About four years ago Chesterfield started down the road to a new countywide comprehensive plan. The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors last week, with only nine issues tweak, approved the plan called “The Plan for Chesterfield, Moving Forward...The Comprehensive Plan For Chesterfield County.
The first attempt at the countywide plan, at a price tag of over $800,000, wasn’t up to par for the planning commission or the Board. The new countywide plan, required by Virginia law, addresses a lot of the issues that a group of 26 separate community plans did not, although many of the old community plan ideas moved forward into the new plan.
Board Chairman, Daniel A. Gecker, from the Midlothian District, gave those in attendance at the meeting and those viewing the meeting on television a primer on what a comprehensive plan is and how it benefits the county.
“It is the blueprint for our community as we move forward.
If you remember, five years ago there were significant concerns about the growth rate in the county,” Chairman Gecker said. He indicated the residential growth issues still had to be addressed even though the economy has slowed building in Chesterfield.
“The second thing not addressed in the old plan is the revitalization piece,” Gecker said. “For those of you who live in existing neighborhoods, how do we keep those neighborhoods strong?”
There are portions of the plan, which deal with schools and school facilities and how to deal with capacity issues. He said when our schools are overcrowded, what do we do with it? Pieces of the plan also deal with public facilities and land use.
At a series of community meetings, held by planning staff, the draft plan was discussed. Board members also held a number of meetings on the same document. A public hearing was held on October 10, and the planning department winnowed down public issues to nine areas, which needed to be addressed, and the board worked through each of the nine issues to figure out the resolution.
Gecker said most of the nine items are relatively small in comparison to the entire document and don’t deal with deep policy issues. “But they are important, none the less, because this plan provides a guide for this community as we move forward,” He said.
The Board overwhelmingly agreed with Matoaca District Supervisor Steve Elswick that working on cash proffers is a higher priority. The issue was moved from Phase II to Phase I to enable the board to work on the issue sooner. Gecker and Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland agreed that they would also like to begin working on the cash proffer policy and would like to move the proffer discussion to an earlier date.
Bermuda District Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle, weighed in on several parts of the nine issues brought to being discussed. Changes to the piece on the Chester police precinct, and adding Richard Bland into the mix of higher education schools addressed in the plan after a lengthy address by the new president of the school was added to higher education portion of the plan. “I just realized that we had left out Richard Bland [College] after Dr. Debbie Sydow spoked about it,” Ms. Jaeckle said.
Jaeckle also had concerns about how the Chester Police Precinct would fit in the facilities plan and how the county’s fleet management department would be handled going forward. She wanted some sort of justification for the proposed 80,000 square foot facility being proposed by fleet management due to current facilities being built in the 1950s with bay sizes too small according to Mercury Studies. Jaeckle said that outsourcing may be a better alternative.
“I’m not saying we should outsource all of our fleet, however, as you talk about changing the size of bays, a lot of our private businesses are constantly working to adapt to the vehicles that are out there now,” Jaeckle said. “So you’re also looking at the capital outlay and I would like to look at more in-depth research looking into the possibility of not expanding our capital facilities but looking at how much business we could contract out. In my area there are many trucking industries so they have to have facilities that repair them, that wash them, and I also find that auto repair and maintenance seems to be the type of businesses that are attracted to areas we want to revitalize. So I think if we are moving to the area of revitalization. I would think we would want to support the business that would want to setup in those areas.”
Her proposal was adopted by the Board and the Director of Fleet Managment was asked to explore the differences between outsourcing and construction of a new building.