At the Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting on June 13, County Planner Luke Seigfried shared the findings of a public input session held on June 5 in the cafeteria at Jefferson High School. 46 residents participated in the public input session, which was structured to allow participants to identify priorities in small groups with follow-up discussions with the entire group.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Opportunities
At the top of the lists of Jefferson County’s strengths identified by participants are natural beauty & open space, historical spaces (downtowns & battlefields), close proximity to the metro DC area, and tourism (history, culture & agriculture-related). Weaknesses identified are too many houses being built vis-a-vis the county’s build-out of infrastructure, divisiveness in local government, lack of job opportunities for younger people, and low pay for public sector employees. Participants were also asked to identify opportunities for the county to improve the quality of life for residents. The list includes expanding public transportation, focusing on responsible development, preserving natural resources, and supporting small businesses (particularly tech-related jobs).
Getting Specific Input
The general discussion at the June 5 session drilled down to identify specific concerns in these general areas. There was strong agreement among participants that natural beauty is a key asset of the county. Looking at the concern of growth and lack of infrastructure, participants suggested clustering development around existing urbanized areas of the county and a focus on improving the roads in those areas.
The group voiced support for reinstating higher impact fees [the County Commission significantly reduced these fees in 2021, with the schools impact fee cut to $1]. Several participants expressed the hope that Jefferson County could avoid the mistakes of Northern Virginia during its recent decades of population growth.
The next step of the Comprehensive Plan update process is an online public survey, which is open for responses until July 21. The link to the survey is available through the Jefferson County website.
[The print version of this article mis-spelled Luke Seigfried’s name.]By Staff Contributor