Friday, January 27, 2023

Building up James City County: Here’s how you can help plan the county’s future

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Every local government in Virginia since 1980 has been required to provide a comprehensive plan for the future of their community.

Now it’s time for James City County to update their current comprehensive plan.

The current comprehensive plan is called Toward 2035: Leading the Way, and it was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2015.

But in 2019 Community Development and Planning launched a new initiative called Engage 2045, a planning process to update the Toward 2035 plan.

The goal of Engage 2045 is to encourage county residents to participate in the planning process that will result in policy making to build up the community over the next 25 years.

Topics covered in the plan include population needs, demographics, land use, environment, community character, and development standards.

Engage 2045 is currently in the “Alternative Futures” phase. This stage is all about creating different future scenarios for the county based on current trends seen in collected data and community feedback.

According to a public report from June 4, James City County has added about 1,293 people per year for the past decade. The county population in 2018 was estimated to be about 75,776.

If population trends continue on that path, the county could have up to 104,000 people by 2040.

A 2019 survey of 1,060 county residents showed about 49.4 percent of people thought retail development was too high, while 58.7 percent thought resident development was just right.

Worth noting is 68.7 percent and 62.3 percent thought industrial and office development, respectively, was about right.

When it came to land use, 79 percent agreed farmland is more important than development, and developers should pay fees to offset the public costs; 75 percent agreed residential development occurs too quickly.

County officials now want residents to voice their opinions about the “Alternative Futures” scenarios. In this phase, the county will also explore current goals and hear ideas from residents on how to improve them.

James City County has created a new initiative to engage the public in the 2045 Comprehensive Plan. (WYDaily/James City County)
James City County has created a new initiative to engage the public in the 2045 Comprehensive Plan. (WYDaily/James City County)

Ellen Cook, one of the principal planners, will be leading the planning division during policy development and discussions.

“We have a sincere interest making sure we are representing their vision in the plan,” said Tammy Rosario, the county’s assistant director of community development.

Residents can participate by viewing recorded broadcasts and completing the online questionnaire between now and Sept. 2. You can also request a paper questionnaire or assistance filling out the one online by calling the county planning division at 757-253-6685.

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