Over 200 people attended the Breezy Hill meeting and spoke up regarding the County's Comprehensive Plan.
Here is what we heard.
As the County’s acting director of planning, David Benish, explained both the Comprehensive Plan and the master plan for the Village of Rivanna are construed under state law as advisory documents only. They do not carry any enforcement power themselves but can be utilized by both the Commission and the Board of Supervisors to guide their final decisions. The Comprehensive Plan provides a vision for highest and best land use in a County and a Master Plan can be more specific and advisory as to how certain properties or areas are developed. But again neither document is legally binding.
The intent of the Community Meeting is to enable a land use applicant to hear from the community about what possible changes may be necessary to reduce community opposition or potentially to gain community support. The developer’s representative, Don Franco, stated at the end of the meeting that the original application presented for 200 units will need to be tailored down. Don indicated what the Planning Commission will now see within the 90 days from original application to Planning Commission public hearing will be different.
The Planning Commission will perform their magisterial vetting of the revised application (early September). They may recommend additions or deletions in the application to address impacts and concerns they see with the proposal, some of which may well be framed by public comments. What the Board of Supervisors will finally review for legislative action (October) is probably and often a very revised document from what the public first sees at the Community Meeting.
Hence, it is imperative for the public to remain engaged and responsive to the changes in the application as it goes through policy deliberation. This is due process for the applicant. At the same time there are two major opportunities for the public to weigh in during public hearings on the changes and possible improvements in the application or on aspects that remain problematic.
We must remain engaged with this application as it proceeds through the County’s process. We have no idea whether this application will be approved, simply because we don’t know what the application will look like when the Board reviews and votes on it. But we do know that continued public involvement is our best insurance for having a say in the Village of Rivanna Master Plan.