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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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George Washington Regional Commission and FAMPO release another study

The George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC) and the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitian Planning Organization (FAMPO)  launched today a study they call “Your Vision, Our Future.”:

This is  the region’s first land use scenario study.

This study provides residents, business leaders, and elected officials throughout the George Washington Region the opportunity to explore and debate regional growth visions, their trade-offs and alternative futures. This study is a regional visioning and scenario planning process that will help citizens, businesses, and government officials understand the impacts of growth, especially the relationship between transportation and the social, environmental and economic development.  This relationship is a two-way street:  growth and development affect transportation performance and transportation affects social, environmental, and economic development.  It enables communities and transportation agencies to better prepare for the future.

In September the two entities will be hosting the first round of public workshops to see what the region might look like 25 years from now.

Go here to learn more about the study.

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  • bhaas

    I spent some time today gathering info about “Your Vision, Our Future.”

    I was able to find and download the components of the study plan. Now, a disclaimer…I am no expert on this development and planning stuff. In fact, I have said several times that the “alphabet soup” of this business gives me a headache.

    Having said that…WOW, if you think we have bantered about with other planning stuff, wait until this “puppy” gets geared up and running. It seems to be the grandaddy regional master plan that ties all the local plans together.

    Note to Marty…more “Focus Groups” are on the way.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    This kind of exercise has been done in other areas including the Washington Metro Area and even in our area twice before. The Chamber of Commerce did it in an exercise known as Reality Check and Spotsylvania Planners did a version of it with citizens during the last Comp Plan update.

    The basic premise of the exercise is that we will likely grow in population in the next 25 years about the same as we have the past 25 years – more or less – but at long as the country as a whole continues to gain population – the Census people and the Va. Weldon Cooper people think our area will certainly get it’s share.

    Not everyone agrees with the population growth scenario but many in the various State and Federal groups including the Census people do.

    So that lays out the basic premise.

    The object of the study and the sessions with the public is to talk about where all of this new population will live and work and what impacts they will have on infrastructure and facilities.

    Will the new growth allocate itself geographically similarly in the future as it has done in the past.

    For instance, will Route 3 end up with twice as much traffic on it right now if growth allocates itself at the same rate in the future along that corridor as it has done in the past 25 years.

    And if it does – what could we do about the congestion and traffic on Route 3 as well as the connecting roads like Gordon, Harrison, Leavells etc. – i.e. would traffic double on those roads also?

    So what Reality Check and Spotsylvania did previously and one part of the FAMPO Scenario exercise will be to put a big map on a table and then place a pile of lego chips – each chip will represent some number of people… 500, a 1000, etc.

    Then the citizens will be asked to allocate the chips in some fashion…….

    … and the concept will be introduced that one of the options is to grow “up” …i.e. more dense than to “sprawl”.

    The implication is to ask the question as to whether or not the region’s land use policies should stay the same and continue to allocate growth in the same way or should things change to direct growth to more dense areas that have more/better transportation options than just solo automobile mobility, water/sewer, etc.

    As I said at the start – this “visioning” exercise is not particularly new or unique to our area. It’s been done in quite a few other areas and it’s basic intent is to engage citizens in a dialog about how we will grow – with the premise being – that we will grow.

  • bhaas

    See, that’s what I’m talking about!

    That “chip game” particularly caught my attention. I thank Larry for explaining what it means.

    I always bow to Larry’s expertise in this area. I presume from his post that this is no big deal, it has been done before, and it is really only a “citizen engagement” exercise.

    Heck, I thought this was going to be a big deal.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    What “Focus Groups” could you possibly be refering to Bill. They don’t exist. They are a figment of our imagination, or didn’t you get the memo? Even if they did exist, the public has no knowlege of their existence or the business they conduct, apparently from behind closed doors.

    Remember, Steve Thomas refered to their group activities as “rumor” and allowing US to only speculate what their working agendas are and how they translate to county landuse, ordinance changes and rezoning, without the public connecting the dots between their elected officials, within a REGIONAL framework and the FAMPO/GWRC’s working agendas that only filter through our elected officials with nothing coming out the other end, except more BS.

