Elements of area plans will be in new countywide comprehensive plan

Members of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission sought assurances from planners last week that work on the county’s various area plans would not be lost when the new comprehensive plan is adopted.

The Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and School Board received an update on the county’s new comprehensive plan during a joint meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Planning consultant Vlad Gavrilovic said a draft plan would be presented to the project steering committee on Oct. 28, and to the supervisors, commissioners and School Board members at a joint meeting on Dec. 15.

Commissioner Russell J. Gulley said Gavrilovic had mentioned the existing area plans, which will be included in the new plan’s reference handbooks but not in the plan itself. Those area plans took a great deal of citizen input and tax dollars to create, Gulley said.

He asked how residents would know what elements of the area plans went into the new countywide comprehensive plan. Some of the plans are very specific as to standards and development opportunities, he said.

“The goal is not to lose anything that’s important to communities,” Gavrilovic said.

Planning Manager Barbara Fassett said the staff had been working on documents for certain area plans that would list their goals, recommendations and policies and the status of each of those. After the incomplete elements of the area plans are identified, staff will make sure they’re either covered in the countywide plan or incorporated into the work program that will accompany the plan, she said.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into those,” Clover Hill Supervisor Art Warren said. The danger is that the county could lose the good will developed along with the area plans if residents feel the new plan does not reflect the work in the old plans or don’t understand how the old plans have been incorporated into the new one, he said.

“I don’t want to end up in that situation where we adopt something when people aren’t clear about what is in it,” Warren said.

Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle asked what would happen to goals in the area plans that didn’t necessarily apply countywide. Those goals would be handled in the focused strategies that will accompany the plan, Fassett said. The focused strategies have a shorter shelf life and need flexibility, which is why they won’t be adopted with the comprehensive plan itself, she said.

Matoaca District Supervisor Marleen Durfee said there’s a tendency to rely on the area plans because people did put a lot of work into them, but it’s unrealistic to want to put everything from the old plans into the new one. Later in the discussion, Gavrilovic said the new plan was not changing the basic thrust of the desires or values in the old plans, but rather applying them countywide.

When the process started, Warren said, he asked the consultants about the county’s strengths and weaknesses, he said. He asked Gavrilovic what his answer would be now.

“There’s a great deal of civic pride in local communities,” Gavrilovic said, but not necessarily countywide. The county’s also just come through a period of great growth, he said, and it needs now to manage the consequences of that growth.

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