The Hilltop Strategic Growth Area (SGA) Master Plan was adopted by City Council on August 28, 2012 as an amendment to the City’s 2009 Comprehensive Plan (www.vbgov.com/planning
). The Hilltop SGA is one of 8 SGAs designated in the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate and absorb the City’s urban growth in the future. The Hilltop SGA is home to a wealth of local businesses with a variety of retail, restaurant, office, health, and recreational uses. The SGA is generally bound by a diverse mix of retail located north of Laskin Road, Lynnhaven SGA to the west, Linkhorn Bay to the east and Potters Road to the south.
Though this area is located within a high noise zone, it is a good candidate for redevelopment and reinvestment because of its existing commercial strength and its proximity to the Oceanfront Resort Area, NAS Oceana, and I-264 interchange. Over time, existing retail buildings will transition into new retail buildings facing new streets. The suburban pattern with streets lined with parking lots and strip centers will gradually give way to a new pedestrian friendly mixed-use district.
Preparing the Hilltop Master Plan
The City commissioned Urban Design Associates (UDA), a world renowned consulting firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to work with a team of local sub-consultants to take the general recommendations from the Comprehensive Plan and study this SGA in more detail. With broad community stakeholder input, UDA and its team helped the City develop a long-range master plan for the Hilltop SGA. This public planning process included three phases:
- Understanding - Gaining a detailed understanding of the problems and opportunities and the goals of the stakeholders. (January 2012)
- Exploring - Using plans and perspective drawings in a design charrette to evaluate a number of possible design and development alternatives. (March 2012)
- Deciding - Narrowing the choices to arrive at consensus solutions. (May to June 2012)
This three-phase process has been used for other area plans in Virginia Beach, including the Burton Station, Newtown, Rosemont, and Lynnhaven SGA Plans, as well as the Interfacility Traffic Area (ITA) and Vicinity Plan.
Phase 1 - Understanding
The Hilltop SGA planning effort began on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 with an organization and goal setting meeting. Following this the consultants conducted site documentation and met with the Steering Committee. On Thursday, January 26, 2012 focus group meetings, key stakeholders interviews, and a public meeting were held to present the results of a physical analysis of the SGA. Broad public input on the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for this SGA was obtained. There was consensus to expand the planning area boundary to include adjacent commercial areas to the west and east and continue the southern boundary to Potters Road (see Hilltop SGA Boundary Map – Expanded under related maps
). The Phase 1 summary
and public meeting presentation
can also be viewed under related documents.
Phase 2 – Exploring
Consultants, stakeholders, and city staff worked in a design charrette the week of March 12 using analysis and feedback from Phase 1 to obtain more specific public input, sketch possible design alternatives, and refine design principles for the Hilltop SGA. Citizens were invited to an open house on March 14 to view the work in progress and talk with the design team. The refined design principles and design alternatives developed from the charrette were presented at a public meeting on March 15. The Phase 2 public meeting presentation can be viewed here
Phase 3 – Deciding
During this phase an initial draft plan for the Hilltop SGA was presented to the Hilltop Steering Committee, City Council, Planning Commission and the public during the week of May 21, 2012. The draft plan is the vision for the Hilltop SGA and the result of citizen input received from previous focus group meetings and public meetings. Public comment was received during this phase on the draft plan and direction was provided to the consultant to prepare the Final Draft Master plan. The Phase 3 public meeting presentation can be viewed here
Final Draft Plan: Planning Commission/City Council Briefings and Public Hearings
The Hilltop SGA Final Draft Master Plan was presented to the Planning Commission and City Council on July 10-11, 2012. Following a public hearing on July 11 the Planning Commission referred the Final Draft Plan to City Council with a recommendation for approval. City Council held a public comment meeting on August 14, 2012 and adopted the Master Plan on August 28, 2012 (see Hilltop SGA Master Plan – July 2012).