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Greenbrier Area Plan

The stated purpose of the Greenbrier Area Plan is to "develop strategies to guide future development, maintain Greenbrier’s economic advantage in the marketplace and attract new businesses and residents by improving the qualities that make Greenbrier a unique place in the city." The plan envisions significantly increasing the density of the area with considerable new urban mixed-use development, new neighbor scale and age-targeted housing, adding a large capacity regional multi-purpose athletic/entertainment facility, all while enhancing the commercial retail environment and serving a major urban employment center.   

One stated goal is to improve the Quality of Life for residents and workers in the Greenbrier area "by strengthening the appeal and livability of the built environment and the availability and quality of services provided."  Some of the specific components to be studied include steps to

  • improve existing open spaces, create new open spaces, integrate existing water features and other natural resources, and expand the tree canopy
  • improve congestion and connectivity. Private vehicles, public transportation, parking, bike trails, and roadway beautification will all be considered.
  • high-level infrastructure improvements needed to support future development within the study area, including water, sewer, stormwater, and communications.
  • address resiliency in regard to the overall environmental and economic health of the study area.
  • development of design guidelines to include components such as site design, building design, place-making, branding, wayfinding, and other design components 
  • a deliberate approach to streetscapes, landscaping, lighting, and sidewalks will help promote a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
On May 22, the City held an Open House to share some of the plans so far, but the information presented very high level, essentially consisting of 7 charts that can be seen at Greenbrier Area Plan | Greenbrier Area Plan | Chesapeake, VA ( Many of the components listed above were only touched upon lightly, providing limited information on which to comment.  Another Open House is expected in the fall.

The environmental benefit of targeting development to such an urban core is that it helps divert development from open space and agricultural areas on the fringe of the region.  The City's population, currently at 255,000, is projected to grow to just shy of 300,000 by 2045. The number of households will grow from about 95,000 to over 113,000.  That is 18,000 new households.  Focusing a greater portion of this growth in existing parts of the city rather than low-density "suburban sprawl" can result in preservation of open space and agricultural lands on the outskirts of the City. 

But in order for increased density to have provide a real benefit of bringing people and business together, the area needs to have strongly enhanced pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure to encourage people to get out of their cars.  Otherwise, if all the extra people living and working in the area are forced to rely on automobiles, the plan will result in severe traffic congestion.   We also need to figure out how to grow our urban forest while building more housing, including more affordable housing.   And all this new development needs to factor in a 21st century building standards, high quality of life, and climate resilience.  

Some key areas that need to be fleshed out include:
- Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Active Connectivity
- Transit
- Trees and Urban Forestry
- Building Energy Efficiency, Lighting, and Dark Skies Initiative 

Stay tuned for further discussion on these.


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