The Ashe County Planning Board in its Nov. 14 meeting discussed the need of public input on the future land use plans of the county.
Prior to the 7 p.m. meeting at the Ashe County Courthouse, members of the board along with Ashe County Director of Planning Adam Stumb, held an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for citizens to see the county’s plans and talk one-on-one with board members.
“The purpose of the planning board discussing land use planning at this point, there are a lot of things happening in Ashe County as far as development and transportation,” Stumb said. “There’s a concern of what is going to happen in the future and how Ashe County is going to look and grow down the road.”
One of the major discussions was about the expansion of U.S. 221 to a four-lane road from Watauga County to Jefferson. The N.C. DOT is scheduled to begin work on three of the five sections of the roadway in 2015.
An increase in the county’s population is one of several factors for the U.S. 221 improvement. From 2000 to 2010, Ashe County grew 11.9 percent in population.
With exception to Watauga County, Ashe had one of the highest population growth rates in the High Country.
“If you look at the 2012 estimates there was a reduction in population,” Stumb said. “That’s not a sustainable number. When the economy picks back up and we get to the 2020 census, I think we will see similar if not larger numbers as far as growth.”
Stumb said the population reflected in the county only reflects full-time residents. An additional 4,270 seasonal housing units are in the county, reflecting 24.6 percent of Ashe County’s housing.
Alongside the expansion of U.S. 221, the land use plan will also include ideas for improvement of the county’s sewer and water infrastructure outside of town limits, where 90.3 percent of citizens live.
The board has also created a survey for citizens in the county to have input on the land use plan the board plans to present before the Ashe Board of Commissioners in 2014.
The survey created by the planning board asks participants basic questions about their concerns in Ashe County. Those include agricultural questions, opinions on U.S. 221 expansion and where people go to work, shop and do other errands.
“Our interest is in serving, developing and working on the ideas that are brought to us,” said board member Darrell Hamilton. “For that reason we need public comment and these surveys are very important. To those of you in the community, please comment and encourage others to comment.”
Stumb said the survey will be available for the public through Feb. 1, 2014.
“We’re starting to get into the holidays, but we want to give everyone equal and plenty of opportunity to give feedback and comments on how they want to see Ashe County grow,” he said.
To access the survey, go to asheplans.blogspot.com/.