By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Representative
Fluvanna County’s Planning Commissioners sent the draft Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors at a special meeting on January 14th. The long and arduous process – it took over three years – ended quietly for the commissioners, who unanimously agreed on the text.
Few members of the public spoke during the public hearing, and those that did largely confined their comments to specific concerns. For example:
· Ms. Elizabeth Franklin (Columbia) urged that the document state that central [sewage] systems be disallowed, not “discouraged” in the rural preservation area. Calling such systems “growth generators”, Ms. Franklin urged that the commissioners “not be wimpy” and be more forceful in the language.
· Mr. Patrick Kearshaw (Columbia) urged that the area around Ferncliff be placed in the rural residential area, rather than the contemplated rural preservation area. Citing the proximity to Route 250, and the area’s mixed-use designation by Louisa County, he was turned down by the Commissioners, although several acknowledged that the issue should be revisited as circumstances warrant.
· Ms. Patricia Eager (Palmyra) proposed that central utilities be allowed in the open space mandated for cluster subdivisions. If they were banned, it would reduce the amount of open space available, she contended. She also asked for a definition of “large subdivisions” which currently are undefined and not considered appropriate for the rural preservation area.
Commissioner Sam Babbitt (Fork Union) said that he thought that the Comprehensive Plan would allow for public utilities in the open space but Commissioner Angus Murdock (Columbia) stated that the Plan only calls for planners to “evaluate the use of” such utilities.
Behind the discussion reflected Planning Director Darren Coffey’s efforts to place the more controversial land use issues outside of the Comprehensive Plan discussion. Throughout the process he reminded commissioners and citizens that the proper forum for deciding most of the controversial issues was in the zoning and subdivision ordinance revisions.
Mr. Coffey’s strategy worked since the plan became more focused of the county vision and goals to achieve it. The commissioners will have the opportunity to address the more contentious issues later this year as they work to bring the zoning and subdivision ordinances into conformity with the Comprehensive Plan goals.
The Board of Supervisors will begin addressing the Comprehensive Plan with a land use work session scheduled for February 4th, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, at the Palmyra Volunteer Fire Department.