2018-01-31 / News

Planning commission gets new member


The Board of Supervisors last week unanimously approved Craig Stariha’s appointment as the new Matoaca District planning commissioner.

Stariha replaces Edgar Wallin, who resigned Jan. 17 after six years as planning commissioner for Chesterfield’s largest magisterial district.

“I know I have really big shoes to fill,” Stariha said in an interview Sunday evening. “Edgar made a positive impact on the community in many ways. I can only hope to do as well as he did.”

Stariha, a native of Iowa, moved to Chesterfield in 1980 and has lived in the Matoaca District since 1985. He retired as an operations manager for tobacco giant Altria in 2012.

He joins the Planning Commission, a five-member appointed panel that advises the Board of Supervisors on local planning and land-use matters, at its busiest period in many years.

In addition to managing heavy zoning caseloads, the commission is working through an update of the county’s comprehensive plan and special area plans for the Village of Midlothian and the northern Jefferson Davis Highway corridor.

At some point in the coming months, it also is expected to consider the Economic Development Authority’s controversial application to rezone nearly 1,700 acres of residential property in south Chester for use as an industrial megasite.

“I really appreciate Craig stepping forward to serve our citizens,” Matoaca District Supervisor Steve Elswick said.

Elswick acknowledged the importance of moving quickly to find Wallin’s successor and avoid leaving the commission shorthanded.

Planning Commission Chairman Gib Sloan said he and his fellow commissioners would help manage the workload in Matoaca, which typically has the most zoning cases on the monthly agenda, while their new counterpart gets up to speed.

Wallin also has committed to “do anything I can” to help Stariha during the transition.

“He will have to be the gauge of what he wants to talk to me about,” Wallin said.

Stariha sounded a lot like Wallin when he talked about the importance of being “accessible” to Matoaca residents, soliciting community input on zoning cases and encouraging land use that is beneficial to both developers and the county.

“When we make decisions, there needs to be a degree of ownership and accountability,” he added. “I want to make sure people in the county have opportunities to provide feedback. That’s critical.” ¦

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