News / Making Communities Stronger: Jake Petrosky

October 30th / 2020

Making Communities Stronger: Jake Petrosky

Planning Manager Jake Petrosky, AICP, is responsible for land use planning and urban design in Stewart’s municipal planning practice. His duties include project management, analysis, conceptual design, and public engagement activities.

Jake has 17 years of experience in land use and comprehensive plans, small area plans, multi-modal transportation planning, parks, greenways, and environmental planning.

He believes in data-driven, design-oriented planning and has a professional and personal interest in well-designed, connected places and open spaces and how they can improve quality of life. Jake is passionate about improving urbanity and better defining its edges. 

The following are community and small area plans Jake is currently managing.

Huntersville 2040 Community Plan

Managing Change

Huntersville has grown from a population of 1,200 people in 1980 to 61,000 currently. “As planners, we manage growth and change,” Jake explains. Stewart facilitated a conversation with the Huntersville community over the past year to understand what is going well, what are the concerns, and what citizens want to change. The Huntersville 2040 Community Plan encourages improved design of new development in rural and transitional areas to protect natural and cultural resources, including tree canopy, water quality, and historic landscapes.

Huntersville’s citizens expressed concern over future development, growth management, water conservation, tree cover, and environmental preservation during the process. Stewart is working with them to understand their priorities, to address their concerns, and to set design expectations for the town’s rural areas. One of the major recommendations in the plan is to revisit conservation subdivision design standards in some areas to allow more flexibility in site design in exchange for more, higher quality open space preservation. 

Downtown concept plan

Early in the process, improvements to downtown Huntersville emerged as a key priority. Stewart led a charette to develop a conceptual plan for infill and redevelopment and improved public spaces and street enhancements in downtown Huntersville.

Public engagement

The public engagement process included a four-day workshop (pre-COVID-19), including a walking tour with residents. Online workshops were held over the summer to review draft recommendations. Three surveys were conducted during the process; two used, an interactive survey platform with integrated social media advertising. One of the benefits of is that a live summary of survey results can be viewed by participants and elected officials.

To ensure citizens could comment on the plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, 20,000 copies of the draft plan’s custom newsprint version were mailed to each town residence.

Alamance County Land Development Plan and Snow Camp Small Area Plan

Scenario Planning

Alamance County has grown by 30% since 2000. As the population increased, acreage and farmland have decreased. People are concerned about farmland and the county’s rural character.

As part of the Alamance County Land Development Plan, three alternative land-use scenarios were developed using CommunityViz, a powerful scenario planning software, to frame potential policy changes.

People voted on their preferred scenarios. Seventy-four percent of those who voted preferred the Agricultural and Rural Character (ARC) Scenario. Municipal Planning developed policies that supported the preferred scenario–and reflected the needs and wants of the town’s citizens. The plan gives them a policy and strategy toolbox to implement the county’s goals.

Through a collaborative process with staff, stakeholders, and the general public, recommendations are made for various issues such as land use, development design, transportation, economic development, parks and open space, and natural resources. The Snow Camp Small Area Plan recommends implementing additional land use regulations to manage growth, protect farmland, and discourage high impact land uses that would negatively impact the community.

Snow Camp Small Area Plan

Alamance County’s land development plan included a small area plan for historic Snow Camp. Snow Camp is an unincorporated community in southwest Alamance County that is primarily agricultural with many intact natural and cultural resources, including 59 surveyed historical structures and three designated Natural Heritage Natural Areas.

Site analysis was geared toward understanding the community’s character. Stewart planners facilitated a process to understand existing residents’ land use preferences and crafted custom policies and regulations to protect the area’s unique features.

City of Fayetteville’s Center City Parks and Trails Plan

Jake and the Stewart planning team led an interdisciplinary effort to create a master plan for parks and trails near downtown Fayetteville that will connect Fayetteville State University to downtown Fayetteville—increasing access to parks in nearby neighborhoods and serving as a visitor destination. This project also helps to repair the neighborhood connections that were severed by extensive highway construction.

Perspective of proposed trailhead on future Fayetteville State University Student Center site

Interdisciplinary Approach

Working with Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh, PA, the municipal planning team recommends:

  • extending and enhancing existing parks;
  • utilizing existing publicly owned lands for new parks to fill programming gaps;
  • Making key pedestrian and bicycle improvements to connect nearby neighborhoods to existing and planned public space and key destinations; and
  • Augmenting existing wayfinding signage to assist with visitor orientation.

They are also working closely with Stewart’s other practice areas on the Fayetteville Center City Parks and Trails Plan. Jake provided the big-picture planning of the area while Stephen Faber from landscape architecture and staff from UDA created the drawings. This collaboration is one of many ways the iterative design process produces tailored solutions for the municipalities Stewart serves.

We Strengthen Communities

“It’s an honor to do this kind of work,” Jake reflects. “Clients trust us to do the due diligence to get to know a community and have that community’s interest in mind when we make recommendations. Getting to know a community is part of what we do. That’s why we don’t come in and say ‘Here’s your plan’ or ‘Here’s your design’ without doing the work to address the issues particular to that place.

“We strengthen communities,” he concludes. “‘Stronger by Design’ is the overarching thread that we work towards day in and day out.” Jake and the municipal planning team work continuously to build stronger communities, helping towns, cities, and counties achieve their goals.

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