A open letter to Albemarle County Planning Commission:
Dear Chairman Morris and members of the Albemarle County Planning Commission,
Many thanks to Albemarle Director of Planning Wayne Cilimberg for forwarding me the new submissions the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has presented for inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan for discussion. The Free Enterprise Forum regrets the majority of the public will not get to see them in advance of the Planning Commission discussion this evening. Again, I regret I will not be able to join you this evening due to a previously scheduled family event.
Considering our outspoken position in favor of individual property rights, we believed a response to Mr. Cilimberg would be appropriate given this newly available information.
After reviewing the e-mailed documents, we agree that this iteration of language is significantly better than the language the Thomas Jefferson Foundation originally wanted. In addition it is also improved from the language the Foundation inserted into the existing Comprehensive Plan.
Recognizing this marked improvement, the Free Enterprise Forum must continue to oppose the intrusion of local government into this basic property rights issue. We ask the section be removed entirely from the Comprehensive Plan.
Please let me explain.
Regardless of their status or import, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation is a property owner with property rights. Their neighbors are also property owners with rights. Because of their position in the community, they have successfully lobbied Albemarle County to insert language into the state mandated planning document that will require the County to act as the Foundation’s agent in delivering voluntary design guidelines to limit the property rights of parcels that may be seen from the “Big House”.
The rationale for this inclusion , according to tonight’s staff report is “In recent years, keeping up with all site plans, subdivision plats, rezonings, and special use permits has been difficult for TJF staff”. As Planning Commission Mac Lafferty regularly reminds the public, the planning staff has increasing responsibilities without the requisite increasing in staffing.
Is Albemarle County now in a position to provide additional staff work for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation?
Will Albemarle extend this courtesy to other property owners as well?
The Free Enterprise Forum is aware that Albemarle County is blessed to have the homes of two presidents within its borders. Why has the County not provided the same accommodations to the staff at Ash Lawn?
This issue of visual impact is an issue between property owners not an issue for government. The reality of voluntary guidelines being delivered by government when a building permit is pulled or a pre-application process is initiated is nothing more than a thinly veiled requirement.
Considering all of the above, we find it ironic that Albemarle County and the home of the drafter of the Declaration of Independence are advocating Comprehensive Plan language that makes some property owners more equal than others.
Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on this issue.
Neil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. www.freeenterpriseforum.org