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Greenbelt Advisory Board April 11

Wraps up deliberations on Green Belt Plan
Urban Grant Review Committee to be formed
Warwick Jones

So it's done. At yesterday's meeting, the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) jumped the last hurdle to complete the Comprehensive Green Belt Plan. The GAB wrapped up details of its recommendation on Urban Grants and finalized its comments on the draft of the Plan submitted two weeks ago. Although another draft will be submitted to the GAB for review at its next meeting, the scope for further changes will be very limited. The report has been written by the consultant Greenways Inc. and in essence summarizes the discussion and decisions of the GAB since it inception as it shapes a Greenbelt Plan for the County.

GAB to request Greenbelt Plan be incorporated in Comprehensive Plan
On completion, the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan will be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC), and ultimately to County Council. One expects and hopes that it will provide the groundwork for the spending of the sales tax monies on greenbelts. The GAB also will ask Council to incorporate the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan into the County Comprehensive Plan and be part of the Ordinance. This latter Plan sets the County's land use policy and deals with issues of growth, planning and zoning. The GAB is to also ask the Transportation Advisory Board to request that its Comprehensive Transportation Plan be incorporated into the County Comprehensive Plan.

Time running out
The GAB was getting close to the wire for the completion of the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. Its decision on the distribution of the Urban Allocation had urgency. A decision had been made at an earlier meeting but the GAB decided to revisit the issue. In the light of discussion at the last meeting, the consultant prepared a draft discussion with a suggestion. What was at issue was the review process of projects undertaken by the municipalities. Some members felt that the municipalities should decide themselves as to how they spent sales tax funds. Others felt that there should be some review process to ensure that funds were spent in accordance with GAB guidelines.

Urban grant committee to be formed
The consultant suggested, after discussion with members of the PRC, the County staff and GAB that an Urban Grant Review Committee be formed. It should have six members comprising 2 PRC staff, 2 from Charleston County Planning and 2 from the GAB. This Committee would evaluate applications submitted by the municipalities and unincorporated areas. "The PRC will work with the Chair and Vice Chair of the GAB to select representatives of the Committee".

Criteria check list to be introduced
The consultant also submitted an application review checklist. The list has 16 criteria. Failure to meet any one of these criteria will lead to rejection. For example, four of the criteria were as follows:

• Applicant has provided a description of the projects distinguishing characteristics.
• Applicant has defined have the project will address public access and use.
• Applicant has defined how the project will be managed and which agency will be responsible for such management.
• Applicant has defined how this project will address and benefit the quality of life for residents of the municipality unincorporated area and/or Charleston County.

This member of the GAB suggested to GAB members should serve on the Committee on a rotating basis and that the wording on the choice of GAB members by the PRC was a bit vague. But it was the mood of the Board to leave the issue with the wording suggested by the consultant and approve his suggestions.

Strong praise
Every member of the Board was given an opportunity by the Chairman to make comments on the draft Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. Some of us had already completed a review and submitted it to the consultant. But I doubt that any of these written comments raised an issue of major import. Nor were any raised at yesterday's meeting. Generally there was only strong praise for the report and its depth of coverage. Now for its implementation and execution!

Warwick Jones is a member of the GAB

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