First, hit your thumb with a hammer…
If you found a stack of boards, nails, and tools in the garage, would you start hammering and cutting in order to build a bookcase before looking at a finished blueprint? Only if you want to partially-assemble the bookcase, then rip it apart for later corrections.
So why would the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) initiate projects to approve houses in new subdivisions scattered across Prince William now, before completing the Land Use Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan?The county initiated an update to the Comp Plan two years ago. The Land Use Advisory Committee and the Mobility Committee produced separate chapters on where growth should occur to accommodate population growth up to the year 2030.
The BOCS recognized that the two chapters were turkeys, and wildly inconsistent. Despite lots of blather about smart growth principles, the draft chapters proposed fragmented, uncoordinated development that would require high taxes for new roads and other infrastructure.
The Planning Commission has not accepted the proposed designation of “centers of community/commerce.” The Planning Department thought the commission’s revision of the land use chapter was so bad, staff is recommending a separate rewrite to the BOCS.
So we have two draft versions of the land use chapter, a separate draft transportation chapter that is not integrated with either land use alternative, and a BOCS that has not acted on any of the choices. Is this the time to initiate Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPA’s), out of context?
The Planning Department must like the “ready-fire-aim” approach. They are recommending approvals of CPA’s now, basing their advice on the draft chapter produced by the Land Use Advisory Committee that the Planning Commission did not accept. Wow, Rube Goldberg must be their favorite designer for household furniture.
If you like unrestricted development, initiate CPA’s out of sequence with plan revisions.
If you like comprehensive planning, do not initiate any CPA’s now.
If you’re an elected official, sense that we have to do something, and support commercial development under most any circumstances now… then reject all the proposed CPA’s that include new housing and approve only the CPA’s that support just commercial development.
[Full Disclosure: I was vice-chair of the Mobility Committee, so I share some blame. The county initiated separate land use and transportation updates. Not surprisingly, the Planning Commission got inconsistent proposals from separate committees.]