County continues to work toward new comprehensive plan

Published 9:59 am Friday, January 16, 2015

In accordance with state law, each community in Virginia is required to review and amend its comprehensive plan at least once every five years. Southampton County last adopted a comprehensive plan on March 26, 2007, and the planning commission began to review said plan in early 2012.

The comprehensive plan serves as a decision-making tool for the board of supervisors and planning commission, covering topics such as land use, economic development, natural resources, parks and recreation, historic preservation and transportation.

In order to best serve the citizens of Southampton County, the planning commission has been holding public forums in towns throughout Western Tidewater. In November, residents in Capron and Courtland were afforded the opportunity to give their input, while those in Boykins and Ivor were provided the same courtesy earlier this month.

Beth Lewis, director of community development, stated that the comprehensive plan will be discussed at the planning commission’s March meeting. From there, the planning commission will recommend the amendments of the comprehensive plan to the board of supervisors, who will then discuss its final approval at a date to be determined.

Southampton County adopted the first revisions to the comprehensive plan on Aug. 23, 1989, following two years of extensive study and research. Instead of changing the policy already in place, the amendment to the plan offered suggestions on how to deal with the natural progression of the county, as well as its subsequent benefits for the citizens.

With no way to anticipate long-term development in the county, the plan would have to be periodically reviewed in accordance with state law.

The plan was revised in 1995, updating the census and socioeconomic data, and again in 1999, as the county positioned itself for the new millennium.

The most current adaptation of the plan was adopted in 2007, as the county commissioned the addition of background chapters, growth management goals and subsequent implementation strategies. The county also developed new rural residential zoning districts, instituted a voluntary cash proffer system and completed a variety of other land use related initiatives.

Southampton County is continually seeking ways to involve the citizens in the comprehensive planning process, and the planning commission will host a public hearing in March. A date has not been set, but the meeting will take place at the County Administrative Building on 26022 Administration Center Drive, Courtland.