster and Union), will be announced later. To register for your county's forum, click here.

The four scenarios include: 1) continued suburban growth, 2) following current plans, 3) development of city centers and downtowns, and 4) regional transportation options. The presentations will explain possible social, economic and environmental effects from each scenario. Forum participants will select portions of each scenario, which the project’s staff will then use to create a long-range growth plan for the region, CONNECT Our Future Project Manager Sushil Nepal says.

"They will choose elements that they like and that they don't like," Nepal says. "In one scenario, for example, the cost to commute might be very low. In another it might be very high. Those are the kind of indicators we want to get."

The forums are the third phase in the three-year process, which began in 2012. In early 2013, project organizers and planners from local municipalities presented the project at a series of open houses, conducted online surveys and gathered more detailed opinions at the day-long RealityCheck 2050 event. During the second phase in September 2013, residents of each county devised the four growth scenarios at public workshops.   

CONNECT Our Future is funded by a $4.9 million Depeartment of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities grant and $3 million of in-kind funds from area towns and cities.

Disclosure: The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, which runs PlanCharlotte.org, has a contract  with the CONNECT project to develop a set of regional metrics to track progress in our region over time toward a sustainable future and to house those metrics on a page on the institute’s website. The contract is for $205,486. To assure the objectivity of this article, institute Director Jeff Michael and the institute researchers working with CONNECT had no role in its writing or editing.

CONNECT Our Future Forums (all times 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

DateLocationVenue
March 6StatesvilleStatesville Civic Center, 305 S. Center St.
March 7CharlotteFriendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road
March 10LincolntonLincoln County Senior Center, 514 S. Academy St.
March 11WadesboroSouth Piedmont Community College, 514 Washington St.
March 12AlbemarleStanly County Agri-Civic Center, 26032 Newt Road
March 13ShelbyDon Gibson Theatre,318 S. Washington St.
March 14SalisburyTo Be Announced
March 18GastoniaFirst United Methodist Church, 190 E. Franklin Blvd.
March 19MonroeOld Armory Community Center, 500 S. Johnson St.
March 20ConcordTo Be Announced