Officials get group look at draft comp plan

Members of the Board of Supervisors, School Board and Planning Commission shared their thoughts on the draft of the county’s new comprehensive plan at a joint meeting last week.

“This draft plan truly represents, I think, a perspective of our entire county and includes a variety of different attitudes and approaches that I think will lead us in a very good direction,” Planning Director Kirk Turner said at the start of last week’s meeting.

Consultant Milt Herd said the steering committee’s level of support of the draft was “very solid,” with about 21 of the 33 panel members generally supporting the plan. Six couldn’t offer full support, and six didn’t offer much feedback, he said.

After a presentation on the draft plan, the floor was opened to questions from the three panels.

School Board Chairman David Wyman said the plan would serve as a guide for the enhancement of the quality of life in the county, and “the quality of our schools sits squarely in the midst of that.”

“I think this is a really exciting time and a really critical time for our county,” he said. “Chesterfield County and the school system must continue to be aggressive and progressive in terms of planning for our future.”

Bermuda School Board Member Marshall Trammell said this was the first time in his 20 years on the board that he felt like there was “a plan to move us forward without being reactive.” The emphasis on revitalization in the plan reflects the school system’s effort to keep its older facilities up to par, he said.

Matoaca School Board Member Omarh Rajah asked when data from the 2010 census would be incorporated into the plan. Vlad Gavrilovic, of Renaissance Planning Group, the lead consultant for the plan, said the new data would be incorporated into the models created with the draft plan, and those models were designed to be updated.

Planning Commission Chairman William Brown said the parts of the plan he found the most interesting and, perhaps, challenging were revitalization and the emphasis on economic development. Bermuda Commissioner Sam Hassen said the panel would be taking “a very, very strong look” at the draft plan.

“I think we recognize the opportunity we have and the seriousness of what we have before us,” Hassen said. “We do have hundreds of questions, I assure you.”

One of the most important parts of the plan will be the structure of the ordinances that go with it, Matoaca Commissioner Wayne Bass said. Without strong ordinances to back it up, the plan won’t succeed, he said.

Bermuda Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle said she hoped the commission would still rely on the steering committee for some information as it moves forward.

Dale Supervisor Jim Holland asked whether the level of support the draft received from the committee was typical. The goal is always consensus, Herd said, but it’s not uncommon to fall a little short of that.

“I think what we did get was a strong super majority,” Herd said.

Everyone says the plan is a guide, Midlothian Supervisor Dan Gecker said, but there’s no point spending this much money on such a plan unless one plans to adopt it. He said he’d heard one or two steering committee members express concerns that the panel’s work would be taken apart, but that won’t be the case.

“What happens now will be a polishing of that plan, not a taking apart of that plan,” he said.

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