A healthy crowd was on hand Thursday night at L.C. Bird High School to get a closer look at Chesterfield County’s new comprehensive plan, which is being rolled out to residents at a series of district meetings this month.
At Thursday’s Dale District meeting, Planning Director Kirk Turner said the steering committee had worked very hard over the past 21 months, and officials were anxious to present the plan to residents.
Vlad Gavrilovic, of Renaissance Planning Group, the lead consultant for the plan, said consultants and planners would give attendees a brief overview of the new plan, and then be available to answer questions and receive comments at stations related to various sections of the plan.
“We want to make this event about you and your comments,” he said. The new plan, which is “very different” from the current plan, was not developed by just one group of people, he said, but rather with a broad range of input.
“Everything in the plan, when you start looking at it, is interrelated,” Gavrilovic said. The vision, which the plan is based on, promotes quality economic development; community revitalization; the creation of treasured places; choice of community, i.e., rural, suburban or urban; mixed uses; and the protection and promotion of natural and cultural resources, he said.
County Planner Steve Haasch said economic development and expanding the county’s economic base is “the No. 1 overall goal of the plan.” Revitalization, or “taking care of what we have,” is “probably the next big thing in the plan,” he said.
After the presentation, residents explored stations dedicated to sections of the new plan. Larry Murphy, of Chester, was at the transportation station. He said he was “just trying to get a feel for the overall comprehensive plan.”
“We’re really interested in the transportation plan,” he said, and, since the county’s growing, he’s curious about the plan’s impact. “We realize it’s a guideline. It’s not a law or a binding process, but it still gives us an idea of what’s being thought of.”
Murphy said the inclusion of “the whole mixed-use land idea and the revitalization of existing areas” in the plan caught his attention. From a personal perspective, he said, he’s concerned some people could be displaced by revitalization efforts.
Greg Creswell, who serves as chairman of the Chesterfield Business Council, said he was interested in several parts of the new plan.
“Obviously, the Greater Richmond Chamber takes a pretty strong interest in transportation issues,” he said, including how Chesterfield’s communities connect and how the county connects to other localities. Economic development is another area of interest, he said. The fact that economic development is a priority says a lot for how the county’s leaders are working together, he said.
Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland said he was excited by the turnout. “I always like more, but I recognize I have a number of constituents who don’t drive at night,” he said. He emphasized that residents don’t have to attend meeting to participate in the discussion.
Planning Manager Barbara Fassett said planners were pleased with the event.
“To me, it looks like the information fair is going really well,” she said. “It’s really is aimed at giving everybody a big chance” to ask questions and offer input, she said.
The Bermuda District meeting is set for Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. at Curtis Elementary School, and one of two Matoaca District meetings is planned for Matoaca High School on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. For more information on the new comprehensive plan, visit www.chesterfield.gov/cp or call 748-1081.