Richland County and the City of Columbia (the county seat and state capital) lie at the heart of the Midlands Region of South Carolina. In 2013, the City of Columbia and Richland County initiated updates to their comprehensive plans, with a focus on the land use elements. After contracting with the Clarion team, the City and County decided to join forces and develop a jointly branded comprehensive planning process that coordinated both plans and provided opportunities for synergies. While the two plans were on different schedules, the Clarion team was able to align the planning goals, and in particular the Future Land Use plans, for both clients, including coordinating planning in unincorporated “areas
of common interest” at the edges of the jurisdictions. Using a set of guiding principles endorsed by the Richland County Planning Commission at the outset of the project, this plan update took a very broad-based future land use framework and refined it to protect “true” rural areas, provide new opportunities for mixed-residential development in suburban areas, and protect the county’s key natural resources, including the Congaree National Park. The plan update also refined the priority investment areas for the county. The plan was unanimously adopted by the County Council in March 2015.