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County Board Approves Alternative to ‘Blue Ribbon Panel’

Arlington County Board on 9/27/16It may not be worthy of a “blue ribbon panel” designation, but a group of county staffers will soon be tasked with examining the tangle of Arlington County’s various codified master plans and priorities.

The County Board unanimously approved a charge for the “interdepartmental staff team” yesterday afternoon, with little further discussion. The team will conduct an “integrated review” of the 11 elements of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, along with various neighborhood and place plans and County Board resolutions, and will report back to the Board this spring.

The overarching goal: “to clearly communicate Arlington County’s priorities.”

In April, the Board approved the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” of mostly outside experts to do basically the same thing: develop “recommendations for how the Board should develop strategic priorities.” A month later, the Board voted unanimously to defer the creation of the panel, following complaints from community groups.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who’s championing the initiative, says the latest charge is the successor to the blue ribbon panel plan and is intended to be more informative than prescriptive.

“Things are all in different places,” she said, referring to the county’s sundry plans. “We want to put it all in one easily accessible and understood place and make things more clear.”

“I’ve been talking for years about the need to do strategic planning,” Garvey continued. “The blue ribbon panel approach was to get a small group of people to tell us how to do that.”

Following the complaints, Garvey said, “it was pretty clear to me that we needed to approach it in smaller steps.”

The County Board will consider the group’s report — it will also be placed on the county website for public review — and will then decide whether more action is necessary.

“That seems like a good step and we’ll see where we go from there,” Garvey said.

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