Chamber Insider Blog

Brian’s Corner: Plan the Work, Work the Plan: Chart a Course for the Future

Plan the Work, Work the Plan: Chart a Course for the Future

— Blog Series written by Government Affairs Manager Brian Fauls,

At one point or another in life I’m sure we’ve all run into the age-old adage, “plan the work, and work the plan.” It’s kind of a hokey saying but it’s still powerful advice for the very simple reason that it works. 

Having a stated plan to follow, can keep us from getting lost, keep us on task, keep us focused and keep us from wasting time. Its project management 101 whether that project is a term paper, a client presentation or community building. Having a plan and executing that plan is just smart.

Virginia’s Code even requires local jurisdictions to adopt a comprehensive plan for the territory under their jurisdiction for “the purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the territory which will, in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the inhabitants…” [§ 15.2-2223] (Whew)  Believe it or not, Loudoun County has a Comprehensive Community Plan (Comp Plan) – the proverbial “bible,” if you will, for land-use policy and zoning and subdivision ordinances within our county. It’s been in place since 2001 and it’s guided all of the development that’s taken place in the county since then. 

Here’s the thing though, the dirty little secret about plans; contrary to popular belief, no plan is perfect, and no plan is good forever. Don’t believe me, ask any member of our Armed Forces. No one spends more time planning than the military and they know from the very get go that all of their plans won’t survive contact with the enemy (and they plan for that contingency).  

Well, Loudoun County’s Comp Plan absolutely did not survive contact with the enemy – exploding population, the Great Recession which collapsed the residential and commercial real estate markets, and federal sequestration which has fundamentally altered the structure of our regional economy.   And it’s been obvious for a while now that the Comp Plan isn’t dealing with the new normal very well.

So, the first tenant of Project Management 101 is have a plan.  However, another basic tenant of Project Management 101, is that there are two cardinal sins of working the plan: a) giving up on the plan too soon; and b) giving up on the plan too late.  Loudoun County has committed the cardinal sin of waiting far too late to give up and re-evaluate its current Comp Plan. 

To be honest, once the Board of Supervisors committed to bring Metrorail to Loudoun it made sense to seize that opportunity to rewrite the Comp Plan as well.  For a variety of reasons, some nobler than others, the Board deferred.  But, no more.  Just this past March, the Board of Supervisors unanimously took the first step towards a new Comprehensive Plan by approving a Plan Charter or (surprise, surprise) a “plan to do the plan.”  Smart.   

So, over the next 18 months or so the Board of Supervisors, County Staff, the Planning Commission, a Stakeholders Committee – representing key stakeholders (e.g., citizens, environmental organizations, homebuilders, real estate associations, non-residential associations,  the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, etc.) and general public will execute the Charter and all come together to plan out Loudoun County’s future.  I don’t know what the final product will look like.  I do know that it won’t be perfect (no plan is perfect remember) but I’m confident that we’ll be much better prepared for the challenges ahead than we are today.   Work the Plan, and Plan the Work.  

— Blog Series written by Government Affairs Manager Brian Fauls,

PolicyMaker Series Upcoming Event: 

The State of the Economy, Wednesday, July 13th, 8:00 -10:00 a.m., Belmont Country Club
Speakers: Dr. Terry Clower, Director of George Mason University’s renowned Center for Regional Analysis; Mr. Buddy Rizer, Director of Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development; Ms. Generra J. Peck, Vice President for Infrastructure and Economic Development at McGuireWoods Consulting LLC

Register Here!