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Planning Commission Approves Master Plan For Richmond

A view of the Richmond city skyline shot from the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge that provides a pedestrian connection between downtown Richmond and the Southside neighborhood. The Richmond 300 master plan for the city encourages more safe connections and infrastructure to connect different neighborhoods across the city. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

On Monday, Richmond’s Planning Commission approved a new master land use plan, known as Richmond 300. 

The almost 300 page plan, which envisions Richmond on its 300th birthday in 2037, has been developed over a nearly three-year public process.

The project sought to create a "more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful future for all." 

At a meeting last week, Maritza Pechin, project manager for Richmond 300, says it's just a start. "The plan is just the beginning, believe it or not. There’s a lot that now needs to get implemented."

She says the plan makes the city a more walkable, bikeable and livable place, and provides a roadmap for future planners.

“We want as much as possible for people to point back to Richmond 300, which was created with thousands of people’s voices," Pechin said at an earlier planning commission meeting.

But not everyone is happy with the final plan. Scott Burger is from the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association. He, along with a few others in the civic group, sent letters to the commissioners asking them to make sure their neighborhood remains how it is.

“We’re very concerned that this has more to do with developers and VCU ambitions and we do not want to see historic houses and buildings torn down for four-story student dormitories and chain businesses,” Burger said.

Mark Olinger, director of the Department of Planning for the City of Richmond, addressed Burger’s and others comments regarding Oregon Hill and said that Oregon Hill is a mixed-use neighborhood and that the plan doesn’t call for intense growth. And he added that plan does not pertain to zoning but is a fluid document meant to guide decisions. 

The final document is the result of numerous public meetings over the past two years and a citywide survey collected almost 5000 responses.

The plan now heads to Richmond City Council on November 9.

*This story has been updated with information from the latest public meeting.

Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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