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The Comprehensive Plan forms the guide for zoning in Middlesex County, and can be considered a "blueprint" for future zoning decisions. While future 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. The Plan is not a zoning ordinance and amendments will not change existing zoning designations, but it is a guide for which zoning changes are anticipated and considered.
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The Comprehensive Plan is a document that establishes policies that guide the future development of the County, establishes a vision for the future and identifies a strategy for achieving that vision. Although general in nature, the Comprehensive Plan includes a review of many different aspects of physical development including:
The 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, which spells out policies for future development in order to ensure orderly growth and the protection of the public health and welfare. The Comprehensive Plan may consist of a number of components, such as local area plans, service plans, and specific land-use related resolutions of the Board of Supervisors. Section 15.2-2223 of the Code of Virginia states:
The comprehensive plan shall be made with the purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted, and harmonious development of the territory which will, in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare of the inhabitants.
By requiring local governments to adopt comprehensive plans, the legislature implied that local government issues are best handled at the local level of government. This Comprehensive Plan, therefore, is the vehicle by which the local government officials and citizens of Middlesex County express their goals for the future of their community.
The Comprehensive Plan is used by citizens, developers, County staff, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors to develop and implement a course of growth for Middlesex County. As much has changed in our community over the last five years, the update is necessary to assess new needs, develop solutions for new and long-term challenges, and to plan for new growth while enhancing our existing community. The Plan update will consist of researching and analyzing the County’s: