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CRC Waits To Set Committee

FARMVILLE – The Commonwealth Regional Council's planned discussion on the appointment of a committee to review marketing expenses was tabled during last week's meeting due to the Council's Chairman being out of town.

The CRC's current budget does not include any line items related to marketing or economic development and those activities, according to comments made last month, had been discontinued for several years due to budget concerns.

Chairman Gary Walker, Charlotte County, was out of town assisting with the Charlotte County All-Star's team at the Little League World Series in Louisiana, according to Mary Hickman, CRC acting president and CEO.

In July, Chairman Walker and Dr. Brian Bates, Buckingham representative, raised concerns related to how money, that was transferred when the Piedmont Planning District Commission and Virginia's Heartland Partnership dissolved in 2005, has been spent for regional economic development.

Vice Chairman William “Buckie” Fore, Jr. tabled the discussion until the CRC's next meeting due to the Chairman's absence.

Other items tabled last week also pertained to personnel and the appointment of officers for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Bates Resigns

At the end of the meeting, Ms. Hickman presented the Council with a letter that was received from Dr. Bates. The letter was also sent to members of Buckingham County's Board of Supervisors.

In the letter, Dr. Bates said an increasing number of demands have been recently placed upon him.

“Because of these demands on my time, I have concluded that in all fairness to the Board and the Commonwealth Regional Council, I need to step down as the Board's representative to the CRC and let another Board member serve in this capacity. I am stepping down effective immediately,” stated the letter from Dr. Bates.

The CRC took action on the letter, so that it would be placed in the minutes, to accept his resignation from the Council.

“The staff of the Commonwealth Regional Council is a highly-competent group of professionals who try hard to meet the needs of our communities,” stated his letter. “The fiscal situation with the state has made their jobs, and ours, much more difficult.”

The Buckingham Board of Supervisors will address the letter and appoint a new Supervisor to represent the County on the CRC.

“Though we don't need to take any action on it, I think it would be in order for the Chair to accept a motion accepting his resignation from this Board,” said Fore. “Just so it will be in the minutes…Brian was a good member with a good head on him.”

Regional Bike Plan

Melody Foster, CRC regional planner, presented the Regional Bicycle Plan 2010 update for approval.

“Our transportation committee has been working since February updating this plan,” noted Ms. Foster.

In June 2000, the Piedmont Planning District Commission originally adopted the plan.

The CRC began working with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and undertook updating the document this year.

“They wanted to see us update it,” she said.

Planning District 14 (comprised of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward Counties, Towns of Blackstone, Burkeville, Charlotte Court House, Crewe Dillwyn, Drakes Branch, Farmville, Kenbridge, Keysville, Phenix, and Victoria) was evaluated in the Plan.

According to Ms. Foster, the purpose of the plan is to provide information on the development of bike facilities and accommodations to enhance and encourage safe bike travel within the District.

Before the meeting, Ms. Foster relayed to the Council that Eric Hougland (High Bridge Trail State Park) expressed that he had no concerns with the proposed bike plan.

In 2000, an advisory committee was appointed to guide the plan preparation and establish bike needs for the region.

Throughout the update process, the Committee met four times over a six-month period to review and discuss the update and also sought input from local government staff. A public input session was also held.

After Ms. Foster's presentation, the CRC approved the 2010 Bike Plan update.

The objectives of the plan are to increase multi-modal opportunities through bikeways with the region, enhance the region's tourism opportunities through the bike routes, and to request that each County adopt the Bicycle Plan as part of the Comprehensive Plan process.

In Other News

Ms. Hickman provided the Council with a report on the Chief Administrative Officer's Committee meetings that have been held for information.

County representatives attend the meetings with CRC staff and each month a special speaker is present to discuss topics of interest to the region, she said.

Later, the acting president and CEO called the Council's attention to several 2010 General Assembly actions related to planning and zoning and new investments to promote job growth.

“The main crutch of it was dealing with the Urban Development Areas, which I believe three of our localities and one town are required to have UDA's designated,” said Ms. Hickman.

Cumberland, Lunenburg, Buckingham, and the Town of Keysville are all required to designate an urban development area in their Comprehensive Plans due to a five percent increase in population since 1990/2000.

The Town of Keysville is the only town in the District that had the above five percent increase in population.

“They did have a 25 percent increase since 1990,” Ms. Hickman said.

The state mandate is to ensure that localities have the infrastructure needed to support development by being “proactive” instead of “reactive,” said Andre Gilliam, CRC community planner.

“I take these packets and reproduce them and put them in our board packet so the information will get to all of the Supervisors,” said Fore. “It's a good thing.”