Benson approves Comprehensive Land Use Plan

A Benson mural depicting civic buildings, a train, and Black musicians

Benson approves Comprehensive Land Use Plan

The Town of Benson Comprehensive Land Use Plan was adopted by the Town’s Board of Commissioners on November 9, 2021. Development of the plan began earlier in 2021 and was completed on a compressed 10-month schedule.

The Benson Comprehensive Land Use Plan represents the Town’s unified vision of the future. It will serve as a guiding document for development decisions and Town improvements. Three primary questions underpin the plan:

    1. Where are we now?
    2. Where do we want to be?
    3. How do we get there?

To answer the first question, WithersRavenel began the plan development process with background data review. The firm’s planning team compiled demographic data and analyzed previous planning efforts conducted by the Town and its regional partners.

Armed with this information, the planning team went to the project stakeholder group. The stakeholder group consisted of Town leaders and department heads and Town citizens. WithersRavenel facilitated scenario planning with this group to determine future goals and necessary changes to the physical environment to achieve those goals. These discussions and the sketch work conducted during the scenario planning meeting helped answer the second question.

In July, WithersRavenel helped the Town host a large public workshop to ensure the work of the stakeholder group reflected the desires of the town as a whole. Residents were invited to attend the workshop to learn about the draft plan, provide comments on the document’s main features, and share any additional remarks about the future of Benson. When the workshop concluded, WithersRavenel worked with the stakeholder group to refine the draft plan based on the feedback.

Adults gather in a gymnasium to view draft land use plan exhibits

Benson citizens at a public engagement meeting

WithersRavenel reserved the final chapters of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for recommendations to answer the third question, “How do we get there?” With direction from the stakeholder group and public comments, the planning team started with recommendations in these three focus areas:

  • Utility Infrastructure
  • Lee Street Complex and Parrish Drive
  • Commercial and Industrial Sites

Each focus area was supported with detailed research and specializing recommendations at both the micro and macro levels.

The planning team also provided action items categorized into six overarching themes: Community, Economic Development, Utilities, Land Use, Parks and Recreation, and Transportation. These action items outline specific, actionable, and measurable tasks for staff and stakeholders to undertake; they are tied to the established vision and goals of the plan.

Lastly, WithersRavenel prepared a Future Land Use Map that provides the future vision of land development within the Town and describes the intended nature of each use provided.

A map of Benson NC shaded to show different types of land uses

Benson Future Land Use Plan

To conclude the plan development process, WithersRavenel assisted with a final open house and public hearing in October 2021. The planning team held a drop-in session in the Town Hall, where they displayed exhibits of the plan recommendations and solicited more feedback from the public. Staff worked quickly following these events to integrate comments into the plan prior to the final adoption procedures.

The plan development process typically takes more than a year, due to the multiple facets of the plan and the various meetings with the public and stakeholder groups required to ensure quality engagement. WithersRavenel completed the Benson plan in about 10 months, relying on an iterative approach to meet the abbreviated timeline. By separating the chapter, recommendation, and map reviews into parallel workflows, WithersRavenel was able to generate plan materials quickly while maintaining plan integrity.

The Town of Benson Planning Board gave the Comprehensive Land Use Plan a unanimous recommendation for approval. The Board of Commissioners formally approved the plan on November 9, 2021.

WithersRavenel’s Planning Team can help you craft or update your Comprehensive Plan or Land Use Plan. While plans can be completed in as little as six months, we strongly recommend allowing nine months to enable a more thorough and inclusive process. Contact Daniel Rauh at (919) 238-0416 or drauh@withersravenel.com to get started.