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The Thomasville Planning and Zoning Commission met earlier this month to chart 2017 initiatives and elect officers. The Commission is responsible for working to engage the public in the planning process, a process that can involve comprehensive planning, zoning and the implementation of a comprehensive plan. According to Brian Herrmann, City Planner, this essentially means that the Commission is charged with balancing the public good with private rights and interests.

“The Thomasville Planning and Zoning Commission plays an advisory role that recommends policy and updates the City Council,” said Herrmann. “While it is not a policy-making body, they are vital to the process of coordinating harmonious development within our community.”

During the January meeting, Haile McCollum was elected as Chairperson. Dr. Annie Laurie McElroy was re-elected as Vice Chairperson and Rosmarye Boykins was re-elected as Secretary. Other members of the Commission include Debra Underwood, Jeremy Rich, Ken O’Neal and Mark Lowe.

Herrmann addressed the Commission during the meeting and explained that a more concentrated effort will exist in 2017 to solicit public input for various City projects and initiatives through the Commission.

“In order to guide public input, the Commission will establish committees, ad hoc committees and task forces as necessary, which will all include City staff members, Commission members and members of the community at-large,” said Herrmann. “Having such committees will be extremely helpful to us as we consider various projects, including public parking areas, civic buildings, public spaces and other properties that have an impact on public health, safety, convenience, prosperity and the general welfare of the community.”

McCollum shared with the Commission her thoughts on how she viewed this group’s responsibilities and the role it would play in the work happening in the community.

“The future of our community depends on people willing to serve and volunteer their time,” said McCollum. “At its core, community planning provides expert guidance to balance conflicting interests and enhance the overall livability of a city now and in the future.”

During the January meeting, the Commission agreed to hold a public hearing to gain public input on one upcoming City of Thomasville project, the West Jackson Street corridor improvement plan.

“This project has the potential to impact private citizens and business owners alike, so gaining feedback from many voices will be invaluable to the Commission as we consider recommendations to the City Council,” said McCollum.

During the public hearing, citizens will be asked their thoughts on how to proceed with the West Jackson Street project. Specifically, whether a section should be completed in its entirety or should the corridor be restriped to change traffic patterns, add on street parking, designated bicycle and turn lanes.

“We’d like to know how the community feels we should proceed with the initial funds budgeted for this project,” said Herrmann. “We can restripe the corridor to allow everyone to become accustomed to additional on street parking, bicycle and turn lanes, or we can complete one section in its entirety to give the community a better understanding of how the whole project can look and function when finished.”

McCollum feels it is opportunities such as this that allow for public engagement and participation in community planning that makes Thomasville special.

“My children are the 6th generation to live in Thomasville,” she said. “It is remarkable that six generations have chosen Thomasville as a place to live, work and play. It is a testament to over 180 years of good decisions made by the local government and residents of Thomasville.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission meets the first Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building in the Council Chambers. The public hearing concerning the West Jackson Street corridor project will be held as part of the regular February Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, February 6th at 5:30 p.m.