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What is Sumter 2040, and why should we care?

It will determine what our community looks like for the next 20 years.

BY SHELBIE GOULDING
shelbie@theitem.com
Posted 8/23/19

From protecting specific properties and green infrastructure to developing new community opportunities and amenities, Sumter officials are using an updated plan to modernize the city while keeping its roots.

The purpose of the Sumter 2040 …

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What is Sumter 2040, and why should we care?

It will determine what our community looks like for the next 20 years.

Posted

From protecting specific properties and green infrastructure to developing new community opportunities and amenities, Sumter officials are using an updated plan to modernize the city while keeping its roots.

The purpose of the Sumter 2040 Comprehensive Plan is to help the people of Sumter make informed decisions about development issues and guide growth in both the city and county for the next 20 years, in the interests of both property owners and the community.

Sumter City Council and Sumter County Council intend to separately adopt "virtually identical" versions of the plan - the only difference was plans for implementation - that was developed by the Sumter City-County Planning Department and planning commission based on public input to represent the community's land use vision for the future. A draft was released in early August.

The plan's goals were decided and based on statistics and analytical data in various elements within the city and county limits, such as population, housing, economic development, historic and cultural resources, green infrastructure, transportation, community facilities and land use. Each element has set policies to follow to reach the plan's goals, which are addressed in the draft.

With the 2018 city population at 39,656 and the 2018 county population at 106,512, the overall population growth has remained flat in recent decades, with the western areas of the city and county seeing the most growth while the central and eastern areas are seeing the most loss.

To complement these findings, the city recently completed a comprehensive housing study that looked at its current population, housing stock and price points to determine if housing needs are being met at prices Sumter residents can afford and gave recommendations to act upon and to fill gaps in the housing market where need be.

Local governments want business growth to happen with housing growth. Opportunity Zones were established by Congress as a part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term private investments in low-income census tracts.

In Sumter County, three census tracts were designated. They include significant areas in the eastern side of Sumter County and the eastern and central portions of the city. The city's downtown Central Business District is located within a tract.

The city will also consider opportunities to expand or adjust local, state or federal historic designations in the City of Sumter, including areas in downtown Sumter, the Hampton Park area, the Anne Park area and the Oakland and Bartlette neighborhoods, as well as protect existing historic resources.

All land development projects will protect environmental resources through conservation design whenever possible. Developments are expected to respect sensitive environmental features and leave green infrastructure in its natural state, according to the plan.

Subsections of the overall plan, such as those addressing transportation and land use, will coordinate to encourage connectivity, and the city and county will create a system of interconnected streets to improve mobility and distribute traffic appropriately.

The extension of public water and sewer facilities will be consistent with the land use policies. Future land use planning areas include downtown, suburban and rural developments.

The military protection planning area is intended to protect Shaw Air Force Base and and its Poinsett Range. Protection of Shaw's mission is one of the community's primary goals, according to the plan.

Conservation planning area is intended to protect and preserve environmentally sensitive areas and prime agricultural lands from residential, industrial and commercial encroachment.

The planning commission reviewed the draft at its regular August meeting, with Sumter city and county councils expected to take the item up in October. Adoption is planned for December.

The overall plan will be reviewed every five years and updated every 10 years in an ongoing time frame to ensure relevancy.

For more information or to view the Sumter 2040 Comprehensive Plan, visit www.sumter2040.com.