What did you have to say?

Hello, Botetourt County! I would first like to introduce myself. I am Peter Volosin, the new Long-Range Planner for Botetourt, or “the new Jerod”. I am excited to be onboard with the Community Development team and my focus will be on updating the comprehensive plan for the county.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first round of public feedback about the comprehensive plan. We had 400 respondents to our online survey and 130 people who came in-person to give their input.

After analyzing public input, we presented a summary of the findings to the Planning Commission on June 8, 2020. For those that came in-person to our public input meetings the following were the main takeaways from the feedback we received:

Redevelopment of existing structures is preferred by citizens to new construction.

•The county should evaluate the need for development as it relates to traffic congestion at Daleville

•Citizens want future development directed along Route 11 and I-81 interchanges north of Exit 150. Citizens agree that the Gateway Crossing Area should be utilized for future development and beautification.

• Preservation of open spaces/rural character is important and can be achieved by focusing development in the southern part of the county

•Citizens would like to see more trails and outdoor amenities

•More community services are needed in the Daleville area to support population increases (fire, library, schools, etc).

From the 400 online survey respondents, we learned a bunch of information about why you choose to live in Botetourt and what challenges you see for the county. Respondents were a fairly even mix of age groups, meaning we got input from people in all stages of life. Here is the information we learned from the online survey:

What make Botetourt special?

•Natural beauty and rural landscapes

•Small town feel / the people

•”Where I grew up”

•Outdoor recreation

What are Botetourt’s biggest challenges?

•Increased development

•Traffic congestion

•Infrastructure – schools, water, broadband

•Aging community

•Lack of social venues

•Equal resources across the county (north vs. south)

Now that the first round of public input has been received, we will use that information to draft several maps which will show suggested future land use categories around the county. This is an important component of updating the comprehensive plan because it provides direction on future growth, as well as areas the county would like to protect by limiting development. Next, we will have a second round of public input. Our goal is to begin public input in September 2020 and we are working on what we will have to do differently this time to make sure everyone is safe from Covid-19.

Thank you for following us here at the BoCo Planning and Zoning division. I am looking forward to meeting you in my new role soon.

To see a copy of the June 8th presentation, click here: https://botetourtva.sharepoint.com/sites/PZ/Shared%20Documents/Planning%20Commission/June%202020/Comp%20Plan%20Outreach%20Round%201%20Summary.pdf

PLANNING GOES ON THE ROAD

Here in Planning & Zoning, we are really missing Jerod and know those of you who keep in touch with us via this site do too. We’ve been busy making preparations to hire a new long-range planner to help us out-so if you know someone who may be interested in joining our team-check out the job posting!

Next week we are heading to Hampton, Virginia to attend the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association’s annual conference. We’re pretty excited to be presenting how Botetourt is supporting more and different kinds of housing choices around the county. We also get to showcase why we love to live, work and play here in Botetourt. If you had to share one thing you love about Botetourt, what would it be?

Stay tuned for more info-we will soon be presenting the results of the first round of community input to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors and planning our second round of meetings.

Housing in Botetourt

Botetourt’s housing stock is mostly low density, single-family homes that are owner occupied. Economic growth in 2016 spurred conversations about existing housing stock and future housing needs, leading to a Housing Assessment Study in Fall 2016 and a one-day Housing Summit in early 2017. Since then, the County has committed to supporting more housing options for current and future citizens.

Housing diversity is important to ensuring long-term community vitality. Each of us will have different housing needs as we reach all of life’s milestones. A retired couple may be looking to downsize, while a young family may be looking for room to grow. A young professional with student loans might be looking for rental options, while they save money for a home to purchase down the road. An eighty-year-old widow may no longer be able to care for her larger home and yard, but would still like to remain in the community she has volunteered in for the past 50 years. Creating housing stock for all of life’s stages ensures that everyone has a chance to be part of the community.

Diversifying the housing stock is also a good fiscal strategy. The University of Illinois published a study that suggests that communities with a greater variety in housing types and zoning have a better opportunity to weather economic downturns. It looked at housing diversity and its connection with foreclosures during the housing crisis and concluded that communities with more diversity in types of housing have lower foreclosure rates[1].

In 2018, with funding from VHDA, the County continued the momentum and began to explore tools and strategies to diversify housing stock to ensure that the scale and location of new residential development aligns with land suitability, helps create stronger communities and reinforces the county’s rural character.

The 2019 Housing Policy Toolkit presents guidance to aid the County in accomplishing these goals. The first section provides a summary of the critical market-based and demographic trends affecting housing-demand and an analysis of the potential supply factors related to land suitability and existing policies. The second section describes the four major objectives for driving the County’s housing strategy and includes a menu of policies, strategic and funding tool options to encourage diverse housing options. Finally, it includes some visualizations and descriptions of the different housing typologies that would be appropriate in scale to help achieve a more diversified housing stock over time.

What does all this have to do with the Comprehensive Plan? Paired with community input, this Housing Policy Toolkit will aid in updating the Future Land Use Maps and Comprehensive Plan text to designate locations appropriate for certain types of housing and their densities. We know that employment and demographic trends will likely increase demand for new apartment unit development, moderate-priced townhomes and smaller single-family developments in the County, the key is being smart about where they go and to create a supportive regulatory environment that would allow private developers to respond to these market demands.

IMG_20190701_182309
New apartments are under construction along Commons Parkway in Daleville, Virginia.

[1] Chakraborty, A., & McMillan, A. (2018). Is Housing Diversity Good for Community Stability?: Evidence from the Housing Crisis. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0739456X18810787.

Staff Updates

My name is Jerod Myers, and I work as the Long-Range Planner for Botetourt County Planning & Zoning. If you attended a public meeting, or have received an email about the Comprehensive Plan, chances are we have probably crossed paths. While I have been busy collecting input for the future of Botetourt, I have also been busy preparing for new life adventures. I am leaving employment with the County to pursue Landscape Architecture, a long time passion of mine.

Rest assured that County staff are committed to updating the Comprehensive Plan. They are in the process of hiring a new Planner and will continue to work with the community to update the text and maps. I have left detailed notes and summaries from the community input meetings, and have photographed, scanned and archived all the input so that the update process will continue to move forward! It was a pleasure to meet over 100 people at the community meetings and to read over 400 online comments.

Although I am leaving to pursue other opportunities, Botetourt will always be home. I hope that the community can formulate a collective vision for the future and that the Comprehensive Plan supports that vision.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact the Office of Planning & Zoning at 540.928.2080 or planning@botetourtva.gov.

Wishing you all the best,

Jerod Myers

Eagle Rock Meeting Summary

Staff summarized comments from the Eagle Rock community open house. The summary document can be found HERE.

If you missed the Eagle Rock meeting, have no fear, there are four more opportunities to attend an open house. We will conduct the same activities at all the meetings.

  • April 24th, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Fincastle Library
  • April 30th, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Library
  • May 7th, 4 to 7 p.m. at Greenfield Education and Training Center
  • May 14th, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Buchanan Library.

Capture
Jerod Myers, Long-Range Planner, can’t wait to talk to community members about Future Land Use! 

Eagle Rock Community Open House

Join us on April 11th for a community open house for the Comprehensive Plan update. Planning & Zoning staff will be at the Eagle Rock Library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

The theme of the open house is land use. We will be asking participants to weigh in on various topics such as growth and preservation. The heart of the Comprehensive Plan is the Land Use chapter and the Future Land Use map. Together they form the foundation for the physical growth and development of the County. The Land Use chapter establishes policies for general land uses at appropriate densities and locations and includes guidelines that describe the character and quality of future development patterns.

We hope to see you there! If you are unable to attend, there are other opportunities to have your voice heard. Visit the events page or contact us.

Image result for eagle rock library

Have you taken our survey?

We currently have 74 responses to our online survey. We are aiming for a lot more!

Click HERE to take the survey and provide feedback on topics such as as housing, commercial growth, conservation, and community identity.

What are people saying so far?

  • Growth is good. It is also a challenge. Lets be smart about it.
  • Open and natural spaces make Botetourt unique. When asked what makes Botetourt special, many responses noted its natural surroundings.
  • Seventy five percent of respondents are concerned about the loss of open space.
  • People think housing growth should be directed towards vacant lots in existing neighborhoods and around towns.
  • Residents love Roaring Run! Have you heard of this unique 1.5 mile hike?
  • Right now, the #1 community value is “a place with a unique identity and sense of place.”
  • What are the biggest challenges identified so far? Housing, attracting younger generations, commercial growth, and conservation seem to be strong themes.

Let us know your thoughts!

Happy Monday from Planning & Zoning.

-Jerod