The South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (SCAPA) held its annual conference September 21-23, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia in concert with the Georgia Planning Association with over 400 planners in attendance. The conference featured a joint awards dinner to recognize outstanding efforts and achievements that advance the art and science of planning in the Palmetto State. Each of the plans, projects and organizations recognized demonstrated a contribution to the improvement of the quality of life for South Carolinians.
Awards are a valuable public awareness tool for local governments, agencies, and community organizations. SCAPA awards offer one of the few opportunities that South Carolina planners and communities have to highlight the virtues of planning and recognize those who contribute to the profession. The award submissions were reviewed based on the following evaluation criteria:
- Innovation: originality of concept or appreciable refinement of existing techniques.
- Transferability: potential application to other geographic areas, jurisdiction, or to other projects.
- Quality: excellence of thought, analysis, writing, graphics, presentation, or communication.
- Implementation: success and effectiveness of project or potential for such if not already implemented.
- Comprehensiveness: consideration of planning principles and broad range of public and private objectives.
- Significance: overall importance at local, regional, and/or state planning levels.
- Sustainability: degree to which the plan, policy, project, etc. is designed to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability.
- Cost Benefit: overall benefit of the plan in relation to the amount of resources (i.e. staff time, consultant fees, direct expenses, etc.) expended on the project.
Five awards were conveyed this year, one in each of the following categories for a policy, plan, study, inventory, program, development project, implementation strategy, ordinance or other product.
Outstanding Planning Project – Rural (jurisdictions with a service area of less than 10,000 residents)
Jurisdiction: Greenville County
Project Name: Scuffletown Area Plan Update 2015
The Scuffletown Area located in southeastern Greenville County is one of the fastest growing areas in Upstate SC, with 30 new subdivisions and a population increase of 64% since 2006. This plan update was requested in response to a growing number of rezoning applications that sought increases in residential density in the area. Public support reinforced the initial vision from the 2006 Scuffletown Area Plan—to protect and enhance the area’s distinctive rural charm and beauty of the agricultural landscape as development occurs. The plan update provides strategies—including Greenville County’s first Design Overlay District—for accommodating reasonable and sustainable growth without sacrificing these inherent qualities.
Outstanding Planning Project – Small Urban (jurisdictions with a service area of more than 10,000 and less than 30,000 residents)
Jurisdiction: City of Greer
Project Name: Greer Community Master Plan
The Greer Community Master Plan positions the community to achieve success against a set of goals and metrics that are clear, relatable, and important to city officials, business leaders, and residents. The planning process was organized around five interrelated elements: visioning, scenario planning, framework plans, detailed concept plans, and diagnostic inventory and action plan. The Greer Community Master Plan is aspirational without losing sight of the necessary actions that accompany decisions or the need for accountability. The city has a history of valuing its plans and the benefit of unified messaging that communicates the responsibility of private, non-profit, and public sectors to work together to achieve positive change quickly.
Outstanding Planning Project – Multi-jurisdictional (A multi-jurisdictional project is a partnership of two or more local governments or two or more levels of government)
Jurisdiction: City of Columbia & Richland County
Project Name: Plan Together: Putting the Pieces in Place
Plan Together: Putting the Pieces in Place was a multi-jurisdictional planning process conducted by the City of Columbia and Richland County that led to the development of two unique plans—separate documents with unifying goals and policies—and adopted by each jurisdiction in 2015. The process recognized that adjacent and overlapping planning areas are interdependent particularly when dealing with the issues of urban densification, suburban growth and rural conservation. By using Plan Together as a model, jurisdictions can strategically align themselves for shared success by deciding together how to approach comprehensive decisions while benefitting from the momentum created by this type of collaboration.
Outstanding Planning Project – Public Outreach and Engagement (awarded for the innovative use of public outreach and engagement in planning practice which has improved the effectiveness and accuracy of planning efforts)
Jurisdiction: Town of Mount Pleasant
Project Name: Mount Pleasant Public Outreach Program
The Town of Mount Pleasant’s Planning & Development Department staff recognized that planning, zoning, and building regulations are complex and difficult to understand; that with today’s use of internet for communication many residents and businesses do not have the opportunity to meet face to face with staff; that professional relationships can be improved through more interaction outside of project reviews; and that more information sharing creates greater transparency and trust. To achieve of the goals of broadening communication, information sharing, and engagement, the department developed four main outreach initiatives: Annual Planning Department Meet and Greet, The Planning College, Code for Lunch series and an Annual Report.
Outstanding Planning Project – Implementation (awarded for the successful implementation of a plan adopted by the local jurisdiction. Efforts can include projects from public, private and non-profit entities with significant investment and/or oversight of the project.)
Jurisdiction: Sumter City-County Planning Department
Project Name: Abandoned & Dilapidated Housing Demolition Program
The City of Sumter embarked on a systematic enforcement and demolition program designed to eradicate dilapidated residential structures and removed 147 blighted structures between August 2014 and 2016. To accomplish this the City initiated the following actions:
- Expanded the Codes Enforcement Division, from 4 to 7 full-time employees
- Adopted a revised Property Maintenance Code
- Applied for and received a $3.2 million award from the State Housing Authority for the purchase and demolition of blighted structures.
- City Council adopted a Vacant Housing Registry Ordinance, requiring vacant properties to register with the City
- Took aggressive enforcement steps to prosecute code violations, including the issuance of 290 demolition orders to individual property owners.