District 2 Supervisor



Agriculture is vital to our county. New residents in or near farming areas in Shenandoah must understand the 24 hour-per day, 365 days a year reality of agriculture and its importance. Many of the culture-clash problems are simply communication failures, and Jim Patrick favors all new residents getting this information just as a matter of education.

Straight Talk on Growth


The community must be part of the planning process from the very beginning and citizens' voices must be listened to.

Jim Patrick's platform is first and foremost based on eliminating unnecessary spending, and on making wise decisions about what the County does have to spend money on. Nothing else will prevent taxes from rising.

The budget doesn't exist in a vacuum. It effects almost every other part of the county's actions, and a significant part of our county's tax income is from property taxes. When government's size swells uncontrollably, as it has in the last 8 years, its need for more revenue (taxes) increases too.

Growth is the result of consumer demand, and there's little anyone can do to change it. People want to move to a place as beautiful as Shenandoah County, and who can blame them? Children of current residents want to live here. As people move here and families have children, the county grows. Not very complicated.

Sprawl is the poor use of land and resources, using more land area than needed. Waste. Sprawl is a natural, unintended consequence of centralized planning. As an area grows around a high-cost core area, the population looks for lower cost alternatives to building. A great deal of Shenandoah's growth is from people looking for this lower cost.

Government can do little to slow growth, but can do a lot to prevent sprawl. By providing incentives to build responsibly and disincentives against sprawl, land-use planning can channel consumer demand in better ways. It is part of government's responsibility to protect our land and water. Proper zoning can do a lot to preserve our precious natural resources, our culture and character, and can be a positive influence.

"First do no harm"

Despite the claims of the administration, our recent zoning changes have done nothing to slow growth. But they've already artificially inflated land prices, pushing many current residents out of the housing market.

Far greater harm is done by expanded lot size requirements - fitting less houses onto bigger lots of land. This type of zoning creates sprawl, it is the very definition of sprawl.

If these regulations continue in force, housing will simply swallow up the greater part of open land under farm. This is
not ".... a good first step."

"Sprawl is defined as development that is dispersed, automobile-dependent, single use, and impossible to walk to your daily needs."

Several events have combined to make for poor land-use planning. The first is the popularity of post-WWII centralized planning. It's easy, conveniently done from an air-conditioned office, and the colored blocks look nice on a map. Centralized zoning also concentrates power in the hands of a few people, effectively making a 'gatekeeper' system.

But the biggest factor is simply desire for more tax money. Any rapidly expanding government craves more money to feed its further growth. Residences generate much more property tax than land under agriculture does. By forcing excessive use of land for houses, the government rakes in more revenue.
"Why does this happen?"

The community must be part of the planning process from the very beginning and citizens' voices must be listened to.


Meeting the challenge and facing the facts.

  • Next to it's people, Shenandoah's greatest asset is the land. One of our government's primary responsibilities is to protect from harm.
  • Our land-planning model hasn't slowed growth. Doing the same thing twice as much or twice as hard won't work either.
  • Growth is from consumer demand, but sprawl is from bad policy.
  • Balanced growth can be a positive force in the community and economy.
  • Unbalanced growth --such as the proposal to 'market' Shenandoah County to retirees while shunning young families-- has never been shown to support itself. Environments need diversity, and the community needs an assortment of people.
  • Taxpayers should never subsidize costs of growth.

"Models that WORK"

So where should we turn for a working model? There are many, many examples --healthy, workable examples-- of sustainable growth. We should look at these to choose models that work, and that work in a rural environment.

Shenandoah County's comprehensive plan calls for new growth to concentrate near existing towns where there are available roads, water, and sewer service. This reduces the burden on our infrastructure, eases water and septic loading, and makes for more efficient land use. The current practice routinely ignores this plan when it doesn't fit their agenda.

In an extension to the Comprehensive Plan, Jim Patrick urges residents to also focus on absorbing growth pressure in natural neighborhoods rather than make new artificial ones. Shenandoah County has dozens of communities that exist or existed, and these could form the core of revitalization. Most are at a crossroads, AKA a transportation hub, and many are near water or sewer to help reduce infrastructure costs.

For that to work the community must be part of the planning process from the very beginning and citizens' voices must be listened to.

Jim Patrick points out in another example that if someone proposed a development as large as the town of Mt. Jackson, there would be an uproar. That would be understandable. Yet the Bryce-Basye area is an excellent example of this, a very large but low-impact development that is hardly noticed for the size and population it actually has.

Jim Patrick is in favor of being smart about our zoning, and supports many of the underlying 'smart growth' principles. Most "smart growth" is aimed at urban problems; but they outline decent, livable, sustainable ways of achieving reduced pollution, reduced congestion, reduced infrastructure costs, and reduced land loss.

Good land-use planning promotes a sense of community, a more self-sufficient and sustainable economy, and better cultural or social conditions. The underlying principles of "smart growth" are basically just about better and more efficient use of our existing resources, not just squeezing more tax revenue from an area.

Claims that new developments put financial burdens on the whole county are often justified, and are then used as a justification for reducing or slowing permits. It is not fair for existing residents to finance new expansion, whether it's homes or businesses.

Jim Patrick will look into cost modeling (often called 'proffers') for new developments so the true cost of any subdivision is paid. Development should not burden the rest of the county, its infrastructure, or the taxpayers. Speculators currently serving on the Board of Supervisors may not like this because they would have to bear the true cost rather than the taxpayers..
"True Costs and Fairness"


In the end, land-use planning is meaningless if it's not in context with our budget conditions and the local economy. Our economic development needs to focus on promoting local entrepreneurship to build an economy of successful, locally based businesses and industries.

This is a long-term strategy that can't happen while spending is out of control. When the government is so desperate for tax dollars that any business --asphalt plants included-- is welcomed with open arms, then the businesses, agriculture, and homeowners all lose.