2045 Engage Comprehensive Plan Update – A “Review of the Bidding” after 28 Planning Commission Work Group Sessions

We are closing in on wrapping up the land use chapter and on the eve of discussing with the Board of Supervisor the 27 Land Use Applications and I thought a ‘review of the bidding’ might be helpful.

The future land use modeling effort introduced in this cycle of the comp plan was intended to provide insights into their cumulative impacts of county growth on traffic, the environment, and the fiscal health of the county. The modeling was effective with projecting cumulative traffic impacts, sufficient with the fiscal health implications and not so much on the cumulative impacts on the environment. As a first attempt, the modeling was successful and will be a valuable addition to the planning staff’s tool kit.

Not all of the model outcomes, county, staff recommendations, or CPT/PCWG recommendations for land-use changes were recommended to go forward.  For some of those decisions, the rationale was to limit growth to the PSA and in one case to retract the current PSA boundary.  In other land use applications, the issue was increasing traffic congestion associated with the increased density proposed as well as acceptance that traffic is an issue but could be mitigated. In others, it was limiting the scale, density, and scope of development by maintaining the rural character both inside and outside of the PSA while at the same time providing future opportunities for economic development.  Though land-use changes can lead to zoning changes there was a strong willingness to increase land use density in areas that were suitable and may result in affordable housing opportunities.

 I have focused on the 2035 Table LU-1 (Figure 1) as a way of placing the proposed land-use changes and their subsequent increased number of dwellings inside of the PSA in a context to the projected population in 2045 of 120,000. The cumulative population growth has an unintended impact on the environment, traffic congestion, the fiscal health of the county, and community character.

Figure 1 2035 Table LU-1

One of the pluses of the modeling effort is its ability to account for population growth by changes in land use designations as well as updating previous dwelling estimates from the 2035 LU-Tale 1(Figure 1). An example of this is the update for the 2035 Undeveloped Parcels Designated Mixed Use or Economic Opportunity a portion of designated areas) which includes the 3 EOs is not 944 but 1,494 based on the modeling.  Since the Board’s 2015 approval of the Comp Plan and the approval of Table LU-1 the county has issue certificates of occupancy for 1,948 dwelling units (Note 2), The total by right grand total today is not the 11,486  but  9,538 based on the absorption over the last five years since it was originally published.

An updated Table LU1 (Figure 2) shows a grand total of 10,088 by right dwelling represents and accommodation for additional population growth of  25,018 over the next 13 to 26 years. Add that to the county’s 2019 population of 76,523 (Note 4) and we can accommodate a population of  101,541 by 2047 (Note 3) without approving any of 2045 land-use applications.  It is a population that is 85% of the projected 2045 120,000 population

Figure 2 – An Updated 2035 Table LU1

We will soon adjust Table LU-1 and my guess, based on the PCWG’s recommendations to the Board on Land Use changes is the new total of dwelling units that will push us closer to accommodating that projected 2045 population. It appears that it adds another 7,965  to the county’s population (Note 5), based on the PCWG’s current Land-Use application votes. Citizens voted to add only 1,826 in population or 22% of what the PCWG voted for. If you add this 7,965 to the current Updated LU-1 Tables projection of 109,347 we could accommodate a population of 117,312 or 91%projected 1200,000.

And at what cost?

The result is not an accident. Both Scenarios A & B had the identical goal of adding a population of 43,117 so cumulative impacts of a 2045 population of 120,000 were comparable. The modeling effort of scenario B’s first principle was to move development out of the county’s rural lands into the PSA by increasing densities inside of the PSA and by decreasing the by-right development for Rural Lands and A1 to 20 acres per lot on a parcel as opposed to the current 3 acres per lot on a parcel.

The issue is not so much managing growth inside or outside of the PSA – Community Character is both inside and outside of the PSA. It is more  about reconciling competing priorities – those priorities that citizens have said are important and significant – Community/Quality of Life Character (Rural Character), Nature (preserve the Environment), Affordable Housing, and Economic Development. It is reconciling  limiting development in Rural Lands versus growth all inside of the PSA,  It is reconciling the cumulative impacts on traffic, the environment, and the fiscal health of the county.

As Rich has often said ” it is never that simple and it tends to be more complicated than you initially thought” which applies to the land-use changes. Our discussions and shared perspectives over the last year in reconciling these competing priorities have led us to the eve of this meeting with the Board

A question

In the conclusion section of the 2019 UVA Comp Plan Survey Report on the subject of Growth, it said

“… more than a quarter of respondents said that the rate of growth was much too fast. 36 percent said it was a little too fast, and 32 percent said it was about right.” 

If 93% felt that way about growth when we currently have the capacity to accommodate  85% of the projected 2045 population, how do we reconcile accommodating 91% of the projected 120,000 with all of the impacts that come with it on community character and the environment?


 Note 1  (Does not have the Interim Models Mixed-Use update like Pocahontas Trail/Rte. 60/143/199 Interchange ScenC_Pop45 Total 351population) Note 2 Number of dwelling units added from 2015 to 2019 Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals 2019 Annual

Note  3 US Census Bureau 76,523 (2019)

Note 4  LU-! Pop computation Using the Weldon Cooper figure for the number of people per household -2.48 (the 2045 Comp Plan  uses the 2018 per household is 2.54), that is a population capacity  2.48 X 10,088 =  25,018 + 2021 Pop 76,523 = 101,541

Note 5 2045 population additions for each of the 27 Land Use applications, results of the PCWG voting and Results of Round Three Citizen Survey

Jack’sJCCCompPlanLUApps2021ver2.0xlsx with population projections from the Interim