Department Spotlight
DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Department staff continues to pursue excellence in the midst of tremendous growth
The Town of Mount Pleasant is expecting an annual growth rate of approximately 4 percent for 2014. This figure is not surprising as the Town has been averaging about a 3 percent annual growth rate for the past couple of years: 2.9 percent and 3.84 percent for 2012 and 2013 respectively.

The 2010 Census measured the Town's population at 67,843 residents. The most recent population estimates produced by the Planning Department project the Town's population to be just under 75,000 residents. With Mount Pleasant's high quality of life, access to natural amenities, and top quality public education and public services, it is no wonder why the town has experienced such growth over the past few years.
  
The population growth results in an increase in demand for Town services. All Town departments feel the pressure from this growth, but the Department of Planning and Development staff is particularly accustomed to working amid the pressure. This is because the Department is involved in every aspect related to growth and development. Staff members participate in every step from annexing and zoning a property, to reviewing development plans, to permitting, to inspecting projects.
  
At the same time, staff members are continuing to review work processes, develop long-range plans, and provide information to the public using a variety of engagement and communication tools. The Department of Planning and Development stays continuously busy, but staff remains committed to providing high quality public services to the community.

 

With the continued high volume of demand, the Department of Planning and Development staff decided to implement several new tools designed to engage the public and increase efficiency in work processes. These measures have had a significant positive impact, both for members of the public and for staff. Citizens are more informed, engaged, and aware. Project applicants are saving money and time through digital project submission. And staff is able to work more efficiently and effectively by leveraging community partnerships, sharing information, and utilizing newer technologies. The Department has been so successful in their efforts that staff was asked to present on their public engagement strategy at a recent conference for the South Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association.

The Department of Planning and Development is comprised of a Planning and Engineering Division and a Building Inspections Division. The Department is led by the Director of Planning and Development, Christiane Farrell.
Latest News and Events
Community Engagement Initiatives
The Department of Planning and Development has implemented several tools designed to increase community engagement, education, and improve work processes. Understanding that the current, high level of activity will likely continue for some time, staff members decided to break down their engagement efforts into three categories so as to cater to distinct groups in the population. Their engagement efforts focused on these three areas:
  • Relationships with citizens
  • Relationships with the business and development community
  • Relationships with design professionals
With the target areas identified, staff was able to develop specialized programs that cater to the specific needs of each group. In addition to these specialized programs, staff also launched several engagement events and activities which are open to all members of the population.
The Department of Planning and Development's Annual Meet & Greet is a drop-in event designed to familiarize the public with various topics and projects related to planning and building activities. During this evening event, members of the public are invited to meet with department staff to view demonstrations, receive information, and ask questions.
  
The topics covered at this event change every year, but some of the most recent topics include: the Comprehensive Plan 2014 update, Bike/Pedestrian Master Plan, Shem Creek Boardwalk project, Historical Commission, Design Review Process, and more.  
Code for Lunch and Citizens Planning College are two engagement programs designed to provide specific information and solicit feedback through small-group interaction.

The Code for Lunch program promotes dialogue and an in-depth understanding of the Town's zoning code and development process among local design professionals. This program allows for the exchange of valuable insight and discussion between local professionals and department staff.

The Citizens Planning College is open to all members of the public, but class sizes are limited to allow for a more interactive study program. The Citizens Planning College consists of 10 courses conducted by department staff and held over the course of two semesters. The program is designed to familiarize participants with a range of planning and building topics including, but not limited to: Town History and Demographics, Boards
and Commissions, Zoning Code, Comprehensive Plan, Public Hearings and Approval Process, Construction and Flood requirements, Special Projects, and more.
The Department of Planning and Development Wall Calendar and Annual Report are two informational tools produced every year by the department. Both the calendar and annual report are used to provide information to the public through a variety of mediums. 

The Wall Calendar features full-color photographs of Mount Pleasant sites, important meeting and submittal dates, "Citizens in the know" sidebars, and QR codes to each month's meeting agendas. The calendars have been tremendously popular.
Pick up your copy of the annual calendar at the Planning Department Office located at 100 Ann Edwards Lane in Mount Pleasant!

The Annual Report is the Department's newest communication tool and it is designed to highlight the Department's activity from the past year. The report uses graphs, text, and pictures to illustrate notable accomplishments, outreach activities, workload statistics, special projects and more. 
Copies of the latest Annual Report will be available beginning mid-January at the Planning Department Office.
 
Information at your fingertips
The Mount Pleasant Department of Planning and Development offers a wide array of communication tools to make sharing and accessing public information easier than ever.

One such tool is the Commercial Projects and Applications Map. This interactive map allows users to view information and learn more about all the new commercial projects in the town. By clicking on markers in the map, users are able to view project information such as: project name and address, project status, elevations, site plans, agendas, and applications. The map features upcoming agenda items from the Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission, and the Old Village Historic District Commission.
Click here to learn more about the Commercial Projects and Applications Map.

Other communication tools offered by the Department of Planning and Development include:
Building Division receives national accreditation
In 2013 the Department of Planning and Development's Building Division earned national accreditation from the International Accreditation Service for its strong commitment to community, quality, and efficiency. Just recently, the Division successfully completed its annual reassessment for accreditation.

Mount Pleasant is the first jurisdiction in South Carolina to have a nationally accredited Building Division. We are also 1 of only 21 local governments in the country with this accreditation, and we are the only municipality in South Carolina to have all public safety departments (Fire Dept., Police Dept. and Building Inspections) nationally accredited.
Long-range plans

The Town of Mount Pleasant uses both short-term and long-term plans to guide its work efforts. These plans ensure that officials are able to allocate resources in such a way so as to provide for today's needs and plan for tomorrow's needs as well. The Department of Planning and Development oversees several of these plans.

 

The Town of Mount Pleasant Comprehensive Plan is a state mandated document which helps manage the physical, social, and economic growth, development, and redevelopment of the area within its jurisdiction.  
  
The plan provides a framework for future growth and development and serves as the foundation for zoning and planning for the Town. The Comprehensive Plan was recently updated in 2014.

The Town of Mount Pleasant Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan identifies specific projects to develop, explores funding options including identifying alternative funding sources, seeks to create partnerships, and recommends updating outdated sections of the Town Code of Ordinances related to bicycle and pedestrian activities.
  
All of these elements are used to create an action plan with clear goals, and a master plan that can be referenced in conjunction with development projects, town transportation improvements, and other future planning efforts. This plan is intended to be used as a guide for future planning, public and private sector development, and roadway improvements.
Click here to learn more about the
Department of Planning and Development!
moving-header.jpg
Beginning in mid-to-late January 2015 and throughout construction of the new Town Hall, the Department of Planning and Development Offices and staff will be temporarily relocated. Stay tuned for more details!
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Produced by the
TOWN OF MOUNT PLEASANT
GOVERNMENT OUTREACH OFFICE
100 Ann Edwards Lane
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 884-8517