American Planning Association

North Carolina Chapter

Message from our President

Kenneth Bowers, AICP

Chapter President

President’s Message for November 2017

It was great to see so many planners from across the state at the North Carolina Planning Conference in Greenville. This year’s conference had lots of rich content and plentiful opportunities to network and socialize. The facility in Greenville was well-suited to our needs and everyone involved locally did a great job of hosting and making attendees feel welcome. I would guess many folks (including me) who had not been to downtown Greenville in a while were impressed with the changes taking place, including new infill multifamily, restaurants, breweries, and retail. As an important center for commerce, healthcare, and education in eastern North Carolina, the changes taking place in Greenville are a harbinger for types of transformations gaining steam in other nearby urban centers such as Wilson, Rocky Mount, and Kinston.

A special part of the annual conference is the Marvin Collins Awards luncheon, where we come together to recognize the outstanding planning work being done around the state in communities large and small. This year we had another slate of excellent projects to recognize that illustrate the value planning brings to North Carolina. If you were unable to attend the luncheon, you can browse the full list of winners on the chapter website.

One exciting piece of awards-related news that was not officially released until a few days after the conference was the recognition of the County Home Complex in Pitt County as a Great Public Space by the American Planning Association as part of the Great Places in America program. This recognition comes a year after the same site was recognized as a Great Place for Healthy Living by our own Great Places in NC program. You can read about this place on both the APA and APA-NC websites. What strikes me about it is how a few well-chosen ingredients (a community garden, the Eastern North Carolina Village and Farm Museum, a trail, and a farmer’s market) were added to typical county facilities (two elementary schools, a park, and a senior center) to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. This type of creative and low-cost approach to facility clustering and placemaking is a model worthy of emulation by other communities.

Our annual Chapter Meeting was held at the conference, and attendees helped refine a proposed refresh of the Chapter mission statement. They also reviewed and commented upon an outline for a four-year plan for the Chapter’s work and development. I want to thank everyone who participated in the Chapter meeting—your input was vital to improving and finalizing both the plan outline and the mission statement. Both documents were reviewed by the Executive Committee in October, at which time the mission statement was adopted and the outline approved as the framework for the full plan document. We are now busy turning the plan outline into a full report in time for approval at our December meeting. Members should look to the website at the start of the New Year for these important guiding documents.

I’m excited about what’s in store for 2018. The NC Planning Conference returns to the historic and vibrant City of Winston-Salem. We will start the work of executing the first of the action items in the four-year plan. The year will see launch of our pro-bono planning assistance program, NCPAT. There will be another round of recognition of Great Places in NC. The NC Plan4Health committee will be hard at work on their ambitious work program to help communities across the state incorporate health into their local planning. Planning for Prosperity is organizing a very timely forum on the future of retail. Finally, we can also anticipate many events and CM opportunities organized by sections around the state.

I wish everyone a very happy holiday season, and I’ll see you back in the space in 2018.