Planning Commission applicants share views of Rapp’s future 

Consensus: The county must prepare for change

At Monday’s meeting of the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors, the board is expected to fill two vacancies on the county’s Planning Commission — one each in the Jackson and Piedmont districts.

The Jackson vacancy is due to the retirement of Raymond Brown. Amissville residents Page Glennie and Rick Kohler have both applied for the post.

The Piedmont vacancy was created when former Planning Commission chair Gary Settle resigned to become Supervisor of the Virginia State Police. In March the BOS appointed former Piedmont Supervisor Mike Biniek to fill out Settle’s term, which ended in June. Biniek and Tom Junk, both of Sperryville, have applied for the position.

Below are short profiles of the four applicants, each responding to the same set of questions from the Rappahannock News. All of the interviews were edited for brevity and clarity, and subsequently cleared with each applicant.

Page Glennie, Amissville, Jackson district

Courtesy photo
Paige Glennie

Page Glennie, 63, is a retired systems engineer and program manager for the U.S. Navy, with degrees in Aerospace & Ocean Engineering, Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, and National Resource Strategy. He has lived in Rappahannock since 2010.

What’s the most urgent issue facing the county now?

PG: I believe the county is facing development challenges not envisioned 30 years ago when the zoning ordinances were adopted. There needs to be a thorough review of the zoning ordinances, based on analysis of the current land-use trends. And we need a more detailed comprehensive plan that is based on community input.

What in your background and experience would help address that?

PG: I was a program and policy analyst for virtually my whole career. I’m an engineer, a numbers guy. I was taught to look at the problem, and the solution would become obvious. I’m also a strategic planner. I have a master’s degree in it. And I am active in the agricultural policy area. I think that’s important for this county.

What would you like to accomplish as a planner?

PG: Community consensus on a thorough update of the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinances.

What’s your experience with the county zoning ordinance?

PG: During my career, I planned, reviewed, and analyzed very complex programs to determine policy implications. I’ve attended virtually every planning commission meeting and most of the BZA meetings in the past two years. And I took the RappU Zoning and Planning course. If I am named to the Planning Commission, I will take the Certified Planning Commissioner Program from Virginia Tech.

What do you see as the responsibilities of the Planning Commission?

PG: The responsibilities, as required by state law, are conducting studies and analysis of trends, doing future planning, recommending changes to the zoning ordinance, reviewing permit applications for compliance with the comprehensive plan, and preparing the comp plan for approval.

How do you feel about the current status of the comprehensive plan?

PG: I love the goals, priorities, and policies, as far as they go. But where’s the ‘how?’ And where’s the progress on updating it?

Why do you want to serve on the Planning Commission?

PG: I want to apply my planning and analysis expertise to preserve the rural, scenic, and agricultural nature of Rappahannock County. I want to come up with a plan that saves counties like this. This county is an incredible treasure.

Rick Kohler, Amissville, Jackson district

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Rick Kohler

, 67, is a Realtor and has lived in the county since 1988.

What’s the most urgent issue facing the county now?

RK: The pressures I foresee are from development and change. We need to be prepared for more pressure on our zoning ordinance potentially from developers and their desire to change the landscape. We need to be looking ahead five, 10, 20 years out. 

What in your background and experience would help address that?

RK: As a Realtor, I have a fair amount of experience with zoning, contract law, and working with legal documents. I know every road in the county, I know many of the properties in the county.

What would you like to accomplish as a planner?

RK: I love this county. It’s a wonderful place to live and a great community. I want to work toward helping continue that sense of community for the long term. I’m willing to listen to all sides and help the county develop good solutions to preserve the life style and the wonderful amenities that we have here.

What’s your experience with the county zoning ordinance?

RK: As a Realtor I have to understand the zoning, I have to be able to assess the value of a property. I have to know whether a property has division potential. We have a commercial plan and I think it works. We do need to accommodate some development in the villages and town, rather than having it willy-nilly across the county. And we have to give some thought to our aging population and their needs.

What do you see as the responsibilities of the Planning Commission?

RK: The comprehensive plan is the heart of the zoning ordinance. It’s from whence the zoning comes. The commission is charged with reviewing the plan and updating it as necessary, making sure it is in keeping with the goals of the county. The plan is a living document — it’s not meant to be static. We need to be able to adapt without risking our zoning.

How do you feel about the current status of the comprehensive plan?

RK: I think it’s out of date. The Planning Commission has reviewed it, but I don’t think any action has been taken on that.

Why do you want to serve on the Planning Commission?

RK: I figure I owe this county something. I’ve enjoyed living here. I love it here, my son and wife love it. I don’t want to see changes that will destroy what we love about the county.

Mike Biniek, Sperryville, Piedmont district

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Mike Biniek

, 65, owner of the Belle Meade School and B&B in Sperryville, has lived in the county since 1993.

What’s the most urgent issue facing the county now?

MB: I’d say planning for the changes that we’re expecting, such as land-use issues and maintaining our open spaces.

What in your background and experience would help address that?

MB: I served on the Board of Supervisors for eight years. That was my biggest education. And I served briefly as the Piedmont district interim member of the Planning Commission to fill out Gary Settle’s term this spring.

What would you like to accomplish as a planner?

MB: Mostly I would like to try to keep the county how it is. I’m not looking to make changes, but it’s important to plan for the changes that will happen.

What’s your experience with the county zoning ordinance?

MB: My eight years on the Board of Supervisors and short stint on the Planning Commission. Once you have an application or someone is asking for an interpretation, and you delve into the ordinance, you can appreciate its depth.

What do you see as the responsibilities of the Planning Commission?

MB: It’s an advisory board to the supervisors. The planners review the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances amendments brought forth by the supervisors. In my mind it’s not the job of the Planning Commission to bring forward ordinance changes. That’s the job of the supervisors and the county attorney. Quite often the ordinance needs to be amended because things have changed in Richmond.

How do you feel about the current status of the comprehensive plan?

MB: My understanding is that it is mostly complete. The Planning Commission is doing it without extensive changes, basically an update, not a rewrite. The Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission is updating some of the statistical information.

Why do you want to serve on the Planning Commission?

MB: I think it’s an honor to serve the community. I think everybody should consider that. You don’t really understand your local government or even your local community until you’ve actually gotten involved in some respect.

Tom Junk, Sperryville, Jackson district

Courtesy photo
Tom Junk

Tom Junk, 66, a retired painting contractor, has lived in Sperryville since 1984.

What’s the most urgent issue facing the county now?

TJ: The most urgent issue facing the county now is to review the zoning ordinance, which hasn’t been done since 2004. Another issue is enforcement of the ordinance. Why have an ordinance if you’re not going make people comply with it?

What in your background and experience would help address that?

TJ: I served on the Planning Commission from 1994 to 2006, three years as chairman, and participated in the last revamp of the ordinance and comprehensive plan. I’m a certified planner. I’ve been active in the community as a past president of the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League, past president of Sperryville Business Council, a member of the Assessor Board and Electoral Board, chairman of the Sperryville Gateway Committee, and have been a Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus for the past two years at St. Peter’s church.

What would you like to accomplish as a planner?

TJ: The zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan need to be brought up to date. The planners need to sit around the table and go through each part of the ordinance first and then the comp plan. If we could accomplish that, the county would be set for the next 10 or 15 years.

What’s your experience with the county zoning ordinance?

TJ: I sat on the Planning Commission for 12 years. We reviewed the ordinance and comp plan twice.

What do you see as the responsibilities of the Planning Commission?

TJ: The commission is supposed to review the ordinance and make sure that permit applications comply. It’s not whether you like the person or not, it’s whether what they want to do is covered by the ordinance and fits into the comp plan.

How do you feel about the current status of the comprehensive plan?

TJ: Unless it’s reviewed and updated, it’s a disaster. You might as well not have one. There’s a reason the state says that counties have to review their plans every few years. Things are changing quickly today. And a review doesn’t mean take it off the shelf and say, ‘Oh, it looks good.’

Why do you want to serve on the Planning Commission?

TJ: When the supervisors didn’t vote for me before [in March to replace Garry Settle], it was slap in [Piedmont supervisor] Christine Smith’s face. She asked me, so I said I would do it. I wasn’t going to reapply, but people called me and said they liked my comments at Planning Commission and supervisors’ meetings, so I said ‘Ok, I’ll try it again and we’ll see what happens.’

About Patty Hardee 256 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.