Imagine what Fort Mill might be in decades to come. Then, go do something about it.
It’s the opportunity town leaders are putting to their community — help them imagine and create the Fort Mill of the future.
The town is updating its comprehensive plan. It stretches through 2040, and helps guide decisions from land use and economic development to public facility needs and transportation. The imagining began in March. The plan should wrap up by January.
A website is up now at imaginefortmill.com. A public survey will start June 1. A community meeting on the plan is set for June 13. Another will be planned in the fall.
Municipalities are required by law to have comprehensive plans. Yet with ongoing growth in Fort Mill, the one here takes on a little more meaning. Mayor Guynn Savage made the case in a letter on imaginefortmill.com, where she notes the town’s footprint has more than doubled since the last update in 2008. It’s expected that the town’s population will grow to 20,000 by 2020.
Then by 20,000 more people within two decades. It’s about 18,000 now.
“A comprehensive plan is not just a document, but a shared vision for our community's future,” Savage wrote. “The plan will provide a blueprint for the town as we seek ways to address our most pressing challenges.”
The more people participate, the better — the clearer — the vision becomes, officials say.
“A comprehensive plan is also a reflection of our community’s shared values,” said Joe Cronin, town planning director. “Therefore, the planning process will depend upon broad-based public participation from local residents, stakeholders, community leaders, and representatives from the local businesses and non-profit community.”
A committee of 39 people was appointed to meet monthly throughout the process. The survey and public meeting allow even more people to add input. Town leaders want open and honest input on transportation, affordability of housing, economic development, access to jobs, cultural and natural resources, community facilities and more.
“If there’s something they like, we want to know so that we can make sure we protect it,” Cronin said. “If there is something they think we can do better, we want to know that too.”
The discussion comes at an important time for a growing community. On May 25, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated population estimates for municipalities including Fort Mill. The 2016 estimate of 15,029 residents is up more than 10 percent from the 2015 estimate, and more than 39 percent from the last official census count in 2010. Cronin said based on certificates of occupancy and other records, he estimates that somewhere between 2,000-3,000 more residents moved into town since the last Census Bureau data was gathered.
Fort Mill was the seventh fastest-growing municipality in the state last year, the fifth fastest by percentage increase. Fort Mill is now estimated as the 29th most populated municipality in South Carolina.
Its estimated growth rate in the past year was higher than Tega Cay, Rock Hill and unincorporated York County combined, and was more than twice the rate of Lancaster County.
Want to participate?
Residents can visit imaginefortmill.com. They also can attend a 6-8 p.m. public meeting June 13 at Fort Mill Middle School, 200 Springfield Parkway.