Konick accuses fellow commission member of “doing nothing. I mean nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G”

Correction: The print and an earlier online version of this story incorrectly reported which Planning Commission members voted against sending the recommended Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors. We regret the error. 

On its third try, the Planning Commission at its public hearing last Wednesday night finally delivered what Chair David Konick had been pushing for: a recommendation to send the 2020 Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors for approval. The vote was 5-2, with Mary Katherine Ishee and Rick Kohler casting the nay votes.

But not before Konick called out Ishee, Light and planner Rick Kohler and loudly berated them in front of the other planners and about three dozen members of the public who attended the meeting at the High School auditorium.

Konick accused Light of “doing nothing. I mean nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G” to update the plan and move it forward during the ten years Light has been a planner. The plan was last fully updated in 2004, despite the state mandate to review and update comprehensive plans every five years. Konick also called out supposed inactivity by Rick Kohler during his two-year tenure.

Konick accused Ishee and Light of being “irresponsible” and objecting to aspects of the plan “at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute” in order to preclude adoption of the plan.

At issue was the inclusion of new maps showing the boundaries of the county’s villages: Chester Gap, Flint Hill, Sperryville, Washington, and Woodville. As pointed out by Konick, this is the first time the plan has included these detailed maps, replacing the wide-area aerial maps of previous comprehensive plans. The purpose, he said, was to delineate where growth should be directed in the county “so that it doesn’t splatter all over the rest of the county” and to discourage development outside the villages.

Several members of the public — as well as planners Ishee and Kohler — questioned the potential unintended consequences for development that the maps might pose.

Don Locke of Jackson district, for example, said, “The village maps don’t really tell you much.” He urged the planners to make the maps more specific and ensure that the written descriptions of the maps match the maps themselves. He suggested that developers would look at the written descriptions and not the maps themselves.  

After being verbally attacked by Konick, Ishee and Light pushed back.

“I request that you refrain from impugning motives from me or any other commissioner,” Light said, receiving applause from the audience.

Ishee said, “I understand [Mr. Konick’s] frustration, but I believe it’s not accurate to say we’re bringing this up for the first time. … I don’t think it’s accurate to say that anybody is ambushing the plan at the last second. [The maps] have been topics of debate since the very beginning.”

Light also said that he did not have issues with the maps, but with the language used to describe the maps. “The problem with the maps is not the maps but not properly addressing what our intentions are inside the villages, he said.”

Light said he had presented rewritten language in the Future Land Use section of the plan months ago at Konick’s behest, only to find that Konick had revised it and made it “more unclear.”

“Frankly, you changed my language,” Light said. “You totally changed it. But don’t tell me I didn’t bring [up objections].”

Kohler moved to send the plan forward to the Board of Supervisors, but without the maps. He also called for the formation of a study group to look at and improve the maps. The planners voted 5-2 against the motion. Ishee and Kohler cast the lone aye votes.

The next motion was presented by Ishee: to send the plan forward without the maps. She also moved to delete the language in the Future Land Use section that Konick and Light had disagreed on. Again the planners voted 5-2 against the motion, Ishee and Kohler alone again in casting the aye votes.

A motion put forward by Jackson supervisor Ron Frazier, the BOS representative on the Planning Commission, to send the plan unchanged to the supervisors was approved by a 5-2 vote, Ishee and Kohler dissenting.

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