    And yes Bill, we can now go back to sleep and let Larry carry on for US under the guise it’s all about “citizen engagement” which really isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things.

    Why don’t you share with our readers “A New Vision for Surface Transportation POLICY in Virginia (Revised) and see what the PUBLIC’s take is on GWRC/FAMPO’s intentions are as it relates to landuse, ordinance changes and rezoning by-right-development from these “rumored” government resources who stand behind the walls of government in utter silence, ans share nothing with their constituents.

    Since Larry has endorsed this level of transparency and accountability in government, it should be too long before we resume the same position we have for decades; a little stooped over and holding our butt with both hands.

    Does everyone get a leggo chip of their own, and if so, where can we cash them in for a REFUND?

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    IF one “buys” the idea that more babies will be born in the coming years – at a rate similar to what we have now and one “buys” the idea that the Washington Area, NoVa and the NoVa exurbs to include Stafford and Spotsylvania will get their fair share of the growth then what FAMPO and other Transportation entities are saying is that such population growth will have fairly huge impacts on our transportation network and that right now – there is less and less money for expansion.

    So they are basically asking the public how they feel about the anticipated growth and what we should do about it in terms of land-use and transportation infrastructure.

    It _could_ be a big deal if enough people are convinced about taking a particular path over other potential paths.

    I think it is useful because I think it gets a more public focus on the issue and gets people to thinking about what paths they prefer (or not).

    For instance, if the growth continues to allocate itself in the more rural areas of the counties – it will result in more and more congestion on roads like Route 3 – and in the end – probably necessitate more roads … to be paid for by higher taxes and/or tolls.

    Probably the most important thing the exercise might accomplish in my view is to get folks thinking about how much growth we might well have in the future; Right now we have about 300,000 people living in this region and the Census folks think we’ll have 600,000 in the next few years with Spotsylvania growing from 125,000 to 250,000 people.

    How should we plan for this? That’s the question.

  • bhaas

    I kid you not. The following is a direct “copy and paste” from one of the component documents.

    Focus Group Meetings

    Focus Group meetings will be a critical component for soliciting stakeholder input on the land use scenario model. These meetings will be used to understand the influences of market, policy, and available infrastructure on the type, pattern, and intensity of development encouraged in the region.

    Focus group meeting attendees could include real estate and business professionals and organizations,
    major institutions, long‐range planners, and public works staff.

    Meetings will be held at the beginning and end of the project to receive and incorporate feedback into the planning process. The following two focuses are proposed for the regional scenario planning effort:

    • Group 1 ‐ Real Estate and Business Professionals and Organizations: The built environment reflects the market. The intricacies of attractiveness must be understood.

    Participants in this focus group would generate a list of factors that make land attractive for a variety of land uses,
    rank those factors in order of importance, and answer general questions about the region’s development patterns.

    • Group 2 ‐ Long Range Planners/Public Works Staff: The type and intensity of development depends largely on the current and future availability of adequate infrastructure. Access to infrastructure will be a critical element to determine where and how quickly development can occur. Understanding where current public services exist and where expansions are planned is critical to developing an accurate and precise land use model.

    Participants in this focus group will generate information on current thoughts toward growth advised by service extents and future plans for growth coinciding (or not ) with planned public services.

  • bhaas

    My last post was a “gift” for Marty.

    Larry, if by “few years” you mean less than 10, then doubling the population of Spotsylvania in that period would represent a virtually insurmountable infrastructure impact.

    Is this Census figure based on hard evidence or is it just someones “guesstimate?”

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Bill – 25 year horizon. The Census data? Ah.. you’ve got the same question I have but it appears when you ask around that no one has any better answers including Weldon Cooper which is Virginia’s somewhat similar organization.

    So far.. what the Census projects – comes to be in the larger scheme of things.

    Particular areas make exceed their predictions and some areas, like Detroit and parts of the Rust Belt have contracted more than originally thought.

    But even if you don’t allow for ANY… “in-migration” of population.. just the number of babies born in our region – is going to add significantly to the population and as these babies grow up and want jobs and housing.. we are going to see some significant growth unless these babies move away when they grow up.

    Right now, Stafford and Spotsylvania have among the highest percentage of schools ages kids in Va – 20% or 60,000 people – who are going to grow up in our region.

