The city's Comprehensive Plan guides land use decisions within the city's boundaries Credit: Credit: City of Charlottesville

The Charlottesville City Council was poised to adopt its latest Comprehensive Plan update Monday, but postponed a vote until after an August work session can be held to facilitate more discussion and public input.

“We [often] refer to the Comprehensive Plan, so it seems important enough that we should have public discussion about it [before the Council],” said Councilor Dede Smith.
State law requires the Comprehensive Plan to be updated every five years. Work on the current revision began in July 2010. Since then, more than 60 public meetings on the plan have been held.
At the beginning of the process, the city’s Planning Commission decided to continue in the same direction as the 2001 and 2007 plans, which generally called for more residential density.
Before Monday’s scheduled vote, Smith said she had read through the chapters and submitted several edits and revisions for her colleagues to consider.
“I intended that we would in a very public way talk about what’s in this Comprehensive Plan and talk about changes,” Smith said. “I thought there was a lot of editorial influence that made me uncomfortable.”
In her written comments, Smith suggested adding language that supports rehabilitation of older housing, and wants city staff and elected officials to consider how rezonings can affect the city’s historic character.
“The Comprehensive Plan is a general policy document and it is not a document for detailed implementation,” said Mayor Satyendra Huja.
But Smith argued that there was language in the revised plan calling for specific steps, such as an objective to convert the city’s bike and pedestrian coordinator position to a full-time job.
Rather than go through Smith’s proposed revisions on Monday, the council opted to defer the discussion until a work session can be held Aug. 1 with the Planning Commission.
Councilor Dave Norris said he will not be present at the August work session, and Huja said he also may not be able to attend.
Meanwhile, the Albemarle Planning Commission is expected to review the draft of the county’s Comprehensive Plan on July 23.
“We hope they will be able to take an action to recommend it to the Board [of Supervisors],” said Elaine Echols, principal planner for Albemarle. “We expect the [board] will want several work sessions.”
“I want to make sure I understand every word proposed to be changed and the rationale behind the change,” said Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd. “As to how much time that will take, it will probably depend on whether or not the staff can provide a complete red-lined version identifying all the changes.”