A joint partnership between Richland County and the City of Columbia has earned statewide recognition for its exceptional collaborative efforts in community planning.
The S.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association (SCAPA) recently presented Richland County and the City of Columbia with the honor of Outstanding Planning Project (Multijurisdictional) at the association’s annual conference and awards ceremony. The accolade recognizes the successful partnership of the government agencies during their long-term community planning project known as “Plan Together. Putting the Pieces in Place.”
The project set out to update the comprehensive land-use plan for areas that lie within both Richland County and City of Columbia jurisdictions. “Plan Together” consisted of several public meetings, interactive workshops, community events and informational forums that garnered residents’ input about future land use and helped identify the public’s expectations for building development and conservation over the next 25 years.
“It was exciting to seize upon the unique opportunity and timing of both jurisdictions updating their respective Comprehensive Plans,” said Tracy Hegler, Richland County Director of Planning and Development Services. “Long-range planning and growth issues, such as land use, cross jurisdictional boundaries. But when we plan in our own silos without coordination, we often encounter conflicting polices, which creates disjointed places and confuses citizens and businesses.”
“Plan Together” recognized that adjacent and overlapping planning areas are interdependent when addressing factors such as urban densification, suburban growth and rural conservation. The joint project demonstrated that agencies can align themselves for shared success by taking a unified approach to community-wide issues.
“Working with the City of Columbia was not only a fun and practical endeavor but one that hopefully yielded some consistency in visioning and policy setting for the Midlands region,” Hegler said.