CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - Carolina Forest is booming. New developments are popping up constantly along with added road construction. However, the Carolina Forest Civic Association is concerned that those who live and work in the community are not taking interest in what's going on.
Because growth is happening so fast in Carolina Forest, constant public input is necessary to make sure that development is happening the way it should. That takes local involvement, which is something the civic association can't seem to get enough of. So a restructuring of the civic association, in order to increase participation and membership, has been proposed. The vote will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center.
Currently, nearly 200 people are actually paying dues to this group, but only 25 or 30 are participating in meetings. And only about ten members are actually involved in the planning and work on behalf of the area. So the civic association has proposed a restructuring to create a large advisory board of 50 people from different businesses and HOA's in the community. Then people from that group would be on the executive board and different committees that do the day-to-day work. But in order to restructure and figure out what the new levels of dues and fees would be, they first have to suspend their current bylaws.
"What we need to do first is just establish the reorganization committee and suspend our current bylaws so that we can implement this new plan," says Dennis DiSabato, the president of the Carolina Forest Civic Association. "Then it will be up to that reorganization committee to determine what a fair fee structure is on each different level."
This matters to residents and business owners in this area, because the group works to improve your quality of life with projects like adding turn lanes on Carolina Forest Boulevard. There aren't any plans to change the yearly family dues of $20. But the $25 business fees could increase. And there is talk of adding dues for HOA's that choose to participate. There has been discussion of having the HOA's pay $1 per door each year. But some argue that is not fair, because larger HOA's would pay more for their big neighborhoods but have the same input and sway as a smaller neighborhood. So if the vote passes tonight, the group will spend the next three months figuring out the details of the restructuring and fee changes. Then their hope is to implement the plan in January 2015.
DiSabato says the association's top priorities are infrastructure, education and public safety. In the past they've helped gain funding for the new library and recreation center, redistrict schools, widen roads and add turn lanes. They have also helped create fire safety programs after the devastating Windsor Green fire. And it's these types of efforts that they're working towards for future projects as well. The group helped push for turn lanes along Carolina Forest Boulevard. But eventually the president says they're going to need to widen that to four lanes and add bike paths. They also want to see greater inter-connectivity between existing roads. Schools are growing quicker than they can build them, so they need to find ways to fund construction.
They want to keep efforts like these going. To do so, they need more community involvement and support. However, most shoppers, residents and business owners in the area tell WMBF News that they had no idea there was a civic association or what it did. And many said that they would love to see all those improvements, but they're not dishing any more money until they know specifics.
"If a city wants to grow, the biggest way to grow is having a middle class that is getting bigger and bigger, because the business is there and people can find them," David Carpenter, owner of Fat Cat Café. Something residents and business owners alike say they would like to see is an emphasis on smaller businesses and making Carolina Forest a unique area. Many also told WMBF News that they wanted to see more efforts on building "back roads" through the area so locals can have an easier commute.