Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Looking forward

Every five years or so, the Commonwealth of Virginia requires localities to review their comprehensive land use plans. Defined as a “guide” to assist governing boards in land use decisions, comp plans are supposed to express the collective land use vision of the citizens. In reality, they tend to reflect development pressures and intentions of landowners.

Goochland’s Planning Commissioners have been working with community development staff for the past few months to simplify the current 2028 comp plan, which was last updated in 2009.

The full text of the approved 2028 comp plan is available on the community development section of the county website It goes into mind-numbing detail about a host of development scenarios that may never come to pass.

This year’s iteration—the goal is to have the update approved by the end of the summer—looks most closely at the Centerville Village, the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, and Courthouse Village for development potential.

The 2035 comp plan employs a village concept approach that guides development to the places best equipped to absorb it, including Centerville, the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, and Courthouse Village.

A new addition to the plan is “Deep Run Hunt Country,” the heart of the county’s equestrian community. It is hoped that identifying this portion of east central Goochland as an established rural enclave will prevent the incursion of inappropriate uses. These folks successfully repelled the transformation of a horse farm into a large worship center. Residents who live here want the county to protect them from high weirdness and leave them alone.

As Henrico is nearly built out on its western boundary, Centerville is poised for development during the next five years—we hope. Proposed maps of Centerville for the 2035 comp plan contain some new roads, including a north-south thoroughfare roughly halfway between Rt. 288 and Hockett Road. A road connecting Old Three Chopt Road to Rt. 250 just west of Rt. 288 is also shown. This would provide access to the large parcel roughly behind Bellview Gardens without impinging on those homes.

Places that had been considered minor villages, Georges Tavern, Sandy Hook, Crozier, and Hadensville will now be designated as crossroads. Oilville and Manakin are still considered villages, but little action is expected in either place any time soon.

Discussion at the January 8 Planning Commission workshop focused on roads, whose purpose is to move people and stuff around the county in a safe, efficient manner.

The county does not build or maintain its roads, but rather works with VDoT—the state agency whose motto is “Oops!—to prioritize transportation projects. To achieve their strategic goal of “balanced development” the supervisors must ensure that growth does not exceed the county’s ability to support it.

Roads can also define a sense of place. While many of our roads seem too narrow for their traffic burden, judicious improvement is preferable to transforming all county roads into four lane divided highways, not that there will ever be money to make that happen.
Tweaks, like the traffic signal at Hockett and Broad Street Roads provide cost effective solutions to bottlenecks. A bridge over Tuckahoe Creek connecting Ridgefield Parkway in Henrico with Tuckahoe Creek Parkway (please, no more names that include Tuckahoe)would reduce congestion on Broad Street at Rt. 288, but may never be built for political rather than practical reasons.

Results of the arterial management study for the Broad Street/Ashland Roads corridor are expected by spring.

The next round of town meetings will include updates on the budget for fiscal year 2016 and a first look at the proposed 2035 comp plan. Both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings before the 2035 comp plan is approved.
Please make an effort to understand and comment on changes to the comp plan, which outlines intentions for the future of Goochland.

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