They came, they talked and they tried to understand. It’s all part of a process that was begun on March 8 to develop a position on the new countywide comprehensive plan. The plan is now in draft form and members of the Chester Community Association (CCA), that was intimately involved with the current Chester Plan, wanted to compare the current plan with the proposed plan. About 30 area residents met with planning staff at the Chester United Methodist Church. The following are comments made by those at the meeting, which will be turned into statements that will be considered as the plan continues to take shape.
Chester plan geography is not totally walkable.
“South of Rt. 10 is walkable and north of Rt. 10 is walkable, they’re just not connected,” said Henry Moore, a Chester resident and developer. Barbara Fassett, the comprehensive plan project manager conveyed a situation in Greenville N.C. in which a river split the town and a bridge blocked an attractive waterfall on the river. She said citizens were so adamant about fixing the problem they removed the bridge. “This is a situation in which, if it’s a priority, we will figure it out,” Fassett said.
Concerned that Linear Park will be lost as part of the transportation thoroughfare plan.
“Part of that was set by the Branner Station rezoning, the draft thoroughfare plan is still calling for that piece from Rt. 10 to Chester Road to be a four-lane road. When the consultants came on board there were certain things that were already set and those improvements that were promised in that Branner Station case were taken into account when [the consultants] did their work,” said Steven Haasch, senior planner with Chesterfield. Jim Bowling, principal planner, added, “There is no plan for the county or the state to build that road,”
Area resident Wayne Virag said the road, if built, would change Chester. “That really opens up everything for increased density doesn’t it?” said Virag. “Countywide this really opens up everything to be reinterpreted.”
“One of our big challenges is we have to really be careful that people don’t think that because the plan is adopted their zoning is changed, they would still have to come in for a zoning change,” said Barbara Fassett, project manager for the comprehensive plan. She stated emphatically that the plan does not change zoning.
Don’t want to see Rt. 10 turned into Rt. 360. due to hopscotch development.
Haasch says there could be incentive developed to do infill type development that would discourage leapfrog development. The question is how to keep our workers here and not going to Richmond to work?
Desire to prevent road stripping in transition areas leading into the village of Chester.
“What we do in the focus strategy level of the plan is implement specific recommendations that would retain the uniqueness of the Rt. 10 area through Chester,” said Haasch.
How do we make sure that this focus strategy is implemented?
“The concept of the focus strategy is to identify the center and there are 27 of them [in the county,]” Fassett said. “And then it’s not just the centers but the trade area around the centers. So it takes in the neigborhoods, too, and the corridor.”
Fassett said there could be a team, if the plan is adopted, developed that would involve five persons with specialties in long range planning, zoning, landscape architecture, economic development, traffic engineering. Citizens would be encouraged to participate when the team came into a particular one of the 27 community centers. She said the rotation of reviewing how the community was adapting to the plan and assessing what changes needed to be made, would be about every three years. Getting the focus strategies in place initially could take as long as five years.
This team would also begin the action of building the original focus strategy, which could involve accessing and correcting traffic situations, architectural issues and possibly develop ordinances that would address changes that the community wanted to make in their particular community center. This would allow each center to remain unique. That’s where the more detailed plan takes place, sort of, acting in a similar fashion as the current area plans only related to a more compact area.
Linear Park should be made permanent and extended to Old Centralia Road and Branders Bridge Road; securing the right-of-way.
“The land use calls for it to be a park, but the thoroughfare calls for a road in that area. It doesn’t mean the road has to be on top of the park,” Haasch said.
“When we were negotiating Branner Station, that was a very big part of it. That there would be a linear trail and we did take into account that it would not be a full speed highway. They would have had to dedicate that right-of-way to allow for the linear trail,” said Dorothy Jaeckle, Bermuda District Supervisor, who also attended the meeting with Planning Commissioner Sam Hassen.
“It’s really important to retain these greenways and trail on rail lines because there aren’t many left. They really are a hidden gem,” said Mark Endries, who is a CCA board member and also served on the comprehensive plan steering committee.
While items were added to the list to be recorded by planning staff, additional items will be included in the CCA statement, according to several board members who attended the meeting. The following are some of those statements:
- Continue to push for the arts center adjacent to the Chester Library not just to serve Chester but the whole county.
- Preserve historic houses.
- Concerned that the old plan calls for less multi-family development; the new draft plan calls that obsolete.
- Fix inadequate notice for public input for changing our county facilities such as schools.
- Indentify a network of trails and neighborhood connections.
- The plan should have areas within denser areas that are more rural.
- What will happen between now and when the new plan is implemented.
- Better notification for zoning changes.
- Develop a process to get more industry in the area.