The joint gathering was one of the final meetings of the One Community initiative coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The project was funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“This is the final language that staff put together from the many conversations that we’ve had over the past year,” said Summer Frederick, project manager for the initiative. “What we’re asking is to have a final discussion and us to come to a consensus that this is language that is representative of those conversations.”
“The joint goals go a long way in acknowledging how we truly are ‘one community’ in so many ways,” said Missy Creasy, the city’s planning manager. “We hope that all this hard work will be just a start to joint planning work in our communities.”
The commission reviewed goal language for economic development, the environment, historic preservation, land use, parks and recreation, and transportation.
One of the draft goals for economic developments states that both communities should “identify opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurship and develop policies that reduce barriers to innovation.”
County Commissioner Richard Randolph asked why the word “barrier” was being used.
“There are land use policies in place that do prevent innovation,” said city Commissioner Natasha Sienitsky. She specifically cited efforts under way in the city to make it easier for mobile food trucks to operate.
However, fellow city Commissioner Lisa Green said zoning is in place for a reason.
“If you put everything everywhere, there would be chaos,” Green said. “We haven’t thought everything out yet on food trucks.”
Another section of the plan dealt with the city and county’s entrance corridors.
“From the county’s standpoint, I’ve always thought that our entrance corridors were the roads that lead to Charlottesville,” said county Commissioner Russell “Mac” Lafferty.
City Commissioner Dan Rosensweig said the entrance corridor goals could allow the city and county to make certain border areas, such as Hydraulic Road, more complete.
“Let’s look at these places in their totality and try to make them more coherent as places,” Rosensweig said.
County Commissioner Ed Smith asked for a goal on shared signage strategies to be taken out, but Green, who works as a county zoning official, asked it to be kept in to help harmonize enforcement in both communities.
The commissions also debated a draft land use goal to “encourage development and redevelopment in the city, and county development areas, at recommended densities in the respective Comprehensive Plans in order to relieve development pressure in the county’s rural areas.”
City Commissioner Genevieve Keller said that phrasing gave her pause.
“At the highest plane I support this … but it makes it sound like we want to sacrifice the city to preserve rural areas in the county,” Keller said.
County Commissioner Don Franco suggested using the phrase “urban ring” but many city commissioners said they did not know what that term means.
The two commissions will need to vote on the shared goals separately, as there are currently no joint meetings planned.
“Our plan was to close this out by the end of the month because some of our resources are going away,” Creasy said.
Frederick said that nothing in the joint goals was set in stone, as both commissions would have to take their comprehensive plans through their individual processes.
“This is not absolutely the last time this will be in the public realm,” Frederick said.
At the end of the meeting, the commissions chose to focus on creation of a joint sidewalk network to link both communities and to create a joint land use plan to turn the Rivanna River into a destination.