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From 2000 through 2010, Chesterfield County grew at a rate of about 3.3% per year. This translates into approximately 2,000 new residential dwellings annually. The county's growth rate has been significantly higher in the past than it is today. In the 1970s, growth averaged 6% a year, and in the 1980s it was approximately 4% per year. Different parts of the county are growing at different rates, of course.
The 2010 census counted 316,236 residents in Chesterfield County, making it the 4th largest jurisdiction in Virginia, behind Fairfax County, the City of Virginia Beach and Prince William County. Chesterfield grew by over 56,300 residents from 2000 through 2010, a total increase of nearly 22%, with an annual growth rate of 3.3%. In that same period, Henrico grew by about 44,600 (an increase of 17%). Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing areas in the United States, grew by 84% during this time.
Chesterfield County does not regulate the number of new homes constructed each year. Housing construction volume is determined by the private market, based on the demand by individuals deciding to build or buy a home in the county. Through its Comprehensive Plan, the county does guide the location of new construction in order to minimize the cost of infrastructure and public facilities, and to protect the natural environment.
A comprehensive plan enables local government officials and citizens to anticipate and deal constructively with changes occurring within the community. Though its format varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the comprehensive plan is a broad effort to address a wide range of community issues and concerns, understanding the important relationships between each part. Virginia state law requires that all local governments have an adopted comprehensive plan. Typical topics addressed in a comprehensive plan include the analysis of population change, land use and economic trends, natural and environmental features, housing, transportation systems, and community facilities and services.
Chesterfield County will grow by approximately 100,000 residents over the next 20 years. The Chesterfield County Comprehensive Plan outlines where new residential, commercial and employment uses should locate. It also identifies where new public facilities should be located to serve growth. Zoning request not in compliance with the Plan are generally recommended for denial by staff.
Zoning is the legal means by which local governments regulate the use of land and provide standards for development of land. The Comprehensive Plan forms the foundation for all zoning in Chesterfield County, and can be considered a "blueprint" for future zoning decisions. While land-use-plan designations are only recommendations of possible future use, they are used as an important guide for the changing of any zoning classification.
Yes. The Comprehensive Plan includes elements which propose new roads, schools, parks, libraries, fire stations and other public facilities. Population and land use studies are prepared to determine the optimum location and pattern for these public facilities. These public facilities plans are coordinated to support the land use plan and the locations designated for new development.
Road congestion is a national problem, especially in growing metropolitan areas. Travel in the United States has grown significantly faster than population and transportation-revenue resources. From 1980 to 2000, the U.S. population increased by 24%, yet miles driven increased by 80%. Congestion in Chesterfield County is significantly less than that experienced in Northern Virginia and Richmond's West End.
The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors has an established goal of "Growth to Pay for Growth." Therefore, new residents and businesses pay their share of the expansion of the county water and sewer systems through connection fees. However, for roads, schools and other public facilities, it is not so simple. A system similar to utility-connection fees, called impact fees, is not legal in Virginia for these other facilities. Instead, a system of cash-proffer payments promised at the time of rezoning was enacted in 1989 by the state for Chesterfield County and other jurisdictions. Cash proffers are helping finance roads and infrastructure.
No one can perfectly predict the future, however, county planning studies illustrate that if the county follows its Comprehensive Plan, the cost of roads, schools and public facilities will be more efficient due to the planned pattern of growth and increasing effectiveness of county growth policies. In addition, as identified in the comprehensive plan, revitalization of existing neighborhood and business corridors will be a major focus of future county efforts. The Planning Department is constantly analyzing data to identify future issues facing the county. The Comprehensive Plan is the county's vehicle to explore and discuss these issues, and provide high level guidance and awareness to citizens, county staff and officials.