BOS moves to send countywide plan back to the planning commission

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors (BOS) last week voted 4-1 to send the countywide draft comprehensive plan back to the planning commission. That means that the county planning staff will be constructing a new plan for the commission’s review in July before its trip back to the board for consideration on Oct. 10 this year. It’s unclear at this time if district meetings will be held.  

A BOS work session scheduled two hours earlier than the normal 3 o’clock starting time, determined the fate of the plan, which cost the county $870,000, for consultant Renaissance Group, and took almost three years to complete.

But there was only a brief salutation before Chairman Dan Gecker started the conversation on the plan and turning to the rest of the board saying that everyone knew there wouldn’t be a vote on the plan during the work session. That vote would come during the regular 3 o’clock public meeting listed as a deferred item. That being said, Mr. Gecker made known his thoughts on exactly what should happen, with what has come to be known as the comp plan, saying he was in favor of sending it back to the planning commission. The Matoaca district supervisor agreed.

“I do not believe the plan has enough details and it was too vague,” said Steve Elswick, Matoaca district supervisor. “Concerning the Matoaca district, the countryside designation is simply wrong. Telling property owners that you can never develop your property by adding insult to injury, not having an approved method to fund a program to buy those development rights is equally wrong. I have faith that we will adopt a plan that can help move our county forward.”

Kirk Turner, director of planning presented the board with options during the session.

–   Remand the plan to the Planning Commission
–   Provide staff and the Planning Commission clear direction for building the new plan (i.e. countryside)
–   Stay involved in the development of the plan to keep us on target

By the time the draft comprehensive plan had reached the BOS, the planning commission had done substantial revisions and some citizens, at the most recent community meetings, expressed concern with the plan. At the BOS public meeting, local citizens, about .01 percent of Chesterfield citizens injected some new items to included in any revision of the plan.

Dale district supervisor Jim Holland made the motion to remand the draft countywide comprehensive plan back to the planning commission. He has included some items that he says are important to his district.

“ I was pleased that we (BOS) were able to send the draft plan back to the planning commission so our concerns can be addressed,” Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland wrote in an email. “I was not about to throw away all the work, money and time we invested in the new draft plan. As supervisor, I remain committed to better planning and zoning in the county.

“I listed a number of concerns with the current draft:

“Keep separate Economic Development and Revitalization departments. - There is critical need in some Dale areas with vacant commercial centers and neighborhoods.

“There must be equity (fairness) in the County with facilities, especially schools. I will work hard and appropriate money to improve our aging schools. 

“Consider transportation nodes to accommodate bus and other forms of transportation.”

BOS ITEMS CONTAINED IN PLAN MOTION:

  • A plan document with clarity, simplicity, and brevity;
  • Acknowledge the strong foundation of the county’s area plans and build off of that foundation;
  • Land use recommendations should recognize the county’s existing suburban land use pattern, emphasize the importance of Chesterfield’s villages, identify higher density nodes on Route 288, identify fewer mixed use centers, and limited mixed use along corridors;
  • A coordinated water demand and supply management strategy;
  • Include the East/West Freeway for long-range planning purposes;
  • A separate Revitalization chapter focusing on parity of public facilities and services, especially schools, with promoting of higher density not a goal of revitalization efforts, and the need to revitalize commercial corridors;
  • To the extent required by law, consideration of Urban Development Areas along Route 288 corridor nodes;
  • Accommodate transit nodes;
  • The importance of our rural areas with the understanding that rural areas should have some development as a matter of right, and if maintained as rural, bring forward an acquisition of development rights program;
  • Parity among public facilities, especially in schools, identifying specific schools to completely rehabilitate, as well as promoting neighborhood schools concepts (smaller), and using the public facilities plan as the model for the Capital Improvement Program;
  • Recognize and support the expansion of Virginia State University;
  • Acknowledge the importance of Chesterfield’s riverfronts through focused planning efforts.

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