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Comp Plan Survey extended

Westmoreland County is in the process of creating a brand new Comprehensive Plan and the Northern Neck Planning District Office is attempting to coordinate the effort.
Planning District Director Jerry Davis met again this Monday with the Westmoreland Planning Commissioners. A decision was made to give residents one more month to complete a crucially important four-page survey document.
The period for accepting survey returns had already been extended on multiple occasions. Davis and the county’s Planning Commissions wanted the next Plan to be optimally driven by citizen positions.
The Comprehensive Plan serves as the basis for a local government’s land use practices. The currently pending survey solicits individual responses to land use policy that hold the potential for influencing land use practices far into the future.
In addition to the paper survey documents that can be obtained from county offices and public libraries in Hague, Montross and Colonial Beach, the survey can be completed on the Internet by visiting the specially created Westmoreland 2030.org website.
To launch the ambitious effort to create a new Comprehensive plan, Davis and the Planning Commissioners hosted three kick-off sessions in as many different Westmoreland County locations.
The informational sessions that additionally solicited input from the local residents turned out to be a major disappointment for the county’s Planning Commissioners. Turnout was poor and subsequent response to the survey has been similarly sparse.
When the last survey period ended on October 31 as few as 70 completed surveys were in hand. The period was extended through November and this Monday Davis told the Commissioners that the total number of completed surveys had climbed to 120 during November’s extension period.
On November 24 the commission convened a work session attended by Colonial Beach Planning Commissioner Desiree Urquhart. Aware of the town’s current effort to create a new Comprehensive Plan and that jurisdiction’s recent citizen survey, the Westmoreland Planning Commissioners took advantage of an opportunity to gain insight concerning the process in the town.
Urquhart told the Westmoreland Planning Commission members that the town’s consultant had created Colonial Beach’s Comp Plan survey document and that it had been mailed to every resident in town.
“Over 400 completed surveys came back,” the Colonial Beach Planning Commissioner told her county counterparts. She advised that the town has 2,500 residents and characterized the survey response as “pretty significant.”
Urquhart additionally made it known that Colonial Beach held three public hearings of the purpose of optimizing citizen participation in the effort to create a new Comprehensive Plan.
“We had significant numbers of people in attendance,” she told the county Commissioners. According to the Colonial Beach Planning Commissioner, there were between 50 and 75 residents attending each of those three public input sessions.
County Commission Chairman Rob McDermott shared his own disappointment with Urquhart when he related that attendance totals at Westmoreland’s three Comp Plan kick-off sessions had been “ten, six and five private citizens.”
Progress was made at this week’s Planning Commission meeting. A tentative schedule for 2009 Comprehensive Plan considerations was devised.
With the survey period extended until the end of 2008, it was established that Davis would attend the Commission’s February 2, 2009 meeting and present survey results. That session would begin in the customary English Building meeting place at 1:30 p.m.
On the first Monday of March 2009 the Commission would convene an evening session that would begin at 7 p.m. in the English Building meeting place. The evening meeting time was touted as a means of optimizing citizens’ ability to contribute input to a document whose content will have far reaching impacts on local land use practices.
Betsy Ficklin

 

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