Clemson University - Guest Lecture

Benchmark's Jason Epley, AICP, Executive Vice President - Special Projects, will be discussing consulting in local government planning with students seeking the degree Master of City and Regional Planning.  Mr. Epley will cover his experience working as a small town planner, a mid-size city planner, a county planner and as a regional planner and how each of those roles provide him with a truly unique perspective as a consultant specializing in public sector, local government contracting.  Mr. Epley will highlight several recent projects and cutting edge methods in the profession.

Bermuda Run, NC - Comprehensive Plan

The first round of public meetings have been a success.  Interactive meetings with lively discussion have been held  at several locations this week.  Visit the project website to learn more.

Bermuda Run is located along Interstate 40 in eastern Davie County in the western Piedmont of North Carolina. It is adjacent to Yadkin County to the north, Forsyth County to the northeast, Davidson County to the east, Iredell County to the west and Rowan County to the south. With a population of 1,548, the Town enjoys the benefits of a small town atmosphere while being conveniently located within minutes of Winston-Salem.

Troutman Students Provide Input on 20 Acre Park

Benchmark's Erika Martin serves as the community planner for Troutman, North Carolina.  Recently, Mrs. Martin guided over 300 students through an interactive design session to provide input on the proposed 20 acre park on North Main Street.  Students were able to participate in a hands-on exercise of designing various park features.

Mrs. Martin also discussed the importance of the 2010 Census and fielded questions from the students.

To view the recent article in the Statesville Record & Landmark, select the link below.

Troutman students give their input proposed park

Midway, NC Town-wide Plan

The Town of Midway with assistance from Benchmark, recently completed an extensive study of the US 52 Commercial Corridor and is now moving forward with a comprehensive land use plan and creation of a new land development ordinance.

The preparation of the Town-wide land use plan will allow the community to provide input into the desired future growth pattern of the Town and will set forth a path to achieving that future vision. The preparation and adoption of a Town-specific land development ordinance will allow the Town to establish a set of zoning, and other, development regulations tailored specifically to its unique needs, characteristics and vision for future growth, rather than relying on the Davidson County Zoning Ordinance, which is more tailored to the needs of a large rural county rather than a growing small town located next door to a major metropolitan area. 

Read more: Midway, NC Town-wide Plan

Waxhaw, NC Historic District Guidelines

Hill Studio of Roanoke, Virginia, and Benchmark were recently selected to assist the Town of Waxhaw, North Carolina in preparing historic district guidelines. Hill Studio will bring years of experience in historic preservation and architecture, while Benchmark will lend their practical experience in developing sound and understandable development regulations throughout North Carolina.  Together, Benchmark and Hill Studio have significant experience and expertise in working with small jurisdictions concerned with downtown revitalization and historic preservation.

Walterboro, SC - UDO

Benchmark has been selected to prepare a unified development ordinance for the City of Walterboro, South Carolina.  The City recently completed a new comprehensive plan and recognizes the need to update all of their stand alone ordinances into one unified document that addresses the future land use pattern.  This will be a participatory process involving input from the diverse community and stakeholders.  

Comprehensive Planning in North Carolina

At the 2010 NCAPA conference in New Bern, Jason Epley, AICP, of Benchmark, moderated a session that focused on mandatory comprehensive planning for local governments, and contrasted the differences in the experiences of North Carolina and South Carolina with state mandated comprehensive planning legislation.  David Owens, J.D., the Gladys H. Coates Professor of Public Law and Government with the UNC School of Government, began the discussion by highlighting previous efforts to pass this type of legislation in North Carolina, and discussed the State’s other planning legislation, including the Coastal Area Management Act. He was followed by guest speakers from South Carolina.  The first South Carolina speaker was Dr. Barry Nocks, director and professor of Clemson University’s City and Regional Planning program.  Dr. Nocks holds a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning and a PhD in Planning from UNC Chapel Hill, giving him a unique perspective since he has experience with planning in both North and South Carolina. 

Read more: Comprehensive Planning in North Carolina

Pedestrian Plan - Clinton, NC

The City of Clinton received a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Branch to develop a Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan.  Working closely with the community and the technical assistance of Benchmark, the City planning department prepared a plan that included over 300 community members, raising awareness of pedestrian safety issues, and helping create a more connected City. The plan development process is nearing completion.

Henderson County Land Development Code Receives Award

At the October 2009 NCAPA state-wide planning conference held in Greensboro, NC, the Henderson County Land Development Code prepared by the Henderson County Planning Board and Planning Staff with technical assistance from Benchmark, received the 2009 North Carolina Marvin Collins Planning Award in the Implementation – Large Community category.  This award, given by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (NCAPA), recognizes plans, programs and processes of unusually high merit adopted or enacted in the current or past two calendar years.

The Land Development Code, adopted by the County in 2007, combines all development ordinances into one user-friendly growth management document drafted to accomplish the recommendations of the 2005 North Carolina Marvin Collins Planning Award winning Henderson County 2020 Comprehensive Plan. The LDC is original in its content and approach to managing growth and development, and includes density based zoning regulations as opposed to requiring minimum lot size. The LDC provides greater flexibility, supports the preservation of rural character, and encourages appropriate development where necessary infrastructure is available. The development of the LDC from drafting to adoption took just under three (3) years and was a major accomplishment for the County.

Read more: Henderson County Land Development Code Receives Award

Concord, NC - Elementary School Presentation

As part of the second grade social studies curriculum in North Carolina schools, students focus on regional studies including the relationship between people and geography in various communities.  On November 17, 2009, Benchmark’s Erin Burris, AICP, gave a presentation to second graders at Carl A. Furr Elementary in Concord, North Carolina about city planning. 

Ms. Burris stated that it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with a group of young children about their community surroundings and the impact that planning has on them.

Read more: Concord, NC - Elementary School Presentation