Hanover County’s "Land/Capacity Demand Report"

This is the Land-Capacity Demand Report presented at the August 20th Joint Work Session of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, and the Economic Development Authority.

On August 30th, just prior to Labor Day weekend, over 50 citizens attended the third joint workshop of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and the Economic Development Authority. The meeting was facilitated by Clarion Associates and McKinney and Company, consultants to the county.

Planning Director Mike Crescenzo, in opening remarks, stated that “this is the first major revision to the Comprehensive Plan since 1982.” In fact, the Comp Plan update is being pushed through one year ahead of schedule. No citizen input has been permitted at any of the joint workshops to date; however, four public workshops have been scheduled in October. These scheduled workshops are taking place much later in the process and are fewer in number than in previous years.

Wouldn’t a major revision call for more public input, not less? Beaverdam District resident, Willie Mills commented, “There’s a lot of concern over the rush to complete the update. How can citizens respond in a thoughtful way when they have so little opportunity to participate?” CHF spokesperson, Martha Wingfield noted, “While it was valuable to observe this joint work session from the sidelines, I really look forward to hearing what the citizens of this county have to say about the Comp Plan.”

Supervisor Robert Setliff, Chickahominy District, stated the revision process began early “because we need more economic development.” That perceived need is being addressed by proposed expansion of existing Suburban Service Areas (SSA). Other than an obvious link to I-295 and I-95 interchanges, no rationale was provided for the choice of these specific locations.

CHF agrees with Supervisor Chair, Charles “Chuck” McGhee, who stated: “We need to protect the jewel God put in place, like our agricultural resources.” Art McKinney, of McKinney and Company commented, “We must be good stewards…the community needs to agree on where we want to go.” Why then, is the Citizen’s Survey majority opinion, clearly voicing support for preservation of Hanover’s rural character, being overshadowed by a persistent focus on economic development?

CHF is conducting an education and public advocacy campaign to address the need for greater citizen awareness and participation in determining future development in Hanover County. This is what the county should be doing as well.

CHF focuses on issues that MUST be addressed in the Comprehensive Plan update:

* sustainable population growth,
* preservation of agricultural and forest lands,
* long-range planning for green infrastructure,
* a greater variety of housing options,
* a variety of transportation methods,
* balanced economic growth,
* treating Hanover as an integral part of the greater Richmond region,
* protecting the prosperity of Ashland and other small population centers, and
* protecting historic assets.

“Citizen participation is vital for planning the future direction of the county’s growth. A common sense planning policy and land use plan can discourage problems induced by unchecked sprawl,” Wingfield further observed. We reiterate the question put to readers in The Hanover Advocate, “Where are the consultants who can advise the Board of Supervisors on how to retain the rural character of the county?”


4 Responses

  1. It is very frustrating to have meetings held in the middle of the work week and the middle of the day. It is hard for citizens to even come and listen to what their elected officals are saying. And now the PC has a meeting TOMORROW (Sept. 19)and I only recived notice of it on Saturday. This process is not very friendly to Hanoverians.

  2. Who or what is driving this push for economic development? I’ve been to several of the joint workshops and public comments sessions, and despite the purported citizen input gained from meetings between supervisors and consultants, the agenda moves ahead with no adjustment that takes into consideration the 71% majority opinion to retain the rural character of the county! Do we, or do we not, live in a democracy? It’s quickly becoming apparent that the citizens of Hanover really have no voice, that our county Supervisors prefer a “top down” government style.

  3. The County’s study and analysis of land needed for development, which forms the direction and basis for the new comprehensive plan, is fundamentally flawed in a variety of ways. The report jumps to certain conclusions, without ever establishing the reasons for making such radical assumptions. It does not provide information aboout the planning science, any experience in Hanover, experience anywhere else, or just simple evidence that would lead to the rather outlandish conclusions drawn. For example, it does not document the need to consume two acres for every acre desired for development. The proposed SSAs are can not be so jammed with wetlands and steep slopes as to necessitate taking double the needed land-area. Likewise the report does not explore “Better Site Design”, practices common among good planners, as a way to make more efficient and effective use of land. It leaps to spreading the SSAs, without any other suggestions, like increasing the density of the existing residential areas.

    The report calls the 1:1 jobs to population ratio a policy decision endorsed by the Board. This means the Board endorsed far reaching policies without first getting any public input on them.

    At the meeting when the Board was presented with proposed economic development policy, increasing jobs to match the population was presented as something “counties like Hanover should do”, one job for every resident. But what counties are similar to Hanover? Where are they? What makes them similar to Hanover? Why did the Board endorse approaching the comprehensive with a regional perspective, but completely look inward, and treat Hanover as an isolated island when it comes to the jobs? That is truly BAD planning.

    It is now several days into November. The Board expects to adopt the plan early in 2007, as early as January they hope. Yet they still have not provided a definition of the rural preservation regions, and have not issued any documentation about the transporation components of the plan. They have acknowledged that the planning process has completely overlooked vital issues like Hanover’s natural resources, water quality, and open space needs.

  4. suggest that if you are looking for wasteful spending in the county.. look at the cost of the new ems building on Mountain road at Farrington road

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