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South Boston Comprehensive Plan Approved Unanimously

More than a year of public meetings, discussion and vigorous debate over South Boston’s Comprehensive Plan 2030 ended Monday night with a unanimous roll call vote from town council that approved the controversial document. Council, with Coleman Speece absent, had no further discussion before adopting the plan, as a large gathering of Riverdale merchants looked on in silence.
South Boston planners voted unanimously in January to recommend approval of the controversial Comprehensive Plan 2030, but with amendments, including language designed to reinforce protection of Riverdale businesses located in the floodway along U.S. 501.

The planning commission also recommended approval of minor changes made to the plan by VDOT, administrative in nature, according to South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel.

Planners also recommended approval of a sentence added to the plan that reads, “It is intended that any future gateway improvements or median on Highway 501 South would be coordinated closely with area businesses and that appropriate engineering and design studies would be undertaken to minimize impact on any existing business operations.”

“There is no work even contemplated for 501 in the Riverdale area in either plan.  Any changes to them must be vetted through a comprehensive public hearing [process],” Daniel added.

Despite assurances from both council and the planning commission, Riverdale merchants have maintained the two bodies have not acted to promote their best interests during formulation of the Comprehensive Plan.

In particular, they point to a long-range “vision” for the Route 501 corridor through Riverdale, which includes a wetlands park devoid of businesses, and they have repeatedly urged planners and council to delete that portion of the comprehensive plan altogether.

Planners recommended and council approved removing a divided highway and median from the long-term concept for the Riverdale corridor first presented at a planning charette in response to Riverdale merchants’ concerns.

“I know you’re disappointed, and we pledge the town will try and work with you in any way we can,” South Boston Mayor Carroll Thackston said to Riverdale merchants following approval of the comprehensive plan.

Other Council Business

Council unanimously approved minor revisions to the South Boston Emergency Operations Plan.

South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips said at council’s work session in January that the plan has to be updated every four years, with the addition of names and phone numbers, adding a resolution has to be approved by council in order to put the plan into effect.

Phillips noted there were only minor changes to the plan, which already had been approved by state and town officials.

Council Okays Request To Join Group Home Commission
Council approved a request by the Southside Regional Juvenile Group Home Commission that it join its group.

S. Curtis Nolan, executive director of the commission, appeared before council at its January work session to ask the Town of South Boston to join the group, noting there were no financial expectations associated with South Boston’s participation.

The commission is an administrative board, and the purpose of the commission’s program is to provide daily supervision of juveniles who are under the supervision of the 10th District Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, according to Nolan.

“The level of supervision is directed by the juvenile court with the most intensive supervision level being Electronic Monitoring to Outreach Detention which requires at least four face to face contacts weekly,” Nolan said in a letter to Town Manager Ted Daniel.

“All program services are home monitoring activities that are either pre-dispositional or post-dispositional.”

Halifax and Mecklenburg counties currently are represented on the commission, with the Town of South Boston needing to appoint a representative to serve on the board.

State Code sets the term of office for each commissioner as a four-year term, with meetings held at least every quarter.

Nolan said the commission currently includes three members from Mecklenburg County and three from Halifax.

Daniel told council that town staff would research a list of qualified candidates and forward a nomination to council for consideration at its next work session.