    The housing meltdown has to be taken into account also but like I said.. unless the birth rate itself “melts down”.. I don’t see how we will not grow significantly.

    re: the “focus” groups. yes.. we had them in the Chamber of Commerce Reality Check and there were also Ad Hoc focus groups in the Spotsylvania Comp Plan process.

    I see their involvement as inclusive and necessary because they are the folks who actually do planning as opposed to the general public which normally has little to say or do with regard to planning except react to proposals that they like or don’t like but waiting on the public to reach a consensus on how to plan for the future is going to always put us behind the curve … on having enough schools, roads and other infrastructure.

    People only complain AFTER the schools and roads are overcrowded – not before.

    What would be a better way to go about this? thoughts?

  • bhaas

    Here is my first thought…trying to get my head around this growth issue. If one considwers birth rate then we must factor in the death rate to avoid overestimation.

    According to the CIA World Book the estimated birth rate for the US in 2010 is 13.83 per 1000 population and the estimated death rate is 8.38 per 1000 population. That leaves a net growth rate of 5.45 per 1000 population.

    Spotsy has around 120,000 population, so we can expect our birth/death population to grow by about 5.45 x 120 = 654 in 2010.

    If we had NO in-migration and this rate held fast over the years; it would take 183.49 years for Spotsylvania to double its population. I do not see this as a significant annual growth factor.

  • bhaas

    Ye gads…no matter how careful I am….”considwers” should be “considers.” Arggh!

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry, there is no better way to go about this than open doors that remain closed to US and see what transparency and accountability look and sound like.

    So, long as your version of good government, with the public religated to a herd of cattle.

    Thanks Bill. Wait until you see the entire document, or maybe you already have.

    If FOCUS GROUPS are to remain hidden from the public domain, I don’t see how they can make any kind of contribution or informed participation in what the Spotsylvania Landscape is, or will be will be in the next 10 years.

    Why not atke a visit to the Planning, Code Compliance and Zoning and Utilitie Departments and ask to see what they already have on their drawing boards? I made my visits as late as 2009 and you’d be surprised what they have to offer. you can start with the voluminous files being maintained on Summitt Crossing, Mallard Landing and the POST project. You’ll find them under identified UDAs TO BE BUILT, by right if the Debvelopment community has anything to say about it. And before you leave, ask Wanda Parrish where the other FOCUS GROUP MEETING MINUTES are stored, and then see if you can’t connect the dots.

    Maybe I’m being much to harsh, or unrealistic but this is not rocket science. TIT-FOR TAT might serve as a better description. Now it’s Dan’s turn to explain what he knows, or doesn’t, because his head was turned the other way. Failing that, ask Kelly Hannon what her take is. She’s the one who reports on the GWRC/FAMPO agendas.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Bill – you did a good job on the birth/death rate and according to that our area should not have grown by very much from the birth rate, especially since we started at about a 15K total population in the 60′s and now we have 125,000 with 23,000 of them being school aged kids.

    so we know we’ve grown a lot and we have a lot of kids and my conjecture that birth rate was responsible sounds incorrect as the reason for the growth but the growth is real ..

    1960 13,819
    1970 16,424
    1980 34,435
    1990 57,403
    2000 90,395
    2005 114,960
    2008 120,031,_Virginia

    put http: and two slashes in front on the link

    so if we go by past growth trends (which I admit is an arguable methodology, but it is the one that folks like the Census and Weldon Cooper and most planning organization use) .. we doubled in population in 20 years.

    Whether we double or not in the next 20 years may or may not come to be but the premise of those who plan is that we should plan for that number, and if we come up short then that’s fine …better to do that that not plan or plan for no growth and in up wrong about it – which is how Spotsylvania originally got into trouble with their planning for growth – which was in effect, no plan for growth.

    Spotsylvania does have a 2% growth policy but there are some “gotchas” in that policy. It’s 2% in housing units – which are estimated to contain about 2.4 people per which boils down to about to what, 2,500 people per year which over a 25 year horizon would be 50,000+ – if my math is right.

