Traffic congestion and road maintenance is the top growth-related concern out of the over 6,500 survey responses Henderson County has received for the 2045 comprehensive plan. The plan, which is required by state law, aims to provide guidelines for growth and development in the county.
Around 73% of survey respondents listed traffic as a top concern, followed by 49% for loss of farmland and/or impact to natural resources, and 35% with changes in community character.
The county’s planning department presented these findings and others to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.
As for top priorities, the biggest for survey participants is protecting open space and forests, with 55% selecting that option. The second is conservation of unique natural areas and farmland (45%), and improving access to internet/broadband (35%).
The answers varied by geographic area. Road traffic and maintenance were in the top spots across all jurisdictions. In Crab Creek, environmental preservation was No. 1. East Flat Rock and Crab Creek favored environmental preservation in their responses, and Pisgah leaned toward parks and recreation. Edneyville and Dana were the only ones with farmland in the top five priorities.
The survey also asked participants what developments they feel are missing from the county. Small shops and restaurants came in at No. 1, followed by parks and recreation, single-family homes, and agriculture and agri-tourism. Other responses included senior homes and retirement centers, affordable housing, and an arts center. Some respondents said that “nothing” was missing from the county.
A total of 6,533 survey responses have been gathered so far. For comparison, the county’s previous comprehensive plan had 596 survey responses. Planning staff noted that the 6,533 number is higher than the amount of Henderson County citizens who voted last November. A total of 5,595 voted in the Nov. 2 municipal election.
“We don’t want anyone in the county to feel like they didn’t have an opportunity to have input,” County Manager John Mitchell said.
Vice Chair Rebecca McCall commended county staff for their work to gather responses. Her praise was echoed by other commissioners. The 6,500-plus respondents represent about 13% of households in Henderson County. Approximately 60% of respondents live in unincorporated areas in the county, slightly less than the 68% of Henderson County’s population that lives in unincorporated areas.
A total of 53% of respondents are over 65, which overrepresents the approximately 26.4% of the population that falls into that age range. Around 62% of survey participants have lived and/or worked in Henderson County for at least 10 years.
For public input, the county has hosted six stakeholder focus groups, two public workshops, 10 staff-led open houses, 12 group presentations, and discussed ideas at three planning board meetings.
The process is now in phase 2, which includes visioning and plan development. The phase began in January and is slated to last until July. The third and final phase is implementation and adoption, which will last from July through October.
In March, there will be a steering committee meeting to discuss a draft future land use map and recommendations. The goal is to bring plan goals and layout to commissioners in April for discussion, and host more public meetings in May, with another steering committee meeting planned for June.
For more information about the 2045 Henderson County Comprehensive Plan, go to www.hendersoncounty2045.com.