After over two years of diligent work on behalf of county staff and pages of input from Mathews citizens, the county’s updated Comprehensive Plan is ready to go before public hearing and the county’s board of supervisors.
Members of the Mathews County Planning Commission voted unanimously during the regular meeting Tuesday night in the historic courthouse to hold a joint public hearing with the board of supervisors, which will likely take place at the planning commission’s next scheduled meeting of Sept. 21.
The plan, according to the county’s planning and zoning director, John Shaw, looks at several key elements regarding the future of Mathews in the next 20 years.
One of these elements includes recommendations of future land use and identifying various types of land use that are not in the county’s current comprehensive plan, which was adopted in June 2001.
Mixed-use development is a key theme in the new plan, Shaw said. New districts identified under this theme include the village (primarily Mathews Court House), historic overlay, corridor overlay and floodplain overlay.
Shaw also said hamlet or crossroads communities are identified in future land use within the plan. This is a type of localized community that is defined as being smaller than a village.
The plan also addresses the many waterfront areas of the county. Shaw said there are provisions in the plan to maintain water quality, promote aquaculture, and preserve the working waterfront.
Another major element of the plan is a provision calling for age-restricted homes. This includes assisted living facilities, but primarily communities designed for independent living, according to Shaw.
Finally, another major area the new plan addresses is looking for opportunities for public access to the county’s waterfront areas, Shaw said.
Both planning commission members and staff expressed their pleasure over the new plan at Tuesday’s meeting, and felt it should move on to the next step. "I think it’s time to push this bird down the nest," said planning commission member Michael Lowe.
As for the plan as a whole, Shaw said, "I think it was a conscious, concrete effort on the part of staff, the planning commission, board of supervisors and the citizens of Mathews to define the county’s vision for the next 20 years."
Prior to developing the updated plan, planning and zoning staff, along with help from Hill Studio, a community planning consultant firm based in Roanoke, held a series of town hall meetings in each area of the county to encourage public input. The planning commission and board of supervisors have also met jointly several times to discuss the provisions that are now in the plan.
Shaw said copies of the updated plan will be available online in its entirety prior to the public hearing. Copies will also be available at Mathews Memorial Library and the Mathews Planning and Zoning office.