    I’m not totally on board with what FAMPO is doing in terms of population growth projections (relying on Census/Weldon Cooper) and even more circumspect about how that growth might allocate itself geographically but I think the kinds of questions they are asking about the future are responsible and that not looking into how growth might occur in our region is – irresponsible.

    The State IS … clearly pushing the UDA concept – to concentrate growth where the infrastructure already exists and/or is planned – major highways and water/sewer, and public transportation like FRED, carpool lots and bus/van routes.

    But I don’t think it is unreasonable to assume that we will have growth and that it is unreasonable to assume that we can stop it.

    I guess the question is – does the average person support planning for growth. Do they support the concept of a Comprehensive Plan? Would they support the concept of having a REGIONAL Comprehensive Plan ?

    These are the kinds of questions that the answers to will probably come as a result of their exercise.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Just FYI – I graduated in 1963 from Spotsylvania High – which is the same year that I-95 from Washington to Fredericksburg was completed.

    From that day on – our region changed dramatically from a small scale community with a lot of folks with modest incomes and almost no commuters to a commuter bedroom community on steroids.

    When they do these “chip” visioning exercises, they don[t really differentiate between urban-centric communities like Fairfax or Portland, Oregon and commuter bedroom communities like ours and it is my view that the two are very different in the way that growth allocates itself geographically.

  • bhaas

    Larry…remember, I used a CONSTANT growth/death rate (the 2010 estimates from CIA World Book) in my example. Obviously, that is not strictly kosher.

    However, if you look at the US “growth” rate figures historically, I think you will find that the US growth rate (per 1000 pop) is significantly less now than in the 60′s. I do not know about the death rate, but my “gut” tells me it was also probably higher in the 60′s. Perhaps that results in a “wash” in the net rate???

    Re: the completion of I-95. I arrived in VA in 1961. At that time the beltway was being built and what you call I-95 was still the Shirley Memorial Highway. I do not remember when the “Shirley” moniker was dropped in favor of I-95.

    And you are right, growth went “nuts” along that corridor. I would predict that another major “spurt” in Spotsy growth could be produced if the Metro was extended to Fredericksburg as it has been extended to other “rural” areas in Maryland and NOVA.

    I think you have said it too, but I am convinced that our growth issues simply are NOT on the front burner of interest except for a small minority of our citizens. If it does not affect them personally, they just have little interest. In this economy, especially, I understand.

    However, our leaders have really failed to explain how our “growth” is the fundamental “engine” of our local economy. As such, it affects each and every one of us daily. The effects simply are not overt; they are covert and they sneak up silently.

  • bhaas

    If we assume that the 2500 per year is correct, and further assume something like 700 can be attributed to the net birth/death rate, then in-migration is contributing 1800 per year. That is about 150 per month on average and is certainly high at this point in time.

    The other factor is out-migration; military and civilian relocations/reassignments and retirements etc. I am thinking that the 1800 is a NET between in- and out-migration. If that is a valid conclusion, then the 2500 per year figure is validated. Personally, not that it matters, I am comfortable with that figure for planning purposes. Hence, in the next twenty years we will grow by 62,500 and will be approaching the 200,000 mark. THAT IS A FIGURE WE HAD BETTER BE PLANNING FOR!

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    the question is WHO will PLAN for this? and what will they plan?

    You’re right about most folks caring (or not) but they do care if it takes 45 minutes to go from Route 3 at I-95 to their home in Western Spotsy or their taxes are skyrocketing to pay for several new elementary schools per year – as Loudoun County has had to do for several years – not one.. but several per year…

    We currently have 17 elementary schools. Can you imagine more than 30?

  • bhaas

    Doggone it…the twenty in para 2 of post 15 should have been twenty five.

  • bhaas

    Yep Larry, those items you mentioned are the things that affect our citizens personally, as I said.

    On the question of WHO will PLAN…I offer portions of another recent post I made.

    “I offer the following suggestion to both of our “august” legislative assemblies (Wash and Richmond). Lower the federal and state income tax rates to levels (probably fractions of a percent) COMMENSURATE with passing the responsibilities, beyond those required by the Federal and State Constitutions (YES, I understand that issue will be difficult…take it away from politicians and it may not be so difficult), OFFICIALLY to the localities and WE will take care of the things you folks find so difficult to deal with.

    Before those of you that have a conservative or social/progressive “bent” start your “vent” against my suggestion; you need to consider the recent history of where we have been going. WE keep paying the same or more and are receiving less. IF you like that…VENT away my friends.”

    The ANSWER to WHO will plan is easy, it will be the localities. That much is clear.

    The secret to success lies in “wresting” the necessary funds away from higher levels of gov so that those plans can be executed successfully.

    Americans pay a lot of money in taxes to all levels of gov. It now becomes necessary to determine which level pays for what and which level is using tax money we think is paying for “A” is actually paying for “X.” “X” being defined as some cost that is strictly politically, vote driven, oriented.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I’m hearing you but thinking that whatever happens (or not) at the Federal level is not going to have much effect on our local planning efforts to deal with growth with the exception of the HOT Lanes, Public Transit and the MPO which are funded from the Federal Gas Tax.

    Locally, we get money from the state for roads, schools, and law enforcement but money for roads is pretty much gone because the State gas tax has not increased in 25 years and is not indexed to inflation and right now virtually all of it is being spent on maintenance and operations.

    There’s a small trickle of Fed funds but it sufferers from the same basic problem – not increased in a while and not indexed to inflation.

    The only gas tax indexed to inflation is the Regional VRE tax which will generate 2 million + or – per year – in an era where one mile of road can easily cost 10-20 million so you can see the problem.

    Most Fed money goes for the Military and entitlements not schools, law enforcement and roads.

    You’ll have to decide if the Fed money spent for the MPO is a good value because that’s where the money is coming from for the Land Use Scenario Planning.

    3 cents of your Federal Gas tax is spent on transit – like FRED and VRE BTW.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Can anyone tell me what Larry and Bill just discussed from their #12 through #19 and it relevance to FAMPO’s latest release and another study have to do with child birth statistics and how the REGION will be lead by Census data in developing high density home construction and development in the REGION. Isn’t this kind of number crunching a little numbing and at best just more speculation, because WE really don’t know, because we really don’t have any information from local goverrnment to make an informed decision on what Spotsylvania County or the REFGION are going to look like in the next ten (10) years, much less 20?

    Anyone hear that old saying…When you don’t have the answers you baffle THEM with BS?”

    Instead of wandering all over the place, getting no where, why can’t we focus on getting the details from our repective local governments and their “other” government agendas and try to make sense of how local government and GWRC and FAMPO are really one in the same mindset, except we’re talking about ONE local REGIONAL government, not five different county governments and a single pocketbook, not five. The consolidation of power in REGIONAL politics is the same in County Government except local governments (MPOs) builds consensus and barter for market share with the real “stakeholders” without the public ever knowing the difference, which is OK with me. Empires have have been built with less.

    The United States will double its population by 2050. The Latino population will double its population in17 years. What is the supply side of demand, or is it confined to the difference between the number of yearly deaths versus those born in the same period of time? How many do we lose on the highways on a daily basis. How many have we lost to war on foreign shores? How much of our environment do we give up simply to make a buck? How much oil can the globe enhale in a single day and still come up smiling that WE made it through another day.

    Anyone care to include these numbers into a census and see what you get back for making it through another day in Spotsylvania County, 20 years from now? Or, do we just move on until we shot ourselves in the foot AGAIN?

    Too negative? Maybe so. But I still want to know what goes on behind closed doors, even though you make be afraid to even knock. Maybe Larry is right after all. You’ll never be any better or make for real change until you get past the wall you build around yourself every day, or the one local government builds around you and its empire, in total silence. Signing off.

  • bhaas

    Naw Marty…not baffling with BS. We were secretly conversing in a highly classified verbal code. If we told you what we said we would have to k….. well, you get the idea.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    YES, you guys are really part of the MOD SQUAD, disguised as under cover agents for local governments looking for night watchmen to cover what went on during daylight hours.
    Bill, why bother.You don’t have any more answers to the question than I do. Good to hear back from you and the assasination squad. Anything new comes up, let me hear it from you first.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    the basic premise is that people are going to move here and we cannot stop all of them and they will find a lot to buy… send their kids to school and drive about 10 trips a day to/from their house.

    Until, we ind a way to keep them coming here – FAMPO does a fairly simple calculation to show how a certain number of new homes will affect our highways.

    So right now, Route 3 has 80,000 cars a day at the I-95 Interchange.

    If Spotsylvania doubles in population, and we allocate geographically the way we have in the past 20 years – there’s a good likelihood that there will be 160,000 cars at Route 3 and I-95 and 80,000 cars a day at Gordon Road.

    FAMPO further points out that there will be very little money to widen/expand Route 3 or build a bypass unless the bypass is tolled.

    Basically, they are asking how should we go about dealing with the future.

    They do accept comments.

    If someone says “don’t let anyone else move here”, they’ll accept the comment but probably chuckle back in their offices.

    In terms of transparency for transportation projects, you’ll find that every single one of them is listed on FAMPOs Website as well as Spotsylvania’s website along with their costs.

    Now – here’s the kicker that most folks don’t realize.

    Federal Law will not allow FAMPO to list more transportation projects than there is identified funding for.

    In other words, there is no “wish list”.

    That’s the good news – what you see is what you get.

    Now, the bad news is that we are broke in terms of transportation funding.

    This is precious little money for new transportation projects coming from Washington or Richmond.

    That’s what FAMPO is trying to get across to citizens in the region.

    There are no conspiracies, no sneaking around with secret funds, no stealth transportation projects, … nope…

    there is no money.

    Now, we can advocate that Washington or Richmond raise taxes – and idea I suspect will go 20 feet before being smoked.

    So basically FAMPO and the County Planners, and others.. i.e. the “focus” groups as asking – in a fairly public way – with things like Scenario Land Use Planning – what the public thinks and how the folks in our area would like to proceed because FAMPO an the others realize that unless the public is on board in some measure that we go nowhere…

    So they’re trying to engage the public.. and work towards some kind of regional consensus on how to go forward with transportation planning for the future.

    and they ARE asking if we’d like toll roads rather than increased taxes….

    and it’s an honest question in my view.

    We’ll have to decide and perhaps the answer is both.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Your #23 can best be described as the wrong kind of propoganda and even FAMPO desrves better. Since they are not going to be able to keep up their end of the bargain, why don’t you supply us with some more details and knock off the pie in the sky rhetoric.

    This is about bucks, big bucks, with governance controls over a REGION.

    Why don’t you share with us the elusive consequences that come with FAMPO’s recent adoption of THEIR 2011 Unified Planning Work Program?

    Anything you can add to FAMPO’s Resolution 10-17 and request to change the Virginia Public Procurement Act to MAKE PLANNING DISTRICT COMMISSIONS (GWRC) and FAMPO subject to the same terms as LOCAL GOVERNMENTS…when ENGAGING “ON-CALL design consultants, SINCE Attorney General Cuccinelli advised the Honorable Bobby Orrock that GWRC and FAMPO do NOT qualify as a locality, AUTHORITY (as in TOLL ROAD AUTHORITY) or sanitation district for purposes of contracting architectural and engineering services in excess of $500,000.

    GWRC/FAMPO want the $5,000,000 authority to conduct business through the REGIONS elected officials.

    Chalk this up to your version of blather, conspiracy theories or anything else you want, but you know, and should know there are more details and this is just the opening salvo.

    Wait until we get to Resolutions 10-18; 10-20 and 10-21.

    Toll Roads are fine, if they serve a purpose. It’s the AUTHORITY that comes with it that is of most consern. Remember Spotsylvania County’s Chapter 25 was born of the State legislated language that far exceeds the publics knowledge of what AUTHORITY is being granted to our elected offificals under REGIONAL management.

    Simply said Larry, why don’t you answer your own question.? It’s going to be BOTH, and under REGIONAL management there will only be one pocketbook.

    When you claim “BASICALLY FAMPO and the County Planners …and OTHERS, ie the focus groups as asking- in a fairly public way…” you just crossed the line. How many months has it been brought to the table the PUBLIC have no idea what Planning, the Planning Commission and the Development community have in mind for its citizens since THEY meet behind closed doors, without meeting minutes and absolutely no communication or transparency to the public domain.

    This question has been ASKED by me on 34 separate occassions, with no one, including the FLS and staff reporter Televock to date. The closest anyone came to answereing the question was Steve Thomas when he recalled the existence of these Focus Groups were just RUMOR.

    If this is how you wish to conduct business for Spotsylvania County and their elected officials, you should hand in your badge. Wake up and shine some light where it should be.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Both the Federal Government and the State Government support and encourage regional approaches to infrastructure and facilities and governed by regional authorities.

    I’d rather see these authorities as direct elected so I’ll say that from the get go but the Va Code is chock full of laws to encourage localities to operate regionally.

    Can those authorities be co-opted by the development community?


    there is always that risk.

    But right now in our area, we have a regional jail, regional libraries, regional water/sewer authorities and in my view, I’d like to see regional law enforcement, public safety and schools.

    I don’t have a problem with “focus” groups because I’d rather see land-use approach from a more regional perspective – in part because to not do so ends up with things like too much commercial that ends up empty… too many unused parking lots.. and essentially an escalating economic war between localities rather than the region prospering by working together.

    I think citizens should be wary and vigilant when it comes to land-use discussions and decisions and I share the concerns about UDAs in some respects especially if the premise behind them is that we have set up hundreds/thousands of new dwellings that, “in theory” will ride VRE when we know that the ultimate available capacity of VRE is much, much less than that..

    Do developers and planners “scheme”? yes they do. Can we stop them from doing that? Nope.

    We can stop bad decisions if we make our wishes known to the elected decision-makers. We can make sure we elect those who will listen to us but at the end of the day, the elected will make the decisions – not the developers, not the planners, not even FAMPO – which is a Federal regional group rather than State.

    The idea behind MPOs is simple. The Feds saw adjacent localities competing for Federal Transportation funds to build transportation facilities that did not connect and were not regionally functional – even at cross-ends to each other so they basically said the same thing that Virginia says on some issues which is – “you plan regionally or you don’t get the money”.

    Those who oppose regional planning won’t stop it by attacking local politicians. You have to go higher to that to get folks like Houck and Warner and Cantor to do away with things like MPOs and Planning Districts and good luck on that because most elected politicians support the concept of regional provisioning of infrastructure and facilities and that requires some level of regional governance.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry…you still haven’t answered the question.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    I note that the local Sierra Club folks are looking forward to the Scenario Land use study: www[dot]

    Now, I point this out for a reason and that is to show that those folks, not known for their support of growth and development, intend to participate in the exercise – and to advocate their view.

    That’s part of why FAMPO is sponsoring the exercise – to see who in the community wants to participate in the conversation.

    Now, Marty would tend to focus on all the “bad”, “wrong things that he thinks FAMPO is doing or suspected of doing.

    On the other hand, there are those who believe that citizen participation in the issues helps to promote the “good”, “correct” things that FAMPO and planners might want to consider.

    In other words, you can get in the game and advocate your view or you can just sling mud and accuse any and all of bad behavior.

    Marti does not even live here any more yet continue to sling mud.


  • Martin (Marty) Work

    There’s so much I want to say, but fail to find a good reason to join Larry in his assassination dance. Although I would ask Larry what role my current residence has anything to do with comments on this or any other blog, or must one be VIRGINIAN to qualify for a post at the podium?

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Marty, one should at least acknowledge how Spotsylvania and FAMPO compare with other counties and MPOs .

    That’s been my main complaint. If I listen to you Spotsylvania and FAMPO are the worst of the worst – the most egregious of any county and MPO that you’re familiar with.

    I just don’t happen to think so but I am willing to listen to any arguments that would demonstrate that we have much more serious issues here than other places.

    Otherwise, yes, i do question what your focus seems to be continuous condemnation of this county and it’s MPO.

    I think that is a fair question to ask you.

    Why do you focus your criticisms mostly on Spotsylvania?

  • bhaas

    At the serious risk of alienating both Larry and Marty, I offer my two cents here.

    I must agree that Marty’s current residence seems quite irrelevant to the discussion. However, I would also like to hear Marty agree, maybe just once, that something about Spotsy was good.

    On the other hand, I am not sure the performance of other localities bears any consequence to the performance in Spotsy. Variables such as differing issues, differing conditions that may exist elsewhere, and other factors tend to make comparisons difficult, if not impossible.

