By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Albemarle and Charlottesville planning commissions were briefed Tuesday night on a regional effort to update each jurisdiction’s comprehensive plan .

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an initiative called “Many Plans, One Community.”

“While the localities have issues, policies and approaches that are specific to each, there are a wide range of issues and topics that are similar,” said Summer Frederick, project manager for the TJPDC.

The organization is a regional entity focusing on issues confronting local governments. The TJPDC territory includes Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Louisa, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson.


A draft natural resources map developed by the TJPDC was presented to the two planning commissions (Click to enlarge)

City planning manager Missy Creasy said the creation of one map that depicts designated land uses in both the city and the county will identify areas of shared interest, such as along the Rivanna River.

“[We can] look at the land uses on both sides of the river and see how things link up,” Creasy said. “We have this resource that we’re developing to analyze that situation.”

Another project aims to compare comprehensive goals in both communities to see if they match or if they are in conflict.

“There may be cases where things don’t match up, and it will be an opportunity to talk about an issue that maybe one or the other needs to consider,” Creasy said.

However, Albemarle planning commissioner Don Franco said the two commissions should have played a role in deciding what should have been measured.

“What I see happening is that we’re creating this performance measurement system and I’m not sure what we know what we’re measuring yet until we know what our goals and objectives are as a community,” Franco said.

Frederick said that work would be refined by a series of community workshops that will be held in the fall and winter.

“The overarching questions we’ll be asking at these meetings is whether the goals and objectives are still relevant,” Frederick said.

On Tuesday, commissioners were shown one of the initial products of the grant. For the first time, a map has been created that depicts trail locations in both Albemarle and Charlottesville.

“We can see what the relationships are, where we have holes, where trails join up, and places where we can do additional planning,” said Elaine Echols, a senior planner with Albemarle County.

Echols pointed out that the city has a comprehensive plan goal to connect its public parks with trails, but the county does not have a similar goal because most of its parks are in the rural area.

“That might be something that as we look at these and then work with them, that we see whether the county would want to pursue that as a goal or not,” Echols said.

The two commissions will meet again on Sept. 20 to discuss the comprehensive plan updates. A week later, the TJPDC will begin conducting monthly workshops to get feedback from citizens.

“We’re trying to create as many different avenues as possible for citizens to feel they can be a part of this process,” Creasy said.

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