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Contact Information:


Planning Division
101-A Mounts Bay Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23185

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P: 757-253-6685
F: 757-253-6822




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8 a.m. - 5 p.m.



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Better Site Design Project


Background Information on the Better Site Design Roundtable

With the objective of promoting environmentally superior building practices for new development in the Chesapeake Bay Region, the Center for Watershed Protection,Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Peninsula Housing and Builders Association, and the James City County (JCC) Department of Development Management forged a coalition to implement a Local Site Planning Roundtable in James City County.

JCC Roundtable members convened many times over an 11-month period to become familiar with the Model Development Principles, review existing codes and regulations, work in subcommittees, and reach group consensus on a final set of recommendations. The Roundtable consisted of over 40 dedicated members representing a wide range of professional backgrounds and experience related to local development issues.

The process included the following steps: a kick-off meeting in January of 2004; detailed codes analysis in February of 2004; sub-committee meetings and consensus building in March – October of 2004; and a final group consensus meeting in November of 2004.

What is the purpose of the Better Site Design Project? The purpose of the Better Site Design project is to implement the Recommended Model Development Principles designed for JCC in 2004 by the local Site Planning Roundtable and to incorporate them into the plan review process.  Areas of design that were examined include:

  • Lot development
  • Natural areas
  • Parking lots
  • Residential street widths
  • Stormwater management

A copy of the final document, which includes explanations for each principle, their rationales, and the Roundtable’s recommendation for how to alter County ordinances and policies to promote better site design, can be accessed by following this link:

Recommended Model Development Principles PDF

What does this project mean for citizens of the County?

Some of the benefits of applying the Recommended Model Development Principles include:

  • More pedestrian friendly neighborhoods
  • Increased property values
  • More open space and attractive landscaping
  • Reduced car speed on residential streets
  • The promotion of neighborhood designs that provide for a greater sense of community

How will these Recommended Model Development Principles be used to promote better site design within the County?

The Principles outlined in the above document present specific recommendations on how to foster more environmentally sensitive local site design within the County and pinpoints specific sections of the governing ordinances and policies that could be revised.  These Recommendations have been assigned a priority (high, medium, or low), time frame for incorporation (short, medium, or long), and responsible parties and committee members.  These specifications are outlined in the following spreadsheet:

Priority Recommendation Roadmap

Recommendation Implementation: An Implementation Committee has been formed to carry through the Recommendations in the Roadmap.  The Committee currently meets every other Wednesday at 11 a.m. in Building A of the JCC Government Complex, 101 Mounts Bay Rd.  Members of the public are welcome to attend.  The Committee’s progress on each of the Recommendations will be updated in the Priority Recommendation Roadmap document, and action minutes from each meeting will be posted below.

Implementation Committee Members:

  • Ellen Cook, Senior Planner
  • Jose Ribeiro, Planner
  • Mike Woolson, Senior Watershed Planner
  • Shereen Hughes, Planning Commissioner
  • Bob Cosby
  • Sean Fisher
  • Tim Cleary

Implementation Committee Findings: The Implementation Committee concluded their work at their May 1, 2007, meeting.  The Committee produced a summary document which was presented to the Board of Supervisors at their Sept. 25 work session.  At the work session, the Board provided additional direction about continued implementation which staff and the other designated parties in the document will continue to pursue.  The summary document and the appendices are available below.”


If you have specific questions regarding the Better Site Design Project, please contact the Planning Division at or 757-253-6685.

*Agendas will be posted the Monday prior to that Wednesday’s meeting.

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