TJPDC Editorial Bias and Cookie Cutter Comprehensive Planning in Greene County

By. Neil Williamson, President

Last night (12/16) the Greene County Planning Commission considered a number of issues regarding the proposed comprehensive plan.  In addition to hearing concerns voiced by the Free Enterprise Forum (more on this below), they also affirmed their decision to remove the parcel of land on U.S. 29 containing Highlands Golf Park from the current designated Development Areas and chose not to include a recommendation for a Ruckersville Citizen Council to be appointed. 

The Planning Commission also expressed general support for Greene County joining The Journey Through Hollowed Ground project but did not want to single out that organization in the comprehensive plan.

Some intrepid readers may recall, this blog has been critical of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s (TJPDC) management of the writing of Greene County’s new Comprehensive Plan.

In a March pos100_4056t, we highlighted TJPDC’s maps of Greene County included a blow out map of Zions’  crossroads.  In an April post, we raised the issue of TJPDC promoting groupthink and how county residents were being made to feel as though they were making planning decisions, when in fact they were being led like lemmings off a planner’s cliff.

The current document includes significant editorial commentary that is wholly inappropriate in a comprehensive plan.  A few tidbits:

the land use goals will have a direct impact on the health and viability of the agricultural industry in the county. [Page 2]

The land use goals will have a direct impact on all industries within the county.

The 2003 Greene County Comprehensive Plan estimated that the average new home built in the County costs $1,800 in government services above and beyond the tax revenue generated by the home. [Page 5]

since tax rates can remain low when residential growth is not expanding at a rapid pace. [Page 20]

tax rates remain low since residential development is slowed and county resources are not overburdened. [Page 20]

These statements are clearly opinion and ignore the fact that County government has the ability to change the equation at anytime by adjusting the tax rate or reducing services.  Tax rates are set by Boards of Supervisors and while tax levies are impacted by development, state mandates, citizen demands, even courthouse fires all impact the financial condition of the county

If these regulations or the underlying zoning do not reflect the intent of County planning policy, then the subdivision itself may not be consistent with current policies but must be approved anyway. [Page 26]

The word “anyway” is pejorative and should be struck.

To be fair the latest iteration of the Comprehensive Plan is much more  Greene centric but as we were reviewing the Land Use Chapter, we found a page that not only was never discussed by the public.  It was clearly cribbed from another TJPDC publication.  Page 23 reads in part:

“This document is intended to be a resource for the localities of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District on this topic”.

Later on the same page the TJPDC puts itself in the position of the master planner as it read:

“This requires much foresight as we put in the roads and pipelines to build the places we need.”

Faced with this type of language that until last night had not been called out by the Planning Commission, staff, or the public, one wonders how closely anyone is really reading the document.

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