Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Some key points in the update of the comprehensive land-use plan: Chapter 1

I am beginning to read the voluminous update to the 2002 comprehensive land-use plan. I received the packet at the Dec . 5 Planning Commission, but someone had to give me their copy. as customary here, the press doesn’t get copies of anything unless we ask for it. I have to know the copy exists before I know to ask for it.

But someone was kind enough to give me their copy of the plan.

I just reviewed the “Introduction and Vision” portion and I will detail some of the bullet points I highlighted.

The population as of July is estimated to be 123,645 people. Projections are the county will add approximately 49,292 new residents, which is a 40 percent increase from 2007 to 2022. This assumes an average growth rate of 2.25 percent. The historic growth rate between 1990 and 2000 is 4.6 percent. The county will add about 4,800 single-family homes and 1,000 multi-family homes to meet housing demands by 2012.

Business Friendly: The plan says supervisors or staff should create programs to provide local employment opportunities to commuters. This has proven to be a tough task for supervisors as retail has dominated the landscape here.

The first of many references to the Traditional Neighborhood Development ordinances starts here. The plan asks supervisors to adopt legislation that regulates development in the yet-to-be established Urban Development Areas of the county currently eyed at the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, the Courthouse area, the Crossroads area, Thornburg and Massaponax.

Encourage broadband access throughout the county. This is expensive.

Focus on non-retail, such as office-flex space space and office business parks. There seems to be a few office business parks empty in the county right now. There are also empty strip mall pads.

Encourage the preservation of industrial-zoned land and rezoning land to industrial/commercial uses in areas designated for business development, such as the Jackson Gateway.

Agriculture and Silviculture: Take measures to limit the division of land in Agricultural and Forestal Districts for residential uses.

Explore funding options for the Purchase of Development Rights program. This program has gone nowhere in the county, although it is talked about quite a bit. The program basically uses public money to pay landowners to not develop their land. Highly controversial in some parts of the state (Loudoun County).

Consider options for a Transfer of Development Rights Program.

Establish rural conservation cluster zoning to preserve farm and forested areas while providing by-right lot yields.

Family Friendly communities: The TND pops up again here with a provision to provide for mixed use areas to encourage family friendly designs found in TNDs. Encourage TNDs that provide a mix of housing needs “from the cradle to the grave.”

Historical and Cultural Resources: Use PDRs, easements and buffers to preserve and protect these resources.

Explore the potential to create a Route 208 Corridor as a Scenic or Beautification Byway to act as a gateway to the historic court house area. Provide for rural Highway Corridor Overlays on major roadways to promote preservation and rural viewsheds and buffers for these resources.

The Courthouse Historic District: Expand the district where applicable.

Implement the Campus Master Plan for government facilities and purchase property around the Courthouse whenever available.

Encourage the National Park Service to build a visitors center at the Spotsylvania Court House

Battlefield and connect the battlefield to the Court House Village with trails.

The Community should be fiscally sustainable: Mixed-use development proposals should have a commercial-industrial component of more than 30 percent to receive approval. Supervisors are trying to get as close to a 70/30 mix as feasibly possible. Right now, the mix is about 84/16.

Grow the Industrial/Commercial Tax Base: Consider rezoning certain areas to promote business development. Explore the possibility of establishing a Business Council for the U.S. 1 Corridor to act as a liaison between businesses and county officials.

Growth Shall Pay For Itself: Developments that have a net-fiscal impact for the county should be positively reviewed. Active adult communities should be encouraged because of their “diminished impact on county services.”

Growth Shall Preserve and Enhance the quality of infrastructure and services in the county: Higher density residential development should provide pedestrian and bicycle connections to neighboring developments. As roadways are expanded to their ultimate lane configurations, utility lines and cables should be buried so they are not visible from the road.

Growth Shall Preserve or Enhance Aesthetic Environment: New residential development in the Primary Settlement District should preserve 30 percent (up from 20 percent) of open space.

Development should use “dark-sky lighting” to minimize impacts.

That’s just a quick rundown of Chapter 1. There are a total of 10 chapters. The Planning Commission will have a public hearing on this plan tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Holbert Building, two weeks after they got the voluminous packet.