Back to Realizing the Vision
Our October feature "Realizing the Vision" catches up with the details of the Richmond Downtown Plan that City Council approved in late July.
The plan is a roadmap for economic and community development in the city center over the next five years and beyond.
Master planning is something that localities have to do every five years under state law, and similar processes have also recently been in the works for Richmond's surrounding counties. Here's a quick look at what has happened with their plans, beginning with the most recently completed ones.
Not without some controversy over land-use issues in the eastern end of the county — a struggle over how to balance development and rural character — the Henrico County Board of Supervisors capped off a years-long update of its comprehensive plan this summer. On Aug. 11, the board approved the 2026 Comprehensive Plan, which will guide more specific plans in the county and will require supervisors' continued action on a slew of recommendations. Overall, the plan turns focus toward preserving open space and agricultural land uses, even amid development.
Much like the Downtown Richmond Plan, Henrico's planning process received kudos from the Partnership for Smarter Growth because of its inclusion of residents' input throughout various steps.
In June, Chesterfield County launched the process to craft its new comprehensive countywide vision. While other localities are getting attention for boosting public input in their planning, Chesterfield has been the region's standard-bearer in this respect.
Its current planning process is no exception. For starters, the county's board of supervisors appointed a 34-member steering committee, including players from outside Chesterfield. In September, the county began a series of district meetings, gathering feedback on specific areas of the county.
The public-input process will also include "visioning exercises" that allow residents to create different scenarios, balancing development and residential density by using population projections over the next 25 years.
These hands-on sessions will give county planners a glut of data to consider when they help design a draft plan, which will undergo public review. Chesterfield officials expect to have an approved comprehensive plan at least by early 2011.
In February, Goochland's board of supervisors approved its 2028 plan, an overarching policy document that was crafted over a year and a half with considerable contributions from county residents. Among the Richmond region, Goochland County is projected to be one of the most rapidly growing localities, if not the fastest-growing. According to the county's plan, development in bordering localities is driving growth in eastern Goochland, and requests for new development are on the rise. The plan emphasizes the county's desire to maintain rural, forested areas while steering commercial and residential growth toward the county's various "villages."
In early 2007, Hanover adopted its 2007-2027 comprehensive plan. In addition to public hearings, the county typically involves residents in the planning process through several channels, which include the annually recurring Citizens' Planning Academy (a chance for residents to learn more detail about the process in general), the Hanover Older Perspective panel and the Hanover Youth Perspective panel. Graduates of the planning academy are sometimes chosen to serve on county advisory committees, while the HOP and HYP often serve as advisory committees to the board of supervisors.
Hanover's comprehensive plan, much like Henrico's, addresses the interaction between an agricultural history and suburban growth, with an eye toward containing sprawl. Meanwhile, the county also has spotlighted industrial and corporate development as areas to pursue.