Because a little planning never hurt
PEC believes that the Comprehensive Plan is a community’s most important document regarding land use, growth, development, transportation, and resource utilization. These documents are the road map for the future for our counties, towns and cities—something we all have a stake in.
Our staff follows Comp Plan updates and revisions in our nine-county region closely, and we’re currently keeping a sharp eye on the process in Culpeper, Fauquier and Orange Counties.
Culpeper’s Comprehensive Plan will be going through revisions in 2014. Here are some aspects of the plan that Culpeper citizens may be interested in:
- When it comes to housing, Culpeper’s Plan needs to catch up with the times. The current Plan predicts rapid population growth in the County through 2030. Yet, since the recession, growth has dropped off dramatically. Moreover, future housing demand in Culpeper will likely be very different from the low-density, cul de sac subdivisions that were once the norm. There will be more young adults and more senior citizens, and both groups are likely to favor denser, mixed-use development. The County may want to revisit the Future Land Use Map to try to identify areas that are already slated for growth and would be suitable for high-density homes and shops rather than low-density sprawl.
- As for transportation, the big question is the Western Outer Loop—particularly whether the County will build the section between Rixeyville Road and Sperryville Pike. While congestion is an issue in the Town of Culpeper, the current plan for the Loop may do more to stimulate development than ease congestion. Furthermore, the town is about to build an Inner Loop that will have the same purpose and is in a better location. The County’s Plan also calls the second leg of the Loop (linking to Rt. 29) “problematic” since it would be built on agricultural land that is also near a source of drinking water.
Fauquier County is currently updating its Comp Plan. We’ve compiled the list below to highlight key points of the Plan that our staff will be keeping an eye on—and we hope you will too:
The Opal Service District Plan update
The Opal Steering Committee has developed a draft plan for the Opal Service District, and it’s ready for public review. PEC supports the proposed layout of the land use plan—which includes cost-effective transportation infrastructure. However, we are concerned about:
- The unnecessary expansion of the Opal Service District. The draft plan would expand the service district by an additional 100 acres, which is not necessary when the current 853 acres are largely undeveloped.
- New zoning districts that would eliminate special exception and permitting requirements. This would reduce the number of opportunities for public input about potentially highly-impact land uses.
- The lack of a planning to provide adequate water service in the district. A planned well will provide water for the residential, commercial and industrial development in the service district. As planned, however, the 6.5 million dollar well will only provide about half of the water needed for future development. The Board will be looking at the plan in early 2014, and there will be public hearings. We will keep citizens updated as times and dates are solidified.
New Baltimore Service District’s Transportation Plan
A draft transportation plan for the New Baltimore Service District presented last spring wasn’t widely accepted by the community. The draft is currently being reviewed, discussed and amended in response to concerns—work that we expect to carry on through the winter. If you’d like to add your voice, the County is collecting online survey responses from stakeholders. You can find the survey on our webpage: www.pecva.org/fauquierplan
The Natural and Historic Resource Plan update
This part of the Comp Plan provides the framework to preserve Fauquier’s scenic landscapes and rural character. The County had initial meetings to gather citizens’ input in Marshall, Warrenton, and Bealeton. There will be additional meetings in the coming months, but the County is also trying to get feedback through the online surveys. You can find links to these surveys at PEC’s website: www.pecva.org/fauquierplan
Orange County’s Board of Supervisors is considering a draft plan that calls for major development along Rts. 20, 15, and 3—as well as increased residential and commercial development on agriculturally zoned land. If adopted, this plan could negatively impact housing values, future tax rates, and the rural nature of this county.
Orange County residents speak out
These changes concern many Orange County residents, a point that was made clear at the County’s public hearing in October. Over 120 people attended the Tuesday night meeting—more people than there were seats! More than 60 citizens spoke, and the vast majority were against the proposed changes to the Comp Plan. They argued for stronger protection of our agricultural resources, limiting the growth areas, and greater public input during the planning process.
Thanks to these active and concerned citizens, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to table the issue until their meeting on December 17th. It’s unclear whether they will make any substantial changes to the draft before this meeting. PEC encourages citizens to continue to let the Board know that we need a plan that truly reflects the vision of the community rather than the interests of the developers. PEC’s staff will continue to keep residents updated as we approach the December meeting. If you have any questions in the meantime, contact PEC’s Dan Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was featured in our Winter 2013 member newsletter, The Piedmont View.