The July 8 Fincastle Town Council meeting was a joint meeting with the Planning Commission. The Commission and Town Council held a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan 2021. The Planning Commission has been reviewing the Comprehensive Plan 2018 over the last several years. The Commission has basically rewritten the entire plan based on the 2011 framework. The Comprehensive Plan utilized the most up-to-date demographics, two community surveys, which included areas taken in through the 2018 boundary adjustment, direction from council, input from citizens and interest groups, and observations of the community, environment, state and local issues and conditions.
The Town of Fincastle Planning has been working on updating the Comprehensive Plan for a number of years. The Planning Commission has conducted two community surveys in recent years. The first survey was conducted in the winter of 2017. Those surveys were mailed out to all water and/or sewer customers and also made available online. The Planning Commission was in the process of developing strategies and objectives in the summer and fall of 2017, when the town received the preliminary approval from the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors to conduct a boundary adjustment feasibility study.
Between August 2017 and January 2018, the Town Council and Planning Commission reached out to the potential new residents as well as the existing town residents, community leaders and elected officials, held a number of community meetings and had discussions about the potential impacts of the proposed boundary adjustment. On January 23, 2018, the Botetourt Board of Supervisors approved the mutually agreeable boundary adjustment, which was then officially ratified by Judge Joel Branscom on May 23, 2018. At that time, the Planning Commission recommended to Town Council that it readopt the 2011 Comprehensive Plan in accordance with the requirements of State Code, with the caveat that the Commission would begin work immediately on conducting a complete update to the plan, with a new community survey. Council approved the Comprehensive Plan on July 12, 2018.
While the Planning Commission valued the citizen input from the 2017 community survey, it now needed to conduct a new survey, not only to receive input from its new residents, but also ideas and thoughts from its older citizens about this new town. The Planning Commission created a new community survey with the assistance of Dr. Diane Zahm at the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. At the end of April 2019, a new, revised community survey was mailed out to every property owner within the new town limits and again made available online. During the summer and fall of 2019, the Planning Commission reviewed the results of the survey and started work on updating the Comprehensive Plan.
On January 18, 2020, the Planning Commission held a community input meeting at the Fincastle Library. The purpose of the meeting was to share the results of the community survey with the public and solicit further comments and input. While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed much work on the plan for the remainder of 2020, the Planning Commission moved forward with revisions to the plan, including a new progressive way of looking at land uses by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for classifications. In April of 2021, the Commission completed its work on the plan and conducted another public meeting in May prior to its adoption.
The plan is very forward-thinking and reflects the ideologies and values of the town. There is even a sustainability section in the plan, which Town Manager David Tickner states that is likely one of the first in the state for a community of this size.
In other business, the Town Council and Planning Commission adopted a joint resolution supporting the proposed courthouse renovation project as presented to the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors at its June meeting.
Town Council also set its meeting dates as required by Section §15.2-1416 of State Code. The regular monthly meetings are scheduled for the second Thursday of each month, at 7: p.m., at the Old District Court Meeting Room located at 5 East Main Street, Fincastle. There is no inclement weather reschedule date.
Council also discussed the potential need to regulate food trucks and other temporary vendors within the town limits, and directed the Planning Commission to review this.
Staff provided an update on the latest grant application for potential trail work at Big Spring Park. The town has applied to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for some assistance through the department’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Applications were due on June 30. Council also discussed the Second Saturday’s event as held by the owners of the 1772 Rooftop on Main. Council agreed to work with the owners to continue the event through November.
Council also discussed the July 4 fireworks held at Breckinidge Elementary School. This is the first year the town has utilized Master Displays Limited to conduct the show. There was an exceptionally large turnout, and staff and council members received a number of positive comments.