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Union County 2050 Comprehensive Plan

Union County 2050 Comprehensive Plan

Union County Completes Successful Comment Period for Draft Comprehensive Plan

Union County 2050 Comprehensive Plan logoFrom November through January, over 360 Union County residents commented on the draft report of the comprehensive plan. The plan, called Union County 2050, will provide guidance to County leadership and staff on addressing growth, public health, safety, environment, infrastructure, and economic development through 2050. This comment period ended January 15. The Coordinating Committee is currently revising the plan based on this feedback, and is scheduled to approve a plan by the end of February. At that point the plan will be submitted to the Planning Board and County Commissioners for consideration.

 


A comprehensive plan is a multi-disciplinary document, establishing a vision of the community in the future, with recommendations for infrastructure, land use, economic development, and environmental protection that help implement that vision. The most referenced aspect of the comprehensive plan is the land use map, but the recommendations in that map reflect community input, infrastructure capacity, and existing development patterns. The current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2014. Union County is a rapidly growing place, and the Board of County Commissioners have directed county staff to initiate a plan update to address issues related to growth.

The plan update process began in earnest in August 2019, when approximately 100 county and municipal leaders, staff, and interested citizens attended a two-day summit to hear from each of the municipalities on the visions for their communities. The county commission then provided guidance to county staff to develop a new comprehensive plan. This plan will take approximately one year to complete, and is guided by a stakeholders committee and a series of subcommittees. The members of these committees were appointed on December 2, 2019, which signified the official start to the plan.

After nearly four months of work and input from over 200 Union County residents and sub-committee members, the coordinating committee adopted a vision for the comprehensive plan. You can read it below.

Union County in 2050 is a place defined by connections, where local governments work together on targeted issues. There are clearly communicated plans for growth and infrastructure improvements, and resources are committed to their implementation. Union County is a growing community where there is:

  • Increased capacity to address education, transportation, water, public safety, and other multi-jurisdictional issues;
  • High-density residential, retail and employment options in designated areas;
  • Convenient accessibility between retail, residential, and employment land uses;
  • Complementary development patterns along corridors;
  • Preserved rural character outside of water and sewer coverage areas;
  • Recognition and support of agriculture as a key industry; and
  • Enhanced community connections for arts, agritourism, and parks and recreation.

The Coordinating Committee overseeing the plan development selected the Advancement Scenario as the basis for the comprehensive plan in September 2020. This scenario is up front in detailing new programs and initiatives that would cost Union County money to implement. It was selected over the Management Scenario, which would limit changes to regulations that would only make changes through impacting new development.

Regulatory Changes: The Coordinating Committee voted to include all proposed regulatory changes into Union County 2050.

  • Increasing stormwater regulations to accommodate larger storms and to apply the standards to nearly all new developments, excluding those developing new homes on 40,000 square foot or larger lots;
  • Requiring well tests with the results available for any new home with well service before a certificate of occupancy is provided;
  • Allowing residential subdivisions in areas designated for rural or agricultural uses to cluster lots on smaller lots sizes if water and/or sewer service is present. There would be no increase in overall yield under this arrangement.
  • Increasing open space requirements for major subdivisions (eight or more lots) in areas designated for rural or agricultural uses, with a requirement of approximately 20% preserved open space, to be applied to streams, wetlands, mature forest, or the entrance to the neighborhood.
  • Establishing minimum site standards for new schools. These standards would not exceed or replace guidelines or requirements set by the State of North Carolina, but would establish minimum road access, buffering, and separation from conflicting uses such as heavy industrial in order to reduce traffic, lighting, or economic development impacts on nearby properties.
  • Closing donut holes. The Union County Board of Commissioners would be asked to pass a resolution committing to not approve upzonings in islands of unincorporated Union County designated in the land use plan. Interested property owners would be directed to the appropriate municipality to propose annexation into their community.

New Programs and Initiatives: The Coordinating Committee voted to include half (four of eight) of the new programs and initiatives considered in the scenario process. Implementing these programs will take money, but address high priority issues identified by residents in the county.

  • Establish a rural water authority to make the eastern and southern parts of the county eligible for state and federal grants to reduce the cost of short line water extensions for unsafe wells.
  • Fund transportation projects through a county-wide quarter-cent sales tax. This would require county commission approval to place on a ballot, and then receive approval from the voters.
  • Establish a litter task force to identify effective strategies and programs to address litter in Union County.
  • Working with internet providers to expand broadband internet service in underserved areas of the county.

We thank the hundreds of Union County residents who provided feedback on the three alternative scenarios. You can review the results of the feedback here.


A photo of people in a conference room listening to a presentation

Want to learn about upcoming meetings?
Please click on the Meetings tab below to learn about committee meetings, community input meetings, and how to request a presentation to your group.

Want to review materials about the plan development process?
Please click on the Documents tab below to access presentations, maps, reports, and other information used to help make recommendations for the comprehensive plan.

Want to learn how to get involved in the process?
Please click on the Process tab to learn about how Union County 2050 is being developed and how you can get involved.


Contact for Union County 2050 Comprehensive Plan

Lee Jenson
Planning Director
Email: Lee.Jenson@unioncountync.gov
Phone: 704-283-3564