By Aila Boyd
aboyd@ourvalley.org

The Town of Fincastle recently sent out a community survey to town residents. Roughly 300 surveys were mailed out. The data collected as part of the survey will be incorporated into the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan is a document that the town is required by state law to maintain and update regularly. The plan establishes a policy for how localities should address change, development, and growth.

The town’s Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2011, well before the boundary expansion that occurred in May of 2018, the first one since the town’s founding in 1772. It was readopted without change last year. David Tickner, the town manager of Fincastle, said, “Because we have many new citizens, we want to get it right.”

He added that the updated Comprehensive Plan will likely be adopted sometime within the next year.

The survey was developed by the town’s Planning Commission in collaboration with Dr. Diane Zahm, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech.

According to the cover letter that was sent out to town residents, “The purpose of the survey is to gather information from the citizens of the town about what they find appealing and desirable in Fincastle, where they think things could improve, and what they imagine the town might look like in the future.”

Unlike the survey that the town conducted in early 2017, this survey will only use information collected by Fincastle residents. In order to ensure that respondents do reside within the town limits, a map of the town accompanied the survey.

One of the striking data points in the 2017 survey was that 64.7 percent of the respondents didn’t live within town limits. A possible reason for the disproportionately high number of out-of-town respondents is that some of the respondents might have had Fincastle postal addresses, but technically resided outside of the boundaries of the town. It’s possible that some of the respondents to the 2017 survey weren’t town residents then, but are now following the boundary expansion.

The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and can either be mailed to P.O. Box 250 in Fincastle or can be dropped off at the Town Office at 25 Bank Square in Fincastle. An online version of the survey is also available.

It can be accessed at https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bkg3I1zZDwsxhv7.

Zahm will not start compiling the data until July, at which time the town will not be able to accept any more of the surveys.

Although official dates haven’t been set yet, the Planning Commission is planning on hold a series of community meetings to discuss the results of the survey once all of the information has been processed. The meetings will likely occur sometime in the fall.