Rockingham County officials have officially kicked off the process to begin an overhaul of the county’s comprehensive plan.

At a staff meeting Thursday, county leaders met with representatives from the Berkley Group and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission as the county revamps its comprehensive plan.

Comprehensive plans document a community’s vision, and provide strategies to reach goals in an area.

State law requires local governments to adopt a comprehensive plan and review it every five years. What Rockingham County is doing now, according to Rhonda Cooper, director of community development, is a complete rewrite of the plan, which was last done in the early 2000s.

In July, the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors entered a contract with the Berkley Group and the CSPDC to assist in the process, which is estimated to be complete by the end of 2023.

‘Road Map For The Future’

Cecile Newcomb, a planner at the Berkley Group, said comprehensive plans serve as a decision-making guide for elected and appointed officials when it comes to topics such as capital improvement projects or land-use decisions.

“A comprehensive plan is a road map for the future,” she said.

Newcomb said comprehensive plans can be used when officials apply for funding opportunities, or when staff makes recommendations to be considered by elected officials. Typically, comprehensive plans feature chapters regarding cultural resources, the local economy, housing, natural resources, land use, transportation and community services.

The CSPDC will focus on the transportation aspect of the plan, while the Berkley Group will assist county staff with the rest of the document.

Comprehensive plans allow officials to plan development in a way the community sees fit, and provide justification for decisions, Newcomb said.

Kelly Davis, director of planning for the Berkley Group, said the organization is in the process of reviewing documents submitted by county staff. A work session with Rockingham County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will take place in September.

In the fall, county staff will hold public engagement workshops and meetings with stakeholders for those who want to give feedback on the area’s future, Davis said. A survey will also be available in the fall.

Once that data is collected, Davis said the Planning Commission and its Board of Supervisors will hold work sessions to review the plan. When a draft plan is complete, there will be other opportunities for the public to review the document.

When revisions are finalized, the county will schedule a joint public hearing and consider adopting the plan.

“The plan is only as good as the input,” Cooper said.

Contact Kellen Stepler at 574-6279 or kstepler@dnronline.com | Follow Kellen on Twitter at @KellenStepler

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