The town and interested residents will spend the next 16 months planning how Cornelius should grow in the decades ahead.
Town officials say community involvement will be key to developing the town's first comprehensive master plan, which is going by the catchier name, "Navigate Cornelius: Charting Course into the Future.""
The plan will cover all facets of the community, including education, government, economic development, public safety, transportation, land use, quality of life, housing, the environment and marketing/branding.
"It's going to be the legacy of this board," Mayor Jeff Tarte said Feb. 19 at a preliminary meeting on the plan. "It will shape what Cornelius is going to look like 20 years from now."
At the meeting, Cornelius Senior Planner Jason Abernethy laid out a suggested timetable for the plan.
It begins Monday when the town sends requests for proposals to firms with experience in helping municipalities develop such plans. Abernethy said developing the plan over the 16 months would cost $140,000 to $150,000, not including town staff time.
A steering committee would be selected, including a town board member, a planning board member, the previous mayor and planning board chairman, a citizen and a business representative, said Abernethy, who would serve as project manager for the plan.
A community kickoff would happen in mid-April, after the town staff got word out to civic groups, media and others.
Three months of fact-gathering would follow, and community focus groups would be formed.
Community involvement will be crucial to future phases of the plan's development as well.
"The whole idea is 'no surprises,'" Cornelius commissioner Lynette Rinker said at the Feb. 19 meeting.
Rinker and other town officials have been gathering input from communities that developed such plans, including Charlottesville, Va., and Greenville, S.C., and from Davidson, which has been developing a plan.
Meetings will explain 'value-added' grants
KANNAPOLIS N.C. MarketReady is sponsoring several meetings in March for farmers and others to learn how to obtain what are known as federal value-added producer grants.
Such grants go to projects that add value to an agriculture-related enterprise.
Money, for instance, has been awarded to an N.C. dairy farm working to process milk into cheese and other products, and to another farm to pack snap beans into "ready-to-cook" packages, said Leah Chester-Davis of N.C. MarketReady, which is based at the North Carolina Research Campus.
Other grants have helped people turn peanuts into peanut butter candy, and graft organic heirloom tomatoes to disease-resistant root stock, she said.
The meetings will explain in more detail what "value-added" means and how the grants can be used. The schedule of meetings:
12:30-4 p.m. March 9, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River.
12:30-4 p.m. March 10, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service's Wilson County office, 1806 S.W. Goldsboro St., Wilson.
6-7:30 p.m. March 11 over the Web site www.ncmarketready.org.
N.C. MarketReady is a program of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.
Business park on agenda
The Troutman Board of Aldermen has scheduled a board workshop for 3:30 to 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the proposed Troutman-Lake Norman Business Park.
In December, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners agreed to use about $4.1million in special bonding authority for the planned 100-acre business park at Ostwalt Amity and Houston roads.
A federal economic recovery program gives every county in the state authority to issue what are known as recovery bonds. It gives companies and local governments access to tax-free bonds at low interest rates.
Monday's meeting will be at Troutman Town Hall, 400 N. Eastway Drive.