POWDERSVILLE — In August of last year, the Anderson County Planning Department was tasked to conduct an area plan focused on the Northeastern corner of the county.
The report, known as the North East County Area Plan — or “NECAP” — was recently unveiled with some startling findings.
For one? Powdersville was growing. Fast.
According to NECAP, an area plan differs from a comprehensive plan in its focus, scope and greater attention to detail for any given area. An area plan, like NECAP, covers a specific sub-region and can be used to provide basic information on the natural features, resources and physical constraints that can affect development in an area.
The plan attributes the area’s expansion to several factors including its location “as a nexus” between the cities of Anderson, Pelzer, West Pelzer, Williamston, Easley, Pendleton, Clemson and Greenville.
It is also serviced by several main highways, including I-85.
“Due in part to its location, the NECAP area has experienced immense growth, particularly over the last 20 years,” the plan states. “This growth has the potential to introduce unintended issues.”
Some of those “issues” include more people — and the problems that inherently come with any rapid population growth: Conflicts such as those between land uses, existing property owners and the natural environment are bound to arise as are increases on infrastructure demands like sewer and drinking water capacities, new and existing road network support, even school capacity will need to be addressed so that future development does not put undue strain on existing systems, warns the report.
So, just how big is the NECAP population expected to get?
Well, according to the 1990 U.S. Census, 17,391 people lived there. In 10 years it was up to 20,653 and it hit 26,710 10 years later.
NECAP projections state that number will continue to grow at an exponential rate, hitting nearly 38,000 by 2025 and over 52,000 by 2040 — more than doubling the current population in the next 25 to 30 years.
Already, the area has accounted for a disproportionate amount of growth in Anderson County: Although the area only makes up 14 percent of the county’s population, growth in the NECAP area between 1990 and 2010 accounted for 23 percent of the entire county’s growth.
So, what do you do about it? There are some options, although not everybody is likely to be pleased.
Historically, Powdersville business leaders have shied away from the notion of legally constituting a place and its residents as a municipality but NECAP does present a valid argument for the area becoming an “actual” city.
“(Incorporating) enables community to self-regulate, with local control of subdivision and land use; allows for establishment of specific services such as fire and police protection; provides eligibility for certain State and Federal funding sources and preempts/prevents annexation by nearby municipalities,” the report asserts.
The negatives of incorporation include an additional layer of government, additional taxation and the fact that NECAP encompasses nearly 55-square-miles — too large to be feasibly annexed as a single jurisdiction, the report states.
Overall, to continue to grow the area responsibly without becoming a burden to existing infrastructure, NECAP suggests forming a citizens committee comprised of residents in the area to continue discussions on how to move forward and to direct new development into areas where public services are already available.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.