Fewer than a dozen Midway residents joined Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission officials Thursday at the Liberty County Community Complex to discuss and assist updating the Midway subarea land-use map.
LCPC Director Jeff Ricketson, planner Melissa Jones and Zoning Administrator Gabriele Hartage took time to answer every question of those attending, including Mayor Clemontine Washington and LCPC Commissioner Phil Odom.
“Tonight’s meeting is on updating your comprehensive plan, which is part of the 2040 Liberty County Consolidated Comprehensive Plan,” Jones said. “(We’re working) a two-year plan to update the county’s future land-use maps … (allowing) two months to each subarea.”
She pointed to an enlarged color map of the Midway subarea, which she said includes incorporated and unincorporated areas. The Midway subarea consist of 22,376 acres, has significant industrial and conservation land use, two major highways, two planned unit developments and numerous single-family residential developments, she said.
In addition to Highways 84 and 17, areas they wanted to look at included historic places like the Midway museum, church and cemetery as well as conservation areas, especially wetlands. She pointed to a current use map of the subarea with various land-use designations highlighted in specific colors.
Most of the current map was divided between green, representing agricultural/forestry, and yellow, representing residential. A large brown area represented conservation areas along the creeks and marshes, and a large gray area represented potential industrial development.
A band of red ran along part of both major highways to represent commercial areas, Jones said. There were two smaller areas within downtown Midway, one purple to represent mixed-use development and one tan to represent public institutional.
Jones said their objective was for residents to suggest changes to the current land-use map. She said LCPC would make the requested changes and come back Dec. 16 for a follow-up meeting.
When Jones asked where they’d like to begin, Midway residents Trish Smith and Martha Lichtenberg said whatever changes are made, they should be something that attracts more businesses to Midway.
Jones suggested they start with the major corridors through the city, designating all of Highways 17 and 84 “mixed-use urban” within the city limits and “mixed-use rural” outside the limits. She said the main corridors are where they most likely will see future commercial development.
“The city will have to adopt the changes inside the city, and the county board of commissioners will have to adopt changes outside the city,” Ricketson said, noting the land-use designation is not re-zoning, which still will have to follow normal procedures. “This is just the beginning of a long process. Everybody will have an opportunity to say something.”
Meredith Devendorf asked about a particular historic site and the area surrounding it. Jones called that particular area a “character” area.
“We will have an additional map that will show character areas,” Jones said. “You will be able to identify areas that are important, whether it’s natural or cultural resources. Then we’ll be able to develop standards we would go by in order to develop in those areas.”
After more than an hour discussing changes to the land-use map, Jones and Ricketson agreed to rework the map to show mixed-use development along the two major thoroughfares. They also will designate an area as public/institutional in the downtown area. The area in which Cay Creek Wetland Interpretative Center is located is noted as agricultural/forestry, but will be re-designated as a conservation area.
After the Dec. 16 meeting with Midway residents, LCPC planners will meet with the Sunbury and nearby islands community in January and February.