Growth & Sustainability

The Wake County Board of Commissioners identified five goals in the Growth and Sustainability key focus area. Select a goal from the list below to learn more about the rationale, objectives, links to comprehensive plans or resources, community indicators and performance measures, and key strategic actions.

GS 1: Preserve and enhance the County residents' quality of life through coordinated land use and transportation planning.

Rationale

With well over one million residents, Wake County is one of the country's fastest-growing counties. Smart planning is required to preserve and enhance the quality of life for all residents and address development challenges such as affordability and conservation. A comprehensive and partner-based planning approach will create a guiding framework to help Wake County intentionally grow communities where people can thrive. Wake County will continue to work with municipal partners and community stakeholders to implement and monitor the plan through clear, logical, and fair land planning regulations and transportation coordination. Building a more inclusive, equitable, healthy, active, sustainable, and vibrant community will spur business development and inspire people to make a life here.

Objectives:

  • Develop inclusive and equitable communities
  • Promote active and healthy lifestyles through appropriate land use
  • Support the development of sustainable and vibrant communities

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Intentional development (new development occurring in the appropriate areas)
  • Non-automotive trips
  • Open space preservation (includes private protection and conservation area)

Key Strategic Actions:

  • GS 1.1: Identify and consider amendments to the Wake County Unified Development Ordinance to integrate with PLANWake (the updated comprehensive land-use plan).
  • GS 1.2: Create a vision and action plan for Wake County in partnership with municipalities.

GS 2: Encourage the use of public transit.

Rationale

Wake County seeks to support a safe, reliable, and seamless transportation network to get people where they want to go when they need to get there. Transportation represents the second-highest household cost for most families. An efficient public transit system will enable residents to get around, alleviate this financial burden, improve the environment, and stem traffic while enhancing the community's economic mobility and health. 

Objectives:

  • Foster relationships with transit partner agencies
  • Advocate for the appropriate allocation of transit funds from federal, state, and county sources
  • Encourage multi-modal connectivity to provide a reliable transportation network connecting residents to jobs, retail, businesses, and recreation
  • Increase bus ridership

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Bus ridership rates
  • Commuter mode of transportation
  • Percent of non-automotive trips

Key Strategic Actions:

  • GS 2.1: Create affordable housing along transit corridors by leveraging public land.
  • GS 2.2: Identify and recommend multi-modal transportation opportunities supporting the Wake County Transit Plan.

GS 3: Preserve and protect a clean and abundant water supply.

Rationale

Wake County uses a comprehensive and partner-based approach to water management that ensures all residents have access to high-quality, safe-to-drink water. Wake County's One Water approach emphasizes the connection of all water sources, including the protection of watershed and stream buffers, green infrastructure support, coordinated plans for future water needs, as well as stormwater and well water solutions. Our commitment to a clean, abundant, and long-term water supply ensures healthy communities not only now, but into the future.

Objectives:

  • Preserve the water supply
  • Protect clean, safe drinking water
  • Manage stormwater in partnership with municipalities – regardless of source or origin

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Watershed hydrologic/hydraulic analysis (water supply)
  • Percent of well users acquiring recommended testing
  • Percent of stormwater devices functioning as intended

Key Strategic Actions:

  • GS 3.1: Collaborate with the Water Partnership on One Water initiatives to identify a multi-year sustainable water supply.
    • Workplan includes the current groundwater study, clean and safe wells, a sustainable long-term water supply, a comprehensive stormwater management plan, green infrastructure, drought protection plan, land conservation in water supply watersheds, and the protection of drinking water reservoirs.

GS 4: Preserve open space and expand access to parks, preserves, recreation resources and greenways.

Rationale

As the County continues to grow, demand for our natural land and recreation facilities increases. Wake County seeks to protect our green landscapes through the open space program, park and nature preserve facilities, a network of greenways, and planting more trees. The open space program aims to preserve and permanently protect 30% of county land (165,000 acres) as open space for current residents and future generations. Wake County's Parks, Recreation, and Open Space division works to meet the growing population's recreational, health, and educational needs. A network of county, municipal, and public greenways connect us all, providing trails for transit and enhancing County residents' quality of life.

Objectives:

  • Continue commitment to developing parks, greenways, and recreational areas
  • Preserve open space land
  • Leverage resources to expand opportunities and access to natural areas
  • Collaborate with municipal and nonprofit partners to preserve and expand natural and recreational spaces
  • Incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion in park planning and programming

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Park visitation rates
  • Acres of open space preservation (includes private protection and conservation area)
  • Open space acres procured directly by Wake County
  • Number of collaborations with municipal and nonprofit partners

Key Strategic Actions:

  • GS 4.1: Partner when feasible with the State of North Carolina, municipalities, nonprofits, and the private sector to leverage resources and grants that enhance park experiences and expand open space, parks, and greenways.
    • Workplan will include potential partnerships at high-use recreation centers (e.g., Lake Crabtree, RDU Airport, and Umstead State Park) and public-private partnerships that energize and activate parks and greenways.
  • GS 4.2: Pursue facility plans for signature greenway projects and future County nature preserves.
    • Workplan will include potential nature preserves in the Little River, Swift Creek, and Buffalo Creek watersheds and the design and construction of the Triangle Bikeway and Swift Creek Greenway.
  • GS 4.3: Explore funding for future parks, greenways, recreation, and open space needs, including the timing of future bonds and dedicated revenue streams.
    • Workplan will include consideration of grants and the dedication of rollback tax revenues to expand and preserve open space by planting more trees.

       

GS 5: Promote sustainability and address issues associated with climate change.

Rationale

Climate change is expected to impact North Carolina's temperatures, precipitation, and sea levels with increasingly harmful consequences in the coming years. Fossil fuel pollution and climate change often disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. To mitigate these issues, Wake County will continue its commitment to energy conservation and natural resources protection. The county will proactively reduce and plan for our use of natural resources, including energy, recycling, and solid waste.

Objectives:

  • Continue commitment to reducing energy consumption
  • Continue commitment to renewable energy
  • Support initiatives that encourage community recycling and safe disposal of solid waste
  • Increase native plants throughout the County
  • Support locally grown foods

Comprehensive Plans and Key Resources:

Example Indicators and Performance Measures:

  • Energy consumption
  • Facilities, Design and Construction Department design guidelines adherence
  • Landfill greenhouse gas reduction (in tons)
  • Waste diversion (tons recycled versus disposed)
  • Remaining life (years) of South Wake Landfill

Key Strategic Actions:

  • GS 5.1: Support County efforts to become carbon neutral by 2050.
  • GS 5.2: Implement procedures to minimize odors associated with the South Wake Landfill.