BOTETOURT – If there was a theme to Saturday’s two public forums about updating the county’s Comprehensive Plan, it might have been “There should be little or no commercial/industrial development north of Greenfield.”
Of course, there were many comments and suggestions other than ones about that “theme.” Representatives of both the Town of Troutville and Town of Fincastle attended the session at Lord Botetourt High School and those representatives wanted the county fathers to be sure the incorporated towns and their needs are considered as the Comprehensive Plan is updated.
That update was the reason for the two forums—one at LBHS and the other at James River High School. Counties and towns are required to update their Comprehensive Land Use Plans every five years. The plans are used to help guide zoning, development and other decisions that affect county infrastructure and how land is used.
Planning Commission members, Board of Supervisors members and staff from the Planning and Zoning and County Administration attended the forums to talk with residents and take notes about the current Comprehensive Plan and changes to that plan.
There also were representatives from the consulting firm that is helping develop the new plan and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee that was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to guide the development of the new plan.
The public also got to see county maps and charts that showed current land use, what’s proposed for the future in the current plan, current zoning, population densities, employment densities, etc.
Many of those at the forums offered suggestions and comments that were recorded by staff and the consultants, while others filled out survey forms that are being compiled to be used by the Steering Committee, which will present an outline of what citizens had to say and proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan at two more public sessions on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Chuck Supan said comments submitted by October 30 could be included in the summary that’s presented at the next Steering Committee meeting; but comments are welcome at any time during the Comprehensive Plan update.
Supan called the public turnout at the two public forums “fair.”
He said 60-70 persons attended the forum at LBHS but fewer than 10 came to the JRHS forum.
He said he heard many of the same suggestions that were voiced in 2004 during the last Comprehensive Plan update. “People seemed to prefer to keep (commercial) development to the south (of Greenfield) where there is water and sewer infrastructure,” he said, “and to do the best we can with infill in that area.”
He said he heard concerns about existing development around Rt. 779 in Daleville, noting this is development that was planned for. He also noted that some of the comments were in great detail.
“Some people don’t want any growth, but that’s just not realistic,” Supan said. “Growth is going to happen. We need to plan for it.”
That, he said, is why the Comprehensive Plan update is important, because it asks the public, “Where do you want growth?”
The survey/questionnaire given to residents who were at one of the forums and the online version ask the same questions:
• What are the Three Best Things about living in Botetourt County?
• What are the Three Biggest Opportunities in Botetourt County? (Briefly describe what characteristics Botetourt should build its future upon, such as tourism, place to live, rural character, small towns, etc.)
• What are the Three Biggest Challenges facing Botetourt County?
• Describe what you would like Botetourt County to be like 20 years from now (briefly describe things such as housing, neighborhoods, transportation, education, environment, recreation, jobs, shopping, etc.)
• Since 1990, Botetourt County has grown by roughly 7,100 people. Growth projections for the next 20 years indicate 6,000 more people will reside in the county. If this growth happens, where should it go? Are there areas where you don’t want to see growth?
• With the projected population growth there is correlating growth in residential and commercial/retail/office land uses. Where should it go?
• Where should it not go?
(Briefly describe where you think residential, commercial, retail and office land uses should be located, or not located. Consider new developments like Daleville Town Center.)
• Thinking into the future, what should be Botetourt County’s priorities for improving or expanding public services and facilities (such as schools, parks, roads, libraries, public safety, law enforcement, sewer and waters, etc.)?
• Are there any other comments you have when considering the future of Botetourt County?
For more information about the Comprehensive Plan update or how to send written comments or letters, call the Planning and Zoning Office at 473-8320.