By REBECCA HAZEN
Community stakeholders met to discuss the results of the Fostering Positive Growth survey, as part of the five-year update of the Dade County and City of Trenton Joint Comprehensive Plan, on Thursday, April 7.
Over 900 people have taken the survey so far, and there is still time to take it. The survey has 15 questions relating to Dade County. The survey can be found online at dadecounty-ga.gov, and there are paper copies available at the library and the Alliance for Dade Welcome Center.
Alex Smith, Community Planner with Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC), led the meeting.
“There have been an excellent number of responses for the size of your county,” Smith said.
It was noted that Dade County’s population is over 16,000 and is seemingly declining. Multiple attendees of the meeting informed Smith that this was not true. Many counties in northwest Georgia showed to have a declining population after the 2020 Census but are repealing the results.
“There are a lot of people that have moved into this county in the last 5-10 years,” County Executive Ted Rumley said.
Some takeaways from the survey results so far include:
Almost half of the survey takers are in the 35-54 age group, and 74 percent are employed.
Forty-eight percent rate the community as good, and 17 percent rate the community as excellent.
People want to see growth in these top five areas: small business development, increase in broadband availability, increase in technology-based jobs, more housing developments, and historic downtown revitalization.
The top five strengths in the community were voted as small-town atmosphere, safe community, interstate and highway availability, scenic views and nature wildlife assets, and proximity to Chattanooga.
Attendees also discussed tourism receiving a low percentage of votes in the “What are the strengths of your community” question.
“People are saying our tourism is low, but we’ve got a ton of tourism in the county if people are staying the night at over 200 Air BnB and VRBO rental properties,” Donna Street said.
“We’ve got the busiest state park, but the folks that don’t live here, they don’t see that. They don’t see the 400,000 people that visit Cloudland Canyon every year,” Evan Stone said.
Once the draft of the Joint Comprehensive Plan is complete, a required public hearing will be held.
When the Georgia Planning Act was passed in 1989, there was a requirement that every local government had to create a comprehensive plan every 10 years, with a five–year update.
There are required elements of a comprehensive plan. These are: Needs and Opportunities, Community Work Program, Report of Accomplishments, Land Use (for those having zoning equivalent in place), Transportation (if community is in a metropolitan planning organization, or MPO), and Broadband. Optional elements are Economic Development and Natural Resources.