The committee that, over the next year and a half, will shape the county’s guiding community development policies started work Monday.
“This is going to be, I think, an exciting process, but not a short process, and not one that won’t require some commitment,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) during the three-hour organizational meeting of the 26-member stakeholders committee. The panel anticipates working for at least 18 months.
The committee starts with a handful of empty seats. Two of its members, Aaron Gilman from the Sterling District and Chad Campbell from the Blue Ridge District, attended the session but have not yet been officially confirmed by the Board of Supervisors. The committee is also still seeking a representative from the Catoctin District and a representative from the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority.
“It is a blessing for us as a county that we have so many people that are willing to give their time and their talents for our community,” Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) said.
The committee will spend at least 13 months developing the new comprehensive plan. After that, the recommendations will go to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors for consideration and adoption, a process that could take four months. It includes representatives from each county election district, two planning commissioners, and representatives from special industries from Realtors, to airports, to the Loudoun Preservation and Conservation Coalition.
“It’s important that we value the differences here, because I think that we’re going to have a lot of healthy discussions around the table here,” Planning and Zoning Director Ricky Barker said.
The review of the comprehensive plan is focused on the eastern areas of the county, although a recent debate over AT&T’s proposal to expand its facility on top of Short Hill Mountain caused Rural Economic Development Council Chairman Destry Jarvis to suggest that Loudoun’s west may need another look, too.
“The statement that, that permit application was fully compatible with the comprehensive plan set my committee off to say, how could that possibly be compatible with the comprehensive plan?” Jarvis said of the 160,000-square-foot, industrial-style proposed facility. “And if it is, we need to change the comprehensive plan. So I would urge that we not completely leave the rural policy area out of the comprehensive plan, as if it needs no attention whatsoever.”
The committee will meet on at least the third Monday of every month. Its next meeting will be July 18, where it will take up concerns with the current plan.