There were barely enough chairs for the nearly 50 attendees who attended the highly anticipated Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday night.
Over the course of an hour, 14 Rappahannock County residents addressed the board during the public hearing on the working draft of the Comprehensive Plan, which was approved by the Planning Commission in September.
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“It is so important that we don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” said Demaris Miller of the Hampton district. Miller was the first to approach the microphone to urge supervisors to approve the plan without further deliberation.
Yet the majority of the constituents in attendance were not so confident in the provisional plan.
Patty McGill Peterson, a resident of Sperryville and a member of the Shenandoah National Park Trust, said the draft “begins with a bang and ends with a whimper,” explaining that the plan’s encouragement of development in the villages conflicts with the county’s professed commitment to protecting the environment and Rappahannock’s natural beauty.
A handful of residents expressed concern regarding the design of the village maps. “If we are clustering development around the villages it begs the question: what are the villages?” asked Matthew Black, president of the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community. “Who decides?”
One speaker advocated removing the maps from the comprehensive plan altogether, while others suggested clarity could be improved by simple changes to the wording of the plan (for instance, instead of encouraging development “in and around” villages, encourage development only “in” the villages).
In addition to concerns about the maps, some speakers voiced support for broadband protections. “We do not have a countywide broadband plan,” said Piedmont resident Margaret Bond, who is also a member of the county’s broadband committee. “We all have ideas — but ideas, aspirations and hopes do not constitute a well thought-out plan.”
In an interview with this newspaper last week, BOS Chair Christine Smith said that the board will take into account all feedback from the public hearing and incorporate it into its revisions.
After the public hearing on Monday, the board legally has 150 days to take action on the draft. Smith called a special work session to discuss the Comprehensive Plan, which is now scheduled at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 at the Rappahannock County Courthouse.
Find a complete recap of Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, including the afternoon session, in the print edition of the Rappahannock News on Thursday, Oct. 8.