York County Council Michael Johnson wants residents to tell him what issues to address at next week’s strategic planning meeting.
Johnson, R-District 1, whose district includes Tega Cay and northern Fort Mill, included a link to an online survey in his latest newsletter to constituents. He said he wants to use the results to frame his participation in the Dec. 11-12 planning meeting in Columbia, Johnson said.
The survey, which asks participants to rate and comment on a range of issues including traffic, residential growth and business development, was made available until Dec. 10. Anyone who doesn’t have the link can contact Johnson at 803-984-0126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The (County) Council is going to Columbia to do its first strategic planning session in six or eight years, and I want to get feedback from my constituents on what they want the council to concentrate on,” Johnson said.
The survey “is the best way to get many different opinions in a very quick way,” Johnson said. “I want to go there and show all the polling data so I can tell (other officials) what’s important to the people in District 1 and then create a plan to address those concerns.”
The survey comes at a key moment in the county’s planning process. In addition to next week’s planning retreat, the county is about to begin a mandated 10-year review of its comprehensive plan, around the same time the Planning Department will be gathering public input for new overlay restrictions surrounding Lake Wylie. Citizen input could affect what York County looks like for years to come.
“This is the perfect time to do it,” County Manager Bill Shanahan said of the survey.
The county’s strategic retreat will be the time County Council members and administrative staff will be evaluating their goals and objectives for 2015, Shanahan said. His staff will then begin estimating costs for any projects the retreat identifies as a priority and create a schedule to help jumpstart the county’s budgeting and planning process.
Knowing what ordinary citizens think of those ideas could give the county an idea of what voters most want it to pursue.
“We want to create the best place for our citizens to live, and we have to know what the citizens think the best place would look like,” Shanahan said.
A resident of Tega Cay who’s familiar with his constituents’ most common growth-related complaints – chief among them congested roads and crowded schools – Johnson said his list of important issues won’t always jibe with other council members’ lists.
“What’s important in District 1 might not be important in District 5 or District 7,” he said. “In our area, residential growth is a concern because people feel it hasn’t been planned for properly, but in other districts they want growth. They’re desperate for it.”
Cautioning against any quick-fix solutions, Johnson said any plans the County Council may come up with to address concerns, such as the need for more recreations facilities, could require some give and take on the part of residents and officials. Projects and infrastructure cost money, and it’s up to taxpayers and their representatives to decide if they should be publicly financed, he said.
“Take parks and recreation,” Johnson said.” “That is something the county has been debating internally, so I thought that’s something where we can get some good ideas of what people want, but people have to understand that if you want it, you have to pay for it.”
Click here to participate in the survey.
Herald reporter Bristow Marchant contributed to this story.