Buncombe County recently adopted a new comprehensive plan. In recognition of the scope and outreach of the Comprehensive Plan 2043, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded Buncombe County two distinct awards: Best overall plan through the advancement of the science and art of planning; and public engagement through recognizing the exceptional efforts that support meaningful engagement and creating a greater awareness of planning related issues within a community. Buncombe County’s Planning & Development and Community Engagement teams were recognized at the Oct. 17 regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
“We are thrilled by the recognition bestowed upon the Comprehensive Plan 2043,” says Planning Director Nathan Pennington. Creating the plan was a multi-year process, and Planning & Development brought together a dedicated long range planning division consisting of Gillian Phillips, Shannon Capezzali, Haylee Madfis, and Brittain Sluder. “The hard work, camaraderie, and exceptional teamwork of our Long Range Planning Division is a testament to this award. We look forward to future endeavors that will continue to improve our community through the science and application of modern planning principles,” Pennington continued.
Receiving this accolade reflects the exemplary work of this team and their commitment. “One goal for this project was to reach as many Buncombe County residents as possible in order to create a comprehensive plan that was truly representative of our community,” notes Planner Shannon Capezzali. “That included reaching youth, households in rural communities, individuals with disabilities, non-English speakers, and historically disadvantaged populations. Working with the County’s Communications & Public Engagement team they set out a multi-pronged approach to accomplish this. We used multiple County Departments, stakeholders, and our contacts in the community to assist with outreach, we thought outside of the box in designing our engagement activities, and we checked our data routinely throughout the process to see who we were missing to put additional efforts into reaching those people,” says Capezzali.
Their second goal was to identify the areas of the County that were most important for future conservation, and how the community wanted to direct the growth that will occur in the next 20 years. “This work was important to the community as it helps to guide growth in responsible ways and to protect the areas of the County that our community most wants to preserve. It allowed the community to create a vision of what they want Buncombe County to become in the next 20 years, and a blueprint for how to get there,” notes Capezzali.
The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC) is an association of 1,400 professional and citizen planners working to preserve great places and to create a bright future for North Carolina. The APA-NC Marvin Collins Planning Awards annually recognizes agencies and individuals that have completed outstanding plans, programs, and projects; have excelled as planning students; or have made notable contributions to the planning profession. The awards signify the highest standards of achievement for planning in North Carolina and highlight work that is worthy of attention.
“We are excited to be acknowledged for the hard work that went into the creation of the Comprehensive Plan 2043 by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association. We are excited to move on to the next phase of this project, which is the implementation of the vision, goals, policies, and actions over the next 20 years,” says Capezzali.