Comp Plan: Is it worth it?

This year and every five years the county spends tens of thousands of dollars rewriting a Comprehensive Plan. Aside from some testimony on zoning changes that cite the Comprehensive Plan zoning maps, the plan seems to sit on the shelf waiting for the next five year update. Over the last 50 years, the Comprehensive Plan has developed a life of its own.

The Comprehensive Plan is required by Virginia State Code (section 15.2-2223). There is one mandatory requirement, â??each locality shall develop a transportation planâ?¦â? The transportation plan has to be approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Every county must have a road and transport plan that VDOT can relate to neighboring counties. Updating plans every five years allows VDOT to coordinate road and transport plans across the state.

Culpeperâ??s 249-page draft Comprehensive Plan includes 32 pages that cover the required transportation plan. What are the remaining 217 pages used for? Instead of a plan for the future, much of the material restates the current situation.

The chapters on current and future land use reflect the current zoning map across the county. That information and much more is available on the countyâ??s GIS maps. The GIS is a more useful tool to understand land use than low resolution maps from the Comprehensive Plan.

Culpeperâ??s plan goes out 20 years. The U.S. military only plans out to five years. The county uses a five-year Capital Improvement Plan. When the school board wanted to buy land for another school, the county commissioned a five year projection of school enrollment for Culpeper that was separate from the plan. Between 2000 and 2010, Culpeper went from moderate growth to boom to bust. That was just 10 years. Predicting what will happen in 20 years is impossible

There are additional chapters on county demographic projections, the economy, housing, history, village centers, and more. The content in these chapters might be used by the county supervisors. But the reality is the content is ignored.

On July 8, at 7 p.m. at 302 N. Main St, the Planning and Zoning Commission will have a public hearing on the 2015 Comprehensive Plan. Itâ??s your chance to tell the county to focus on the required transportation plan that is needed, not what looks pretty on the shelf.

Charles and Carol Duncan