Greene Gets Proffers for Interconnectivity

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the Greene Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, July 22nd the deal was finalized for new proffers to provide vehicular interconnectivity in front of Deer Lake and behind the Food Lion shopping center.

kinvara-sat-image.jpgKinvara Properties, LLC amended their previously approved proffers proffers from  May 13, 2008. The project is located on  39 acres on the west side of Route 29 from the Food Lion shopping center up to Deer Lake that has requested a PUD (Planned Unit Development) on Cedar Grove Road/Seminole Trail (Route 29)/Buck Drive.

While the total residential density requested did not change from the previous approval, the timing of bringing the units online was slightly altered.   A total of 98 units were requested and a proffer of $9,000 per unit was offered for any units above the 46 units authorized by right – potentially 52 additional units totaling $468,000 in proffers  – for a total of 98 units. The key change in the new proffers was to provide interconnectivity through Buck Drive.

KinvaraStaffReport.pdf

The approved 2007 Master Plan for Deerfield Village

Dick Johnson with Blackwell Engineering  outlined the changes. The main entrance would be at Advance Auto on Deer Field Drive and the need for a stop light will be evaluated. A connecting road from Buck Road to Deer Drive would be constructed triggered either by more residential or 25% commercial construction.

frydlChairman Jim Frydl (Midway District)  asked for clarification about meeting VDOT requirements in the future and was assured that roadways constructed would meet VDOT’s current requirements. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) asked how long the connection between Buck Drive and Deerfield Drive would remain gated and was told it was tied to the commercial development. Attorney Butch Davies and owner Jim Lavin were also present at the meeting.

Frydl explained that this was not a public hearing since one had already been held and this meeting was reviewing changes since that meeting.

Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) clarified that the original proffers were about to expire (after seven years) and new proffers would need to be approved to go forward.

Supervisor Lamb (Ruckersville District) brought up the concern ofdavis_lamb increased traffic turning off Route 29 south into the Advance Auto entrance. Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director explained that if volumes grow enough, then the crossover to go northbound could be closed and force traffic to the Route 607 stoplight and require northbound traffic to make a U-turn.

Frydl further stated that the Comprehensive Plan  encourages interconnectivity and the opening of the gate will benefit more people than it might harm.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) mentioned that he a lot of feedback from his constituents to follow the vote of the Planning Commission, which was to deny the request. He clarified that in speaking with members of the Planning Commission the issue was the lack of cash proffers caused the Planning Commission to vote no. With the replacement of the cash proffers, he supports the project.  Frydl again brought when the gate would be opened and Svoboda confirmed that construction would happen on the Advance Auto side and would not be opened until the construction was complete.

With no further discussion from the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) proposed that the amended proffers be accepted and the motion passed with a 5-0 vote.

The next item on the agenda was “Matters from the Public” and a resident of Deer Lake stated his disappointment in the decision. He did not want “workforce housing” in his neighborhood.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credits: Greene County

VDOT Losing Control on US29 Solutions?

By. Neil Williamson, President

“It seems how lately, baby
Got a bad case steamroller blues” – James Taylor

US29 Survey July 16 2014As we all are getting accustomed to yellow and orange vests in the impacted areas of US29, the Free Enterprise Forum has learned we will have significantly less control over the US29 projects than we were led to believe at the outset.

Later this week the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will rubber stamp the Shucet  US29 Solution Package.  Interestingly, only now have we learned (via Twitter) the sequencing of these long desired projects is seemingly out of our control.

That’s right despite calm (and exceedingly carefully worded) reassurances during the misnamed US29 Advisory Board meetings that sequencing will be an important part of the implementation strategies.  We learned in a Twitter exchange (below) not only will the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) not control the sequencing of project – the contract will incentivize Rio first.

“Projects will be reasonably sequenced. But the order can’t be presumed.” – Philip Shucet  July 17 via Twitter

I then “tweeted back”pressed for more information asking “who would dictate the order VDOT or the winner of the Design Build competition?”

“Contractor will propose sequence. But incentive will be to finish Rio early.” – Philip Shucet July 17 via Twitter

Shucet continues to amaze at his deft and transparent efforts to move the projects and the conversation forward.  By placing the decision of sequencing to the contractor he eliminates VDOT responsibility for the decision.  By placing a financial incentive on early Rio completion, he clearly stacks the deck in favor of the fast track for that project.

us-29-logo_thumb.jpgWhat of the critically important (and funded) parallel road network that might alleviate some of the construction impacts?  It will now be at the contractor’s discretion and financial detriment to place those projects ahead of the construction at Rio Road.

