Buckingham County residents spell out what they want to change

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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What do Buckingham County residents want to see happen in the next five years? The next 10? What would keep them in the county and what would drive them away? The results are in from the county’s comprehensive plan survey and it lays out what some people want to see. 

First of all, let’s be clear on that part. This is what some people want to see. We’re talking about 496 residents who responded to the survey, out of 16,824. This was also an older majority, with most over 50 years old and having lived here for more than a decade. 

One thing the survey found is that while more than half of the respondents work in Buckingham and all of them live in the county, few actually spend money here.Just over a third of people who took the survey said they do between 1% to 25% of shopping in Buckingham. More than half of the people did less than 50% of their shopping here. 

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“That is one of the most common requests from the community, there seems to be a desire for more commercial availability,” said Tyler Henderson. He works as a regional planner with the Commonwealth Regional Council, which is helping Buckingham create this comprehensive plan. “Considering how many people work in the county, it’s interesting how few spend their money in the county.” 

Speaking to the Buckingham County Planning Commission during their Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting, Henderson also went through the current perception of the county. Residents were asked to rate Buckingham on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. They were asked to consider fire protection, law enforcement, playgrounds, medical services, tourism and things like affordable housing. The county came in at a 2.37 or “Fair”, with fire protection, law enforcement and rescue services scoring high. 

What didn’t they like? 

Tourism rated the lowest, coming in at a 1.72 or “Poor”. People argued there’s nothing here to attract anyone to come visit. Affordable housing and healthcare were also labeled in the “Poor” category. Just barely above a “Poor” rating were playgrounds, parks and overall recreation opportunities.

Those answers seemed to go hand in hand with the ones about why a person would consider leaving Buckingham. Most survey responders said the county’s problems include a lack of job opportunities, a lack of businesses and inadequate access to medical care. 

On the other hand, the top three things, as far as what people liked, included maintaining a rural lifestyle, enjoying the peace and quiet and the small-town feel. So how do you grow and develop the county? Residents asked for more jobs, more industries, better jobs, a stronger support for small business, resources for entrepreneurs, forestry, farming and mining. Again, time for a sidenote here. We’re not talking about more resources for gold mining, which has been controversial at best in the county. Those resources are being asked for mining operations already happening in Buckingham, where kyanite is being harvested. 

A bigger variety in Buckingham County

The majority of those who responded also wanted more restaurant options, better places to eat, a larger variety of food and restaurant choice. 

So where is all this supposed to happen? Residents gave their thoughts on that too. They want to see Dillwyn-Sprouses Corner and Dillwyn-Alpha as the focal point for business and commercial growth. Arvonia, New Canton and the Centenary-Scottsville corridor was targeted as the place for new residential development. Meanwhile, for industrial growth, residents suggested the U.S. 15 South corridor and Arvonia and New Canton. They also asked that the areas around Yogaville and Buckingham Courthouse be designated for no growth. 

“Overall, business and commercial seem to be the most desired future growth and development sector,” Henderson said. 

Next for Buckingham County

Now all of this data will be used to help the CRC and county officials assemble the comprehensive plan, detailing what the county will or won’t focus on in the months and years to come. No deadline has been set for when the final version of the plan will be sent to supervisors for approval.