From the President
It has certainly been a long winter for most of us in the Commonwealth. If not completely here, spring appears to be making its way into Virginia slowly but surely and with the change in season comes a renewal-- in any number of contexts. VAPDC continues to renew its efforts in being relevant and ensuring that our message of regional collaboration and cooperation are heard throughout the State.
In just a few days, the VAPDC Board and Executive Directors will meet in Lynchburg to review the Strategic Plan and determine how that plan should be updated to provide an effective path to bringing Regionalism to the forefront for our elected officials, our state agencies, our localities, and our citizens. Continuing their work for VAPDC Bill Leighty and partners from DecideSmart are assisting in this process.
The VAPDC Winter Conference, Virginia's PDCs: Meeting Virginia's Challenges through Regional Solutions, featured speakers like Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor, Virginia Community College System; as well as Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, and Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne who all shared their thoughts on their respective agencies in working with PDCs and promoting regional cooperation. The VAPDC Winter Conference was held, for the fourth year, in conjunction with VML/VACo Legislative day in Richmond. The Association also presented four awards at the Winter Conference (be sure to read about the recipients in this newsletter.)
The VAPDC Summer Conference and the end of VAPDC's business year are just a few short months away. The big news for 2013 is that VAPDC will hold the Summer Conference at the Williamsburg Lodge, July 24-26. Stay tuned for details and the new activities that will occur as part of the Summer Conference. VAPDC also has its annual Business Meeting during the conference where we will elect the incoming Board of Directors and officers for 2014-2015. If you were unable to join us in Richmond, I hope you will find the time to participate in all the great sessions that will be offered at the 2014 Summer Conference in Williamsburg. I never leave one of these without learning things I didn't know. I think you'll find this to be true also. Conference registration will be open in June. You will be able to make your hotel reservations soon on the VAPDC website at www.vapdc.org. Don't miss your opportunity to be a part of a great location and a meaningful conference.
VAPDC and its member commissions face challenges just like everyone else. By expanding our collaborative approach and finding additional economies of scale to tap into, we can continue to save tax dollars for our citizens and help the Commonwealth prosper. By continuing to tackle issues from a regional perspective to find solutions that work, VAPDC and Virginia will continue to move forward to success. As always, thanks for your help in making this happen! Keep up the great work!
Virginia's Planning District Commissions
Cumberland Plateau PDC
Mount Rogers PDC
New River Valley PDC
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC
Central Shenandoah PDC
Northern Shenandoah Valley PDC
Northern Virginia RC
Thomas Jefferson PDC
Region 2000 LGC
West Piedmont PDC
Richmond Regional PDC
George Washington RC
Northern Neck PDC
Middle Peninsula PDC
Hampton Roads PDC
2014-15 VAPDC Sponsorship Opportunities
The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC)
Sponsorship opportunities are now available for 2014-15.
Four levels of sponsorship are available: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. All sponsors receive the following:
~Recognition on the VAPDC Website
Company profile in Winter and Summer conference registration materials
~Company logo or listing on signage at the Winter and Summer conferences
New this Year:
~Sponsors become Associate Members of VAPDC, receiving member discounts on conference registration along with other benefits.
Other recognition and perks are offered for each level of sponsorship.
To view all the details of 2014-15 sponsorship opportunities and to become a sponsor,
VAPDC Connections is published quarterly by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.
The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is
July 15, 2014
Please share your news with your peers by submitting your articles to VAPDC.
April 25, 2014
VAPDC 2014 Summer Conference
July 24-26, 2014
often for updates and news!
See 'Whats New' and check out the VAMPO Site link!
"Team Montgomery County" Attends Appalachian Gateway Communities Workshop
A team from the Montgomery area recently participated in the Appalachian Gateway Communities Workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The workshop was designed especially for towns and communities bordering public lands. National and regional experts worked with the seven-person team to begin crafting a vision focusing on the unique Appalachian assets that make Montgomery County an appealing place to live, work, and recreate.
The workshop not only provided opportunities to learn from nationally recognized subject experts, it also provided the platform for team members to begin creating a plan. The team from Montgomery County outlined a plan that focused on elevating awareness of outdoor recreational assets. Potential projects would involve way-finding signage, incorporation of public art, achieving community designations that support assets (i.e. Appalachian Trail Community), and sharing the community's diverse culture and history. The team identified potential opportunities, evaluated benefits and barriers, and began to outline an action plan.
