That’s right. It was my week with Planning! I had an amazing time with the many people and jobs that make up the Planning department in Salisbury. But before I continue, a trivia question: Why can a parcel of land within a certain airport zone NOT have a stormwater pond? The answer is at the end of this post, with the hope that you will accidentally read the whole thing while scrolling down.
I started the week learning a little more about the Comprehensive Plan, which lays out goals for the future quality of life and development in Salisbury with steps the City can take to reach them. The last Comprehensive Plan done by the City was in 2001, so they are due for an update. I had the opportunity to seek out the most recent data from the US Census Bureau in order to measure progress toward community goals. This data included measures such as housing affordability in relation to income, education levels, and employment levels and types. While the Comprehensive Plan is just a guideline, it is the first step in shaping the future of Salisbury.
Zoning is, of course, a very crucial part of planning. Zoning determines what type of development can occur in a certain area of the city and is the reason you don’t find a large industrial park in the middle of a residential neighborhood. One thing I didn’t realize about zoning was how specific the Land Development Ordinance (LDO) can be. For example, a residential zone not only requires a residential unit, but it can be broken down into different types of residential units with a certain number of parking spaces and a certain setback from the road etc. depending on the category. I definitely have a greater appreciation for zoning, knowing now that a lot of thought and planning is involved in simply making the environment around me make sense. Click here to see the current zoning map and some other awesome maps made with GIS (an essential in a planning department and life).
Something that makes Salisbury unique are the national and local historic districts of the City. Driving through downtown, it would be hard to miss the fact that Salisbury cares about preserving its past, with faded Cheerwine murals on worn brick buildings and period houses lining some residential streets. In fact, the local historic districts’ require that owners get permission before making any changes to the exterior of their building, all the way down to approving period colors of paint for historic houses in which people currently live. It sounds burdensome for business owners and homeowners alike, but the citizens love it and I’ll admit that I do, too.
I would like to mention an amazing program put on by the Planning Department: BlockWork. Through this program, citizens can submit applications for the city to pay for and help clean up a neighborhood block, with the hope of improving property value and encouraging others to clean up their own blocks as well. A large group of volunteers will come out and, with permission, put new paint on the side of houses, clean the landscape, rebuild sidewalks, and even repair a few roofs. It’s a great way of reaching out to the community and helps the City and its neighborhoods look better one block at a time.
While I would love to keep going about my week with planning, I have promised an answer to a trivia question and I will deliver. Parcels of land within certain airport zones (yes, Salisbury has a small airport!) cannot have a stormwater pond because those ponds attract geese, which can then fly up into planes taking off and landing. Just another example of an easy-to-miss yet crucial development ordinance that your local government planners are taking care of for you!
Thank you for making it to the end, even if you just scrolled down for the trivia answer! Come back next week for a little Human Resources, and maybe some more local government trivia!