By. Neil Williamson, President
[For additional context on the Biscuit Run issue please see our previous post "Is Biscuit Run a Canary in a Coal Mine"]
As Brian Wheeler reported in today’s (12/31) Daily Progress, and well covered by his Charlottesville Tomorrow’s story, the Biscuit Run development has been purchased by the state of Virginia for use as a future state park. Governor Tim Kaine, who successfully instituted urban development area mandates for high growth localities in the state, is removing 3.5% (800 acres) of Albemarle County’s designated development area.
This is a reduction of Albemarle County’s development area. For those unfamiliar with Albemarle County’s policies, 95% of the land mass in the county is planned to be “Rural Areas” the balance 5% (less now) is designated as development areas where limited infrastructure funding is focused to deliver a higher level of service to a higher density population.
John Cruickshank, head of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club is quoted in Brian Wheeler’s story:
Asked about the County’s concern that pressure may build for replacement land in the growth area, Cruickshank said he did not expect that to be a problem.
“I don’t see that this is a reason to open up new areas for growth. There has already been plenty of growth and other areas zoned for new development,” said Cruickshank. “A lot of that growth is already going to occur north of town and there is plenty of room for people who need homes.”
The Free Enterprise Forum must respectfully disagree with Mr. Cruickshank’s assessment.
A development area of 5% (or more) should promote mixed use development that allows those citizens who choose to live in denser communities the benefit of close by employment opportunities and amenities. If the development areas are not of sufficient size to allow for orderly development, individuals will be pushed into “by-right” development in the rural areas where government services are more expensive to provide.
Without selecting specific parcels or regions, we believe Albemarle County’s development areas must be restored to their previous size. Several proposals regarding development area adjustments have been discussed in the Albemarle County office building over the last 18 months. These, and perhaps others, deserve consideration by the Board of Supervisors.
While the development area has been reduced by the state without Albemarle County’s action, only Albemarle County action can restore the development areas to their proper size.
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 and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org