Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Future Density and Varina: How much growth can we afford?

Many thanks to all who've written in, both by email and comments.

Even if you don't read the Times Dispatch, the online version will do. An keyword search on almost any topic will bring up past articles concerning development in Henrico, and Varina in particular. One good thing about InRich, is that it allows readers to post their comments on any article's subject, and Varina residents have been putting in a word here and there. Let's hope they continue to do so.

Among past comments, some familiar phrases re-occur with frequency: "East gets Least", "quality of life", and "GreenSpace" are among them. If you've kept up with current events as they happen, or go back and read them now, watching change can be like an accident in slow motion. Look back for example, at what some readers emails have called the "ShortPumping" of the Henrico's West End.

In the wake of Innsbrook, as demand for housing increased, so did the modern conveniences some residents expect. Broad Street developed further and further west towards Goochland, and shopping venues increased as exponentially as the traffic they created. Apparently a coffee shop can never be close enough for comfort.

Think about the "East gets Least" phrase now. Some residents of Varina have complained again and again about the lack of these very same amenities, that there is no "Cineplex", we have no bookstore, and of course the call for convenient local restaurants, "Red Lobster" seems to be in high demand for some reason.

The creation of housing for tens of thousands of new residents will surely bring with it the new school facilities so direly needed, but then those will fill up too. Have a look at the satellite image below, courtesy of Google Maps.

Remember the farms you once saw in the West End, out Route 250 on a Sunday afternoon drive? You don't have to be George Orwell to see future possibilities for Varina. Rread the Henrico County 2026 "Draft Capacity Analysis" for population projections

According to the projection in "Table 9 : Demand and Capacity Comparison (New Units)" at the bottom of page 20 (p.22 of .pdf) one scenario shows 2026 total:

for Residential Units 51,563
Made up of
Single Family Units 31,979
Single Family Attached Units 4,015
Multi-Family Units 15,569

Remember, the (draft) scenario is referring to possible Residential Units, not residents. With an average family in Henrico weighing in at about 2.5 members per household on the low end of the scale, that 51,563 units could house 128,907.5 new residents. Each of those families could possess 2 cars, for a possible increase in vehicles of 103,126.

In the above scenario, the "The demand figures presented are taken from the Demand Analysis and represent new units from 2003." This number has probably changed in the last five years, and we would not guess it has diminished. The above scenario is also based on the zoning in place under the 2010 Plan, not the higher densities suggested in the 2026 Plan (draft).

Granted, we all benefit from the convenience of shopping close to home, and living in a beautiful place, but can any one of us begin to imagine an addition 120,000 residents in Henrico? The largest portion of land available to house these potential units, residents, and vehicles is located within Varina.

In terms of the 2026 Land Use Plan (draft) have you read any provisions for saving land? Tell us if you see any conservation or green-space plans in effect.

Have you asked yourself, how much growth can Varina afford?

Participate in our new "Poll" in the column on right, and keep sending in those nominations.

Remember, we're looking for extraordinary residents or groups, who have been witnessed in the action of "Preserving Varina"! Working to save either something green with life, or green from age, keep those emails coming, and thanks again to all of those who've written in.

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