Citizens must hold officials accountable for Comp Plan implementation

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The city of Griffin Comprehensive Plan, which will serve as an official guide for the next 20 years, has been completed, reviewed by the Three Rivers Regional Commissioner and is now pending approval of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Upon DCA approval, the plan will be presented to the city Board of Commissioners for adoption. It will then be utilized in the city’s ongoing planning and operation.

The Comprehensive Plan states its purpose “is to provide a rational basis for municipal decision making on matters which relate to Griffin’s future, be it in terms of protecting community values, guiding growth or providing adequate community services.”

The plan describes, in detail, goals and policies that together establish guidelines and provides strategies for its policies to be implemented.

The drafting of the Comprehensive Plan was facilitated by Aronda Smith, a Three Rivers planner, who worked in conjunction with Griffin Director of Planning and Development Taurus Freeman. City Manager Kenny Smith, department heads and commissioners also took part in months-long process that involved monthly meetings where everything from the city’s vision statement and Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat (SWOT) Analysis were hammered out.

The arduous process of crafting such a plan is unique in that it involves a high level of stakeholder input from residents who served on the Steering Committee.

According to Freeman, the Steering Committee was formed following the input of city officials.

“The Steering Committee was derived by recommendations of the Board of Commissioners and staff,” Freeman said. “Letters were sent out. We had a lot of participations. We had a good group that decided to contribute to what we were doing as a city.”

One such participant was Amanda Slade, who said she believes city officials did pay attention to the stakeholders’ input.

“There were people representative of many demographics involved in the Steering Committee,” she said. “The process was taken point-by-point. From the SWOT analysis to the final draft, it was very thorough. I also loved the focus on the future we want while looking at the problems that exist. It was appropriate.”

The process produced some harsh findings such as a high crime rate, high dropout rate, high poverty rate and high single-parent household rate. However, the process then shifted focus to steps that should be undertaken to alleviate those conditions.

Specific areas of focused attention for the next five years including the creation of vibrant live, work and play communities that protect the environment, enhance quality of life and create economic prosperity; the expansion of opportunities for youth development and increased collaboration with faith-based organizations; and the development of a youth strategic plan that identifies goals and objectives for youth activities; and work to ensure safe, quality, long-term affordable housing for all residents.

Slade said these are not merely ideas or wishful thinking, but well-thought out plans for Griffin’s future.

“I love that we listed specific goals because we’ll be able to hold the commission to them,” she said of local officials’ accountability to residents. “If I had a wish, it would be that more people would participate in being a part of the solution. Most of the hands-on details are handled by the city departments, but stakeholders in the community must be a part of proactive change. The commission pays attention when people show up.” Ω

 

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