In February 2008, the Free Enterprise Forum commissioned a study of the Rio interchange concept by Jack Hodge of Volkert Engineering.  Hodge, with over thirty nine years of experience as a VDOT engineer, including 11 years as the Chief Engineer, found significant technical concerns, including issues with the ability for the project to maintain a free-flow of traffic on US 29 during construction of the interchange.

The maintenance of traffic will be a major concern during construction causing delays to the motorist and interruption of access to businesses located in the vicinity.  The Places 29 study assumes, in addition to the US 29 proposed improvements, significant local street improvements parallel to US 29 on both the east and west sides of US 29.  For traffic to have any hope of reaching its destination in a reasonable travel time, these improvements will have to be in place prior to the construction of the interchanges.  [Emphasis added –NW]

In their first meeting, the newly assembled US 29 Project Delivery Advisory Panel identified four success measures for their work:

1. Maintain 80%-85% of current traffic on local roads through Rio-29 intersection

2. Maintain the county’s current tax revenue market share from the 29 corridor

3. Maintain all current traffic lanes and access points during construction

4. Develop adequate risk management practices to anticipate and avoid consequences

While these success metrics are admirable, a failure to maintain control the sequence of the construction of the various projects negatively impacts the ability to attain such targets.Amarillo “Slim” Preston

How, and when, we continue learn critical parts of the US 29 Solutions implementation reminds me of professional gambler Amarillo “Slim” Preston who famously said “If you’re at a poker table and you don’t see a sucker, it’s you.” 

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

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clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Food Truck Regulations Considered in Greene County

By Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County  Planning Commission  heard a proposal from Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda  to create a category of mobile food units (more commonely refered to as Food Trucks) allowed by right in B-1, B-2, B-3, M-1 and M-2 zoning districts at their monthly meeting on July 16th. Svoboda explained that in tcrab-cabhe past few years there have been more mobile food units in industrial areas in the county.

The proposed new ordinance would allow a vendor to take their mobile unit to three locations in the county for a year. The issues that he brought up to the PC were safety, traffic flow, fire hydrant locations, and set back distance and Charlottesville’s ordinance has recently been reviewed .

According to the proposed regulations, the unit must be located on private property and not in the right of way. The unit must be moved from one of the approved locations each day. The hours would be limited to 6 am to 10 pm.

Commissioner John McCloskey asked Svoboda how this affectstruck_redbone vineyards and was told this does not apply to vineyards. Commissioner Vic Schaff had a unique perspective as an owner of a brick and mortar restaurant. He questioned how (and if) these businesses paid the same taxes to the county as other businesses.  He raised concerns that the creation of  this new zoning classification could create an uneven playing field and harm existing businesses in Greene (including his own).  While to some many of his comments may have seemed self serving, his questions were valid.

The hearing was then opened up to the public and the only speaker was David Holtzman, Land Use Field Office for the Piedmont Environmental Council . He had several questions for the PC, including why does the unit have to vacate daily, the space allowed, and music/sound levels.

The hearing then moved to the discussion within the Planning Commission. Chairman Jay Willer confirmed that a vendor must get a zoning permit and there should be a verification process that the vendor has a Greene County business license.

As to the collection of taxes, Svobada stated that the Commissioner of Revenue is responsible for collection of taxes from businesses in Greene County. As for the need to have the unit move daily, Svoboda stated that units have limited capacity and need to be serviced daily. And if they didn’t move daily, they would be considered a permanent structure.

Willer recapped the issues that the Planning Commission had agreed on. Svoboda asked if the Commission would want to approve with the agreed to changes, deny the request or defer the request and have a revised request come back to them at the next meeting. The Commission agreed to defer the request to allow Svoboda to present an updated request at next August’s meeting.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credit: Vintage Virginia and Respective Food Trucks

Fluvanna BOS Defers Action on Poplar Ridge

By. Bryan Rothamel

The packed house at last week’s Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors cleared out rather quickly with just one action.

Poplar Ridge, previously known Walker’s Ridge and The Point at the Rivanna Resort, was deferred until the Aug. 6 meeting. The issue was a missing document that was discovered the morning of the supervisors meeting and proposed changes to the motions.

“I’m certainly disappointed no action will occur (tonight),” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District) to the packed courthouse.

The supervisors still had two other public hearings that went without a hitch.

The first was for a commercial dog kennel located in Palmyra on Route 15. The kennel will hold no more than 60 dogs and would be an accessory building to a house.

Applicants, Jeff and Gayle Stoneman, operate PawsCienda Pet Resort in Montplier. The Stonemans will live in the house with the kennel located behind it.

It was approved unanimously with small restrictions such as how many dogs can stay at once (60) and also how many can dogs can be outside at once (eight).

The second public hearing was for a school to operate in the Lake Centre shopping center. The location is the old Montague, Miller & Co office, adjacent to Dogwood Restaurant.

The educational facility is for 50 students between kindergarten and eighth grade and a homeschool co-operative for all ages.

The supervisors were presented with conditions to restrict the time of operation but struck it so the school could have weekend hours and night adult classes.

The Light Academy was approved unanimously.

In presentations, the board heard what an additional school resource officer would mean for the school system and the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Eric Hess explained how the one current SRO is used amongst the five schools. The officer is housed at the high school but shared between the schools.

The second SRO would be housed at the middle school and service the elementary schools too. The officers could do more proactive things like educational courses instead of more reactionary tasks.

“Unfortunately, in today’s world this is necessary,” said Bob Ullenburch (Palmyra District).

Fluvanna Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch

Fluvanna Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch

The estimated cost for an additional officer is over $60,000 but the Sheriff’s Office is expected to be under budget this year with staffing changes because of military deployments. The grant mentioned previously this year to fund another SRO was denied.

Hess said if he received funding for another SRO he would use a current officer and hire a new officer for patrol. He wants to make sure to get a good fit for the schools instead of a new face to the department.

The FY15 budget did include an additional officer for patrol. The Sheriff’s Office, then under the direction of Ryant Washington, requested three new officers.

Several years ago there were two SROs but because an external audit showed the department was understaffed. A round of budget cuts forced the second SRO to be pulled back to patrol.

Supervisors instructed staff and Hess to come back with a proposal to be approved at a future meeting.

In the consent agenda, supervisors voted to release second half voluntary contributions. Fluvanna collected $1,608.92 with $748.92 going to the school system.

Per board tradition, the supervisors will have just one meeting date in August, the first meeting on August 6. It will include a 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. session. There will be no other work meetings scheduled for August.

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bryan-rothamelThe Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

The Zombie Comp Plan — Return of the “Voluntary” Viewshed Requirements

By. Neil Williamson, President

D_nightofzombiesposterIn classic horror films, zombies are among the best villains as it is so hard to kill the “Walking Dead”.

Just like a zombie the Monticello Viewshed requirements are back and property rights are again under attack in Albemarle County.

But it’s OK because the requirements are voluntary.

Please let me explain

Last Spring, we led the charge opposing the voluntary requirements The Thomas Jefferson Foundation asked to have added to the comprehensive plan.  At that time the language they asked to have inserted was as follows:

Bright pastels and whites on exterior faces of buildings and roofs can be distracting when viewing the natural landscape from Monticello. Muted colors for roofs and walls that blend with the natural landscape (ie. mid-spectrum browns and greys, sandy tones) can be substituted for bright pastels and whites on building faces and roofs.

To minimize impact, avoid large roof expanses, especially those of one color—mottled coloring that combines light and dark elements for roofs is preferred.

Surfaces that are prone to glare and reflection increase visibility and should be avoided whenever possible.

For example, expansive windows facing Monticello should be avoided.

Flood lights, up- lights and exposed bulbs are more apparent in the night sky than shielded fixtures. Lighting for buildings and parking areas can use shielded fixtures at lower heights to reduce impacts. Whenever possible lighting should not be placed higher than the tree line.

Lighting on the tops of cellular towers should be avoided when possible.

Lighting for buildings and parking areas should use fixtures that reduce/eliminate glare.

Employ techniques that break up massing.

Development that breaks the mature tree line is more apparent than development that is lower than the mature tree line. Special consideration should be given to development which is higher than the mature tree line to camouflage impacts.

Parking can always be broken up with interspersed plantings of trees and other landscaping.

When there is no conflict with Entrance Corridor or Neighborhood Model guidelines, the preferred location for parking is on the far side of buildings as viewed from Monticello.