The next step of the process is to finalize an action plan with local community partners. Participation in the workshop also makes the Montgomery County Regional Tourism Program eligible to apply for seed grant funding from the Gateway Initiative to implement the action plan.
The Appalachian Gateway Communities Regional Workshop is part of an initiative developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2007, the Gateway Initiative has helped gateway communities across Appalachia expand tourism and other economic development opportunities through community assessments, tourism planning workshops and grants for project implementation. The Conservation Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have partnered to strengthen the leadership capacity of towns, cities and communities that neighbor publicly protected natural and recreational lands in distressed, transitional or at-risk counties.
For further information, please contact Lisa Bleakley, Executive Director of the Montgomery Regional Tourism Office, at (540) 394-2120, ext. 4225.
Stephen Walz Named Council of Governments'
Director of Environmental Programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Stephen A. Walz, a recognized leader on environmental policy and energy, has been named the Director of Environmental Programs for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Council's executive director, Chuck Bean, announced today.
Walz served as the Director of Virginia's Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy during the administration of Gov. Timothy Kaine and was the former governor's energy policy advisor. He currently serves as the Director of Regional Energy Planning for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC.) He also is widely recognized for his work on water quality, air quality, climate, waste disposal and open space issues.
"I am very happy to welcome Steve Walz, a respected environmental leader and manager, to the Council," Bean said. "His knowledge and experience will help us as we work to achieve the environmental goals that are part of Region Forward, our vision to make the metropolitan area the most prosperous, accessible, livable and sustainable region in the country."
During his 31 year tenure with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Walz led the development of the Virginia Energy Plan. He also represented Virginia on the Council's Climate, Energy and Environment Policy Committee.
Walz has addressed complex environmental and regulatory challenges during his career which required a combination of technical and communication skills. His work often required advising and briefing elected officials at the local, state and federal levels.
Stuart Freudberg, who served as the Council's Environmental Programs Director for 26 years, recently was named Senior Director, Environment, Public Safety and Health, with oversight responsibilities for those departments. "Steve Walz has distinguished himself as a thoughtful, patient expert on a wide range of environmental topics. I look forward to having him on my team," Freudberg said.
Walz will officially join the Council of Governments on March 3.
Sustainable Transportation Summit Held in Roanoke
On March 27, 2014, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission's Transit Demand Management program, RIDE Solutions, in partnership with local non-profit, The Cabell Brand Center,
hosted the region's first Sustainable Transportation Summit. The summit took place at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke and brought together speakers from across a number of disciplines touching on issues of transportation choice, street design, and the build environment. Highlights included an opening keynote by Walter Kulash, one of the founders of the livable transportation movement, who presented on the changing needs of transportation infrastructure from an engineering perspective; a presentation on the health implications of transportation choice by Roanoke College's Liz Holbrook and Pat Young, director of the Healthy Roanoke Valley Initiative; and a panel discussion led by Judy Wood of The Advancement Foundation, an anti-poverty group, that featured three women
A panel discussion wraps up the summit. From left to right - Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation Nick Donohue; Walter Kulash; Chris Arabia, Department of Rail and Public Transportation; Liz Holbrook, Roanoke College; Wade Walker, Alta Planning+Design; Jeremy Holmes, RVARC/RIDE Solutions
who shared stories of how a lack of public transportation options limited their ability to improve their economic situation. The all-day conference was attended by over 60 planners, citizens, advocates, administrators, and staffers from local, state, and federal government.
Violinist Erin Hunter performs at the 2014 Sustainable Transportation Summit. Earlier, Hunter performed on Roanoke's Star Line Trolley as part of RIDE Solution's Art by Bus program.
RIDE Solutions and The Cabell Brand Center intend on making the Sustainable Transportation Summit an annual event, with smaller workshops throughout the year that more deeply explore issues of transportation demand management, complete streets policy, encouraging bicycle use and other sustainable transportation issues. Already, a post-summit survey of attendees indicates the audience was most intrigued by the presentation on the public health implications of walkable and bikeable communities, including surprising connections to food deserts and public safety issues, suggesting more training in this area needs to be offered. RIDE Solutions has made the Summit presentations, along with contact information for each of the presenters, available at www.ridesolutions.org/sts2014.
Southside PDC Secures Urgent Needs Funding for Tornado Victims
In April 2011, Halifax County experienced two tornado events, one occurring in Nathalie and one occurring in Virgilina. A total of 38 homes were damaged, of which 13 were destroyed and nine (9) sustained major damages. The National Weather Service (NWS) verified both destructive storms as being EF2 tornados.
Governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Halifax County in response to the severe weather across the commonwealth, authorizing state agencies to assist local efforts in response to recovery efforts. Fifth District Congressman, Robert Hurt, visited the County to assess the tornado damage in the Nathalie area and the tornado damaged neighborhoods located along Liberty Road. The Halifax County Disaster Recovery Task Force was formed in June 2011 to coordinate efforts and to rapidly meet the residents' needs. In October 2011, the Southside PDC in coordination with the Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator submitted a request for Urgent Needs Funding to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD) to assist four (4) low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, totaling 13 persons, whose homes
were destroyed by the tornadoes. The County executed a contract with the VDHCD in September 2012 in the amount of $321,500 for the Halifax County Urgent Needs Project. The project was completed in August 2013, and all four (4) beneficiaries received new homes.
VAPDC Honors Virginia Leaders at Winter Conference
Wayne Strickland, Denny Morris, DecideSmart, and the Central Shenandoah PDC honored at VAPDC Winter Conference
VAPDC presented Denny Morris with the Gordon N. Dixon Award; DecideSmart with the Robert W. Baker Achievement Award; Wayne Strickland with the VAPDC President's Award; and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission with the Robert M. de Voursney Best Practices Award, at the Association's annual Winter Conference in Richmond.
Wayne Strickland, director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission was awarded the first annual VAPDC President's Award. Wayne began his career as a regional planner with the PDC. He was later promoted to Chief of Land Use and Environmental Planning, and then to Executive Director in 1988. During his 34-year career at the Commission, Wayne has spent
both professional and personal time working with high schools, colleges and universities to encourage interest in regional planning issues. He has been a senior lecturer at Roanoke College for 21 years where he teaches Regional Geography. Wayne has served on numerous local, regional, state and national boards. His accomplishments are many and his dedication to promoting regionalism is apparent in all facets of his work. This award recognizes his leadership and many years of work devoted to regional activities and as well as strengthening and promoting the strategic planning process for VAPDC.
The President's Award recognizes an individual who has been involved directly in planning district commission activities and who has contributed significantly to promoting regional planning and VAPDC activities in Virginia.
Dennis (Denny) Morris, Executive Director of the Crater Planning District Commission, was presented with the Gordon Dixon Award. During his career, he has exhibited outstanding leadership in the Crater Region and has positioned the Crater
PDC as a regional leader in the community. One of the most significant accomplishments of Denny's career has been his work around the Fort Lee Military Base. Denny has coordinated efforts between the local community, state, and federal officials to develop consensus around a major expansion of this facility. The average daily population at Fort Lee now exceeds 35,000 people and the base is home to the Logistics University campus and is the "Logistics Capital of the US Army.
The Gordon Dixon Award is intended to recognize a VAPDC commissioner or executive director who has provided leadership and make outstanding contributions to promoting the concept of regionalism in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For 16 years, Gordon N. Dixon was and outstanding example of a regional leader while serving as executive director of two planning district commissions. He sincerely believed in regional planning and community development. Following his death in 1987, VAPDC established the award in his honor.
The DecideSmart team of Bill Leighty, Lane Ramsey, Bob Holsworth, and Bill Bosher (not pictured) was this year's recipient of the Robert W. Baker Achievement Award. The DecideSmart team is well known in state and local government circles. They have worked closely with VAPDC to broaden the association's
perspective on working with state agencies and have encouraged each PDC to promote the activities they undertake for the Commonwealth as well as their local governments. Because the DecideSmart team has a long history with both state and local government, VAPDC has been able to strengthen its relationships with state officials over the last few years. Their expertise is extensive, ranging from work in universities, local school systems, state government, and local government. The VAPDC membership has benefitted greatly from what DecideSmart has brought to the table for discussion and as an action agenda.
The Robert W. Baker Achievement Award is intended to recognize persons who have been involved directly in planning district commission activities and who have contributed significantly to promoting regional planning and development in Virginia. Past recipients include A. Linwood Holton, W. Tayloe Murphy and other notable Virginians. In 1965, following retirement from the U.S. Army, Robert W. "Bob" Baker accepted a position with the Brunswick County Regional Planning and Development Corporation and later helped organize the Southside Planning District Commission where he served as Executive Director until his death in 1976. Bo was an outstanding leader, strong in character and wisdom, with a dynamic personality filled with an abundance of compassion for his fellow man, and sincere dedication to his work. He recognized the pressing need for regional planning and cooperation and he specialized in initiating regional projects. He was also in the forefront in organizing the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions and served as President in the early years. The Robert W. Baker Achievement Award was established in his honor in the late seventies.
