Every five years, the Town of Vienna has a chance to take a look in the mirror and decide if it likes what it sees. By state law, all jurisdictions must review their Comprehensive Plan at least that frequently, and Vienna’s review has already begun.
The Comprehensive Plan guides the town in land-use decisions and in developing which neighborhoods should have what sorts of zoning.
Although it is technically possible for wholesale revisions in the Town’s zoning policies, it is much more likely that only some minor changes will be made, said John Schieb, chair of Vienna's Planning Commission
The Planning Commission is reviewing the current plan and studying changes that may have occurred since the last revision, which was finalized in January 2001. “We’ll review the latest demographic census data to see where we are as a town,” Schieb said.
“The first thing we have to do is look at our background information and see how it’s changed,” said Greg Hembree, director of the Town’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
The plan contains three primary areas, Schieb said, land use, transportation and public facilities. Each of these sections will be reviewed separately. “What we’ve done is to create three working groups of commissioners,” Schieb said. “We’re really in the early stages of our groups.”
All of each group’s meetings are open to the public, although Hembree said they have not yet begun scheduling those meetings. While citizens may watch the meetings, they are not public hearings, and verbal comments will not be accepted. The plan, which is about 80 pages long, is available for review at the Planning and Zoning Office in Town Hall, 127 Center St. N.
“All those sorts of comments will be accepted during the fall,” Schieb said. Written comments, however, may be sent in at any time. Schieb expects to conduct formal public hearings in the early fall and to finalize the Commission’s recommendations after that.
The recommendations will then be sent to the Town Council for another set of public hearings and final approval. Although the Council has the final say, Schieb said that the majority of the recommendations of the Commission are accepted. “We do have a pretty good record of our actions,” he said.
The Council must vote on a final plan by January 2006.