Community input needed

for Richmond 300 plan

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

As with anything of quality, the most successful attribute you can impart is a distinctive balance. Be it a fine pinot noir or an NFL football team, there must be a successful balance to achieve its highest potential. The Richmond 300 master planning process, in its preliminary released context, achieves no balance at all for the future direction of our city.

Take the historic tree-lined streets of the Fan District, the stately structures of Church Hill or the surviving 19th-century working-class Italianate housing in Oregon Hill — all of these neighborhoods are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and deserve special accommodations for their preservation. Their stories are part of the rich history of our beloved city. Designed with beauty and requisite density already, they are a treasure for people to live in and visit.

It is troubling that those making the decisions on the Richmond 300 plan have focused entirely on added density, preservation be damned. These neighborhoods have been sentenced to a "mixed-use" designation, with eight-story buildings considered consistent with planning objectives. Imagine an eight-story building on Hanover Avenue or in the heart of Oregon Hill. The people chosen to craft this plan are the same as always — municipal planners, Virginia Commonwealth University vice presidents, development attorneys, etc. — with little or no input truly accepted from the community. Sure, they have presentations and public meetings, but they obviously are not listening in earnest to the stake-holding public.

Perhaps, instead, the Richmond 300 plan should be driven by community input, with comments by these density-crazed developers considered as an afterthought. The city Planning Commission should be embarrassed by what they've come up with so far.

Oscar Wilde once said, "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." That premise could never be more obvious than it is here.

Charles Woodson.


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