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and their Fields of Gold Agritourism Program was the recipient of the Robert M. de Voursney Best Practices Award. The award recognized the programs' innovative approach to assisting the region's agricultural community through leveraging resources and capitalizing on the agricultural assets of the area. This award-winning agritourism initiative has distinguished itself as a model for regional collaboration. Administered by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, the Fields of Gold Agritourism Program aims to promote the Shenandoah Valley as an agritourism destination, create and retain jobs on the farm,
expand tourism jobs off the farm, and nurture an environment for entrepreneurship. The Fields of Golf Program serves an 8-county, 5-city area. The region generates over $1 billion in agricultural products and an additional billion in tourism business. Furthermore, agritourism generated $.7 million in local tax revenue and supported 811 jobs in the region. To date, 150 agritourism businesses, including wineries, breweries, and farm tours; farm to table restaurants; pick-your-own farms; and farmers' markets have enrolled in the program.
The Robert M. de Voursney Best Practices Award recognizes organizations that have initiated regional activities which have contributed significantly to the effectiveness of a region. The award recognizes innovation, excellence, commitment and/or service to the advancement of regional planning and multijurisdictional cooperation. The nomination showcases the creative work and ability to leverage resources and services of PDCs.
CSPDC Completes All Hazards Mitigation Plan Update
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission(CSPDC) and a committee of local government representatives from its twenty-one jurisdictions recently completed an extensive update of the Central Shenandoah Valley Regional All Hazards Mitigation Plan, which is an eligibility requirement for certain federal hazard
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mitigation grant funding mandated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. The update has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contingent upon adoption by the participating jurisdictions.
All Hazards Mitigation Plans include rankings of all natural hazards that impact the region, historical information about specific severe weather events, broad categories of mitigation strategies and a regional capabilities assessment. The Central Shenandoah Valley Plan was first approved and adopted in 2005, and the current update process began in 2010. Additions and revisions reflect additional weather events since the original plan was adopted, completed mitigation projects and applicable locality activity, as well as the results of public surveys and an overview of educational presentations throughout the Region.
The 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan
The 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan has just been released and Planning District Commissions and Regional Councils have been recognized for their assistance in the development of this statewide plan. (see acknowledgment below) I know the CSPDC was heavily involved in getting stakeholder input, organizing public meetings and reviewing the CSPDC's chapter. I think this is another excellent example of how PDCs help support state agencies in carrying out their state-wide programs in an efficient and cost-saving manner. You can view the plan by clicking here to see a video introduction by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.
Input from citizens, private partners and organizations who attended one of 42 public meetings held across the Commonwealth was instrumental to developing this plan.
Planning District Commissions and Regional Councils
Staff enabled extensive public outreach and identified featured regional projects in this plan.
State and federal agencies
Cooperative relationships with sister natural resource agencies, along with state health and tourism agencies, are essential to outdoor recreation and land conservation.
Technical Advisory Committee
An array of stakeholders and representatives from outdoor recreation and conservation interests helped shape the plan and continue to provide direction and vision for outdoor recreation and land conservation.
NADO Policy Conference attended by Virginia's PDCs
PDC/RC directors from Virginia visit with Senator Tim Kaine during the NADO Policy Conference in Washington, DC March 24-26. Pictured from left to right: Kevin Byrd, New River Valley PDC; Wayne Strickland, Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC; Jerry Davis, Northern Neck PDC; Senator Kaine; Tim Ware, George Washington RC; Gail Moody, Southside PDC; and Jim Baldwin, Cumberland Plateau PDC.
Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission Announces New Executive Director
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Charles P. "Chip" Boyles, II, as its new Executive Director. Mr. Boyles brings over 20 years of local government management experience to the position. He most recently is serving as the Vice President of Programs and Administration for the East Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Redevelopment Authority. He also has served as Director of the Office of Community Development for the City of Baton Rouge/East Baton Rouge Parish Government, a combined city/county government in Louisiana, where he was responsible for over 100 grant/loan contracts.
Mr. Boyles began his career as a community/economic development coordinator at the Lowcountry Council of Governments in South Carolina. He has led a number of communities as both a city and town manager in Maryland and South Carolina, was Chief Operating Officer for a start-up nonprofit serving communities and universities in college towns, and worked for the state municipal association in South Carolina.
Allen Hale, TJPDC chairman and a member of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, said, "We are excited about the experience and skills that Mr. Boyles brings to the PDC and look forward to collaborating with him on the TJPDC's work with local governments in the region."
