This letter is in regard to the article “Citizens Bring Concerns Over the Comp Plan” (May 28, page 11).
As the chairman of the Northampton Planning Commission, I am responding to your article concerning Mr. Ken Dufty’s analysis of the comprehensive plan that is being considered for approval by the Northampton County Board of Supervisors.
The Virginia Code requires each county to have a comprehensive plan and they are to be updated every five years. The code is clear on the purpose of the plan and that it is “general in nature…” and is prepared for the “purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the territory which will, in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the inhabitants … .”
The Planning Commission has been working on the proposed plan since fall of 2019 when the county held countywide workshops to involve the county in the development of the new plan. A survey was sent to residents of the county and the results were posted on the county website and presented in a joint meeting in November 2019. The development of the plan has been progressing on a continuing basis since then. The Planning Commission has held open meetings on the plan since then. The plan started coming together in early fall of 2020 with various chapters that were being developed posted to the Northampton County website. COVID-19 interrupted our plans, but the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors held a joint session to elaborate on the progress of the new plan.
During the summer, still under COVID-19 restrictions, individual chapters were developed and reviewed by the planning commission. Each chapter was posted on the county website for anyone to review and make comments to the Planning Commission. There were few, if any, comments from Mr. Dufty or his peers during the development of these chapters.
The Planning Commission included time at each public meeting to provide updates on the plan and how people could access the data. Comments could have been made to the Planning Commission at any time during the development of the plan, but we received few comments.
During the public hearing in May, not one person spoke against the plan.
To point out a few of the many issues I have with Mr. Dufty’s opinions on this plan and presented in your article I would like to point out:
The planning commission had no meetings, public or private, with the Economic Development Authority or any other development association to promote “private interests.”
While it is true that the new plan does not mention mobile or manufactured homes, that does not mean that there is an intent to prohibit them.
The concern about “vague” wording related to increased density is false. It is the position of the Planning Commission to allow increased density in the Town Edge category but not all over the county as Mr. Dufty suggests.
We are not sure why there is an issue with the term “livable communities.” Livable communities where people can have services such as broadband internet, proper stormwater drainage, decent housing, and services should be something desired by all, including the elderly and lower-income residents of the county.
The Comprehensive Plan is the county’s Comprehensive Plan. It represents the vision for the county based on a lot of issues we face now and into the future. It is necessary to look forward and address the issues with which we will be confronted in the coming years.
The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors worked with the Berkley Group to bring the Comprehensive Plan to fruition, and we look forward to its approval by the Board of Supervisors.
Chairman, Northampton County Planning Commission