- Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 05:00
- Published on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 05:00
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On July 23, the Planning Commission met to discuss the last chapter, chapter 5, in the town’s Comprehensive Plan with Carol Rizzio and Bill Spivey of Land studio.
Comprehensive planning is a way of making a town or city more attractive as well as functional.
Although nothing is set in stone, the idea is to transition the town to attract visitors, but keep residential areas separate enough to allow peaceful living for residents while the hub of the town entertains visitors.
The Community Vision Statement adopted by the Planning Commission gives a general overview of what the Colonial Beach Planning Commission is trying to achieve by implementing the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan seeks to make Colonial Beach an attractive, historically unique, quaint small town on the Potomac River with ties to the surrounding historic area, offering a clean, safe, friendly and convenient place to live, work and play, as well as a reemerging “Playground of the Potomac” for those seeking relaxation, maritime fun, family recreation and the arts year round.
Now the Town has to come together to make this vision statement a reality. Chapter five deals with how to implement the plan.
Implementation Strategies include public education and community involvement. The idea is to allow the community, residents and business owners to not only be involved in the decision process, but to help implement the goals laid out by the plan.
Workshops have been conducted and surveys have been collected from the community, now the next step is to educate the community on the plan as well as utilize professionals within the community to help implement the goals.
Colonial Beach citizens seem to be split on whether this town should be a thriving tourist attraction or a resort and retirement community. Without some growth residents who work to serve, those who wish to keep it a resort or retirement community are limited in their income.
This Comprehensive Plan will take time, but if implemented, could allow both groups to live in harmony.
Partnerships are a big strategy. For example, the public boat ramp at Castlewood Park was previously maintained by the Game and Inland Fisheries Commission. When the town first entertained the idea of charging for parking at the park three years ago, the fisheries commission turned the maintenance back over to the town.
Last week the Town discovered recent damage to the south side dock from a boat colliding with it. The damage is not apparent from land and was only discovered after a resident fell through because the beam holding the planks was broken. Although the planks looked intact they had no support on one side. Stepping on the unsupported side caused the boards to give way.
Town manager Val Foulds, who has been investigating the problem, spoke with Carol Rizzio after the meeting. Rizzio suggested that the town contact the Fisheries Commission and see if it has any emergency money that could be used to repair the pier.
Rizzio also suggested partnering with Westmoreland County because the completion of its Comprehensive Plan reveals a common desire to develop new historical trails and promote existing historical sites.
The Beach’s Comprehensive Plan involves beatifying “Gateways.” Rizzio suggested VDOT’s plan to replace the bridge on state Route 205 at Wilkerson’s gives the town a great opportunity to get involved in the project and add some landscaping at the Beach’s northern gateway.
Rizzio discussed several options for financing: government grants and funding, bonds, lease purchasing, special assessments and — the least popular — tax increment financing.
Tax increment financing involves using general obligation bonds to improve a certain area, such as building roads or other improvements. The improvements raise the property values in that area creating higher property tax for that area. The increased tax reimburses the town to pay off the general obligation bond, and once paid, the increased taxes become part of the town’s revenue. The advantage to the property owner, although not always recognized, is that the value for resale rises quickly. However, it’s not always a comfort to landowners who are not intent on selling immediately.
Chairman David Coombes concluded that the town needs to use the services of an experience grant writer either on staff or under contract.
All in all, the Planning Commission members were pleased with the final chapter and seemed excited to move forward to implement the plan. They were equally happy to see community involvement.