By Greg Oliver
CLEMSON — Now that the white paper final report on Development Strategies’ strategic plan has been formally presented with recommendations on how to handle future growth in Clemson, the next step involves discussing what can be put into action both short-term and long-term.
The first of a series of formal meetings to discuss the plan will take place as a special called city council meeting at 5 p.m. Monday in council chambers at Clemson City Hall.
“There has to be a structure to get started on those things,” Councilman Fran McGuire said. “I don’t know the best way to do that, but I think we need to decide what’s the launch on this thing.”
Councilwoman Alesia Smith agreed, adding that the nine recommendations and 67 specific actions presented in Development Strategies’ strategic plan “is a lot of information to digest.”
“I think it’s important for us to come together and accomplish how we can do this,” Smith said. “There may be some items we can do and some we might not be able to.”
The next order of discussion involved a determination of who should be part of those meetings.
“Adopting the appropriate zoning changes and overlays will absolutely involve the planning commission,” steering committee chairman Bob Brookover said. “I think it would be appropriate to involve the planning commission on the front end.”
City planning and codes director Todd Steadman recommended the city revise its comprehensive plan to be in alignment with the recommendations put forth in the strategic plan, “assuming that council wants to move forward with them in lieu of adopting the plan.”
“This is something that council really cannot adopt, because there’s going to be incremental zoning ordinance changes, comp plan changes, development regulation changes, staff hirings, resolutions, city ordinance changes — a whole bunch of things that are not in any way spelled out in this plan,” Steadman said. “It’s not adoptable — in my opinion, it’s endorsable.”
Steadman replied that he had already gone through all 67 recommendations, “and almost all of them are already in the comp plan.”
“More importantly, I think, is we went through the comprehensive plan and identified language in the comprehensive plan that’s in contradiction with the direction this is taking us,” he said, adding he found 40 specific actions that backed up with how they coordinated with the comprehensive plan. “My recommendation would be to remove the language that’s in contradiction, go ahead and adopt the drafted language that would allow the city to find the time to go into this in greater detail and protect the city from any student housing properties where they don’t want it and encourage it where we do want it. That would allow the city to lift the moratorium (enacted last January).
“My hope is to meet with council to present this approach, show you where we’re at and see if council moves forward feeling comfortable with a pending ordinance, knowing full well this would need to go to the planning commission to get them to weigh in and go deeper into it.”
But McGuire argued that step is too premature.
“We’re merely talking about a practical approach to accepting those things,” McGuire said. “We’re going to accept the report — I don’t know what it would mean to not accept the report. Does that mean we want our money back? That doesn’t mean we’re going to do everything in that report. I think it’s premature to talk about overlays and 67 changes — we’re not there.
“We have a lot more work to do. These are just ideas, not conclusions. I hate planning to be spending a lot of time on something that may not be relevant after our discussion.”
Mayor J.C. Cook agreed.
“Accepting the report is different from enacting the report — there’s going to be a lot of discussion needed and it’s going to take a lot of time,” Cook said. “We need to be flexible, because in the next three to five years a lot can change. What may be pertinent now may not be then.”
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