Bridging the Gap: Revitalization

It has taken a number of years for the Chesterfield County Planning Department to complete the comprehensive plan for the county. Called “Moving Forward,” the plan focuses on where commercial, industrial and residential development should occur.

The plan was approved incomplete with the intention of “bridging the gap” at a later date. The third out of eight parts of filling in the gap is revitalization, and the planning commission was briefed on the progress of the plan.

Dr. David Pritchard updated the commission, last week, on the status of the “Bridge the Gap” projects.

“We have now completed three out of the eight projects of Phase One,” Pritchard said.

Areas such as the Jefferson Davis corridor from Chippenham Parkway to Route 288; Meadowdale/Meadowbrook area; Hull Street Road from Chippenham Parkway to Route 288; Ettrick Village and eastern Midlothian Turnpike where the Kroger shopping area is currently underway.

According to the county planning group who developed the revitalization section, the  plan focuses “on aging and maturing residential communities; business corridors; gateways; and public facilities that will strengthen Chesterfield County as a ‘First Choice’ community in which to live, work, shop and play.”

The revitalization plan spells out how the planning department visualizes the community. Strong, vibrant neighborhoods have a diverse mix of quality housing and well-maintained properties supported by excellent public facilities, all of which are critical components of a healthy community.

While the median age of the county’s detached single family housing is 23 years, many neighborhoods have older housing, some of which require substantial rehabilitation and proactive maintenance. In addition, as these neighborhoods have aged, so too have the public facilities built to serve them.

According to the planning document, “Neighborhood Enhancement Areas are primarily residential neighborhoods experiencing a transition such as:

  • An aging housing stock and public infrastructure
  • Lack of property maintenance
  • Encroachment of incompatible land uses
  • Declining owner-occupancy
  • Declining or stagnant property values and rental rates as compared to other parts of the county.

Currently, the Department of Building Inspection’s criteria for proactively addressing property maintenance and zoning code issues require that neighborhoods:

  • Be at least four years old
  • Contain more than 20 housing units
  • Have 80 percent or fewer of the housing units as owner-occupied
  • Have 20 percent or more properties with zoning and property maintenance violations.”

The revitalization plan will also include a proactive property maintenance program, focused on the northern Jefferson Davis Highway Corridor and Ettrick areas. County building inspectors will survey neighborhoods and commercial thoroughfares to indentify properties, which have code violations such as tall grass, RVs and trucks parked beyond the front corner of the house and other list items such as homes needing to be painted,and refuse on the property and unlicensed vehicles on the lot.

“In addition the plan maps, new programs such as the enterprise zone, proactive code enforcement and streetscape improvements are a focus.

Special Focus Areas are primarily business corridors and centers experiencing a transition such as:

  • Aging buildings and public infrastructure
  • Lack of property maintenance and encroachment of incompatible land uses
  • Increasing vacancy rates
  • Declining or stagnant property values and rental rates as compared to other parts of the county.

Special Focus Areas could include neighborhoods immediately surrounding and impacting the commercial areas.

The new plan also refers to the Public Facilities plan, which deals with the health of schools, fire and police facilities, the library system and the park system.

  • School parity by rehabilitating or replacing older facilities in aging and maturing neighborhoods with an emphasis on smaller, community-based schools.
  • Community-based public safety facilities.
  • Use of the public library system beyond its traditional function by establishing its role as a community-gathering place and an educational, cultural, informational and small business resource center.
  • An equitable active and passive parks system.”

Tourism plays into all aspects of the comprehensive plan in general. According to plan documents, tourism promotes unique recreational, natural, cultural and historical resources in neighborhood enhancement and special focus and gateway areas for tourism.

The planning department has offered a comment page on the counties website giving citizens a week to comment on each section of the “Bridge the Gap” document. However, there will be no community meetings for citizens to see the plans or offer input.

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