In FY21 Centralina Regional Planning assisted communities throughout the region with technical assistance projects related to land use and zoning, walkability, community engagement, GIS, meeting facilitation, healthy communities and electric vehicle readiness while leading regional initiatives focused on natural resource protection, mobility and future transportation technologies. However, our two largest initiatives included leading a two-state, 12-county regional transit project, CONNECT Beyond, and helping local governments update their land development codes to align with North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 160D.
Centralina Regional Planning is now focused on implementing the FY22 Centralina Regional Council Workplan, in part, by finalizing CONNECT Beyond recommendations and assisting with Chapter 160D land use plan development throughout the region. While the department’s FY22 portfolio is diverse, we are highlighting two topics, transit and land use, as an illustration of how we advance the organization’s workplan. Together, these focus areas help enrich primary workplan pillars such as regional growth, mobility, economic development and innovation. These two important projects are highlighted below, but you can read the full FY22 Centralina Regional Council Workplan here.
CONNECT Beyond is a consortium of transportation planning organizations, municipalities and county governments, transit agencies, state Departments of Transportation and regional planning organizations that are working together to create a bold transit vision for the region. CONNECT Beyond includes several implementation strategies that will be a shared responsibility among stakeholders and community leaders. Centralina Regional Planning is anticipated to play multiple roles in the CONNECT Beyond implementation phase, including but not limited to the following:
Expanding Mobility Choices
CONNECT Beyond encourages supporting how, when and where residents and visitors travel throughout the region. Alternative approaches to providing access to reliable, efficient and well-connected transportation options for everyone will help create regional transportation networks that allow residents to seamlessly cross city, county and state lines. Centralina Regional Planning will help champion efforts to expand mobility choices through methods such as commuter choice, on-demand mobility services, ridesharing and the provision of streamlined bus services, to name a few.
Convening Transit and Metropolitan Planning Organization Executives to Advance Existing and New Projects
Maintaining a regional focus on mobility means developing strategies to build on existing positive collaboration while fostering trust in a shared regional mobility network. Interagency coordination among Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO), Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization (GCLMPO), Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study (RFATS), Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization (CRMPO), North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) will provide the benefit of a shared regional vision. This uniformity will help establish near-term working agreements that implement CONNECT Beyond and coordinate the approach and timing of funding requests to state legislators. Centralina Regional Planning will serve as a conduit for the implementation of intentional and coordinated strategies among elected and staff government leadership and transit agency executives.
Providing Land Use and Transit Planning Services For Communities
The creation of mobility-friendly places is a core component of CONNECT Beyond. By working with local governments to provide technical assistance, Centralina Regional Planning will support transit development through visioning and planning studies. The Chapter 160D land use requirement provides one opportunity to help communities integrate land use practice with CONNECT Beyond goals and strategies. Centralina Regional Planning will enrich the CONNECT Beyond focus on land use by assisting local communities with their comprehensive and small area land use plans as requested. In addition, the transportation elements within land use plans will provide a critical link to regional transit efforts.
Land Use Planning
Chapter 160D requires all jurisdictions, that regulate land through zoning, to have an up-to-date plan adopted by July 1, 2022. The UNC School of Government (SOG) is leading a statewide effort to guide and support land use planning initiatives in local communities. Their guidance includes a refresh on what topics a plan should cover, community engagement best practices and plan implementation strategies. Centralina Regional Planning is working with counties and municipalities to not only assist with aligning land use plans with Chapter 160D requirements and SOG recommendations, but also reflect individual community visions for the future. The department will deploy its land use planning and placemaking experts to help communities engage a broad range of public voices, which will inform local leaders and help them better understand community issues and what the public wants and needs for the future.
As part of the process, Centralina Regional Planning will design public engagement processes including workshops, forums, focus groups, online surveys and social media channels. Additionally, mapping services will be provided using placetypes and other methods created through the CONNECT Our Future regional growth plan. Lastly, the department will synthesize existing data and plans with public opinion and best practices to create strategies that will encourage well-planned, livable communities that meet local needs and respond to our region’s growing population.
Centralina Regional Planning’s role in the FY22 Centralina Regional Council Workplan will be linked to major land use and transit planning initiatives. In FY22, CONNECT Beyond and land use planning work will be integral components of Centralina’s commitment to lead regional collaboration and spark local action to expand opportunity and improve quality of life in the communities we serve. Centralina Regional Planning is excited to utilize its knowledge and resources to help ensure a vibrant and equitable region.
For more information on CONNECT Our Future, land use planning or other Centralina Regional Planning initiatives contact Michelle Nance at firstname.lastname@example.org.