ASHEBORO — With the Toyota Battery Manufacturing plant under construction west of Liberty and Wolfspeed developing a silicon carbide chip plant just over the line in Chatham County, the Randolph County Commissioners took the first step in updating the Growth Management Plan.
On Jan. 3, the board approved a contract of $58,500 with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC) to conduct the update process over a six-month period, reporting back to the commissioners in late summer of 2023.
County Manager Hal Johnson provided a history of the Growth Management Plan, which was first adopted by the county in 2002.
It was updated in 2009, Johnson said, when “high-density residential subdivisions interspersed with rural industrial and commercial development continued to impact the rural community and challenged Randolph County’s ability to manage growth.” The revisions to the plan, at that time, provided more flexibility in adapting to what was considered required for rural economic development.
“The location and construction of Toyota Battery at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite and the pending development of the Chatham County Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) site, will have growth impacts on Randolph County never before envisioned,” Johnson said.
“The availability of federal and state recovery funds strengthens the county’s ability to impact future infrastructure, such as water and sewer development. As a result, a comprehensive update of the existing Randolph County Growth Management Plan should be implemented. The initial scope of the update should focus on the northeast portion of Randolph County as reflected in (the attached) map.”
Johnson stressed that “the key is to make sure there is economic development but not forget environmental protection and rural quality of life. This process will allow us to look at what growth is suitable.”
Both the Toyota and Wolfspeed manufacturing plants are expected to attract multiple suppliers and subcontractors to the area.
Also, the addition of some 4,000 new jobs at the two megasites and numerous other jobs pertaining to the ancillary companies will create the need for major residential developments in the northeast corner of the county.
In a letter to Johnson, PTRC planning director Jesse Day provided a detailed scope of services for updating the Growth Management Plan.
The process will look at growth trends projected for the future of the region and their expected impacts to population and employment, while calculating expected use of land by type.
The project would create a future land-use map, policy, and goals for Northeast Randolph County, focusing along the major transportation corridors including US 64, NC 22, NC 49 and US 421.
The process, according to Day, will allow public involvement as a critical component to help identify community values while highlighting important demographic and existing condition changes since the 2009 update.
A steering committee will meet up to six times to discuss conditions, plan research, get public feedback and build consensus. Also, two public meetings will be held to share data and gather input. The second meeting will be a presentation on the growth strategy map and future growth scenarios.
There will also be meetings with the five municipalities to coordinate policies around land development at the intersection of incorporated and unincorporated areas.
The plan is scheduled to be presented to the August 2023 meeting of the commissioners for their consideration.
Johnson reiterated the key to the plan: “The foundation of Randolph County’s Growth Management Plan is to recognize that sustainable economic growth, environmental protection, and rural quality of life can be pursued together as mutually supporting growth management and public policy goals. One does not necessarily exclude the other.”
Commissioner Maxton McDowell, who served on the county Planning Board for 18 years, made the motion to adopt the request, saying, “The Growth Management Plan was essential in what we (the Planning Board) were doing.”