Comp plan advances

Published 9:29 pm Saturday, November 8, 2014

A joint work session held last week between the City Council and Planning Commission was one of the final steps in the comprehensive plan update that the city and a consultant have been working on for nearly three years.

The updated plan now starts its public review process, with public hearings tentatively set for Dec. 16 at the Planning Commission and Jan. 21 at City Council.

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.

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The new plan projects a population increase of more than 25,000 between 2011 and 2031, consultant Greg Dale of McBride Dale Clarion told the joint work session on Wednesday.

The plan also scales back on residential unit growth estimates from the 2006 plan — from 1,000 units per year to 300-400 per year.

That rate still results in a whopping 10,000 new housing units by the year 2031.

Fortunately, Dale said, the growth can be accommodated within the current growth boundaries of the city by adjusting allowed density — the number of housing units per acre — to match the market.

“Hold the line” was a concept the consultants heard “loud and clear,” Dale said.

“We’re not changing any zones,” Councilman Mike Duman said. “We’re going to increase the density that’s allowed.”

Three small adjustments to the lines of the downtown growth area are proposed, not because they are needed to find new capacity but because they make sense, Dale said.

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 to that point, so it makes sense to use a more natural boundary, Dale said.

The other two adjustments are an area north of Lake Cohoon Road, west of Lake Kilby Road and south of Pitchkettle Road; and an area west of Turlington Road, east of Manning Road and west of Carolina Road.

Dale and Director of Planning Scott Mills said the plan has been coordinated with the school system and that the superintendent was on the committee.

“There was close coordination from that standpoint,” Mills told the council and commission.

The plan also addresses items like design standards, transportation and public services.

Members of the public can see the plan at by clicking on the “Suffolk Comprehensive Plan Update” tab.