- Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 00:00
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Misicka takes the helm, joined by Holt as vice chairwoman
Colonial Beach is on the cusp of change. The Planning Commission, with its six appointed members, is tasked with taking the lead on land use issues that shape the future of the town. Leading the commission in 2011 will be newly elected chairwoman Cynthia Misicka and newly elected vice chairwoman Maureen Holt.
Misicka is the first woman to be elected chairperson of the commission. She brings to that position 20 years experience as a federal civil rights attorney and an experienced eye for detail. Misicka was appointed to the commission in January 2009 after becoming a full-time resident of the beach in 2007. As with many town residents, Misicka “instantly fell in love” with the town and relocated here from Falls Church. She has been able to continue her career part-time by way of telecommuting.
As to the significance of the commission electing two women as chair and vice chair, Misicka commented, “Although I believe women and men are more similar than they are different, it is an occasion to celebrate given the historic exclusion of women from government and positions of leadership and that women remain underrepresented in these roles.”
Misicka believes the commission currently has a “good mix of experience and newcomers” and said she has “been very impressed with the other members of the commission.”
“No one of us can do as good a job as what we can accomplish as a group,” Misicka said.
The commission reviews and makes recommendations to town council on land use issues, such as zoning. Every five years the commission is tasked to review and revise, if necessary, the comprehensive plan for the town. The latest revision to the comprehensive plan was completed in 2009 and serves as a blueprint for growth in the town, including schools and the police department. 2009 was also the first year the commission recommended and town council approved a proffer policy for the town, which is a revenue formula that is used to insure new development in town adequately pays for corresponding increases to town services.
The vision statement for the town, which was a combined effort of planning commission members, prefaces the 2009 comp plan by creating a snapshot of the town. It characterizes Colonial Beach as “an attractive, historically unique, quaint small town on the Potomac River with ties to the surrounding rich historic area, offering a clean, safe, friendly and convenient place to live, work and play as well as a re-emerging ‘Playground of the Potomac’ for those seeking relaxation, maritime fun, family recreation and the arts year round.”
At the commission’s January meeting, members were presented with the full text of a proposed subdivision ordinance put together by Gary Mitchell, Director of Planning and Zoning. After further review by the commission, the proposed ordinance, with the commission’s recommendations, will go before town council for action. Currently the proposed ordinance contains very strict regulations placed on new subdivisions, such as standards for roads and street lighting.
The Planning Commission meets the first Thursday of every month at 4:30 p.m. At every meeting there is an opportunity for residents to speak during public comment period. Misicka hopes for increased public participation at meetings and notes “there is a unique opportunity for people to influence the results of a vote” by speaking out during public comment and that “every voice makes a difference.”