In 2012 Chesterfield County adopted the first major changes to its Comprehensive Plan in some 20 years. One key conclusion from the process was the public's strong support for "village plans" that would help create a "sense of place" in communities such as the Village of Midlothian, Bon Air and Chester.
The January 2011 news article outlined
The new comp plan was devised after a
process costing close to a million dollars of taxpayer funds and almost two years. Much of the 2010 "vision" from the planning staff and consultants was modified or rejected by the Planning Commission. Little has been done as yet (middle of 2013) toward creating new standards for the village such as streetlights, sidewalks, building style and signage guidelines and traffic flow. One of the major issues will be defining the boundaries of the villages, followed by determining the practical priorities.
A newspaper report on a January 2011 citizen meeting on the proposed plan noted, "The county’s current Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Board of Supervisors over two decades ago. Since then, the plan has grown into five countywide and 22 area plans. [Midlothian District Supervisor Dan] Gecker cautioned that the current area plans should not be dismissed. “I know a lot of people in this room that have spent a lot of time working on these area plans,” he said.
“What makes those plans unique, as far as I’m concerned, needs to be incorporated into whatever it is we end up doing.”
the county planners' initial intent regarding the process they intended to use to develop a new Midlothian Area Plan:
Another concern [expressed at the meeting] addressed is how the draft Comprehensive Plan, if and when adopted, would provide specific guidelines as is outlined in current area plans. [County Planning Manager Barbara] Fassett stated that the specific details would be undertaken in a focus strategy that is outlined in the Action Matrix (Action Code A-S 8), which is not adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan.
“The focus strategy would be undertaken after the draft plan would be adopted,” she said. “What would happen is, in 27 centers, we will handle putting together focus strategies; we will go out, we will get citizen input, we will work on the details. It will not be cookie-cutter all over the county.”
The focus strategy team would be comprised of a long-range planner, a zoning planner, a landscape architect, a traffic engineer, and a member from the economic development department. “The kind of suggestions that come through will be based on already adopted policies. We will monitor it and come back in three years for review,” she said.
Much was changed in the final comp plan from the initial proposals in 2011, so the county's process regarding the Midlothian Area Plan may be different under the final guidelines approved in 2012.
Nevertheless, the current decades-old Midlothian Area Plan was supposedly set to be revised and updated, if not completely overhauled, in 2013. Any new plan holds the potential of having a major impact on the long-standing , albeit out-of-date and inadequate, development standards for the Village of Midlothian and other "villages" in Chesterfield County.
What process will be used as well as what to change about the Midlothian Area Plan was an issue of those debating the details of the new comprehensive plan. But the Planning Department, the Planning Commission and, ultimately, the Board of Supervisors, individually and as a group, said they recognized the public's support for an effort to do something specific to create a "sense of place" in parts of the county.