Harlem officials are preparing for the city to be the next stop in Columbia County's westward development.
The mayor and city council invited members of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission to the meeting to talk about updating the zoning ordinance and to discuss the direction of future planning.
"Part of what we want to do is be pro-active," Mayor Scott Dean said at the meeting.
City officials said several developers have contacted them about building subdivisions in the area. The city only has a few small subdivisions, but officials look forward to the growth.
The current zoning ordinance, adopted in 1998, does not address subdivision development. But officials have lots of ideas on how they would like to see Harlem grow - and save money in the process.
"We all feel like Harlem is going to grow," said Bobby Culpepper, the city's planning commission chairman. "The challenge is going to be it growing the way we want. The challenge is going to continuity, everything blending and fitting together."
Culpepper asked whether the city would like to keep their standards different from the county's.
"We know we are different, but we need to know why we are different," Culpepper said.
Tim Farr, another member of the commission, suggested visiting places such as Aiken - a city with a strict ordinance and a beautiful aesthetic in the historic district - to get some suggestions for preserving the 270 buildings that are more than 50 years old, identified by the Historic Preservation Commission in Harlem's downtown district.
"You have to plan in advance," Dean said. "All you can do is go by the written ordinance and enforce that if you don't. So you must plan in advance."
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