In 1968, Virginia was divided into planning districts based on the community of interest among its counties, cities and towns. A Planning District Commission is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth chartered under the Regional Cooperation Act by the local governments of each planning district. As such they are a creation of local government encouraged by the state.
The Purpose of Planning District, or Regional Commissions, as set out in the Code of Virginia, Section 15.2-4207, is:
"...To encourage and facilitate local government cooperation and state-local cooperation in addressing on a regional basis problems of greater than local significance. The cooperation resulting from this chapter is intended to facilitate the recognition and analysis of regional opportunities and take account of regional influences in planning and implementing public policies and services.
The [Regional Commission] shall also promote the orderly and efficient development of the physical, social and economic elements of the district by planning, and encouraging and assisting localities to plan for the future."
Virginia's 21 Planning District or Regional Commissions, of which the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC) is one, provide a variety of technical services and programming to member local governments.
Such services, among other, include:
- Grant-writing assistance and administration;
- Project and Program Management;
- Land Use Planning and Mapping/Geographic/Information Systems;
- Transportation Planning, inclusive of metropolitan planning organization/transportation technical committee coordination, corridor study development, rideshare/commuter service delivery, bicycle and pedestrian facility planning, airport planning, and specialized transit;
- Environmental Planning, including Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and implementation, water supply and watershed management planning, and natural resource/open space protection;
- Housing & Homelessness Planning and Coordination, including regional/local housing studies and Continuum of Care participation and leadership
All are significant parts of the Planning District/Regional Commission's role.
Across the Commonwealth, Planning District/Regional Commissions comprise an accessible data and assistance network that enable quick and comprehensive statewide coverage.
Each serves as an Affiliate State Data Center for its respective region. In this role, they provide important information to local government, business and citizens. Planning District/Regional Commissions are the designated point of contact for the Commonwealth's Intergovernmental Review process, and in turn provide vital regional input and feedback on proposed plans for a host of other agencies and entities.
The program work of Planning District/Regional Commissions has been meeting the needs of local and state government for more than 50 years, with the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC) having been active since 1971.
Within these respective boundaries, the may also serve to facilitate regional approaches to issues like Economic Development, Hazard Mitigation/Emergency Preparedness Planning, and Legislative Priority identification.
Other duties of Planning District/Regional Commissions include:
- Drafting/Development of studies and action plans on issues and topics of regional significance;
- Identification of opportunities for cost savings and other efficiencies through enhanced governmental coordination;
- Implementation of projects or plans upon request of member localities;
- Provision of Technical Assistance;
- Organizational capacity building;
- Comprehensive and strategic planning;
- Development of functional area plans as deemed necessary or requested by member localities;
- To assist state agencies 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;
- To collect and maintain demographic, economic, and other data, acting as a state data center affiliate in cooperation with the Virginia Employment Commission.
RRRC is a member of the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC).