Attachment F


From:    Sally Thomas 

Sent:    Thursday, June 09, 2005 2:09 PM

To:        Scott Clark; Board of Supervisors members; Bob Tucker

Cc:       Ella Carey; Mark Graham

Subject:            RE: Feedback on Natural Heritage Committee


What you are reporting are comments by individual board members, as I recall.  I think that since the Board will be doing the appointing, we can take care of what members there are and what county/out-of-county balance we find necessary to produce the best committee.  But, if we are into over-legislating, you can state that we require a majority of members be from the County. I simply think it's not necessary to make it a requirement.

We've now, last week, had our report on how the approval process is proceeding in the Community Development Department.  I specifically asked if having the various departments and committees involved in the review process slowed down the approval process.  Mark Graham's answer was that it did not.  At the appropriate time, staff gets comments from Police, Historic Preservation, Engineering, VDOT, etc.  Read last week's report for more details.  I have not had any evidence that having one more committee make comments at the appropriate time will delay the review process.  What could delay the process is having slipshod approvals caused by our failure to learn ahead of time that there are areas of specific concern on a piece of property, and finding this out after plans have been drawn.

Assuming that we will take regulatory action pursuant to our Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan, newly adopted, we are about to embark on required clustering of houses in the rural area.  On what basis will a cluster be acceptable?  Almost everyone, when asked, believes that the clusters should avoid the most sensitive areas in terms of natural resource protection.  We have staff to determine water protection, for example.  Why would we shut our staff out of receiving technical advice regarding other natural resources?  The approvals of clusters will be done administratively (as required by state law), so that example does not involve the Board of Supervisors, but there may be other decisions in which the public would want us to know the environmental impact.  Why would we shut ourselves away from local, educated, free expertise?  Most communities would have to pay heavily for the type of expertise that resides in our community and is willing to be of assistance.


This committee should not be the fall-guy for general frustration evolving around our approval process.  Until I am convinced that it will cause inappropriate delays, I do not agree that it should be left out of the development approval process.


Sally Thomas



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