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News Planning Board set to look at county's infrastructure

With the departure of Chairman Derek Roland from the Macon County Planning Board, Chris Hanners was appointed to the position while Joe Deal was appointed as vice chairman, at the February meeting held last Tuesday.

“It's important to remember that we're at the direction of the commissioners,” said Hanners. “We need to consider the mission statement and keep that in mind as we move forward.”

The mission of the planning board is “to develop and advocate public policy and procedure to preserve the integrity of our mountain heritage, the beauty and tranquility of our communities, as well as our natural environment for the benefit of current populations as well as future generations while sustaining economic vitality and the social welfare of our citizens.”

County commissioner Jim Tate who serves as the liaison to the planning board informed the present members that the commissioners would like them to consider possible infrastructure updates that could help the people in the future.

“I assume that this means all utilities, including what the Town of Franklin has, what the Town of Highlands has and where they extend to or where they should extend to,” said Hanners. “But I don't think it's limited to water and sewer. I think this could include high speed internet and cell phone service. I think we should talk about the things that we want to bring to the table in the next few months.”

Hanners also suggested that the Town of Franklin, the Town of Highlands, the Economic Development Commission and the Airport Authority be contacted before moving forward with any planning strategies.

“I think that Chris [Hanners] has really hit the nail on the head,” said Tate. “It was discussed among the commissioners that we're looking at possibly, some new capital projects that 20 twenty years. We came up with the idea of tasking you all actually doing some planning with where you think this might need to go or what the commissioners might need to be thinking about down the road so that we're equipped for future economic development, future populations, future housing, so that we can keep Macon County heading in the right direction.”

As a short term example, he pointed to the passage of the Parker Meadows development off Highway 64W and the need for septic on the property or running town water lines to the Iotla School and the Airport.

“Maybe we'll look at some of these areas and prioritize them,” said Tate.

Some of the topics that members brought up for future discussions were:

  • Availability of high speed internet
  • Public transportation
  • Natural gas
  • Fire departments
  • Conservation areas

“We need to get an updated population map to plan for the development of the infrastructure,” Deal told the members of the board. “We need to know if the population is growing, is it declining or where it's growing. There's no point in running a sewer line if they have lost a large number of their citizens. We need to consider the growth points.”

Hanners asked the board if the current meeting time of the third Thursday at 4 p.m. was convenient for the members. One suggestion was to change the day to the second Thursday, but if the change were to occur it would be implemented after next month's meeting that is still scheduled for March 20 at 4 p.m. at the Health and Human Services building in Franklin.


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