What might Jamestown look like in 2030? That’s the vision the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee is considering.

The Committee has met several times in recent weeks with the focus being on future land use for the town. Vagn Hansen, with Benchmark Planning, led discussions about 14 possible categories, or districts, for these areas.

One new category of interest to many in Jamestown is the Mill District, centered around the former Oakdale Cotton Mill. 

“The intent of this land use classification is to foster the preservation and revitalization of the mill and traditional mill village in a manner that both preserves the rich history of Oakdale while transitioning the mill village into a mixed-use development focused on the mill and spurring additional residential development on the property,” Hansen said.

Putting an actual designation to the mill area could meet with opposition. Martha Wolfe represents the Town Council on this committee and recalled that several years ago there was pushback from residents along Oakdale Road when there was talk of establishing a Historic Commission in town. Residents believed they would be forced to abide by strict rules for their properties and the Council later rejected the application for a Commission. She noted the west side of Oakdale Road containing the mill and village is already in the National Historic District.

A district designated as Village received several comments as to its name. This area encompasses what is known as the Johnson farm along Guilford College and Mackay roads. The land was the subject of a rezoning petition for development, which was denied by the Planning Board in 2020 after months of discussion and in 2021 by the Town Council, which also denied an annexation petition. The property has since been sold to a new developer. It is the largest single undeveloped tract in Jamestown’s jurisdiction.

“We see this as one of the premier development tracts in the Triad,” Hansen said. “Given the size and prominent location of this tract, the Town is expecting it to be developed in a manner that creates an integrated, walkable and mixed-use ‘village’

“This would contain a wide range of housing options and neighborhood types focused on a ‘village center’ that provides neighborhood-scale convenience, retail, entertainment and services that residents can easily access on foot or bike.”

Hansen expects this area would exceed standard residential development while still being consistent with the character and quality of development found in the greater Jamestown community.”

“The term ‘village’ doesn’t sound like it is part of Jamestown,” said committee member Sherrie Richmond. Others agreed and Hansen mentioned that word might have a bad connotation at this time.

“Part of this [process] is coming up with the right names for this,” Hansen said. He noted the current Future Land Use map designates this property both as suburban residential and traditional neighborhood.

The town center district runs from Ragsdale Road along Main Street to Guilford Road and includes the traditional downtown area. 

“The classification is intended to support and perpetuate the walkable, mixed-use development pattern in the core of the town,” Hansen said. “This area serves as the economic, cultural and civic heart of the community. Traditional development patterns have buildings constructed adjacent to the sidewalks to create an inviting atmosphere for pedestrians while parking and service areas are located to the rear or sides of buildings.” 

Hanson presented some Main Street improvements, such as a reduced speed limit to 25 mph on Main Street, no center turn lanes, which would create room for bicycle lanes, and more and wider sidewalks. More crossings were also suggested as well as some type of traffic management at the Main Street/Guilford Road intersection.

He also pointed to the need to redevelop the parcel of land on Main Street across from the Oakdale Road intersection which houses several vacant buildings, as well as developing a “linear park” on the thin strip of land across from Forestdale Plaza Shopping Center and abutting the railroad.

Hansen believes there is a need for a “downtown gateway” area near the library that would alert travelers they are entering the downtown business section.

Several other categories elicited few comments from committee members.

“The goal is not to make any immediate changes to [existing] zoning,” Hansen said. “This can influence and inspire future changes. It does not mandate it.”

“Future land use and zoning are not the same,” said Planning Director Matthew Johnson. “This is not saying, ‘this is what is allowed.’ We’re not talking about permitted uses or names of zoning districts. 

“We’re trying to get a feel what you think this area might be in the future.”

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