Participation improves at county’s Windsor forum

Published 10:22 am Sunday, July 2, 2017

Isle of Wight County’s second public forum on its 2018 Comprehensive Plan was more successful than the first, drawing around 15 participants during its 3:30 to 5 p.m. session at Windsor High School. A second session, also at WHS, was held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with three participants.

The forum began with a brief presentation by Amy Ring, the county’s director of planning and zoning, who explained the purpose of creating a comprehensive plan.

“A good plan starts with the community,” Ring said. “Public engagement is an opportunity for the community to shape the plan.”

She added that, in addition to helping the county plan for future development, the comprehensive plan would also help county residents protect their property rights by ensuring that land intended for residential development will stay residential.

The participants were then asked to complete the county’s online comprehensive plan survey at and to answer the following open-ended questions: “Growth and development in Isle of Wight should…,” “The best thing about Isle of Wight is…,” “The worst thing about Isle of Wight is…,” “In the future, I want Isle of Wight to…,” and “What comes to mind when you look at a map of Isle of Wight? Which locations are important and need to be preserved/need to be changed?” Participants could answer the questions online or by attaching anonymous sticky notes to posters displaying each question.

Prior to completing the survey, Windsor resident Jane March asked Ring how the county intended to address water and sewer needs for proposed development in the county. She also expressed concerns regarding a lack of sufficient representation from the town of Windsor and the surrounding area on the county’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force.

“Almost all the development you’re talking about is going to require something other than individual wells and septic systems,” March said.

Ring explained that the county is trying to encourage developers to build in the county’s development service districts, where public water and sewer systems are planned.

Answers given to the question, “Growth and development in Isle of Wight should…” during the afternoon session included “be regulated and maintained,” “include infrastructure first,” “improve tax base efficiently” and “expand industrial and commercial development.”

Answers given as to the best things about Isle of Wight included several references to its rural quality of life, its proximity to larger cities and its low crime rate. Answers given to what is worst about Isle of Wight included several references to businesses being allowed to set up in non-business areas, a lack of affordable housing and jobs, a lack of an express highway system, newcomers who want to change the county’s growth concept, and too many dollar stores.

Answers given to “In the future, I want Isle of Wight to…” included “maintain a rural agricultural feel,” “involve more citizen input,” “stick to plans as developed,” “stop thinking city” and “improve access to info and services for all income levels and elderly.”

Answers written on the map of Isle of Wight included requests to expand Windsor’s development service district, have a new, larger library for Windsor, include the whole county in any plan, stop issuing conditional use permits and stick to the plan, repair the roads in the Windsor service district, and that the county’s shape, as a whole, looks like a ham.

Richard Rudnicki, the county’s assistant director of planning and zoning, said that in addition to the comments received today, the county has received about 350 completed surveys.

The next forums, which will include a repeat of the presentation and sticky note exercise, will be held on July 13 at the Smithfield Center, July 26 at First Gravel Hill Baptist Church in Rushmere and July 27 at Carrollton Elementary School. Each date will include two sessions, one from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and another from 6:30 to 8 p.m.