Fourteen interested residents attended a presentation last week at L.C. Bird High School where Chesterfield’s planning staff introduced the last draft countywide comprehensive plan to the Dale Magisterial District.
After three-and-a-half years and an undetermined cost, the Chesterfield County Planning Commission, with the help of county staff, concluded their work on the draft planning document. The draft plan will be presented at five additional community meetings in other districts. The plan will then be reviewed and voted on by the Board of Supervisors.
According to Steve Haasch, planning manager, who introduced the plan, once the Board of Supervisors approves the tentative plan, there is additional work to be completed. The work to fill out the plan will be done in two phases. The items that must be fleshed out range from planning how to monitor the implementation of the plan, to developing utilities, ordinances and revitalization strategies.
Developing policies and ordinances to encourage property owners, whose zoning is different than what the plan has indicated, is another part of Phase I. The plan will work through some means to bring all zoning in line with the new comprehensive plan. Haasch said, rezoning will not be forced on property owners, “no one will be forced to rezone their property.”
Phase I has a timeline of up to nine months. The timeline of Phase II is yet to be determined but will consist of developing implementation ordinances as well as updating special area plans such as the Bon Air Community Plan, the Chester Community Plan, plans identified by high traffic roadway areas and a special plan for the Virginia State University/Ettrick area and so on.
Additional areas that the plan identify as a work in progress are tourism, historical and cultural strategies, reducing water demands as well as developing a stormwater management program as required by the state of Virginia.
An interesting step in Phase II is developing tools for housing maintenance, rehabilitation and renovation. The county would indentify sources of funding to promote neighborhood enhancement using tools like a design manual for homeowners and focusing some county energy on the gateway areas of the county.
Education programs on housing maintenance, water conservation, water resource protection, as well as historical and cultural resource preservation are also included in the plan.
The plan will also promote LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) on public facilities where appropriate.
Dale Supervisor Jim Holland congratulated the “staff, the planning commission and you [the public] and the school board to bring us to this point in time. Staff and the planning commission have created a document that is easy to understand, I’ve read it, so I know,” he said. “It takes into account the extensive public involvement and concerns that have been heard over the last several years.”
According to Haasch there have been 262 comments on the plan received online and he said the comments were included in the plan.
Amber Cole was concerned that there were no community centers considered in the plan.
“There is no mention of community centers in the plan,” Cole said. “The elderly – and there are a lot of children who have moved into Chesterfield from the city – could use the structure of a community center. I don’t see anything for Dale District or the entire county for that.”
Holland said he understood, but said the county is looking toward the libraries to be used partially as community centers.