The summer season is off to a great start. Concerts, car shows, movies, shrimp boils, art shows, farmers markets are all back in full operation, not to mention the wonderful restaurants and shops that are fully open.
In the coming weeks the Highlands Community Plan will undergo multiple levels of review.
A completed draft of the plan could be on the town website as early as today.
A public presentation and discussion of this draft is scheduled for June 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Highlands Conference Center.
If folks miss this in person meeting, a virtual meeting to review the draft is scheduled for July 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
To learn more about the Town’s Community Plan, click HERE.
The Highlands Planning Board will review the draft at their monthly meeting on June 28. The planning board will also have a special meeting on July 13 to meet with the Stewart company, the consultants who guided the development of the plan.
Barring delays, the plan will be presented to the town board at their July 15 meeting, where I anticipate a public hearing concerning the plan being called for the August meeting.
I look forward to seeing this initial draft that stakeholders have developed through the various meetings and from the analysis of the community survey data. The final plan will be a road map for addressing several major challenges and opportunities for Highlands.
At the May town board meeting the Macon County Comprehensive Transportation Plan was approved. Like the impending Highlands Community Plan, this transportation plan looked into the future to determine county transportation needs all the way to 2045.
None of the recommended projects for the Highlands area have been funded. It may take as long as a decade for certain projects in the county to get on the priority list for funding. The transportation plan undergoes periodic review, but the document determines needs far into the future.
A project in the county transportation plan that I hope can get somewhat quick funding is the construction of sidewalks. One is on US 64 from the Bascom to Mirror Lake Road, and another one on NC 106 from Highlands Plaza to Hummingbird Lane.
These two corridors have several neighborhoods where folks currently walk on the road shoulders when headed into town.
A recent newspaper article on the housing issue stated that Western Carolina is projected to grow 26% in the coming decades. What was not said was that Macon County is projected to have a 37% increase in population.
With that kind of growth there will be a need for improved transportation, planning and infrastructure development. Now is the time for county and municipal leaders begin planning for this growth, not when it creates major problems.
On Saturday and Sunday, I drove downtown to see how commerce was doing. I noticed something that may portend for a major change for the future of Highlands. I have also noticed the phenomena on other recent occasions.
We seem to have a new wave of young professional people visiting and also moving to Highlands. With ample access to broadband these newcomers will be able to live and work in this small, remote community.
While some worry about the current surge toward short term rentals, in the future the trend may be toward young professionals moving here to live, work and contribute to this wonderful community. The retirement model that has been a major community dynamic may be waning as a new paradigm unfolds.
- Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor