Highland County Comprehensive Plan Moves One Step Closer To Adoption
Monterey, Va – Highland County’s Comprehensive Plan has moved another step closer to adoption. The Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Town Council recently held joint public hearings on the comprehensive plan in the county courthouse. Board of Supervisors chairman Robin Sullenberger made some preliminary remarks.
“This has been a rather lengthy ordeal, and I am certainly not going to sit here and tell you that the Board of Supervisors was timely and efficient in this endeavor” says Sullenberger. “What I will tell you is that it involves a lot of people, a lot of input, a lot of time and I think all of us realize that Highland County has got to have a plan to go by. Our board certainly could have been more timely in following through on the process. I know that was a frustrating aspect for the planning commission, for their efforts to continue to discuss it with us and move it forward; and we thank them.”
Four people signed up to speak during the public hearing. Nelson Hoy, a cattleman from Williamsville was the first to speak.
“Could I please address your attention to finance objective GF01; that says quote encourage use of the comprehensive plan as a general guide to decision making and operations at all levels of the county government’ reads Hoy. “May I please point out to you that there are no enabling strategies for this objective. Everybody thinks that’s really important, and they want to believe it’s going to happen, but you guys haven’t followed through and put any teeth into it.”
Mr. Hoy goes on to make the point that the demographics section of the plan is missing a key element. The section describes the dramatic population loss in the county from over 5,700 people in 1900 to less than 3,400 people in the most recent census. The plan does not include a strategy for increasing the county population.
Following Mr. Hoy, Betty Mitchell, Director of the Highland Center had several corrections and suggestions for changes to the plan.
“On page 12 under the history section, the last paragraph of that mentions the eligibilitiy of inclusion for places on the National Register, and yet no mention is made of the places already on the National Register” says Mitchell. “I believe the Highland Museum is, I know the Highland Center is, and the Highland Inn, so you might want to make mention of those. Page 17, and every time it’s listed thereafter, the page with the resources from the county that list your organizations like this, the Highland Center is not included and I think that we would ask that we be included in that list of resources.”
She goes on to talk about how important dark skies are to tourism and that it needs to be included in the tourism section. She also suggested that the Blue Ribbon award for Excellence received by the Highland School system be included in the section on the school system. Kevin Wagner, representing the Highland Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the Chamber be removed as a responsible party in monitoring health care issues as they pertain to local businesses providing health care benefits to their employees.
Finally, Liz Delahoussaye spoke in support of strengthening the language regarding the importance of dark skies to the county and the need for lighting standards in the zoning regulations.
The next step is for County Administrator Roberta Lambert to write up these suggested revisions to the plan and get them to the Planning Commission for review. Those changes recommended by the Planning Commission will then be considered by the Board of Supervisors before the Board votes on whether or not to approve the plan.