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This Week's Topic: Planning

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

My favorite Coach, John Wooden, famously said “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” but when is a plan not a plan?


A near constant complaint and concern of all citizens I meet is the ever-worsening traffic

throughout the Matoaca district and greater Chesterfield County. Every major artery in

Chesterfield is significantly over-capacity and improvements are unable to keep pace. Of equal or even greater concern is the state of the schools. Every school is at or nearing capacity and several are significantly over capacity. Brand new schools are adding classroom trailers in their first year of operation. Frustrated citizens cry “how can this be? Is there not a plan?” Well, it turns out there is a plan.


The most recent Chesterfield County Comprehensive Plan was adopted in May 2019. Here are some direct quotes from the Plan overview, which describes its purpose and use:

-“The Code of Virginia requires localities to adopt a comprehensive plan for the development of jurisdictions.”

-“The purpose of the plan is to guide and accomplish a coordinated development of the

jurisdiction to promote the health, safety, property and general welfare of the community.”

-“A comprehensive plan provides a blueprint for the future by establishing a framework for

growth and development as well as revitalization decisions. The plan coordinates

transportation, utilities, schools and other public infrastructure need with anticipated growth and development.”

-“Implementation occurs through the adoption and application of ordinances, guidelines, policies and development decisions. As required by the Code, the plan must be reviewed at least every five years and may be amended as necessary.”


Within the Comprehensive Plan is a Land Use Plan that provides the development vision as to how the county will utilize its land resources. The plan envisions a community of lifestyle

choices ranging from well designed neighborhoods to strategically located high-density mixed-use centers to quiet rural communities. Some areas of the county are left in their natural state for protection of the environment and enjoyment of residents and visitors.


Well, this all seems pretty rational and the way things should be run, so what went wrong? Very simply, the elected Board of Supervisors don’t follow the plan. That in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad if every time the BOS approved zoning cases contrary to the plan they also approved the necessary changes and funding necessary for transportation, schools, police and fire and all other infrastructure to stay ahead of the changes. As it stands now, there is no plan. The BOS does their own thing to accommodate pet projects or special interests in return for political favors.


Transportation, schools and all the rest are left to guess and react with no tool to

forecast needs.The solution is obvious: approve the plan, get everyone back on the same page, and then stick to the plan. The hard part is now unraveling all the damage that has been done.


Unfortunately the County continues to go after the problem backwards. The staff is in the process of a Zoning modernization process in support of a plan that effectively doesn’t exist and as required by Code must be reviewed in 2024. The process described in their very own plan is “review and approve the comprehensive plan, update the zoning ordinance to align and finally review and approve site plans to align with the zoning ordinance.”


As a retired civil engineer, I have forty years of experience developing and implementing plans. As Supervisor, I promise there will be no more cronies bringing in a site plan, amending the zoning ordinance to accommodate the site plans, and then ignoring the comprehensive plan entirely. We all know where that leads, and it is not the standard of living Chesterfield County was known for.


#Don'tFairfaxChesterfield

God bless America, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chesterfield County and the citizens of

Matoaca!

Chip



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