Goal is to make Elizabethton a more attractive community

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

About five years ago, city planning staff began conducting a visioning plan for Elizabethton. What this would ultimately do, is identify where the community would like to be in, say, 20 years and develop goals and objectives to get the community to that future vision.

Some interesting, although maybe not surprising, goals came out of that project. One of those goals was to improve the building frontage and appearance throughout the city. If I remember correctly, this goal actually originated out of a session I did with a group of students at Elizabethton High School. It was voted by many adults as well and made it into one of the top 10 goals.
So what are we doing to improve the appearance of buildings and properties throughout the city? Well, there are four main perspectives we are utilizing to help improve the aesthetics of our community. The first is our sign regulations. We are currently in the process of adopting new regulations which will require landscaped areas around new signs. They also require that a standard pole sign must be enclosed so that the exposed pole cannot be seen (and therefore will help prevent rusting).
As I’ve written before, we are continuing to step up our property maintenance regulations. This past summer we adopted updates to our current regulations and hired a new property maintenance enforcement officer. From April to October, we also conducted property maintenance sweeps in which we canvassed an entire neighborhood looking for property maintenance violations and alerted those property owners about repairs that need to be made. Those alerts are followed up with additional notices and citations if the repairs are not made.
About five years ago we rewrote the regulations for junked and abandoned cars. Last year, the last of these regulations went into effect requiring that businesses who take more than seven days to fix or repair a damaged or junked vehicle, must store those vehicles in a building or behind a visual barrier so that the cars cannot be seen from the road.
Lastly, we are planning to rewrite the landscaping requirements for both parking lots and frontage areas along streets for businesses. While this is early, we will be looking to incentivize larger trees to be planted in both areas which will provide more greenery along the city’s busiest streets.
Having an attractive city helps create civic pride and attracts others to our community. What other steps can we as a local government and private businesses do to improve the appearance throughout the city? Let’s talk about it!
(Jon Hartman is Director of Planning & Economic Development for the City of Elizabethton. He can be contacted at 542-1503 or at www.Elizabethton.org)
(A reminder: City offices will be closed Dec. 25 & 26 and Jan. 1 for the Winter Holidays.)

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