Looking to the future

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The first step toward the year 2035 is to reach some common ground among local governments -- Bradley County, Cleveland and Charleston.

That's what Greg Dale of the consulting firm McBride, Dale, Clarion Group told a group meeting Thursday evening to hear a progress report on long-range growth in the area.

The consulting group is helping the community toward a strategic plan that "tries to identify the common goals that each of the jurisdictions can agree to and the actions each of the jurisdictions can take, either in common or on their own, in pursuit of those common goals," Mr. Dale said.

Bradley County is expected to grow about 2 percent a year over the next two decades, the consultants said. By 2035, that will add the equivalent of Cleveland's present population of 37,000. The planners also assume creation of about 19,000 jobs during that time.

"We need to be able to understand what the implications of growth plans are," consultant Emily Crow said. "We didn't want to lock ourselves into only one way of thinking about growth."

Greg Thomas, Cleveland community development director, identified some of the factors involved, such as jobs, population and housing, as well as the costs and benefits of growth.

The consultants are using three scenarios.

WHAT'S NEXTThe next public meeting is Aug. 19. To learn more about the study, visit www.bcc2035.com.

One assumes continued growth with no policy or planning changes. Another assumes most of the growth will come in south Bradley, near Hamilton County's Volkswagen plant. The third assumes most growth taking place in the northern and eastern areas of the county.

Other scenarios or combinations may emerge, Mr. Dale said.

Mr. Dale said the strategic plan differs from existing comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances that deal with more specific goals such as roads and parks.

"The two cities and the county are in this process voluntarily," Mr. Dale said. "No one is making them do this. There's no legal mandate for them to do this. ... If any of the jurisdictions perceive this plan is not in their best interest, they don't have to adopt it. They can walk away at any time."

That makes finding common ground even more vital, he said.