Virginia has 21 planning district commissions (PDCs), voluntary associations of local governments intended to foster intergovernmental cooperation by bringing together local elected and appointed officials and involved citizens to discuss common needs and determine solutions to regional issues.
The Virginia General Assembly created the statutory framework for the creation of the PDCs in 1968 through the passage of the Virginia Area Development Act. In 1995, the General Assembly modified the Area Development Act through the adoption of the Regional Cooperation Act (Chapter 42, Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia). The Regional Cooperation Act clearly articulates that PDCs were created to provide a forum for state and local government to address issues of a regional nature.
Another purpose of PDCs is to encourage and facilitate local government cooperation in addressing, on a regional basis, problems of greater than local significance. This cooperation is intended to help local governments solve their problems by enhancing the ability to recognize and analyze regional opportunities and take account of regional influences in planning and implementing public policies and services.
One important mechanism in helping localities meet these goals is the requirement that each PDC complete a regional strategic plan with participation from local governing bodies, the business community, citizen organizations and other interested parties. The strategic plan is required to include regional goals and objectives, strategies to meet those goals and mechanisms for measuring progress. The intent of the plan is to help promote the orderly and efficient development of the physical, social and economic elements of the planning district.
In addition to the strategic planning requirement, the Regional Cooperation Act identifies other duties of the planning district commissions:
- To conduct studies on issues and problems of regional significance;
- To identify and study potential opportunities for cost savings and staffing efficiencies through coordinated local government efforts;
- To identify mechanisms for the coordination of local interests on a regional basis;
- To implement services upon the request of member local governments;
- To provide technical assistance to local governments;
- To serve as a liaison between local governments and state agencies as requested;
- To review local government aid applications as required by applicable state and federal law and regulation;
- To develop regional functional area plans as deemed necessary by the commission or as requested by member local governments;
- To assist state agencies, as requested, in the development of substate plans;
- To participate in a statewide geographic information system, the Virginia Geographic Information Network, as directed by the Department of Planning and Budget; and
- To collect and maintain demographic, economic and other data concerning the region and member local governments and act as a state data center affiliate in cooperation with the Virginia Employment Commission.
In support of these duties and pursuant to Va. Code § 36-139.6, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) distributes state general appropriation funding for each PDC. DHCD will distribute $2,865,583 in FY 2009 to the 21 PDCs.
Va. Code § 15.2-4215 requires each PDC to submit an annual report to its member local governments and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) on how the PDC has met the provisions of the Regional Cooperation Act. Further, Va. Code § 36-139.6 provides that DHCD is to submit a biennial report to the Governor and General Assembly, as well as certain other state agencies, which includes findings as to compliance by the PDCs with the Regional Cooperation Act.
Virginia’s 21 Planning District Commissions and Their Member Local Governments:
The counties of Lee, Scott and Wise; the city of Norton; the towns of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Clinchport, Coeburn, Duffield, Dunganon, Gate City, Jonesville, Nickelsville, Pennington Gap, Pound, St. Charles, St. Paul, Weber City and Wise.
The counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell; the towns of Bluefield, Cedar Bluff, Cleveland, Clinchco, Clintwood, Grundy, Haysi, Honaker, Lebanon, Pocahontas, Richlands and Tazewell.
The counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe; the cities of Bristol and Galax; the towns of Abingdon, Chilhowie, Damascus, Fries, Glade Spring, Hillsville, Independence, Marion, Rural Retreat, Saltville, Troutdale and Wytheville.
The counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski; the city of Radford; Radford University and Virginia Tech; the towns of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Glen Lyn, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pembroke, Pulaski and Rich Creek.
The counties of Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, *Franklin and Roanoke; the cities of Covington, Roanoke and Salem; the towns of Clifton Forge, Buchanan, Fincastle, Iron Gate, New Castle, Troutville and Vinton.
The counties of Augusta, Bath, Rockbridge, Rockingham and Highland; the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro; the towns of Bridgewater, Broadway, Craigsville, Dayton, Elkton, Glasgow, Goshen, Grottoes, Monterey, Mount Crawford and Timberville.
The counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren; the city of Winchester; the towns of Berryville, Boyce, Edinburg, Front Royal, Luray, Middletown, Mount Jackson, New Market, Shenandoah, Stanley, Stephens City, Strasburg, Toms Brook and Woodstock.
The counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Purcellville and Vienna.
The counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock; the towns of Culpeper, Gordonsville, Madison, Orange, Remington, Warrenton and Washington.
The counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson; the city of Charlottesville.
The counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell; the cities of Bedford and Lynchburg; the towns of Altavista, Amherst, Appomattox and Brookneal.
The counties of *Franklin, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania; the cities of Danville and Martinsville; the town of RockyMount.
The counties of Brunswick, Halifax and Mecklenburg; the towns of South Hill and South Boston.
The counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg and Prince Edward; the town of Farmville; Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College.
The counties of *Charles City, *Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan; the city of Richmond; the town of Ashland.
The counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford; the city of Fredericksburg; the towns of Bowling Green and Port Royal.
The counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland.
The counties of Essex, *Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews and Middlesex; the towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna and West Point.
The counties of *Charles City, *Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, *Surry and Sussex; the cities of Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg; the towns of Claremont, Dendron, Jarratt, McKenney, Stony Creek, Surry, Wakefield and Waverly.
The counties of Accomack and Northampton; the towns of Accomac, Belle Haven, Bloxom, Cape Charles, Cheriton, Chincoteague, Eastville, Exmore, Hallwood, Keller, Melfa, Nassawadox, Onancock, Onley, Painter, Parksley, Saxis, Tangier and Wachapreague.
The counties of *Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, *Surry and York; the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.
*The following jurisdictions belong to more than one PDC as indicated:
Chesterfield County - Richmond Regional PDC and Crater PDC
Charles City County - Richmond Regional PDC and Crater PDC
Franklin County - Roanoke Valley - Alleghany Regional Commission and West Piedmont PDC
Gloucester County - Middle Peninsula PDC and Hampton Roads PDC
Surry County - Crater PDC and Hampton Roads PDC