Comprehensive plan sent back to staff

Published 5:54 pm Saturday, March 7, 2015

After hearing concerns from residents about increased density proposals and expressing some concerns of their own, City Council members voted on Wednesday to send the proposed 2035 Comprehensive Plan back to city staff.

The plan mostly holds the line on the growth districts, except for a few minor changes. But density standards in the mixed-use core, core support and inner-ring suburban districts were proposed to increase dramatically.

“It just makes me a little bit nervous,” said Melissa Venable, who spoke during Wednesday’s public hearing. “As a resident here, I pause. It seems high to me.”

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Representing the Tidewater Builders Association, Tuck Bowie also expressed concerns about the density, as did resident Chris Dove.

City consultant McBride Dale Clarion recommended the increased densities.

Density in the core of the urban area would increase from 8-30 units per acre to 24-40. In the core support area, that number would increase from 7-10 to 17-24.

In the inner-ring suburban area, it would rise from 3-5 to 6-16. And in the suburban area, it would only edge up slightly, from 1-4 to 1-5.

“I think the inner-ring suburban is the piece that seems to be the most troubling,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said.

Councilman Mike Duman made the motion to refer the plan back to staff for further review, especially the inner-ring suburban densities. It passed 8-0.

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.

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

Three small adjustments to the lines of the downtown growth area are proposed. 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 already. 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.

Last updated in 2006, the plan is required by state law to be updated every five years. The city started the process of updating it in 2011.