Mr. Boyles commented, "I am looking forward to my move to Virginia and to begin working with the region's residents and governmental leaders to assist in meeting their local needs and especially in building long-term relationships and partnerships that will address issues of regional concern."
Mr. Boyles received his Master's in Public Administration from Clemson University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Carolina. He officially begins his duties with the TJPDC on April 15.
The Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson, and the City of Charlottesville are members of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, whose mission is to serve the local governments by providing regional vision, collaborative leadership and professional service to develop effective solutions.
Regional Committee to Plan for Flooding and Sea Level Rise
Benjamin McFarlane, Regional Planner
Flooding can be caused by high tides, heavy rainfall, or coastal storms. Regardless of the cause, flooding causes major impacts to our communities. Many studies have analyzed the region's vulnerability to flooding and possible adaptation strategies, but these studies have focused on informing the debate rather than changing local policy. The next step will be to use this information to decide which policies need to be changed and projects need to be built.
Last Thursday, the region took this step when the HRPDC voted to establish a Special Committee to help the region plan for both recurrent flooding and sea level rise. This Committee will be responsible for developing policy and other recommendations for local governments, advocating for state and federal support, and serving as the primary regional contact for coordinating efforts with academic institutions and federal and state agencies. Initially, the members of the Committee will be local government staff from across Hampton Roads representing various departments (such planning, public works, and economic development). Other stakeholders, such as the military, will be invited and encouraged to participate.
Unemployment Falls in Hampton Roads
James Clary, Senior Economist
Hampton Roads' seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continued to decline for the third consecutive month, resulting in a 5.54% unemployment rate in Jan-14. Unfortunately, weakness in labor force participation drove the decline, and the labor force fell by 7,116 since Sep-13. Overall, the labor force has remained unchanged in size since Jan-13. Over the same period, the U.S. labor force shrank slightly while the commonwealth's labor force expanded.
Currently the Hampton Roads unemployment rate is half a percentage point higher than the nation's, but still fares significantly better than the Jan-14 U.S. rate of 6.72%.
The region's employment fell by 4,100 in Jan-14 (on a seasonally adjusted basis), following up a weak spring. Recent revisions in the data (see the Mar 21st Special Report for more details HERE). The region has lost jobs four out of the past five months, and it is difficult to estimate when the region will return to pre-recession levels of employment.
If the region equaled its fastest pace of job creation, employment would not return to July 2007 levels until December 2015. At average levels of job growth, it would take until Jun-2019 to return to peak employment, as the region has a 33,500 jobs deficit.
Localities endorse Hybrid Sewer Approach for Regulatory Compliance
Whitney Katchmark, Principal Water Resources Planner
Localities in Hampton Roads have committed to a regional approach to comply with the regulatory requirement to minimize sewer overflows. The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; the Town of Smithfield; and the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, and York; and the James City Service Authority each voted to support the hybrid approach to addressing wet weather sewer capacity requirements.
Each locality had to choose between two approaches by February 28th. In the original approach, each locality would fund rehabilitation of its own system based on a Special Order by Consent with Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality and HRSD would fund rehabilitation of its portion of the regional system. Under the hybrid approach, HRSD will fund rehabilitation of the locality owned systems and HRSD's portion of the system. The hybrid approach is estimated to save roughly one billion dollars over a 30-year period in capital and operation/maintenance costs as compared to the original approach. Localities will also benefit because long term liability for sewer overflows will shift from localities to HRSD. Sewer ratepayers will spend less on the sewer system improvements required for regulatory compliance because the hybrid approach will focus on implementing the most cost effective projects in the region.
Education Made Easy - New askHRgreen.org Online Media Toolkit!
Katie Cullipher, Senior Environmental Education Planner
Need a little help taking your environmental education efforts to the next level? Look no further! askHRgreen.org is proud to introduce our Online Media Toolkit, a comprehensive collection of informational brochures, posters, graphics, advertisements and more. Since the askHRgreen.org public awareness and education campaign was launched, we've developed an array of helpful materials filled with simple steps residents can take to find their "inner green," while protecting our beautiful Hampton Roads environment. These tools are now available to you. From rack cards to radio spots, you'll find everything you need in this handy-dandy online toolkit. Designed for sharing, these materials are especially useful for civic leagues, community groups, home owners associations, schools, clubs, businesses and any organization with an interest in improving neighborhoods and communities. Simply download and distribute. We appreciate your spreading the word!