Growth management subcommittee tentatively set to meet July 9

Published 9:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A growth management-focused subcommittee of Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to hold its first meeting on July 9 at 6 p.m., though not all of its members have been appointed.

As of June 25, Isle of Wight County Community Development Director Amy Ring said she’d received nominations from planning commissioners for districts 1, 2 and 5. Planning Commissioner James Ford, who represents District 3, said he had one person on board to serve. Planning Commission Chairman Bobby Bowser, who also represents District 3, said he also has two volunteers. 

The group, which Isle of Wight County supervisors voted to create in February at the urging of District 1 Supervisor Renee Rountree, will be tasked with evaluating the county’s readiness for a population surge from new housing and commercial developments. The plan is for the group to have two members from each of the county’s five voting districts.

A draft timeline Ring presented in March called for a “growth rate impact scenario study” by an outside consultant, the findings of which would be incorporated into the group’s updates to the “Envisioning The Isle” comprehensive plan the county adopted in 2020. Under state law, that plan must be reviewed every five years.

Ring, at the commission’s June 25 meeting, said she’d solicited four consultants and had received bids from two ranging from $39,000 to $59,000 for a 12-month commitment, though each has reportedly pledged to be able to complete the work in six months.

If the subcommittee still lacks members by June 28, the initial meeting could be pushed back to Aug. 13 at 6 p.m., the first date either consultant will be available, Ring said.

Ring’s March timeline had called for the group to break into smaller subsets, each of which would delve into a specific section of the 2020 comprehensive plan. Currently, the plan is divided into 10 chapters: “Guide the Isle,” “Preserve the Isle,” “Shape the Isle,” “Connect the Isle,” “Serve the Isle,” “Educate the Isle,” “Enhance the Isle,” “Envision the Isle,” “Create the Isle” and “Share the Isle.” Growth management could be an overarching focus of the full group or the focus of one of these subsets, Ring suggested in March.

Isle of Wight, already the sixth or seventh fastest-growing county in the state according to differing census data and rankings by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center, saw seven rezoning applications for new and expanded subdivisions in 2023 that would collectively add more than 1,900 new houses to the county’s northern end. Another 2,200 homes spread across eight developments approved prior to 2023 are either in progress or could break ground soon.  

The resulting influx of more than 1,000 new students from northern-end developments could put four of the county’s nine schools at or above capacity, according to enrollment projections Isle of Wight County Schools shared with Smithfield’s and Isle of Wight’s Planning Commissions in December. A competing study Weldon Cooper released in January showed only a 2% uptick in enrollment through 2029, but did not take into account the impact of housing starts.

The 2020 plan had estimated 0.8% annual population growth, though Isle of Wight actually saw closer to 2% per year in the past three.