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Orange aims to vote on land-use plan this month

Orange County supervisors are making final adjustments to their beleaguered comprehensive plan revision with a goal of voting on it later this month.

At an Oct. 22 public hearing, numerous speakers urged supervisors to leave the previous plan in effect. They complained that the newly designated A2 agricultural land-use category would encourage undesirable residential growth and could result in increased taxes on county residents.

One speaker called the proposed revision ”a blatant and defiant action to destroy the agricultural industry in Orange County and destroy our quality of life.”

The supervisors decided to give some specific wording in the plan another look and take more time to think about the objections raised. At their meeting last Tuesday, they held a lengthy discussion on proposed changes in preparation for a vote at their next meeting.

Although numerous changes were suggested to specific wording, Supervisor Jim White expanded the discussion to respond to comments made at the October hearing that he said were untrue and “based on bad information.”

He noted that literature had been circulated prior to the hearings asserting that the plan called for four-laning State Route 20 from the town of Orange to State Route 3.

“The plan does no such thing,” White said. “The person who wrote that knows the plan does no such thing. Yet there were seven people who latched on to that and said, ‘Oh my God, they are going to four-lane Route 20. It’s got to be a terrible plan.’”

White also took issue with numerous speakers acting as if the new A2 land-use designation was “a new, revolutionary concept.”

He said the A2 designation was similar to the Agriculture Residential designation created in a 1999 version of the comprehensive plan, which scattered agricultural zones throughout the county with concentrations of residential areas. He said the new plan would shrink the amount of land in that A2 or agriculture residential designation.

Another major issue raised by numerous speakers was a desire to return to a previous comp plan. White noted that supervisors approved a plan in 2006 that has been amended at least three times since then, and noted that the 2009 amendment projected that Orange County’s population would reach between 126,000 and 152,000 by 2025.

“To do that, you would have to build 12 new Lake of the Woods size developments in the next 11 years,” White speculated. “We are at 34,000 people now. That’s not going to happen.”

White said those projections may have been used to craft questionable policies, such as a restrictive subdivision ordinance that the courts later voided, a requirement for roads serving two or more homes to be built to full VDOT standards, and a proffer policy that White said is unusable because it attempts to collect money for projects that aren’t in the comp plan—something state law forbids.

The county planning and zoning staff will incorporate the supervisors’ latest changes into the proposed comp plan in time for it to be on the agenda of the board’s Dec. 17 meeting.

Dan McFarland:

dmcfarland@freelancestar.com

 

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