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Richmond Hill approves comprehensive plan update

POSTED: April 5, 2018 2:52 p.m.

Richmond Hill’s comprehensive plan, which will guide the city for the next decade, moved forward recently as city council voted to submit it for review.

The plan, as required by state law, sets forth the city’s community goals and outlines its needs and opportunities, with a focus on land use, zoning and economic development.

The plan will be reviewed by the Coastal Regional Commission before being submitted to the state Department of Community Affairs. The plan is required for the city to maintain its “qualified local government” status, which makes it eligible for certain state funding and permitting programs.

The city worked with Ed DiTommaso of Ecological Planning Group to draft the plan, which included stakeholder meetings, public hearings, an open house and a community survey.

Nearly 1,200 responded to the survey. DiTommaso said he was pleased with the participation, especially for a city of about 10,000. The high number gives the survey a 95 percent accuracy rate, plus or minus 2 percent.

Of the respondents some 48 percent were between the ages of 35 and 49, and 60 percent have lived here less than 10 years. About 5 percent were lifelong residents. Some 82 percent were homeowners and 90 percent had children under the age of 18. About 75 percent said they do not plan on moving out of Richmond Hill in the next five years.

A low crime rate and high-quality schools were the most important factors of why people chose to live in Richmond Hill, followed by quality of life and recreational opportunities.

Drainage and flooding issues were the top priority for respondents, while traffic congestion received the highest “dissatisfied” score. Respondents also said they felt the city needed fewer apartments and townhomes and more restaurants and retail shopping.

More than half said they did not think there are adequate employment opportunities in the city, but half also said they do not support increased residential density in order to have more restaurants and shopping options.

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