Public comment sought for comp plan revision(s)

Map of Virginia highlighting RappahannockBoth of Rappahannock County’s jurisdictions — the county itself and the town of Washington — will be reviewing and likely revising their comprehensive plans this fall.

Both will also be soliciting public input on how Rappahannock County and its county seat should look and feel — physically, socioeconomically, environmentally — in the coming decade.

The comp plan is a lengthy document that that town and county planners, administrators and elected officials use as a guide for day-to-day and year-to-year decisions on issues of zoning, agriculture, tourism, development, housing and transportation over the coming years.

The Washington Planning Commission met Monday night (July 27) to map out its review, which the planners hope to complete by the end of this year or early next. Their next steps include completing an inventory of the town’s slightly more than 100 properties and buildings, including their use (residential or commercial) and occupation (by owners or lessors), and gathering census and other population date.

The commission hopes to sponsor a weekend “visioning” workshop in September or later in the fall, at which town and county residents would be welcome to work creatively on their vision of the future of the town of Washington, and help the commission prioritize the town’s goals.

The major issues the town’s comprehensive plan ought to address include (as listed by commission members Gary Schwartz, Judith DeSarno and Fred Catlin at Monday night’s session): population, tourism, the future of the town-owned Avon Hall estate, environmental aspects, transportation, housing and business and government services.

Deputy County Administrator Debbie Keyser, meanwhile, is coordinating the county planning commission’s comp-plan review, which began last year with a series of not-very-well-attended meetings at area fire halls, and which she hopes will continue with planning commission-sponsored public hearings in either September or October.

In addition to the county planning commission hearings, Keyser said, she’s also created a questionnaire that can be picked up at the county administrator’s office or downloaded and printed from the county’s website (, under “Notices and Documents”). Responses will help guide commissioners, and later the supervisors, as they craft a revised plan that reflects the wishes of its residents.

“We . . . recognize not everyone wants to speak publicly or has the ability to attend an evening meeting,” Keyser said in an email Tuesday. “This questionnaire will be another vehicle our citizens can use to provide their input which is essential to producing a long-term plan that accurately reflects our community’s goals for their ideal place to live, work and play.

“Public input is important,” Keyser said. “How you complete the form is not important. Feel free to hand-write or type your comments.  Feel free to be brief, or expound upon your philosophy.”

Completed questionnaires, Keyser said, can be dropped off at the county administrator’s office or returned via email to

The county’s comprehensive plan will be similar in nature to the town’s, Keyser said, “but will expand upon several topics such as affordable housing, tourism, agritourism and sustainability.”

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