The state of Georgia requires a Comprehensive Plan and collects and approves them through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The current plans for all of Georgia are available at the DCA Planning Site.
The current STWP documents that are being reviewed locally are the projects that the local governments and agencies expect to actively work on in the next five years. The ROA documents report on what was done in the past five years: what was completed, or will no longer be pursued. Many municipalities and counties file separate reports. Locally, because there is significant cooperation among the cities and Lowndes County there is one document with all the projects included and a place that indicates which agency is participating in the project. However, their input documents are filed separately, and LAKE has collected them on the LAKE web pages. Also, each local municipality holds its own public hearings.
Reading the STWP and ROA can be a bit tricky but once I understood the format, the process became much easier. The overall topics are prescribed by the state and are in general categories like “Population”, “Economic Development”, “Housing” and “Land Use”. There are sub-categories in each of the ten major categories, like “Secure High-Wage Jobs” and “Address Workforce Adequacy” in the “Economic Development” major category. Then, under each of these items are one or more specific projects that will be done in the next five years to help achieve each goal.
One reason the draft STWP is complex is that it redlines projects that were performed in the previous five years and are now being removed or modified for a variety of reasons. Many projects were completed, some moved from one stage (investigate) to another (implement or market), and still others simply lacked the staff or funding resources to continue being pursued.
The ROA document is in a similar format but the focus of it is to report the status of the STWP for the previous five years. An Explanation Column gives details on the status of each previous project. For example, it says that the “Feed the Elderly Senior Citizen Nutrition Program” has been discontinued because “Budgetary constraints have limited Lowndes County’s role in this supporting action.”.
The STWP and ROA documents are meant to be read as a pair, giving the reader an understanding of where we have been, where we are going and how we are going to get there as a community.