City Planning Commission takes up Comp Plan Input

DebSF -- July 15th, 2010

At last night’s July meeting, Harrisonburg’s Planning Commission began a review of public input from the May citizen input sessions concerning the revision of the city’s comprehensive plan. Chapters from the first input session on land use and transportation were discussed (specifically Chapter 5 Land Use and Development Quality , Chapter 6 Neighborhoods & Housing, and Chapter 11 Transportation ).
Drew Williams, Assistant Public Works Director, and Public Works Planner Thanh Dang also attended the work session. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the Planning Commission.)

Some of the community input was very detailed (e.g., more bike racks in Purcell Park, changes in bus routes). Many of the suggestions and comments in favor of biking and pedestrian issues are covered in detail in the bike and pedestrian plan, discussed in Tuesday’s council meeting and on target for approval by council at the end of this month. The PC and staff agreed to forward all specific suggestions to the appropriate city department for consideration and possible implementation. Other issues discussed at length include:

* the explicit numerical measure in objective 3.4 to increase the percentage of single-family detached housing units to 45% of the total number of units in the city. The 2008 level of SFDH is 32.4% of all housing units in the city, down from 42.4% in 1990. Extensive discussion occurred on the issues of balanced housing choices and the potential conflict between providing affordable housing balanced with single-family detached homes. At this time, the numerical goal has not been changed in the comp plan.

* the continued “greening” of public facilities.

* the creation of a new objective to address blighted properties in the city. Additional information from HRHA director Mike Wong will be gathered, with further discussion expected in a future meeting.

* recommendations for sidewalk and shared use path improvements ( goal 9, strategy 9.2.7). Currently, the comp plan proposes that improvements be considered “within 1/4 mile” of schools, universities, parks and public facilities. Recognizing that a prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t reflect the long range goals of the city, the PC and staff agreed to a change of wording that will increase the area to “at least 1/2 mile”.

* the need to plan a work session to specifically discuss the land-use map, in response to input concerning everything from more mixed-use zoning,  encouraging/incentivizing  development of the north-east section of the city and along the Stone Spring corridor.

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