MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (July 27, 2017) - The Town of Mount Pleasant received a Municipal Achievement Award for its Planning Public Outreach and Engagement Program. Officials accepted the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's Annual Meeting on July 22. The city won in the public service category. Thirty-two cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
The planning process can be confusing to residents of any city or town, no matter the size. But for the Town of Mount Pleasant, one of the fastest-growing cities east of the Mississippi River, officials fielded frequent questions about regulations, procedures and how land-use decisions are made.
To address residents' confusion, the Department of Planning and Development created three programs aimed at strengthening relationships between residents and town employees and providing more transparency to all. One was the Meet and Greet, informational sessions that got residents interested in town services. They are held after business hours and feature different locations throughout the town.
The second program was a two-semester Planning College. Town staff presented an overview of planning principles in the first semester. The residents applied these principles during the second semester as they guided a simulated project through the review process.
Lastly, town leaders created Code for Lunch to engage the professional design and development community. During a brown-bag lunch, staff explained changes to regulations. Town staff also used Code for Lunch to receive feedback on implementation of regulations and codes.
The town involved community partners in various ways. To produce the Annual Report and Planning Calendar, both of which were debuted at a Meet and Greet, the planning department partnered with schools and civic organizations. A local restaurant provided meals for the lunch event.
Feedback from surveys and correspondence from participants continues to help the town refine its programs. In 2017, local middle school students will submit artwork for the Annual Report and Planning Calendar, while the Meet and Greet events, which average more than 100 attendees, will be held in a new location that caters to the town's older neighborhoods.
"These efforts by the Town of Mount Pleasant are a great way to keep residents involved and informed about planning and zoning decisions that impact their town and neighborhoods," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. Information and a video about the project are available on the Association's website www.masc.sc (keyword: Achievement Awards).
The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.