Developing New Kent County’s Strategic Plan

New Kent County’s (NKC) current Comprehensive Plan is outdated, and NKC local government issued a solicitation for an independent contractor to update the Comprehensive Plan, which will also include Codes and Zoning Ordinances. It is widely accepted as a best practice, the Zoning Ordinance should be the successor of the Comprehensive Plan, which should be based on the county’s Strategic Plan.

Unfortunately, NKC county officials have stated NKC does not have a Strategic Plan.

The concern . . . . how can NKC create a Comprehensive Plan for 2030, including updated Code and Zoning Ordinances, without a Strategic Plan that considers managing the accelerating growth over the next 11 years? We (PNK2030) are proposing a citizen-centric process for developing a Strategic Plan, and, updating the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinances.

The current NKC Comprehensive Plan was adopted on October 9, 2012, however the actual development began in 2009. The process included several public information sessions and hearings. Ultimately, it took three years to complete this aged Comprehensive Plan. Today, New Kent County citizens cannot afford a three-year development process: NKC population will increase by another 2500 to 3000 citizens; new unplanned businesses will stress county resources; and I-64 corridor traffic and business development will increase. These and other county issues create an urgency and need for use of best practices borrowed from other Virginia counties to shorten this development phase.

PNK2030 members have created a streamlined pathway for developing a Strategic Plan for New Kent County. What appears here is a shortened summary of that work. The entire document will be posted on a PKN2030 website that is being set up soonest.

The plan utilizes an overarching framework and outline from a “Benchmark Virginia County”. The intent is to tailor the other county’s nationally recognized Strategic Plan and Comprehensive Plan into NKC strategic documents. New Kent’s Strategic Plan will then create the foundation for developing the new Comprehensive Plan for 2030. The elements of this new Strategic Plan will include a citizens’ Vision of our County in 2030, the assigned Mission of our elected officials to achieve that Vision, the Core Values of the citizen constituents, and the Guiding Principles to guide our elected officials as they fulfill their leadership responsibilities. Additionally, during the process of converting the other county’s Benchmark Plan into NKC’s first Strategic Plan, we owe our elected leaders a transparent, operational framework within which we, the citizen stakeholders, can assess operational performance in terms of measurable, target outcomes.

This proposed Strategic Plan seeks to capture our collective sense of our County’s future in clear, unambiguous terms. To that end, our search of the New Kent County website found an exhibit which included a Vision, Mission and Core Values statement, which was used as a starting point, outlined below:

VISION FOR THE FUTURE of NEW KENT COUNTY

New Kent County will remain a distinctive community for our citizens; celebrating our heritage, preserving our rural character and quality of life, but welcoming to visitors, business and industry.

MISSION STATEMENT

Provide the citizens of New Kent County the highest quality government services in a customer-focused, competent, professional, ethical, efficient and fiscally-responsible manner.

VALUES

* Citizens – We value the opinions and perspectives of our citizens
* Quality of Life – We are committed to balanced growth that protects the environment, preserves our rural integrity, yet increases the tax base.
* Employees – County employees are the touch point between the citizens and their government. We respect our employees’ dedication, encourage their initiative, and will support their service to the public.
* Continuous Improvement – We embrace change, creativity, and new initiatives that enhance our services.
* Leadership and Professionalism – We strive to fulfill our responsibilities in a positive, professional, ethical and respectful manner, always committed to putting the good of the County first.

Now let’s review additional fundamentals necessary for developing a NKC strategic plan.

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS of NKC’s STRATEGIC PLAN

• An inspiring, achievable, and affordable Vision of a vibrant New Kent County in 2030;
• An actionable Mission Statement chosen to align all the activities of our elected County leadership with the citizens’ aspirational Vision for New Kent in 2030;
• A short list of measurable Goals which, when achieved, result in realization of NKC’s Vision for 2030;
• Specific, implementable, and affordable strategies leading to achievement of our Goals;
• Measurable Key Success Factors (KSFs) that assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of our elected leaders’ investment of our time, our tax dollars and the talent of our government (elected, appointed, employed or volunteer) in the citizen’s drive to NKC’s Vision for 2030.

