The great philosopher Socrates once said, “By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.” Currently, Williamson County and the various cities in the county are doing just that. They are working together to devise a plan for overall growth management. Coordinated by County Mayor Rogers Anderson, currently an advisory committee made up of representatives from each city, as well as other stakeholders, is doing the groundwork to eventually come up with an overall framework for the next 20 years.
“[When completed] we want distinct communities with rural preservation around it,” said Greg Dale, FAICP, Principal with McBride Dale Clarion, a city planning consulting group out of Ohio. Dale has over 40 years of planning experience with expertise in comprehensive plans, regional plans, growth management plans, land use regulations, citizen outreach programs, and planning for historic areas. He has been hired to help the advisory group walk through the steps to get to a final 2040 planning document which will then become a statute once approved by all parties.
As the all-county Growth Management Advisory Group works through the details of an overall plan, each individual community will work on its own separate plans. The process will take more than a year to complete. The foundations of this process were begun in January 2021 and coordinators expect it to be completed in early 2022. The process has three parts: the gathering of relevant data, stakeholder input, and public input.
While the overall document will address the next 20 years, within it will be phased steps in five-year increments.
The process will be taking into account future growth forecasts, infrastructure, public facilities such as schools, public services, fiscal sustainability, resource protection, quality of life, environmental impact, and the preservation of what makes each community distinct.
“What we are focusing on here is the edges,” said Dale, “where the boundaries are between communities…We’re not in this process going to open the box [and look] inside your community and tell you how you should be planning within your community. This group is talking about how you grow relative to other community’s geographic boundaries.”
When completed, Dale’s goal is to not just have a revised set of boundaries but to have provided the many stakeholders with the tools to implement them. Tools like internal agreements that provide actions in various ‘what if’ scenarios, ground rules for annexation, and regional cooperative agreements.
Once each city has completed its individual work on growth boundaries, the advisory group will be able to put all of the plans on one map and see where there are conflicts and opportunities that can then be worked through.
So far, Franklin and Thompson’s Station are the farthest along in the individual process, and Brentwood feels they will be doing the least planning as their growth philosophy is a bit different than the other communities as they are much closer to build-out and pretty much land-locked.
Community input is essential to the process, and each city will be reaching out to its citizens both in person and virtually. For example, Thompso’sn Station made their community interactions a three-step process. The first community gathering addressed general concerns, but the second meeting had a more condensed agenda, while the third meeting will be much more specific in what is discussed.
All of the communities have locations on their websites where concerned citizens may follow the process and provide input. For more information about the Region Growth Advisory Group, click here.