Smithfield comprehensive plan work underway
Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Smithfield will use community feedback to shape the town’s future.
The town is updating its comprehensive plan and recently asked residents to weigh in on their experiences and perceptions of Smithfield on issues of overall community interest. Smithfield’s current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2009. A consultant was given the go-ahead to proceed on updating the plan in early July.
“Assuming there are no delays in scheduling, etc., the next anticipated date of adoption for the new comprehensive plan will be sometime in August of next year,” according to John Settle, the town’s community development and planning director.
Virginia local governments are required by law to adopt a comprehensive plan that addresses land development, transportation, economic development, public health, agriculture and land preservation, among other topics.
The deadline to submit survey responses was Dec. 20. Nearly 250 people had responded by Dec. 10. Responses were accepted online, through the mail or dropped off in person. Although this opportunity for input has passed, Settle said it is one of many steps and opportunities for input during what is expected to be a 13-month process to update the plan.
“Keep in mind that this work plan was developed prior to the onset of the pandemic, and our consultants have already indicated that they plan to alter certain components of the work plan so that remote public attendance, input and commentary is synthesized into the process,” Settle said.
Survey participants were asked to share their thoughts about their experience living, working in or visiting Smithfield and the town’s municipal services and what the town’s priorities should be during the next five to 10 years.
The survey also noted that “Smithfield’s growth rate has been slower than was projected for the last decade (estimated at 4.8% from the 2010 Census to July 1, 2019, a rate of 0.53% annually).”
For experiences with Smithfield, participants were asked to share why they chose to live in the area. Some of the municipal services the town asked for feedback on included town governance, fire and police protection, traffic, parks, recreation and overall services for taxes paid.
Participants were also asked to state their level of concern on topics such as the availability of affordable housing, public safety and crime, access to internet, local employment, shopping and entertainment opportunities and the community’s public infrastructure.
Finally, participants were asked to identify what Smithfield’s priorities should be over the next decade. The suggested issues of focus included encouraging development of affordable and workforce housing, increasing local employment opportunities, preserving historic resources or expanding the town’s corporate limits.
For all of the questions, respondents could also fill in the blank to provide their own comments.
The next steps in updating the comprehensive plan include publishing an existing conditions report, scheduling community workshops to solicit further feedback, creating a capital improvement plan and updating the town’s transportation plan and holding two public hearings before the plan is formally presented to the planning commission and town council for approval.