Comprehensive plan hearing set for Monday

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HILLSVILLE — One of the last duties for Travis Jackson as Hillsville town manager before he takes over as the lead of the Wythe-Bland Foundation involves shepherding the required update of the comprehensive plan through a public hearing and final approval.
The public hearing will occur at the Hillsville Town Council meeting at 7 p.m. today, Monday.
The goal of a comprehensive plan involves guiding future development strategies for localities. Virginia requires updates to jurisdictions’ comprehensive plans every four years.
As the county seat of Carroll, the town could draw commerce and visitation to a calendar of events from its own citizens but also from the population of the county, Galax and Grayson.
Though Hillsville has sponsored programs to enhance its central business core, the comprehensive plan identifies several ongoing significant issues, such as:
• overhead utility lines that “distract from the historic character of downtown.”
• a need for better parking
• improving pedestrian corridors to facilitate foot traffic between the Carroll County Governmental Center and areas of downtown.
• taking the opportunity to pave the parking lot behind the Carter Home and create a multi-purpose events center and farmers market there.
Hillsville could also differentiate itself from other communities by promoting its history.
“The ‘Allen’ or ‘Courthouse Tragedy’ potentially playing an important role in tourism — it is the one element that clearly differentiates Hillsville from other communities and could play a role in branding efforts, as well,” according to the comprehensive plan. “Preliminary use of the ‘Tragedy’ has met with some success as a limited play at the courthouse, dinner at the diner and dessert at the Carter Building.”
A stated goal of the comprehensive plan stems from “the need to maintain a viable commercial core and enhanced historic district,” while changes in road infrastructure by the way of “the Hillsville bypass” and its three interchanges could impact traffic patterns and flow.
“Proper planning of land use in and around those interchanges can have a positive impact on Hillsville,” the plan said. “While improper control, haphazard land use and conflicting development can have a substantial negative impact on Hillsville’s viability.”
Town officials also need to take into account how the high-traffic Interstate 77-U.S. 58 relates to the commercial core of Hillsville.
Putting together the right plan is “critical to the health and well being of the town,” the plan says. “In essence, this area is the ‘front door’ to Hillsville.”
While the Interstate 77 Exit 14 area has a mixture of retail and hotels, lots of additional acres remains for additional development.
The 105-page comprehensive plan extensively lays out the details of the town, the economy, public services, business and industrial, availability of housing, resident demographics and more.
“Because demand is a factor of population and households and competition is relatively strong from Galax, expansion of retail in downtown Hillsville’s will be dependent upon attracting dollars from other ‘external’ markets, including non-resident visitors to the area,” the plan notes, under the market analysis section. “For success with opening new retail goods and related services operations, the visitor trade would require an extended season and a regular presence in downtown.”

To read the Hillsville comprehensive plan, click the links below to download: