Stephen Brooks and Al Regnery
The Comprehensive Plan was at the center of discussion on Sunday afternoon at the second public meeting sponsored by the United Citizens of Rappahannock (UCOR) — and, according to UCOR (and BZA) member Chris Bird — at the center of the direction that Rappahannock will take over the coming years.
In fact, Bird added, the fact that there are three seats to fill or up for election on the Board of Supervisors in November is a concurrence of events that could change the direction of the county for years to come.
With over 100 citizens in attendance at the Quievremont Winery on Gid Brown Hollow — including four members of the Board of Supervisors, three from the Board of Zoning Appeals, and both the County Administrator and the County Attorney — the substance of the conversation and the concern of the county citizens present could well be a harbinger of discussions and debates which will dominate county politics over the coming years.
Prominent and long-time county resident John Anderson pointed out that his research of county demographics tells us that the declining public school population of Rappahannock — having dropped by nearly 20 percent in recent years, together with the small number of rising children in the county, makes it almost inevitable that by 2030 there will be fewer than 500 students in the school system.
The result? The school system would not be sustainable, and Rappahannock children will have to be bussed to neighboring counties.
County and Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff told the crowd that although crime in the county has declined in recent years, the number of foster children is alarmingly high, and that most children in the foster care system are there because of drug addiction — mostly opioid — on the part of their parents.
UCOR board member Dennis Barry, who has just finished a lengthy review of the County Comprehensive Plan, told the group that the current draft revised Plan is deficient is several respects, and suggested that the county needs to seek the views of citizens and to set forth principles that will establish the foundation for future decision-making for land use, zoning, affordable housing, the aging population in the county and other issues.
Mr. Barry told the group that a letter from UCOR concerning the Plan would be sent to the County Administrator later this week.
In a lively open forum among the guests the conversation turned to how these issues can be fixed. Not an easy matter, but most agreed that jobs, affordable housing, and a boost of tourism and other business opportunities and, most importantly, electing new supervisors who demonstrate a willingness to look for solutions may be the key.
“You came to the right place,” UCOR told the guests.
UCOR, as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, will be heavily invested in assisting local candidates in the November election who demonstrate leadership and adherence to the sound principles adopted by its board.
Brooks and Regnery, both Rappahannock County residents, are co-chairmen of UCOR.