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The Town of Warrenton is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan which provides the foundation for potential changes to zoning ordinances and will shape future development in the Town. On June 15, the Town of Warrenton released the first draft of the Warrenton 2040 Comprehensive Plan to the public. It was a sizable document of 437 pages, including appendices and details that had not previously been released to the community. Since then, a 513-page updated version of the plan has been posted. Both are available here: https://warrentonplan.com/latest-mats/ 

We believe the current schedule for review and adoption of the plan is very rushed, especially in light of recent events and changes in the public process. The planning commission has indicated it plans to hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the town council on July 21, just five weeks after the release of this extensive document. The town council plans to hold its own public hearing on September 8, potentially adopting the plan that same night. Our read on this very important plan is that it outlines a new vision for the Town of Warrenton, aspects of which are far too significant to be decided on over such a short period. Remember that this document, once approved, would guide the council’s decisions for a minimum of the next 5 years. It is imperative that they get it right.

We have reviewed the plan and shared our concerns with the planning commission in this comment letter sent on July 15, 2020. The primary thing we are asking the Town to do is slow down this process and address the concerns raised by residents, PEC and others.

Our additional suggestions are summarized below:

  • Growth Rate - The plan should include an evaluation of existing capacity under current zoning, a growth target for meeting desired housing goals, and the maximum percentage of residential and minimum percentage of commercial in each of the Character District’s mixed-use zoning.

  • Economic and Fiscal Resilience - The fiscal and economic resilience of Warrenton should be reevaluated. The town should be compared to other towns. The current comparison with other counties is not appropriate and provides a skewed picture of reality. As well, the region used should capture both rural and urban localities. Growth Scenarios - Reevaluate the development scenarios with inclusion of any required water and wastewater facility expansions. More detail should be provided on projected real estate values and housing type, square footage of redevelopment, and increases in dining facilities.

  • Redevelopment and Infill - Reevaluate the broad application of by-right mixed use zoning in the Character Districts and target incentives such as residential allowances and by-right approval to priority redevelopment and infill sites.

  • Housing - Provide more information about densities and/or the percentages for the intended mix of uses in each Character District and the Broadview Overlay.

  • Affordable Housing - Include requirements for affordable housing and provide more information regarding affordable housing goals, including retention thereof, and the Haiti Heritage Area.

  • Transportation - Engage stakeholders in conversations about the Timberfence Parkway and remove the Southern Parkway from the plan. Evaluate the traffic implications of the proposed growth and the costs associated with needed improvements. Ensure that these improvements are paid by development, not borne by existing taxpayers.

  • Water and Wastewater - Provide cost estimates for the cost to expand water and Wastewater facilities needed to meet projected growth under the plan. Ensure that these improvements are paid by development, not born by existing taxpayers.

  • Parks and Recreation - Take the time to create the Master Park Plan, Town Streetscape Manual, and Town-Wide Tree Plan prior to adopting by-right mixed use zoning for the Character Districts and the Broadview Overlay.

Weighing In

The Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the draft plan on July 21 at 7pm at the Warrenton Town Hall (18 Court St, Warrenton). They have indicated they will move the plan forward to the Town Council which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on September 8.  

If you want to have a say in the future of Warrenton, please consider weighing in on this important decision. You can submit comments until noon of July 20 through the Town’s comment portal, be sure to select the Planning Commission and the Warrenton Comprehensive Plan as the agenda item.

For more extensive comments you can email to Susan Rae Helander, Planning Commission Chair, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and copy Denise Harris, Town Planning Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you choose to attend the public hearing on July 21st and make comments in person, do not forget to bring a mask.

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