At its August 7 meeting, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint Holly Meade to fill the vacant position on the county’s planning commission. Currently the chief of planning in the Department of Community Development for Fauquier County, the Flint Hill resident has over 22 years of experience in land use planning, zoning analysis, and regulation compliance.
She didn’t start out to be a planner, however.
“I am a planner only by happenstance,” said Meade in a recent interview. “I started here in 1995 answering the phones and taking minutes for the board of zoning appeals. I didn’t know what a zoning ordinance or planning commission or comprehensive plan was at the time, but just being around it every day, my interest grew in land use and planning and zoning.”
Along the way she also earned an undergraduate degree in Business Management and a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership.
Today she oversees the county’s planning division of nine people.
“I also serve as the lead staff to various Fauquier County boards, including the planning commission, BZA, agricultural boards, and the transportation committee,” said Meade. “We staff a lot of the committees in the county.”
Born and raised in Culpeper, Meade moved to Rappahannock when she married Todd Atkins 20 years ago. “Todd also grew up in Culpeper,” she said. “His aunt was Bev Atkins, Rappahannock County’s former commissioner of revenue. When Todd got out of college he moved to Rappahannock. I grew up in the town of Culpeper and not that it’s that big, but when I moved out here my parents wondered if I would make it, because it’s so rural. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love it.”
They live with their German Shepherd, Wisdom, on Hittles Mill Road behind Wakefield Country Day School.
Meade takes over the planning commission position made vacant when Jason Brady recently stepped off the commission. The seat is nominally designated to represent Wakefield district, but the county’s code states that the members of the commission can be from any district.
Asked why, with a demanding day job in planning, she would seek a position on the Rappahannock County Planning Commission for her off time: “[The position] came to me,” she replied. “I did not seek it out.
“[Rappahannock Board of Supervisors Chairman] Roger Welch stopped my husband at Settle’s one day after work and said, ‘I have a vacant planning commission seat and I’ve been hearing your wife’s name around the county. Would she be interested?’ So that’s where it started. He asked for me to seek him out, so I called him. Here it is different. In Fauquier I’m the staff. I need to just present the facts. But where you live it’s a different story. You have a vested interest.”
When Welch asked how she felt about Rappahannock, she said, “I told him I always wanted to keep Rappahannock the way it is. But it’s a challenge. As a county it’s scenic and rural and beautiful, but you also have to balance that with economic development, tourism, the internet and broadband needs. It really is a balancing act.”
To prepare for her first meeting on the planning commission last night, Meade said she had been studying the county code and the comprehensive plan and would be meeting with county zoning administrator Dave Dameron.
“I have lots of questions for him,” she said. “I’m just excited for the opportunity and hope to hit the ground running.”