Mineral Springs is extremely fortunate to have been chosen by the University
of North Carolina at Charlotte to be the subject of their fall semester
Community Planning graduate- and senior-level class, and I was instrumental
in bringing this incredible opportunity to our town. Conducted by
architecture professor David Walters and geography and earth science
professor Ken Chilton, this class involved first conducting exhaustive
studies of current conditions and trends in and around the town of Mineral
Springs. Then, based on this data, students created various
alternative design plans and visions for all parts of the town, from a downtown
retail district to the most rural outskirts on the edges of town.
Students analyzed a new resident survey in 2005 (our last survey was
conducted in 2000), conducted additional community visual surveys, and
worked in groups covering various areas of the planning and visioning
process. The class conducted a community presentation on September 29, 2005,
and presented two more community workshops on October 27, 2005 and
December 13, 2005.
Our planning board and town council were able to utilize this wealth of information and the resulting design alternatives as a major part of their development of a new land use plan and rewritten zoning and subdivision ordinances during our subdivision moratorium In particular, we had some better guidelines in the areas of conservation subdivision design, preservation, and environmental protection. In fact, some of the architects offered design suggestions for such key projects as Main Street storefronts and municipal facilities.
Our class was larger than usual, containing approximately 30 students. It is important to note that many of these students were actually practicing planners and architects, some with years of experience in their fields, who were taking this course at a graduate level. The professors estimated that we received the benefits of at least 2,700 person-hours of work. I am proud to have been able to make this project a reality, with a great deal of assistance from Councilwoman Janet Critz.
The final Vision Plan was received by the Town Council in May 2006, and formed the bulk of our new land use plan. And, as we had hoped, the wisdom and expertise contained within this project enabled us to develop our new zoning and subdivision ordinances. Finding expertise such as this, and obtaining it at an extremely low cost, are "trademarks" of my leadership.