By Bob Stuart | Original Article
Feb. 26, 2018

WAYNESBORO – The consultant who helped the city of Waynesboro develop a new comprehensive plan for development told city leaders Monday that the city is at a crossroads, but said a plan is in place to address the future.

Consultant Charles Buki of Alexandria, Virginia-based czbLLC appeared before Waynesboro City Council as approval of the comp plan is nearing. The city will hold a public hearing on the plan March 12, and could approve it after the hearing.

The comprehensive plan will provide a blueprint for Waynesboro’s future, although not a binding one.

Deputy Waynesboro City Manager Jim Shaw told council Monday that the plan can “guide” the future of the city.

Shaw said in addition to the consultant, a steering committee worked over the past year to help shape the plan.

“We had meaningful and sometimes tough conversations,” Shaw said of the steering committee. Shaw said the staff and community members would rely on the plan.

Shaw said the plan would require tough choices for Waynesboro. Buki said the plan should be amended by the city if it is necessary to do so.

Buki and czb have pointed to five areas of focus for the city in the future that include education, infrastructure, quality of life, the economy and neighborhoods.

The education strategy includes better teacher pay, better facilities and more student achievement for both K-12 and beyond. Buki said the city needs to attract the region’s best teachers, but said accomplishing that is unlikely without better compensation.

The consultant addresses the neighborhood improvements with more pride in property ownership and stricter code enforcement particularly in terms of blighted properties.

Buki estimates that the city’s housing stock needs about $76 million to bring it up to par.

The draft comp plan speaks of reinvestment in property in the city’s legacy neighborhoods, but also talks of investment in Waynesboro’s transitional, developing and opportunity neighborhoods.

Waynesboro Vice Mayor Terry Short said the draft comp plan offers a honest depiction of Waynesboro’s assets and needs.

“It’s honest about the state of our community with all the wonderful things going on and the challenges,” Short said of the draft comp plan.