Pickens County Joint Comprehensive Plan Stakeholders Meeting

Location:Pickens County Administrative Building - Pickens Room, 1266 E. Church Street, Jasper, GA
Start Date:10/17/2017
Start Time:6:30 PM
Description:During the August 22 meeting, the approximately 30 attendees discussed community Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT analysis).

The topic mentioned most often was water & sewer. Discussion included:
- Challenge of community growth (and whether or not to promote future growth) when there may be limited water & sewer capacity and infrastructure.
- Need for planning for ongoing maintenance of existing lines and upgrades to older lines (including consideration of funding mechanisms for upgrades).
- Question of whether or not sewer expansion is desired.
- Planning for water interconnectivity is a positive for the community and region.
- Challenge of limited water sources in the county and limited reserves.

SWOT analysis topics included Economic Development; Housing; Natural and Cultural Resources; Community Facilities & Services; Land Use; and Intergovernmental Coordination. Discussion included:
- Too many retail & service jobs – not enough quality jobs (manufacturing, etc.)
- Need more types of businesses and diversified businesses within certain types (more restaurants, retail, services)
- Challenge of not have enough available local workers – Pickens unemployment percentage is low… lower than GA and lower than the Northwest Georgia region
- Pickens is not retaining enough of its high school grads to work in the county
- There is a community desire for the area to be low-density, favor more large-lot residential
- Lack of adequate high-speed / broadband coverage / WiFi / etc.
- Existing plans may not be implemented well enough
- Not enough recreation – both active (ballfields) and passive (greenspace and low-intense trails)
- Perception that it may be difficult to do business in the community
- Perception that it may be difficult to do business if your restaurant or retail establishment includes alcohol sales and out service/pouring
- There is a community desire for taxes to be as low as possible. Challenge is that low taxes limit funding for community improvements. However, there may not be a significant desire for large taxpayer funded community projects.
- Nonprofits, including churches, community thrift store, Good Samaritan, North Georgia Pregnancy Center, so many others do a great job in the community.
- Hwy 515 and Hwy 53, as well as the railroad, were mentioned as positive for the community.
- Not much discussion of the downtowns in the cities. In previous meetings and survey results, downtown Jasper and Talking Rock had been mentioned as positive for the community, and that there could be improvements – downtown Jasper in particular.
- Some participants stated that the community is a great place to be and they are grateful to be here and try not to take it for granted.
- Community assets/resources include the school system; airport; hospital; technical college; Chamber; public safety
- County school system has great resources, student scores, and teachers – however, may not get publicized often enough or in the right places for all to recognize. Also perception challenge that sometimes the smaller county school system is compared to larger suburban school districts. Also perception challenge of comparing experiences in schools from other states to the county school system.
- Proximity to ATL and its northern suburbs has positives and negatives – good to be relatively close to jobs, restaurants, and shopping in nearby counties. Challenge that dollars are being spent outside the county.
- Housing discussion had variety of viewpoints. Some discussion that higher density apartments could have negative community impacts. Some discussion that it is good to have options of home prices so that young families, retirees, and persons in various life situations can afford to live in the community.
- Land use discussion that it is difficult to rezone property, whether in a city or county, from low density residential to either higher density residential, commercial, or industrial.
- Beautiful creeks, streams, and mountains in the community contribute to quality of life.
- Intergovernmental discussion had variety of viewpoints. Some discussion that there is some productive communication. Some discussion that intergovernmental coordination could be improved.
Tickets/Signup:All are welcome.