Some new initiatives on city’s agenda for the new year

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

As we start a new year, it reminds us to look forward and set goals for the next 12 months. There are a variety of projects the Planning Commission and our Department have been working on towards the end of last year that will culminate in 2018.
The first project that will probably see completion is the Major Thoroughfare Plan. The Planning Commission started the project towards the middle of last year and gathered a lot of public input on the proposals. Along with the adoption of this plan will come the implementation portion which calls for new roadway designs, Milligan Highway improvements, and the new Southside Road improvement between Mary Patton Highway and US 19E.
The other project that you may begin to hear about is the Land Use Plan. The Planning Commission has been calling for a new Land Use Plan for the city for the past four years and we are now reaching the point where we can dedicate the time to undertaking such a project. The Land Use Plan will provide guidance to the Commission, city staff, and to other departments in the city about what types of land-uses or development should be located where in the city and the planning region in the county. This allows utilities to prepare the appropriate infrastructure in different areas and guides the Commission when a rezoning or development request comes before them. The Plan will also provide guidance for changes to the City’s development regulations such as parking requirements, aesthetic requirements, and setback and building height requirements.
Additionally, our department has been working on three different economic development initiatives that we anticipate implementing this year. The first and certainly most talked about is the Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan for West Elk Avenue. In partnership with the County, we anticipate this initiative will be fully implemented in late winter or early spring opening up opportunities for redevelopment in the area behind Walmart and around the Bemberg Building.
We have also been working on the implementation of a new downtown loan program in order to help small businesses and building owners make improvements to their buildings with low interest loans. We hope that this will encourage new businesses to move or start up in downtown and improve the quality of the buildings that are currently in downtown.
Similarly, we are also working on two new entrepreneurship programs that we also hope to implement one early in 2018 and the other in summer of 2018. Both of these programs are geared to help local small businesses get started, be successful long-term, and help provide guidance and assistance in obtaining capital needed. These programs could also drive new small businesses into downtown and elsewhere around the city.
2018 is already shaping up to be a busy year, but many of the initiatives and activities that we will be undertaking are and have been needed in our community. We are excited and looking forward to measuring where we stand as a department and a city at the end of 2018. And, most importantly, we believe these activities will help enhance Elizabethton and make it more like a community you want to live in. 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 by email at: jhartman@cityof

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