The Greene County Planning Commission held its first public worksession on the 2021 comprehensive plan update last month.
“This plan was developed through a partnership with our community, with many citizen hours and comments being relayed through the plan,” said Deputy Planner Stephanie Golon. “We are not here to warn you on what is best for Greene. In contrast, we want to receive the community’s feedback and provide a guiding document to take us into the next 20 years as a community.”
In 2010, Golon said, the county heard from the community that it wanted growth centralized in Ruckersville and protection of the rural areas. At that time the growth area of Greene was lowered from 15% of total landmass to 6%, which was upheld in the 2016 review and in the development of the Ruckersville Area Plan that was incorporated into the comprehensive plan in 2019.
The U.S. Census Bureau has indicated the county’s population has increased by 57% in the past 20 years to more than 20,000 individuals and it’s estimated to reach 25,000 in the next 20 years, Golon said. Final 2020 census numbers are not yet back.
In the past five years, the county has received 929 new single family dwelling permits—including both detached and attached homes—which is an 89% increase from the previous five years.
Golon said roughly 42% of the structures, both commercial and residential, occurred in the growth area.
“Right now 6,600 folks are commuting out of our community to work. We’ve designated our growth area around our infrastructure,” Golon said. “Do we reflect future demand? Do we know what our regional future demand is? And are we ensuring that our ordinances and our future land-use maps are accommodating infrastructure, ensuring that there’s not a huge upfront cost for a potential manufacturer that wants to come into our community and bring higher-paying jobs? These are questions that the planning commission had presented the agencies when I sent out the request for agencies to review their chapter. I want to make sure that we circle back around and answer these questions for this particular chapter.”
Commissioner Steve Kruskamp said he has concerns about residential sprawl.
“We need to be putting more emphasis on bolstering the local economy and making Greene County an attractive area for businesses to build their headquarters and build an actual location here to employ residents, over concerns over housing,” Kruskamp said.
Adam Gillenwater with the Piedmont Environmental Council said it’s not his organization’s desire to see the county’s existing growth area expand.
“It’s our belief that the majority of new development should be occurring within Greene’s growth areas and we’d love to see a split that’s much closer to 80% ideally within the growth areas,” Gillenwater said.
Golon told the commission as it goes through the review to think about ways to strengthen the goals and implementation strategies specific to the two next chapters: natural resources and environment and agriculture and forestry.
The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 21. Visit https://bit.ly/3sqkunu for more information about the comprehensive plan and review schedule. It is not yet posted whether the planning commission will meet in person at this time or via Zoom as they have for the past year.