Comp plan update proposed

Published 10:04 pm Thursday, January 23, 2014

A preliminary revision of the city’s comprehensive plan recommends increasing the allowed density in certain growth areas and holding the line — for the most part — on what’s defined as a growth area.

The Planning Commission heard the suggestions of a consultant in its Tuesday meeting. The second round of community meetings on the comprehensive plan is underway for coming weeks, but a schedule has not yet been set.

Greg Dale of McBride Dale Clarion said the first round of community meetings validated what had been suspected — that the big-picture themes of the current comprehensive plan still hold meaning for local residents.

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“Those lines are important; they mean something,” he said. “Let’s hold the integrity of those lines.”

The current plan — officially the 2026 Comprehensive Plan — was done in 2006 and covered the next 20 years of development. The first iteration of the plan was crafted in 1973, and state code now requires it to be reviewed every five years.

The new plan projects a population increase of more than 25,000 between 2011 and 2031. It also scales back on residential unit growth estimates from the 2006 plan — from 1,000 units per year to 300-400 per year.

Dale said the increased density in some use districts would meet the demand for the next 20 years.

“You essentially solve the problem and then some without having to make major adjustments to the lines.”

Planning Director Scott Mills also said the adjustments would promote multi-family developments.

“These are areas we should start seeing forms of multi-family,” he said. “(The current plan) really doesn’t give any opportunity to promote any form of multi-family development.”

In addition, three small adjustments to the lines of the downtown growth area are proposed. Mills said the proposals are “not because we need to find new capacity,” but because they make sense.

Along Godwin Boulevard, the proposed adjustment would take the outer boundary from King’s Fork Road to the Reid’s Ferry Bridge. City utilities are installed up to that point, so it makes sense to extend the growth area, Mills said.

In addition, on the western boundary, the growth area would extend to Lake Cohoon to use a natural feature as the boundary. On the southwestern boundary, it would extend past Manning Road.

The comprehensive plan update also will include design guidance, Dale said.

“Design does matter,” he said, pointing to feedback received at community visioning meetings in November 2012.

The highest-ranked buildings among those rated by participants were pedestrian-oriented and accommodated automobiles without having parking dominate the landscape.

“That just gives you a little bit more guidance,” he said.

The new community meetings will be in the Suffolk News-Herald’s calendar when they are scheduled.