GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — Goochland County is looking for input from residents as they craft plans for two village centers to meet “significant growth pressures.”
The county is focusing on future population growth at two sites, called Centreville and Courthouse Village. Centreville is located on the county’s Eastern end, near the junction of I-64 and Route 288, while Courthouse Village is located closer to the center of the county.
What Makes a Village?
At two initial community presentations on Feb. 16 and 17, county planning staff and designers from the firm leading the village planning process met with residents in the area around both villages to outline their vision and begin soliciting community feedback.
David Hill, the head of Hill Studio, will be leading efforts in both Centreville and Courthouse Village. He gave presentations at the February meetings highlighting features that could be included in the final plans.
Among them were limited access for cars, clearly defined boundaries and architectural standards constraining developers.
At one point, Hill brought up a collage of villages from around the world, pointing out common features in each.
“You know what else is cool about these pictures?” he asked. “I don’t know if you’ve figured this out – there’s no cars.”
He added that clear boundaries between the village and the surrounding county could be marked by anything from a sign or wall to naturally existing features.
“A lot of time designers try to create this sense of a village where it might end at the fields or a forest,” he said.
The sites of the two villages are currently handled under the county’s comprehensive plan, which outlines permitted uses in different areas of the county.
While the general land-use guidelines from the comprehensive plan are likely to be carried over to the village plans – including the designation of areas for commercial, residential and government use – planners could refine those guidelines with public input, potentially moving it in a different direction.
Preparing for Growth
The village plans come as Goochland County’s population continues to swell. An economic analyst with Hill Studio told gathered residents that Goochland County was poised for more growth ahead – and that a plan could help direct it in a positive way.
“Just in the last ten years you’ve grown by 14%,” he said. “So you’re growing fast. In fact you’re faster than virtually every other place in this region.”
According to U.S. Census records, since 1970, there hasn’t been a single decade where Goochland County grew by less than 10%.
The county hopes to meet that growth with intentional planning, a goal echoed by Hill.
“A great village pays attention to how that is done – every detail,” he said.
Giving Your Two Cents
Now, the county is preparing to receive a mountain of public feedback, as residents weigh in on the proposals.
“We want to know what you want,” Hill said.
A number of residents have already sent in comments by email, which were compiled by the county in a single document for both projects.
Several residents focused their feedback on transportation, calling on the county to ensure a balance between automobile traffic and other modes of transit.
“Not saying you need to wall off the village from autos,” one resident wrote. “But there should be areas that are walk only.”
“I want SAFE and comfortable bike and walking accessibility to that bounded village for those who live in the county nearby,” wrote another.
Other residents focused on the need to preserve the things they say make the community special.
“We somehow must keep Satterwhite’s Restaurant,” one commenter wrote. “It has been a landmark for over 50 years. They still talk about folks driving for miles to have their Mammoth Burger.”
Another resident expressed trepidation over the changes the village plans would bring, pointing to Short Pump in Henrico as a model to avoid.
“We’ve been able to keep “Short Pump” out of Centerville so far,” they wrote. “But unfortunately over the past 10 years with the addition of the ugly cinder block Goodwill store, the ugly McDonalds, Taco Bell, Acme and Advanced Auto, we’ve already invited the ugliness of Hull Street right into our front door.”
Residents will have more opportunities to give feedback in person as well, with community meetings in May and June planned.
The first will take place on May 18 at 6 pm in the Goochland County Administration Building at 1800 Sandy Hook Rd. That meeting will focus on bike infrastructure across the county, but will be relevant to the village plans because they heavily feature shared-use paths.
Then, a pair of meetings will be held on June 8 and 9 to discuss the individual village plans with area residents. The Courthouse Village meeting will take place on June 8 at 7 pm, in the same location as the bike meeting.
The Centreville meeting will be held the next day at 7 pm in Grace Chinese Baptist Church at 850 Broad Street Rd.