Landscaping to screen buildings and parking should employ trees which will generate a mature canopy of trees.

Monticello welcomes the opportunity to assist homeowners and developers who are contemplating construction in the MPA. Please contact Monticello with any questions about these guidelines.

Projects that require discretionary land use permits should consider offering a proffer that addresses protection of the views from Monticello. Albemarle County could consider conditions that protect the views from Monticello when special use permits are issued.

After months of discussions, the Planning Commission recommended these “voluntary” requirements be dropped from the plan AND that the Foundation receive notification when an application for rezoning within their overlay area is requested.  Such notification would allow the Foundation the opportunity to contact the property owner and discuss how they might work together to minimize the visual impacts of the project.  Therefore the government is NOT involved in the negotiations between property owners

As K. Burnell Evans reported in her Daily Progress article:

“The Planning Commission said, ‘It’s not our job to protect Monticello for Monticello,’” said Elaine Echols, principal planner at the county’s Department of Community Development.”

In last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Ann Mallek (White Hall) reopened the Monticello Viewshed discussion under the rural areas comprehensive plan work session.  After providing a revisionist history of the issue, she indicated she wanted any and all staff reports for projects in the Monticello Vista overlay to have a check box for staff to indicate Monticello’s feelings about the cooperation.  This would only be “one variable among many to consider in the application” and the requirements are “voluntary”.

Hogwash!

Monticello credit NBC 29This is a direct attack on the property rights of land owners in the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) delineated vista map.  The change in language and policy provides the Foundation a proxy VETO on projects proposed within the overlay.

As one of the handful of public in the room, I was perplexed by the revisionist history that was presented and more surprised that the board (in lockstep) voted 5-1 in favor of keeping staff engaged between two private property owners.  As the issue was considered settled at the Planning Commission, I am not convinced those voting in favor of the proposal knew the hours of work by many that had developed an elegant compromise that protected property rights.

Monticello’s own website outlines Jefferson’s view on property rights:

1771. Jefferson took steps to acquire the mountain he would call High Mountain and Montalto. In exchange for legal services for Edward Carter (docking the entail of the Carter lands), Jefferson was to receive “as much of his nearest mountain as can be seen from mine, and 100 yds. beyond the lines of sight agreed before Capt. Burton.”

Clearly Jefferson understood that the only way to protect “view shed” was to buy it.

In 2004, we cheered when the Foundation purchased a neighboring 334 acre “Browns Mountain” parcel now known as Montalto.  This purchase is the proper way to control view shed – you want it — buy it.

When President Thomas Jefferson looked west to the expansion of the United States, he initiated the Louisiana Purchase.  I firmly believe Jefferson would advocate for the protection of property rights over the view shed protections currently proposed.

Most zombie movies end once the hero is able to rally the community and push back the undead.  Will Albemarle’s citizenry recognize that there are no “voluntary” restrictions on property rights?

Will Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors endorse the more refined answer developed by the Planning Commission?

Only time will tell.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credit: Abwe.com, NBC29

 

Monticello’s Comp Plan Land Grab

neilswilliamson:

Property rights are again under attack in Albemarle County as the Board of Supervisors is considering giving The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Super Property Rights (and effective control) over parcels they can see.  This March 2013 post outlines the issue.

Originally posted on Free Enterprise Forum Blog:

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

“The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:36

Considering Thomas Jefferson’s strong belief in personal property rights, one must wonder what Jefferson would think of the Foundation that bears his name seeking to use Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan to enact ‘voluntary’ restrictions on the property rights of landowners whose properties might be visible from Monticello.

The Free Enterprise Forum sees this as an effective land grab via comprehensive plan.

Please let me explain.

According to Merriam-Webster, the term land grab was first used in the middle 1800′s  “to describe a usually swift acquisition of property (as land or patent rights) often by fraud or force”.

Today, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc., owner and operator of Monticello, is calling for…

View original 1,046 more words

VDOT Updates Greene Supervisors

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Joel DeNunzio, the Charlottesville Residency Administrator of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) , provided the Greene Board of Supervisors his quarterly update at the meeting on July 8th. As of July 1st all gravel roads now have a 35 mph speed limit where in the past each county could determine the speed limit on these roads.

230 Bridge Greene County Line photo Credit VDOT

Bridge on Route 230 Madison/Greene County line

The preliminary engineering investigations of bridge on Route 230 at the Madison county line is in process and construction is scheduled for 2016. The widening of the culvert on Route 609 has been completed. The Simms Road culvert is to be completed by the end of August.

