Originally created 05/30/97

Open house zeros in on city planning



AIKEN - Eugene Luder looked pleased Thursday after browsing numerous colorful maps showing the projected growth of Aiken over the next 10 years.

"What impresses me is that the city is saying, `We're planning for the future and looking ahead' instead of just letting things happen," said Mr. Luder, a concerned resident who lives outside the city limits.

Mr. Luder attended a 2 to 8 p.m. open house at the H. Odell Weeks Activity Center for the Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation Plan, updated or revamped by the city's planning department every 10 years.

The purpose of the open house was to give the public an opportunity to give their input on the plan. The planning commission will review the comments and take a vote on the plan before referring it to the city council.

The plan acts as a guide to land use helping dictate where the city should grow, where industry should be located and where new roads should be built. It also provides the legal basis for land development regulations, said planning director Ed Evans.

A few recommendations in the plan are to:

*Develop incentives to encourage the renovation of empty buildings and annexation. City council hasn't approved any incentives at this time.

*Install landscaping at major highway intersections.

*Encourage the development of "traditional neighborhoods" that offer reduced building setbacks, narrower streets, fewer dead-ends and more interconnecting streets.

*Identifying and protecting land suitable for industrial use through zoning, and improving the appearance of highway signs, were other recommendations.

The plan predicts that growth in Aiken over the next 10 years will be steady, but not rapid. It also states that Savannah River Site will play a lesser role in the local economy and that efforts to diversify the economic base should continue.

City Councilman Skipper Perry said the plan looked "as if a lot of work had gone into it."

"It's a recommendation and not carved in stone, but it's a good step," he said.