Planners review comp plan survey results

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Jul 28, 2010 - 05:26 PM

The Gloucester Planning Department held three meetings in June so the public could learn about the county’s comprehensive plan update that’s now underway. Surveys were handed out at each meeting with the public asked to comment on some of their concerns.

During a meeting of the Gloucester Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee on July 15 at the Department of Information Technology building (old library) on Main Street, a consultant described some results of the survey. Claire Jones, a planner for Hampton Roads Planning District Commission which Gloucester contracted for $50,000 to aid in the plan update, said that many respondents indicated they are concerned with development in flood prone areas; that they think more public water access is needed, and that open space is valuable.

In addition, many respondents said that new development should include open space; that most do not think that all income levels can find housing in Gloucester, and that most do not think there is presently sufficient housing stock in the county.

Jones said that many respondents agreed that affordable housing should be required, with many also indicating they support more opportunities to bike and walk here.

Elsewhere in the survey results, Jones said, many respondents said that growth should be compact; there are mixed feelings on whether community facilities are sufficient; fewer respondents think they would use transit service if offered, and many stated the need for alternative routes to busy Route 17.

When asked if the "comprehensive plan captures my vision," about two-thirds of respondents either agree or strongly agree.

A planning department flyer said that "a comp plan is a physical representation of what the community wants to be in the next 30 years. It is the community’s vision for Gloucester’s future."

Citizens can play a vital role by sharing what they envision, planning director Anne Ducey-Ortiz said.

Earlier, planning commission chairman W. Keith Belvin described the plan as "a guiding document" for Gloucester.

Ducey-Ortiz said the comprehensive plan steering committee, chaired by Chris Corr, has been working on revisions to the plan for more than two years. Gloucester County hired staff from the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, of which Gloucester is a member jurisdiction, to serve as consultants for the comp plan review process, but one member of the HRPDC team working on the Gloucester comp plan update resigned several months ago and Jones said July 15 she will leave the commission to start a new job with the city of Suffolk in early August.

Despite these staff changes, John Carlock, deputy executive director of HRPDC, said the commission still plans to turn in a final draft report to Gloucester officials by late September.

Ducey-Ortiz said public hearings on the plan update will be scheduled later.

For more information, call the Gloucester Planning Department at 693-1224, or visit www.gloucesterva.info/planning.