Comp Plan twists and turns on its way to BOS

The draft plan for Chesterfield is weaving its way through the many areas of county property, infrastructure and economy issues as its being readied for Board of Supervisors’ review and approval. John McCracken, director Chesterfield department of transportation, presented the planning commission, during last week’s work session, a version of what his department considered a better rendition of the draft comprehensive plan for transportation.

His presentation questioned issues relating adding lanes to existing roads to the overall thoroughfare plan, which lays out where roads will be added and improved.
“I’m not being critical of the consultant,” McCracken said. “But I think, with what we’ve seen today, we really have to go back over some of this.”

McCracken pointed out one item in which the draft plan indicated that bike and pedestrian facilities should be provided on all roads. He said people think that it is a state requirement. “To say the state requires it is just untrue,” he said. He used the example of a bridge on Jefferson Davis Highway over the railroad tracks near DSCR that the state will be replacing. The state has not planned room for bicycles or sidewalks on the bridge. According to McCracken, adding those facilities would cost the county $2 million.
Commissioner Russell Gulley, who represents the Clover Hill district, began to tie the transportation plan to the land use plan.

“It looks like the densities planned [in the villages] would force you to widen the roads, which would destroy their character,” Gulley said.

Lorna Parkins, of Michael Baker, Inc. transportation consult, said that roads wouldn’t need to be widened in village areas if parallel roads were developed.

“At some point you’re going to have to decide what the community wants,” Parkins said. “If they want less growth or densities they will have to adjust to.

My assumption is that we would cap growth and density based on the transportation plan.”

The commission also questioned the possible expense of the consultant’s transportation plan versus the county transportation department. While they had differing opinions, especially on the costs, Parkins said that the commission’s concerns dealt with more details than a typical comprehensive plan encompasses.

Sam Hassen, Bermuda District planning commissioner, questioned his commission compatriots on how deep they were digging into the plan.

 “It still comes back to what level of detail should go into the plan,” Hassen said. “To me you’re getting down to a level that doesn’t belong in the plan. And also when you get down to talking about whether you can financially afford to do it. I don’t find that pertinent… This is a plan that looks to the future 150 years; there’s no way we can know whether we can afford it or not… To me, we’re really getting bogged down at a lower level than we should.”

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