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Greenbelt Bank, November 30

Begins the learning process

Warwick Jones

The newly appointed board of the County Greenbelt Bank held its second meeting today. Most of the meeting was taken up by a presentation by Mr. Chuck Flink of Greenways Inc. on the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. Greenways was the consultant retained by the County to guide the Greenbelt Advisory Board in creating the Plan. The Plan has been published and can be seen on the County's web site. Press here

Formalities took up the first part of the meeting and the Board voted Edwin Cooper as Chairman and Margaret Blackmer as Vice Chair. There were no other candidates for either position. Staff also advised that the $95 million bond issue relating to greenbelts and approved by voters in the referendum, would be made early in 2007. Proceeds would be available probably by April or May.

Will use Conservation Bank application form as a basis
Understandably, the board is still feeling its way and much of the discussion apart from that arising from the presentation, related to defining and fulfilling its task. At the request of the Board, staff set before members a copy of the "application form" used by the State Conservation Bank. This form will be the starting point for the GB to shape its own form. We expect that the Bank will also draw on the recommendations of the GAB included in the Comprehensive Greenbelt Plan. As Mr. Flink reminded the Board, it will only be involved with "rural" allocations. The Parks and Recreation Commission will handle the administration of the "urban" allocations. The GB board is to meet on December 7 to discuss the structure and content of the application form.

Conservation groups to address board
Chairman Cooper suggested that it would be a good idea if some of the conservation groups addressed the board. Obviously they have the experience in creating greenbelts and their advice could be invaluable. Another member suggested that the Bank ask that the conservation groups get together and join in making applications for specific projects. Nobody disagreed with any of this and the Chairman volunteered to approach some of the conservation groups to seek their attendance at a meeting in January to discuss these ideas. The Chairman also noted that although the groups had lots of experience in South Carolina, few had been undertaken projects in Charleston County.

Mr. Flink also agreed to ask somebody from Wake County in North Carolina to address the Board. The County has implemented Greenbelt Plan under the guidance of Greenways

Assurance on verification
Board member Carter, probably reflecting his legal background, wondered about the procedure. It was all well and good to accept an application and to make a decision on the information presented. But the information and title to the property had to be verified. Conceivably, the GB initially could agree to a project but on scrutiny, the project could be different to that the Bank thought it was approving. Staff assured the Board that verification would be undertaken and that all applications would come back to the GB for final approval. Staff also suggested that each application should be accompanied with an appraisal of the property or rights. The County would also arrange for an appraisal.

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