The letter from United Citizens of Rappahannock’s issues committee chairs was helpful in listing many of the critical issues that need to be addressed in the county’s plans . . . and in its governance. Their proposal that county funds be used to hire a professional planning facilitator was one idea to help development of a useful plan.
However, facilitating a planning session of a whole bunch of different opinions without the facts and analyses to back them up may not lead to a constructive and responsive plan. Because at the end of the day a strong plan for tomorrow is only as good as the information that goes into it regarding what the situation is today and how that has changed from yesterday.
That’s why the Virginia code requires a plan to “make careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of existing conditions and trends of growth, and of the probable future requirements of its territory and inhabitants.”
Do the folks charged with developing the comprehensive plan have the resources needed to do that? My guess is that they do not — these are all people with jobs and occupations who spare their extra time to help in this endeavor. A constructive idea may be to see if UCOR and its large list of prominent members could raise the money to provide the elbow grease needed to do that researching, surveying and analyzing, as well as provide volunteer citizen committees that can help the county planners with their work.
We’ve seen a successful model of that in the county. The Foothills Forum has funded professional journalists who have developed comprehensive and award winning feature articles backed by extensive data gathering and analysis run by this paper on key issues in the county.