By Jean Feroldi

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, July 30, 2010

The

Charlottesville Planning Commission

began Tuesday the process of updating the city’s comprehensive plan to reflect new challenges and policies.


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Adopted in 2001, the Comprehensive Plan is a guide for the potential physical growth of Charlottesville for the next twenty-five years that recognizes resources and suggests areas for improvement. The plan was last updated in 2007.

Planning Manager Missy Creasy felt the current plan is a sufficient foundation that only needs to be updated to reflect changes in data and a few policy items.

“We felt like there was some more focused sections this review could take on, as opposed to starting from scratch with the entire document,” said Creasy.

During the July 27 meeting, commissioners agreed on areas of the plan that will need to be adjusted.  These included sections on affordable housing, transportation policy, and how the city would be affected by  the prospect of more students at  the

University of Virginia

.

UVa is considering increased enrollments as a way to become more financially stable and to accommodate Governor

Bob McDonnell

’s recent call for the creation of an additional 100,000 spaces at Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

In his farewell address, outgoing President

John Casteen III

wrote that he does not believe a dramatic expansion would affect the character of UVa.

“The question is not whether we will increase enrollments, but instead how,” wrote Casteen.

One proposal modeled in a recent white paper calls for as many as additional 5,000 students in the next ten years.

“If UVa adds 5,000 students… what impact does that have, how many housing units do we need, how much support are we going to need?” asked

Jim Tolbert

, the city’s director of neighborhood and development services. “That’s major and I don’t know that we are prepared plan wise to deal with that.”

Commissioner

Dan Rosensweig

said the

Housing Advisory Committee

’s new proposal for increased affordable housing concentrating on higher density, mixed-use developments needed to be included in the housing chapter of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan. Additionally,

City Council

voted in February to increase the amount of affordable housing stock from 10% to 15% over the next 15 years.

“I think housing needs a fairly major overhaul, frankly, now that HAC came up with recommendations, specifically the 15% affordable housing,” said Rosensweig. “That needs to be front and center.”

Planning Commission member

Genevieve Keller

was concerned about the City’s need to focus on a variety of transportation options as they push for higher density zones.

“I would definitely like to see some fleshing out in the transportation section about alternative transportation,” said Keller  “If we are going to be relying less on highway expansion and widening, what else are we going to do?”

Options for alternative transportation include increasing the amount of bike lanes and bus lines.

Keller also noted

Martha Jefferson Hospital

’s move to Pantops Mountain in 2011 will impact traffic patterns and the area as a whole and should be addressed in the update.

“We don’t really know yet what happens when the Martha Jefferson moves out of Locust and goes to Pantops,” said Keller. “There are losses and gains [and] challenges there.”

Overall, the Planning Commission felt a need to clarify the Comprehensive Plan for 2012, focusing on appropriate information and goals rather than going into specifics for each section.

“Everything we put in the plan we ought to think about how we are going to use it and what it means and who it’s useful to,” said Tolbert. “If it’s not relevant a year later then we probably don’t need to have it in there.”

The City Planning Commission will continue to take public input and review the Comprehensive Plan for 2012 in later work sessions.


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