Council passes riverfront plan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After much debate, Richmond City Council unanimously passed the riverfront plan Monday night, giving guidance on preservation and development for the James River.

Even on a dreary day like Tuesday when you might not want to be on the James, there's no question this body of water gives Richmond its identity. Now, there's a plan for its future.

With no opposition speakers coming forward and a unanimous vote by council that future is coming into focus.

"A lot can be done with it," explained Councilman Marty Jewell. "Now, with a plan, a lot will be done with it."

That "a lot" is a balancing act, according to Adrienne Kotula with the James River Association.

"There are a number of interests, obviously to protect the river like the James River Association is interested in and also, developing the river, bringing people down to the riverfront," Kotula said.

It took almost a year and a half for those two interests to mesh. Now, the plan details increased connectivity not only between the north and south sides of the river, but also between neighborhoods and the river. It also identifies specific areas as good places for mixed-use development, but not towering skyscrapers.

"We've got this huge expansive river, which explains the huge expansive concern and input," Jewell said.

A point of contention almost stalled the plan as developers proposed a last minute amendment, which would have increased growth in certain areas. Instead, council deferred to language in the city's Downtown Master Plan, which puts places like Mayo Island top on the list of properties to acquire.

Supporters say the plan passed Monday night preserves the view that named Richmond, honors the past and looks out for the future.

"It's a good plan," Jewell added. "It will do us all in good stead for generations to come."

Now, city leaders and advocates will focus on the implementation of the plan and any challenges that may bring.

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