Luxury resort vs. economy hotel? A small conference center vs. a large convention center? These are the types of questions Route 3 steering committee members hope to get out of February’s charette.
A charette, as discussed last month during a joint meeting of supervisors, planning commission and Economic Development Authority (EDA) members, is a collaborative planning process that utilizes the talents and expertise of interested parties to create and support a vision or direction that represents significant community change. In addition to representatives from the three boards, the charette will also bring together key stakeholders such as chamber of commerce members, landowners, homeowners’ associations and more to work with a panel of experts to refine further the vision for the Rt. 3 area.
The charette will be held over two days in February, and as steering committee members decided last week, will focus on the bigger picture rather than the minute details like what size water lines would need to go where.
District 2 Supervisor Jim White said he’d like to see a conversation about what the market will support in residential, commericial and industrial areas and what risks developers are willing to take.
“Given where we are, what’s feasible for a first, second and third phase?” he asked.
District 5 Supervisor Lee Frame agreed.
“A lof of people want a lot of things,” he said. “[The panelists] would say okay, this is what it takes. What’s achievable given the market? A Holiday Inn versus a Greenbrier? A convention center or a conference center? Restaurants?
“We’re talking about different kinds of businesses that we don’t have experience with locally,” he added.
District 5 planning commission member Nigel Goodwin suggested getting an expert on zoning overlays to participate in the charette. However, Frame said it might be too technical for the meeting.
And, then of course, there’s the question about water.
County administrator Julie Summs said once the needs of the area are defined, that information could then be used in a grant proposal to fund a water feasibility study, which would then be used to determine the type of water supply needed to serve the area.
Also important, said EDA District 5 member Winston Sides, is a knowledge of the typography of the area.
“If we get the typography, we’ll have something to stand on,” he said. “What’s best suited for which tracts—we need to look at that. We should know what we’re planning for and where. Even if it’s crayons on a big piece of paper, we need it.”
“Having that available to the charette [panelists] is critical,” he said.
The county’s planning department is working on obtaining the necessary maps that outline the area’s characteristics that will be vital to the planning process.
“Typography, water needs, transportation, existing conditions,” White said, “these are all things that have to be factored into it.”
He also suggested looking further into the possibility of a parkway.
“What does it add?,” he asked. “What does it cost? What does it take? How is it paid for? What do you lose by having one? Is it something a business looks for?”
The steering committee was scheduled to meet with a charette consultant Friday afternoon to go over the logistics of the meeting, what is needed, who should be invited and more.