When the Cville Plans Together Initiative began in early 2020, there were plans to engage people at a series of meetings while the work of crafting an affordable housing plan and the Comprehensive Plan update was conducted. However, the pandemic forced all of that public engagement work to go online.
Council adopted the Affordable Housing Plan in March 2021 and the Comprehensive Plan last November. Both call for additional residential density across the city and an update of the zoning code is the next step.
This time around, people can meet in large numbers, and an open house was held yesterday at the Ting Pavilion where attendees could get a look at the new Diagnostics and Approach Report for the zoning rewrite. People could go through the entire process to date and ask questions of consultants, city staff and each other. I dropped by briefly and spoke with James Freas, the city’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services since last September. (read the Zoning Diagnostic and Approach report)
“We’ve just released the report about two weeks ago and what we’re really looking for is where can we answer clarifying questions, where can we answer questions about what we’ve already shared and what’s in there, and what else should we be considering?” Freas said.
Freas said even half an hour into the event, he could see how community engagement will be different for this phase of the Cville Plans Together initiative.
“If you look around, people are having conversations,” Freas said. “You can’t do this on a Zoom environment. So it’s really exciting to be back in person talking to people face to face, introducing ourselves, having a conversation, and even if we don’t agree, because we’ve met and talked face to face, we’re able to walk away in a move civil environment.”
Freas said the city will collect comments through August, and he will be visiting various neighborhood associations to explain the idea. Then the diagnostics report will be finalized in September for the Planning Commission and Council to review, followed by the actual rewrite.
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