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Spartanburg Comprehensive Plan

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I was scrolling through Facebook this evening and I happened to see my old urban planning professor at Clemson speaking to City Council. Apparently the City has issued an RFP for consultants who can run a comprehensive plan process. Since Spartanburg only has 2 planners, they will supply the staff for this process as well. Spartanburg hasn't done a true comprehensive plan in 15+ years - the Downtown and Northside plans are more focused on specific areas of the city. I'm excited for this process, so I'm starting this thread to document and discuss the journey. 

I heard Natalia (one of the planners on staff) say that they should have more information for council at the next meeting in a couple of weeks.

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I'm very excited that we're getting the process underway.  It's way overdue, and I think the staff is serious about having a plan that is useful and doesn't just comply with the legal requirement that we have a plan, but that actually guides the work of the city staff for the next 10 years.  The city manager briefed Council and the Planning Commission earlier in the year about the process.  Glad this thread is active now, and I'll share what I learn as we get going.  

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City Council has chosen Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative to lead the Comprehensive Plan process.

From their website, it appears they have only been involved in plans for cities smaller than Spartanburg, which concerns me a bit.  Stantec was another candidate, and they have a much larger and more diverse portfolio.  From the outside, I would have preferred a firm like Stantec with more "big time" experience.  I hope we're not limiting ourselves with this selection...

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15 hours ago, westsider28 said:

City Council has chosen Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative to lead the Comprehensive Plan process.

From their website, it appears they have only been involved in plans for cities smaller than Spartanburg, which concerns me a bit.  Stantec was another candidate, and they have a much larger and more diverse portfolio.  From the outside, I would have preferred a firm like Stantec with more "big time" experience.  I hope we're not limiting ourselves with this selection...

Manchester, New Hampshire is a fairly large city but, overall, their portfolio is mostly smaller cities.  

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Well, there was a selection committee, composed of city staff and citizen (neighborhood leader) representatives (but nobody from any of the planning, DRB, BZA, or HARB bodies) that rated these three finalists.  They had a really good presentation at Council, I thought.  I think a lot of this is a matter of comfort with style, methods, and how they proposed to do engagement.  They aren't coming in to tell us what we should be, they're coming in to facilitate us deciding what we ought to be.  

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I'm not familiar with TPUDC, but I like what I see. They are an urban design firm, which is hopefully indicative of the approach Council wants to take - i.e: expanding the form-based code approach to planning that has been used downtown over the past decade. This group will do most of the work since Spartanburg only has two planners on staff, so I think experience with small towns and small town politics is a benefit. 

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Did anyone else attend the online meeting this week?  One of the good things about this pandemic forcing everything online is that I can participate from out of town. I thought that the consultant and city team did a great job. It sounds like they are working to implement some state-of-the-practice concepts into the plan, and create a plan that is actually useful (if you've ever looked at the current master plan (fromthe 1990s) it's just terrible. It's going to be fun to watch this process evolve and participate when I can.

 

https://www.goupstate.com/story/news/local/2020/09/11/city-leaders-impressed-turnout-first-long-term-planning-meeting-sc/3458748001/

 

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3 hours ago, Spartan said:

Did anyone else attend the online meeting this week?  One of the good things about this pandemic forcing everything online is that I can participate from out of town. I thought that the consultant and city team did a great job. It sounds like they are working to implement some state-of-the-practice concepts into the plan, and create a plan that is actually useful (if you've ever looked at the current master plan (fromthe 1990s) it's just terrible. It's going to be fun to watch this process evolve and participate when I can.

I attended.  It was a good intro, and the team seems to be well-equipped to guide the process effectively.  As always, I'm a bit concerned about NIMBY-ism from the general public, so I hope they can try to steer the process toward smart urban planning concepts.  You can already add your comments and ideas at the website: https://www.planspartanburg.com/tell-us-what-you-think

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I was worried about NIMBYism too, but I thought the crowd was really positive/supportive.  Typically the naysayers come out towards the end of the process so we'll see what happens I guess.

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Just finished up a meeting talking about a key section of Plan Spartanburg input that's happening right now called the Virtual Visioning Workshop.  It's a multi-part exercise with many areas of input: Spartanburg Today & Tomorrow, Connections, What's Missing?, Someone Else's Shoes (I really like this one, since these inputs tend to trend toward ideas and opinions that are in people's own self-interest), Equity, and Big Ideas.  There's even an art contest for the kids (or anyone really).  Definitely go there and contribute your ideas!

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