Guilford County government is in the midst of a major new Comprehensive 2040 Plan and that was the first topic of discussion at a Thursday, Dec. 21 work session of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

Often, grand plans about the future come out with a bang and, a year or two later, the thick document is found gathering dust on a shelf. However, county officials are optimistic that the new long-term strategic plan will be valuable for years and years to come. In particular, one key goal of that plan is to provide solid guidance for land use in unincorporated Guilford County.

The presentation at the work session included an overview of the project, as well as a host of statistics regarding current land use in Guilford County.

About 17 percent of county residents live in unincorporated Guilford County – and those are the people who’ll be most affected by the plan. In late 2023, county staff and consultants have held workshops in different parts of Guilford County – as well as a virtual session online – to gather info.

The county planners and consultants collecting the information for the plan spoke at the December 21 work session on what they had been hearing from county residents about what those residents of unincorporated Guilford County want to see as the county grows.

Some of the items that rose to the top were the protection of water quality in the county and also protection of Guilford County’s rich cultural heritage.

Others wanted to see more and varied options of public transportation for those who live outside of Greensboro and High Point.

There were also, of course, a lot of residents who wanted to make sure that the county protects agricultural land, nature, wildlife and open space as  future development takes place.  Those priorities were stressed especially from people who live in northeastern and southeastern Guilford County.

Residents also provided input on what they like about living in Guilford County. Two popular answers were “quality of life” ‘and “affordability” – but there were concerns expressed regarding home price increases and housing affordability in general.

Many residents expressed a need for more housing.

Commissioner Carlvena Foster, who represents constituents in High Point, asked why there wasn’t more representation from High Point on the plans’ steering committee and why no information collection sessions were held in High Point.

Staff responded that the City of High Point is doing its own strategic plan and the county and High Point are working together but are also trying to avoid overlap.