71% of Henrico residents who responded to the survey on which future planning in Henrico is based said they were not familiar with the “Land Use Plan.”
This is a guest post from Historic Varina
The 2005 “Citizen Survey” was “scientifically administered” to a portion of Henrico County residents to gather information on which the 2026 Comprehensive Plan is to be based. How much basis these survey results will have remains be seen, due to several different factors. The most shocking result of the survey is that out of those who responded, 71% said they were not familiar with it or had never heard of Henrico’s Land Use Plan.
Another point revealed by survey’s “Initial Results” is the small percentage of Varina residents involved. The survey was mailed out to equal numbers of residents in each district, and it is reported that the budget allowed for 3100 residents to participate. Among five districts, that equalled 620 residents surveyed in each. Within the “Initial Results: Additional Findings” it is stated that:
“There was differential participation in the survey by magisterial district. Equal numbers of surveys were mailed to households in each magisterial district. Unequal numbers are in the data file. Twenty percent of the survey respondents should be in each of the five magisterial districts, but Tuckahoe has 26%, Three Chopt has 25%, Brookland has 21%, Fairfield has 15% and Varina has 13% lag. Weighting by magisterial district and race adjusts for much of these discrepancies.”
Comprehensive Planning to establish a vision for the future growth and development of Henrico will have an immeasurable impact on those currently residing in the Varina District, as it should now be obvious the bulk of ‘undeveloped land’ lies within our district boundaries.
To date, the majority of the meetings addressing the Comp-Plan draft have been either closed work sessions, or public meetings where no comments from residents are allowed.
In many locales Nation-wide, local governments have invited residents to participate in “Citizen Planning Workshops”, where instead of just being shown what will happen in their future, they are encouraged to participate in the planning of their own cities and counties. These workshops are one of the best forms of open-government, because they are based in transparency and the inclusion of local participants.
Instead, in Henrico we see vague language, goals and rationales, and indecipherable graphs pertaining to ‘housing demand’ and ‘potential growth scenarios’. Developers plans are “approved with conditions”- the conditions being listed in a numbered ‘code’- no doubt to save time, but is this “open government?”
The 2026 Comp-Plan will be the tool by which our future use of your land is decided. There is no doubt that lands which are now ‘open-space’, farm land, and forests, will be sold by their current owners, mostly for future development. It is the undisputed right of these owners to sell these lands, and yet- as current residents all of us have a right to be involved in deciding how the rural character of our district is preserved.
In the past, as an “effort to get a handle on the pace and impacts of residential growth, both Chesterfield County and Henrico County have adopted policies which amount to de facto moratoriums on new rezonings for a period of time.” It has happened before. The previous description comes from “Chesterfield and Henrico Counties Put Rezonings in ‘Time Out (PDF)‘” which is just what happened in 2004.
While the Comprehensive Plan is in review and during the current building ‘slump’, would be the perfect time for the County to study growth rates, density and water quality impacts in the Varina area. If Henrico truly means to stand by their desire for only the “highest quality development”, we and our readers would love to see this work begin now. The necessity could not be higher, and the timing is perfect.