It’s Time (Once Again) to Speak Up for Orange County!

This text was taken from an email sent out on December 13, 2013:

Dear Supporter,

Back in October, facing a packed public meeting room, the Board of Supervisors decided to postpone their vote on a new vision that calls for more sprawling residential and commercial development in Orange. The Board said they’d take the issue up at their December 17th meeting, and that date is fast approaching!

If passed, the proposed Comprehensive Plan would threaten the County’s agricultural character, lead to more traffic along Rt. 20, Rt. 15, and Rt. 3 — and ultimately, result in higher taxes.

Over 120 people attended the last hearing with an overwhelming majority making it clear that Orange County residents do not support this vision. Now, we have a real chance to build on that when the Board prepares to vote on the plan next week.

Board to Vote Next Tuesday

December 17, 2013, 3pm
Gordon Building
112 West Main St., Orange 22960

My cynical side says that the Board may have scheduled the vote this close to the holidays with the hope that people wouldn’t be paying attention. However, I have hopes that they’ve noticed citizen concerns and might do the right thing.

Please consider appearing before the Board during their public comment period (at the beginning of their meeting) — to express your concern with the lack of meaningful changes that have been made since the October hearing and the need for citizen driven plan. If you cannot attend the hearing, the second best thing is to send an email with your concerns to Planning Director, Greg Zody.

For more background info I’ve included the email alert I sent out back in October below. You can also shoot me an email if you have any questions I can help with. Hope to see you at the hearing! If you are going to the hearing or have already emailed the Board, there’s also a citizen petition you might consider signing.

Speak up for Orange County next Tuesday!

Next week the Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting a sprawling vision for the future of Orange County. The plan they are considering calls for major development along Rt. 20, Rt. 15 and Rt. 3, and increased residential and commercial development on agriculturally zoned land.

Attend the Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 7pm at the Taylor Education Administration Complex — 200 Dailey Dr., Orange 22960 (The old Prospect Heights Middle School).

Let the Board of Supervisors know that:

  1. Sprawl-inducing plans lead to tax increases, along with a loss of scenic beauty and rural character.
  2. Agricultural areas should not be open to spot commercial and suburban housing.
  3. Plans for scattered development along Rt. 20, Rt. 15 and Rt.3 will make things worse for everyone who drives along these routes, particularly commuters.

The Devil’s in the Details

The draft plan can be found on Orange County’s website. It includes a new “Future Land Use Map” that incorporates a lot of the proposed changes. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the problems we see with the proposal:

  • The Route 3 Growth Area Gets Even Bigger
    The area designated for development has grown to include the lands to the north and west of Lake of the Woods. With over 1,700 approved and unbuilt lots already on the Rt. 3 corridor, as well as vacant homes for sale, and plenty of commercial zoning to accommodate new business, this expansion is simply not needed.
  • A-2 Doesn’t Seem So Agricultural
    The new A-2 (Agricultural) definition blurs the lines between agricultural, residential and commercial uses—and explicitly supports the conversion of productive agricultural lands to residential development. Over 100,000 acres of agriculturally zoned land (yellow) would be opened up to increased commercial and residential use. View a larger version of this map, along with a more detailed list of concerns about the proposal on PEC’s website.
  • New “Town Suburban” Designation
    This new designation calls for higher density development on the outskirts of Orange’s towns. It is stated that these areas should have town densities and that water and sewer services should be extended into these areas. There are over 3,700 -acres targeted for this new designation, which would directly compete with the thousands of approved and unbuilt units within our existing towns and growth areas—like Round Hill in the town of Orange or Wilderness Shores on Route 3—and in our rural area (byright divisions).
  • 4-Laning and Realignment of Route 20 through the Park
    The plan now calls for Route 20 to be 4-laned from the Town of Orange to Route 3 and realigned through the Wilderness Battlefield Park, an enormous expense and a threat to the Park.
  • Sprawl Along the Route 15 Corridor
    Increased commercial and industrial development as called for by the “Economic Development” areas is totally at odds with the corridor’s largely agricultural character, ignores substantial acreage already zoned for growth, and threatens an important aquifer.

A County in Denial

We believe the this new Comprehensive Plan is a plan to recruit residential growth at great cost to existing residents, rather than accommodate the natural growth the county is likely to experience. To make matters worse, the county plans to offset the cost of this residential growth by chasing economic development, a strategy that is rarely successful.

Said another way– no county has ever grown it’s way to lower taxes. Just look at some of Virginia’s most developed counties. They all have higher tax rates than in Orange.

It’s going to take a big showing to make the Board listen so I hope you’ll consider coming out and saying a few words. Even if its just to say “I support Orange’s rural economy. Don’t adopt these changes.”

Let me know if you have any questions I can assist with. I hope to see you there!


Dan Holmes
Orange County Land Use Officer
The Piedmont Environmental Council

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Banner image credit David Anhold