Supervisor Eddie Deane, At Large,  asked about the ditch maintenance of Route 33 west of Stanardsville all the way to the Shenandoah National Park. He indicated that the ditches have been filled up with debris and when there is a heavy rain the water crosses the road and the possibility of hydroplaning exists.

Chairman Jim Frydl, Midway District, stated that the residents of Dairy Road are requesting the road be paved. The residents are also requesting that they be allowed to maintain the edge of the road. DeNunzio said he would provide the proper form for them to apply to do this.

DeNunzio stated that by state policy, VDOT funding goes first for maintenance of roads  and secondly to construction of roads up to $500 million. Supervisor David Cox, Monroe District, questioned where the majority of funds are spent and DeNunzio indicated that Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads area gets the majority of funds for new construction.

The meeting was then opened to the public and Debra Turk, a resident of Greene Acres who uses Octonia Road, was only speaker. She indicated that patches are made and then rain washes them away and the whole cycle is repeated. She asked that VDOT study this road and put it in the six year plan to improve the road by paving it.  DeNunzio indicated that salt used last winter tore up the road and that this road has been built up with tar and gravel – not paving. This can be put in the six year plan with the guidance of the county but it will be expensive to pave it.

Chairman Frydl summarized the presentation by noting that federal gas tax is not increasing  to provide more revenue and therefore funding throughout the state is static at best.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credit: Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

Recognizing Rural Realities and Opportunities

By Neil Williamson, President

Adapted from remarks to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors Comprehensive Plan Work session July 9 2014

The Free Enterprise Forum applauds much of what is in the revised Rural Area Chapter of Albemarle County’s Comprehensive plan.

On the one hand, the chapter considers allowing some new uses and enterprises in the rural areas that will help keep the land economically and environmentally sustainable. On the other hand, we have identified very real challenges to the potential rural enterprises ever getting established.

We have had very positive discussions with several supervisors regarding the philosophically offensive (and likely illegal) language that was inserted on page 7.34 (and in Attachment H)

While new golf courses should not be prohibited, they should only be allowed when a significant unmet need can be established for more of this type of use.

The concept that the government will only permit businesses to exist that serve a government identified unmet need is beyond the pale even for Albemarle County.  The Free Enterprise Forum hopes Supervisors will direct staff to strike this paragraph from the document.

In a much more subtle attack, the Planning Commission has also proposed new criteria for potential new uses in the rural areas.  This criteria, enumerated in the staff report but not yet placed in the comprehensive plan, virtually guarantee that no new uses will be approved in the rural areas:

be compatible with and have a negligible impact on natural, cultural, and historic resources;

not conflict with nearby agricultural and forestal uses;

complement the character of the area in which they will be located;

result in little discernible difference in traffic patterns;

Depending on the interpretation, this criteria could prevent most if not all of the identified rural enterprises form occurring.  The concept of resulting in little discernible difference in traffic patterns reminds me of a former supervisor who once famously said

We love all the wineries, we just don’t like the customers

The rural areas makes up 95% of Albemarle County, certainly rural enterprises are bigger than just weddings and wineries.  These criteria (and to a lesser extent this chapter) need to be revised to recognize the rural realities and the need for additional economic opportunity in the rural areas.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credit: Albemarle County

Is The End of Cash Proffers Near?

By. Neil Williamson, President

If the goal of cash proffers is to “make growth pay for itself”, the policy has failed.piggy-bank

If the goal of cash proffers is to suppress market demand with increased regulatory costs, the policy has succeeded.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will hold a special joint meeting to discuss cash proffers.  The Free Enterprise Forum is hopeful the discussion includes success metrics.

A cash proffer is an amount money that some (not all) new home builders must pay a locality for the privilege of constructing  a new home in the community.  These funds are in excess of the water/sewer hook up fees, sidewalks, streets, street trees, stormwater management, open space and affordable housing requirements.

But not all localities inflict cash proffers on their citizens.

The vast range of costs locally are illuminating.

 

Locality Maximum Cash Proffer
Albemarle Single Family Detached $20,986.76Townhouse $14,870.61

Multi Family $14,270.99

Charlottesville No cash proffers
Greene $5,778 per unit
Fluvanna $6,577 per unit
Louisa $4,362 per unit
Nelson No cash proffers

Albemarle has been aggressive in their regular increase in proffer cost while the BOS has been underfunding their required capital improvement program (CIP).

