Hello Middleburg! I speak here, I hope simply, as a citizen, not just a former town official. Today, I would like to discuss the draft Middleburg Comprehensive Plan as that compares to its predecessor.

First, I will describe the current, soon to be replaced, Comprehensive Plan. That plan comprised seven chapters: Natural and Environmental Resources, Historic Resources, Population and Housing, Business and Employment, Community Facilities and Services, Land Use, and Transportation. It also includes an Introduction, and as required by statute a Town Zoning Map. The 2002 Plan covers 73 (81/2 by 11 inch) pages. The chapters consist of background or introduction, subject matter defining the chapter, one or more goals, objectives, and numerous policies for implementation.

Planning Commission members wrote most of this plan, who relied on staff help – primarily the Town Planner and Zoning Administrator, Martha Semmes. The members each volunteered to draft test for subjects addressed by each chapter as we discussed them. These meetings were all open to the public, but we received only modest public input. However, the commission wrote the plan to defend the rural and historic aspects of the Town, with a desire to protect its cultural aspects, such as the regional hunt and bucolic aspects of a small village. We got transportation data from Virginia, input, and advice from the town engineer and from the US Census (1980 and 1990).

The Planning Commission held public hearings and presented its draft to the Council in 2000. After almost two years of public comment, council discussions and public hearings, as well as review by the Town Attorney, the Town Council adopted the Plan unanimously in February 2002.

The draft Comprehensive Plan, finalized by the Planning Commission in May 2019 has numerous changes; in many ways, it is a complete re-write. This is appropriate, as was the 2000-2002 draft, although it adhered more to the basic format of its predecessors. This Plan comprises essentially the same set of chapters and covers 42 (17 by 11 inch) pages. I assume it incorporates the same Zoning Map in its last modified iteration (it is not in the electronic document I downloaded from the Town’s web site). The new 17×11 inch format is difficult to read electronically, so I have not concluded my analysis (I have paper copies of the 1986 and 1991 Plans as well as the 2002 Plan).

The acknowledgments in the draft Comprehensive Plan include The Berkeley Group and LDPA (Land Planning & Design Associates), who I assume produced the numerous graphics and provided professional assistance to William Moore, the current Town Planner, to direct the Planning Commission in producing this draft. This is a return to the Plans produced in 1986 and 1991, which also relied on outside professional assistance. The graphics in this new draft far outstrip previous versions, which mostly reflect the limitations of Microsoft Office of their times. I find it difficult to discern how much text Planning Commissioners wrote in this draft, although I am certain they discussed and edited all of it.

At this point, my greatest impression is that this is a more neutral plan, with each chapter simplified to a goal with two or three strategies (and impressive graphics). I am also disappointed that it is difficult to read in its electronic form due to its double-sized page format. However, the draft Plan will get a more thorough review over the next month and I plan to address it more substantively in my July column.

That is my opinion. Do you find this informative? Do you have questions or ideas you want me to address in a future column? I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, and questions, so please send them to the Eccentric!