By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
At the August Greene County Planning Commission meeting (August 18, 2021 ) a public work session was held to review and provide updates to the Broadband portion of the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission is tackling one section of the Comprehensive Plan each month before finalizing their work and sending it forward to the Board of Supervisors.
The background to this subject is traced back to March, 2017 when the Board of Supervisors and County Administrator began the County Administrator’s Broadband Initiative Advisory Committee to advise the Board on broadband development issues. This led to issuing the Recommendations of the Committee in January, 2019 including:
- Develop a broadband implementation plan
- Improve infrastructure
- Encourage ISP (Internet Service Providers) to invest with goal of 25 megabit speed
- Update tower regulations
- Explore broadband funding opportunities
County Planning Administrator Jim Frydl explained that even though broadband had been covered in prior Comprehensive Plans, the new plan will have a separate section devoted to broadband https://gcva.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=305&meta_id=29526.
Frydl went on to explain that developers are not required to offer high-speed internet most do offer this service as it is driven by competition in the marketplace. The review of high-speed internet will be added to the site plan review pre-application meeting. The County will also encourage developers to pursue grants and partnerships to enhance high speed internet.
The revisions to the Comprehensive Plan also include developing a broadband strategy for all government agencies, develop third party agreements to lease tower space and meet with ISP’s to discuss public/private opportunities.
Commissioner John McClosky did clarify that the county is not the provider of broadband service. Chairman Jay Willer encouraged the county to influence grant criteria to favor rural counties, such as Greene County vs. urban areas for both state and federal funding.
The session was then open to comments from the public. The first speaker lives in Greene Acres Development with 200 homes and there has been limited success in getting broadband at that development.
The speaker asked that the county help gather data to help their development make presentations to carriers to entice them to install their service. The second speaker lives east of Ruckersville off Route 33 and stated that existing citizens need access to broadband before new developments.
Jim Frydl, did confirm that grants, both Federal and State, are geared toward existing developments rather than new developments. The Planning Commission closed their work session on this part of the revision of the Comprehensive Plan.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.