Albemarle proffer amounts 07-14

Those supporting cash proffers would say this is one way to get development to pay for itself.

But it doesn’t.

Too often this is just a new piggy bank to fund pet projects that have tangential relationship to new development.

Attachment F in the Staff Report highlights proffer expenditures including almost $300,000 for North US29 Study, $50,000 for a Western Park Master Plan Study and $15,000 for a feasibility study for Northside library.  While each of the studies may have merit, can the case really be made that rezoned property created these needs?  Why should the new home buyer have to bear the burden of determining if the community has ALREADY outgrown their existing library?

Other expenditures are equally disturbing

$150,000 to upgrade the Wireless Area Networks at 4 Schools serving Still Meadows Residents

Did the rezoned land make the existing Wireless Area Network obsolete?

$302,199.32 for the Crozet Library

Crozet had been seeking a new library since the 1990’s.  New development did not create this need but it did pay for it.

$83,379 for the Ivy Fire Station

Is the new development that partially funded the construction of this new station even in the response area of the station?

The reality is the cash proffer policy is fatally flawed and produces  unintended negative economic and planning impacts.  Some localities have already done the right thing and repealed this “rezoning ransom” and replace these funds with more dependable and equitable infrastructure funding options.

The discussion Tuesday should not be about how to tweak the existing cash proffer system instead it should be a discussion by the Board on how to equitably dismantle the system.  A full repeal is a much more economically and ecologically sensible and sustainable alternative.

Cash proffers are per unit fees “voluntarily” extracted from applicants seeking to rezone their property. In theory, such “voluntary” proffers would be directly tied to the costs associated with the increased density of a rezoning. In reality, cash proffers lower land values, encourage development contrary to comprehensive plans, and create false hope for outside infrastructure funding.

Cash proffers have produced a plethora of Contradictory Consequences without achieving significant benefit. Now is the time to repeal this rezoning ransom and replace it with a more sensible and equitable alternative.

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. The full Contradictory Consequences report can be found at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Albemarle Apologist Economic Development Policy

Adapted from comments to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors July 2, 2014

By. Neil Williamson, President

I want to start with the good news. 93px-Symbol_thumbs_up_svg

This is a historic day.  This is the first time Economic Development has its own chapter in the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan.  This is good.

The question is what would you have as the top priority for Albemarle County’s economic development?

Should it be that Albemarle County is “Open for Business”?

Perhaps it should be creating an environment that supports jobs

Or reducing regulatory hurdles that prevent enterprise development.

Not in Albemarle – the first priority is an apology

“Objective 1: Ensure that economic development efforts are supportive of the County’s Growth Policy and consistent with other Comprehensive Plan goals.”

This is in stark contrast to the Natural Resources Mega Chapter that reads like a naturalist handbook.  Any reader of the comprehensive plan must understand that all the all the goals and objectives require balance, but no other Comprehensive Plan chapter begins with such a statement.

This uneven business apologist treatment continues in Strategy 5a:

“the purpose of implementing economic development initiatives aimed at encouraging development and business consistent with the comprehensive plan.

Strategy 5c:

“In Albemarle County, though, new business and industrial growth must occur in conjunction with other goals of the Comprehensive Plan”

While the Free Enterprise Forum has noted the Economic Development Chapter is the shortest chapter in the entire plan, we believe it should be even shorter.

Unless the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is prepared to rewrite the entire Comprehensive Plan, adding a new Balance objective one to every chapter and CP Balance language  to each and every objective,  the Board should remove Economic Development Objective 1 and pick up with Objective #2

“Provide diversified economic opportunities that benefit County citizens and existing businesses by basing policy decisions on efforts which support and enhance the strengths of the County”

Further the offending language in Strategy 5a and 5g should be dropped.

Finally, while we believe there are significant benefits to being environmentally responsible, we question the appropriateness of Strategy 1d

“Encourage all businesses to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices.”

This objective, while laudable, is not directly in support of economic development.  Just as the Free Enterprise Forum opposed the inclusion of the interesting but misplaced natural heritage section on habitat segmentation we believe this goal should be removed.open for business

We believe that the new economic development chapter is a positive step and we hope with these edits we can assist in making Albemarle  “Open for Business”

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson. President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa  and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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