    Why should we judge ourselves by comparing to others? If we are not happy with our own performance, is that not enough reason to want change?

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    We should always want to do better but why would we even care about “Transparency Reports” in the first place if we did not want to have some idea of how we’re doing comparatively?

    Why would we want to compare ourselves to other county fire and EMS systems?

    Why does the Auditor of Virginia generate a comparative report of all counties and cities and their revenues and expenditures for various things such as education and law enforcement?

    How would we feel about Spotsylvania if it was rated number one in transparency? How would we feel if Spotsylvania was rated dead last in Transparency?

    I think comparisons can be useful and can help us better understand how hard we should be pushing for change.

    For instance, we know that most counties do not have multiple FEMS SOPS. That comparative knowledge was instrumental in helping us decide whether we thought our performance was good enough or not.

    Did it matter when the BOS found out that we have for several years, funded education near the top of the peer counties?

    Oh.. and does it matter that we don’t know how much gas tax we get back – would we like to know?

    heh heh

    Did I convince you?

  • bhaas

    It is certainly always “interesting” to know how “we” compare with “others” no matter the subject.

    However, it is not always a useful or even valid reason to form a “judgement” based on these comparisons. For instance, one of my neighbors may buy a new car every year; should I “judge” myself or other neighbors because we do not?

    In another instance, I do not find it very useful to make “judgements” about Spotsy based on comparisons with what goes on in Fairfax or Arlington counties. These places certainly do things that one can find admirable, but to then form “judgements” about Spotsy is not always useful IMHO.

    WRT the gas tax…I want to know what “we” pay and what “we” get back. The others have to worry about themselves.

    WRT the FEMS SOPs, believe it or not I took my stand without knowing whether others did or did not. It was simply obvious that having differing SOPs for the same issue was nonsense.

    BTW, the Auditor of Virginia generates a “comparative” report because that is his job. Is it useful? I can only speak for myself; sure. However, I find it much more interesting than useful from my perspective. I doubt that the average Virginian even knows the report exists.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    This might help explain differences in some philosophies here.

    I tend to lean towards defined standards – like LOS (level of service) and metrics collected to ascertain 3 things:

    1. – what our LOS is for a given service or infrastructure

    2. – what a defined standard is from the professional/engineering organizations that study such things.

    3. – how we compare and rank with other jurisdictions/governing entities.

    For instance, we know that engineers classify roads from LOS A to LOS F – and that classification system is how most counties benchmark their own conditions as opposed to each county having their own unique rating system.

    Then, we can look at what LOS we think we want as a standard in our county and what the costs of that standard would be.

    Then if we looked at other jurisdictions, we’d quickly realize that no jurisdiction in the entire U.S. probably has established LOS A as their goal in their community.

    The next step would be to try to understand what the “average” LOS is across several jurisdictions – at the least to help us understand what other jurisdictions have decided to tax their people to provide roads that meet some specified minimum standards.

    I would repeat that same process for every service and infrastructure we are taxed for – because in the end – just as with our home budgets – we cannot have everything we want but on the other hand – we should know what we do get for what we spend.

    And a counter example.

    Let’s pretend that Spotsylvania develops it’s own standard and claims that it not only has a goal of LOS A but that in it’s opinion, it is providing LOS A service for roads.

    Obviously upon making such a claim there would be questions and I doubt very seriously that even Bill Haas would accept the response that “we have our own standards that cannot be compared to other standards”.


  • bhaas

    Now, you have expanded your scope of examination to include “more” than “comparisons” to other localities.

    As I said earlier, “I do not find it very useful to make “judgements” about Spotsy based on comparisons with what goes on in Fairfax or Arlington counties. These places certainly do things that one can find admirable, but to then form “judgements” about Spotsy is not always useful IMHO.”

    Now that we lead our examination with 1) what is our LOS, 2) what is the defined standard, then “comparisons” have a “context” that add meaning in our decisions.

    Certainly, I agree with such an approach.

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    My #24, #26 and #28 pretty much covers any need I have to advanced this dialogue any further or beyond the ever expanding parameters and scope of the subject or issue. Better luck next time.