Comp Plan input: specifically speaking . . .

Preliminary community meetings for input to the Comp Plan update are underway and citizens are offering some excellent insights and recommendations about quality of life in Hanover County. How might some of the chafe points with Hanover citizens be alleviated or avoided as we move forward? How might some good emergent ideas be encouraged?

We reached out to Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth in the DC region and also a board member of CHF’s Richmond-region partner organization, Partnership for Smarter Growth. A 20-year veteran of comprehensive planning and growth discussions, Stewart offered the following ideas.

Comprehensive plan language, illustrations and maps:

1) Identify all publicly owned land and ensure it is strategically allocated for school and park space.

2) Include language that describes the amount of public park space the county seeks within walking distance of each community and incentives for private developers to set aside that public space within their developments.

3) Clearly define what “open space” means within a development. Is land allocated to stormwater ponds and median strips “open space?” As an alternative, why not more specific language that summons people-friendly images, such as “natural park”, “urban plaza” or “playground”?

4) Include maps that clearly show strong stream protection buffers, approximate locations of public parks, and a transportation plan map that shows a requirement for connected local streets, not just large arterials.

5) Cite VDOT access management requirements to reduce the conversion of arterial roads into strip development corridors.

6) Include a bike/ped plan including trail networks, sidewalk requirements or street bike facilities (“complete streets”).

7) Include language about revitalization and infill for older areas.

8) Include language that CIP must ensure repair and replacement of aging infrastructure — schools, water, sewer, streets, sidewalks — are the top priority.

Adding form-based language to the zoning ordinance as well as well-defined park, playground and natural area requirements for each zoning category:

1) Define lot setbacks to achieve the form desired for each zoning type.

2) Define park and playground space requirements.

3) Include a traditional neighborhood development zoning category.

4) Include street connectivity and complete streets (bike/ped) requirements in the zoning ordinance/zoning categories.

5) Include a mixed-use zoning category that allows for the conversion of an older strip area with good transportation access to mixed use with residential and connected streets.

Overlay zones:

1)  To protect rural and historic road corridors, suburban development should be set back and screened in order to preserve the rural character of the corridor.

2) Consider using overlay zones to better regulate the look of commercial development.

Contact the Planning Department with your thoughts and suggestions:



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