Camden County retained a team led by Clarion Associates, in association with Martin/Alexiou/ Bryson (now VHB) and Moffat and Nichol, in 2011 to prepare the county’s first comprehensive plan. Camden County is a rural community located near the North Carolina Outer Banks. The county is home to a truly unique physical environment that includes the Great Dismal Swamp and an affiliated state park, a historic canal, river access to the east and west, and significant wildlife habitat. Multigenerational farms and rural development have long been the land use trends in the county, but this is changing. New suburban-scale developments are on the rise and the county’s proximity to Hampton Roads and the North Carolina coast make it a prime location for a bedroom community.
For years, growth in the county was managed by a coastal area land use plan required by the state. What the coastal plan lacked was a real vision for the community that both harnessed economic development potential and preserved the unique character of the county.
Following a year-long process working with a Steering Committee and the general public, the Clarion team prepared a plan that the Camden County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted in October 2012. The new plan focuses on ecotourism opportunities and provides a framework for developing village-scale centers within the county’s three townships. This planning effort was conducted in tandem with an update to the county’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan. Goals and policies of the two plans were mutually reinforcing.
The plan pays special attention to preserving and protecting the unique rural and environmental character of the community that is essential for generating local economic development. A marketing document, Camden County: Gateway to the Wild, was developed as part of this process and was successful in generating tourism interest for the county.