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Long-term Stem plan recommends protecting nature

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STEM — The town of Stem adopted earlier this year a new 20-year development plan that prioritizes protecting natural spaces in the community.

In preparation for the growth of the next 20 years, the town wants to be proactive instead of reactive, according to Mayor Casey Dover.

“The Stem Town Plan 2040 envisions a community that has worked with local partners to protect its beautiful natural spaces while carefully managing residential growth, and expanded access to local commerce while maintaining a small town sense of community,” Dover said March 16 during a presentation of the plan to the Granville County Board of Commissioners.

The town adopted the plan Feb. 17.

Stem was incorporated in 1911 and is a circle with a half-mile radius centered on a four-way intersection.

From 2000-20 the town’s population has more than tripled from 268 to 897. Four new subdivisions, built between 2007 and 2010, brought 250 new homes.

Incomes of residents went from being the lowest to the highest in the county — now at an average of $74,000. More than two-thirds of residents have some postsecondary schooling.

A goal of the new long-term development plan is to protect natural spaces. A zoning ordinance should be amended to formalize the kinds of spaces that should be preserved and who should have access to them and desirable uses for open spaces, the plan says.

The town should promote responsible timber harvesting in a revised zoning ordinance and encourage property owners to adopt a Woodland Plan as suggested by the N.C. Forest Service, according to the plan’s recommendations.

One goal of the plan is to maximize the impact of existing and future preserved spaces by continuing to work with Tar River Land Conservancy. Ultimately, the town hopes to have an interconnected trail system to allow residents an alternative transportation option to move throughout town.

It is estimated that about 16 people visit Ledge Creek Forest Conservation Area trail on Brogden Road a day.

Future single home development would adhere to a defined conservation design style, the plan proposes. Working with the county, an extraterritorial jurisdiction could be established over the area surrounding the town’s boundaries, given Stem leaders control of development on the land just outside the town.

Residential development should be closer to downtown and open to mixed-use development, the plan advises. And as soon as possible, the plan suggests that town ordinances should be prepared for multifamily housing.

The plan recommends all of the lots the town owns between Main Street and Dollar General be combined in an effort to seek partners interested in commercial development. A development task force will be established in July made up of community members that should include expertise in community development and engineering and be able to offer assistance to potential developers.

To be able to provide more broadband in the town, the efforts of the Kerr-Tar Council Regional Broadband Study should be supported along with a partnership with the county, the plan recommends.

The plan recommends mailing a newsletter to all residents and digitizing town proceedings.