The future development of Hanover County is being decided right now! The Coalition for Hanover’s Future (CHF) strongly believes that public input should be an essential component of Hanover County’s Comprehensive Plan update. The revision process is already underway and the Board of Supervisors (BoS) plans to alter the Comp Plan by the end of the year.
What is a Comprehensive Plan? A Comprehensive Plan serves as a guideline for land use development. As a policy document, it integrates land use, economic, social, historical, environmental, transportation, and energy concerns of the county into one plan. Mandated by the VA General Assembly, county comp plans also identify issues, goals, and objectives which guide decision-making.
The BoS hired the following consultants to the tune of about $200,000: Clarion Associates LLC, Dewberry Associates, McKinney and Company, and Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.. Under contract, the consultants will revise and issue a timeline of activities that, when compared to previous Comp Plan updates, narrows the window of opportunity for ciitizens to participate in 2006 revisions of the Comp Plan. In fact, revisions are taking place one year earlier than originally scheduled.
Citizen Input? To date, the consultants have conducted private meetings with members of the BoS and Planning Commission (PC). At a joint meeting on March 1, 2006, the consultants presented the results of seven private meetings and facilitated a work session focusing on the possiblity of reaching consensus regarding some of the issues. Although the joint session was a public meeting, NO citizen input was allowed. A second joint meeting was held on April 4, 2006 and again, the purpose of this meeting was to develop consensus around goals for the 2006 Comprehensive Plan update. Top priority was given to: (1.) how much new development should occur in Hanover County and (2.) how can the County spur more economic development. Dominating the discussion? How should the County meet transportation and utility needs which will be the results of additional development? Like the first joint meeting, NO citizen input was allowed during this meeting.
The consultants have begun to draft Comp Plan revisions even though they are working without the benefit of grassroots opinion. The only pulse of opinion they have at their disposal are results from the Hanover Citizens’ Survey. The Survey revealed that, according to 71% of the respondents, the rate of population growth was viewed as “too fast.” Sixty-one percent of the citizens polled supported programs designed to maintain Hanover’s rural character, even if this would mean more taxes.
Not Enough Time!
Based upon a breif, one year timeline established by county officials for updating the Comprehensive Plan, public hearings for citizen input will not taker place until October, even though the BoS aims to approve the revised Comp Plan by the end of 2006. How can this comperssed timeline provide enough opportunities for quality, public participation CHF asks?
The Goals of the Coalition
As part of its educational outreach efforts, the CHF will provide position statements and relevant data regarding Hanover County’s Comprehensive Plan. Some of these position papers have been published in the Herald-Progress and the Mechanicsville Local.
CHF’s top issues include:
Sustainable population growth
Preservation of farm land and forests
Long-range planning for green infrastructure
Treating Hanover as an integral part of the Richmond region
Exploring a variety of housing options
Studying multi-modal transportation
Balancing economic growth ina way that also protects the integrity and prosperity of Ashland and other community commercial center
Protecting Hanover’s historical assets.
Contact Your Supervisor NOW!
We strongly urge you to write letters, send e-mails, and speak with your Supervisor; informing him that the process for updating the Comprehensive Plan does not include time or opportunities for citizen input in the form of workshops, focus groups, and meetings.
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