We propose adding Guiding Principles to serve as “guard rails” for elected County officials and their hired administrative staff, as they implement the Mission designed to realize our Vision for 2030:

Guiding Principles must include:

• Transparency
• Accessibility
• Responsiveness
• Accountability

These Guiding Principles should serve as “guard rails” for citizens and elected officials in our united journey into an uncertain future, characterized by unprecedented population growth and limited government resources.

STRATEGIC PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS

The strategic planning process proposed by this draft document is “Top Down,” with the citizens at the top and those we elect embracing the concept that their job is to serve the interests of the electorate in a transparent and accountable manner. This is a citizen-centric governance model.

Proposed key assumptions underlying this process of community dialogue are:

• Citizen expectations for accountability of government initiatives, as chosen by the citizens, will be measured by Key Success Factors (KSF) and reported to the public;
• The County’s population grew by over 50% from 2000 to 2015, (a rate of almost 3% per year), which is three times the rate of growth of Benchmark County. This rate of growth is likely to accelerate over the next several years;
• A healthy, diverse economy, with stable businesses and employment opportunities is required to ensure economic stability.
• A focus on retaining a distinctive sense of place based on the quality and beauty of our natural environment, valued rural assets, and unique character, with a strong commitment to quality design and construction.
• The role of elected, appointed and hired County employees is to serve the interests of the citizens. Their prime directive is to advance the best interests of the taxpayers through constructive and supportive citizen interactions.

COMPONENTS OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN

Component “Owners” (citizens, elected officials, county employees, businesses) work in sequence and together to persistently achieve the chosen Goals and Objectives. An annual “Report Card” will continuously assess our progress while ensuring early disclosure of performance shortfalls or budget overruns in pursuit of our objectives, as measured by our Key Success Factors (KSFs). The companion Strategic Planning Expansive Document, which we will posted on the new PNK2030 website, details numerous Goals, Objectives and possible Metrics to be defined as part of this planning process.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES (Our Guard Rails)

• Citizen focused: honor every citizen’s rights and freedoms;
• Total accountability of the elected to the electorate with performance measured against assigned objectives and within approved budgets;
• Collaborative in both planning and execution;
• Innovative and value-driven decision making to improve service while reducing historical costs;
• Active citizen participation and volunteerism; and,
• Total transparency of county business operations, records, budgets, financial commitments (made and kept), and all expenses incurred by elected, appointed or hired members of county government.

CORE VALUES

• Citizen focused: honor every citizen’s rights, freedoms, perspectives and opinions;
• Stewardship: balanced growth which preserves our rural setting while growing the tax base;
• Continuous Improvement: embrace change, creativity, and new initiatives that enhance services;
• Professional: strive to fulfill responsibilities in a positive, professional, ethical and respectful manner, always committed to putting the good of the County first; and
• Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, Respect

STAKEHOLDERS

• Citizens
• Businesses
• Board of Supervisors
• County Administration
• Departments
• Agencies

The NKC Strategic Plan serves as the “Parent” of the Comprehensive Plan. Our County’s Comprehensive Plan will guide land use to: protect a safe and tranquil rural setting; to sustain low taxation; to respect NKC’s history and tradition; and to offer a business-friendly environment, and a welcoming home for new arrivals.

SUMMARY

This Executive Summary and more expansive overview of the proposed Strategic Plan for New Kent County is intended to stimulate dialogue and solicit constructive input from across the stakeholders of New Kent. Ideally, the outcome of the proposed plan development approach would be a 2019 NKC Strategic Plan steeped in stakeholder participation. The 2019 NKC Strategic Plan would serve county leadership as a living document, routinely refreshed to ensure New Kent aligns the inevitable population growth, our rural character, and the Vision for 2030. Most importantly, the 2019 NKC Strategic Plan would provide the prerequisite thinking for creating the first Comprehensive Plan in seven years, a Plan for New Kent County 2030.

PNK2030* looks forward to working with our fellow citizens to plot a course toward the New Kent County we deserve.