Fluvanna Increases E-911 Coverage

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted on June 15 to improve the E-911 radio project by building a tall tower and eliminating two smaller towers.

The change includes building a 300-foot tower on the property of old Columbia School. This new tower will match the lattice towers at the Sheriff’s Office and the Dominion Bremo power plant. This latest change will also increase the coverage of the radio project.

Two other changes were approved on June 15: erosion and sentiment control at the Sheriff’s Office tower location and upgrades to the communication center.

On June 1 the supervisors approved the first change order to build two county owned towers, eliminating the need to rent space on Carter Mountain. One tower will be in the Lake Monticello area and the other will be on the county owned old landfill. Both towers will be lattice towers.

These change orders have increased the project by $1.4 million. The biggest bulk, approximately $1.2 million, has been the building of the three towers.

Owning the towers does decrease the annual costs of the radio system because the county does not have to lease tower space. The county also could start selling space on its towers to cellular service providers.

Fluvanna entered into a lease agreement to pay for the original $6.5 million E-911 radio project even though the county savings had cash on hand. Staff feels it could issue a bond that includes the $6.5 million plus all of the change orders for a lower interest rate than the lease.

Also on June 15 the supervisors approved an elevator maintenance contract with a cost of $6,900 per year. This past year the county spent over $19,000 on items that will now be covered in the contract.

Supervisors approved making a part-time position in Social Services full time. The state is partially funding the benefit programs specialist.

The public works director informed the supervisors the county had incorrectly billing the 25 customers on the Palmyra sewage plant. Customers were under billed approximately $7.65 each month since July 2008.

The county will not try to correct past bills but will start charging correctly this July. The estimated increase in collections from the 25 customers will be approximately $1,850. Most of the sewer system is used by public entities.

The only non-unanimous action of the night was reimbursement of $6,750 to a resident of Taylor Ridge. At the previous meeting the supervisors approved taking the Taylor Ridge roads into the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) system, making them public roads.

VDOT charged an acceptance fee that the Hutcherson family paid outright to finally get the roads approved. Don Weaver (Cunningham District) voted against reimbursing the Hutchersons because he felt it was an expense the county shouldn’t bear. It passed 4-1.

The next supervisor meeting date is a doubleheader. July will have just one meeting date. On July 6 supervisors will have a regular 4 p.m. session that will then be followed by a 7 p.m. regular session. There will be no second meeting date in July.

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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

$52.5 Million Dollar Indecent Proposal – Albemarle Backs Off Threat to Wedding Industry

By. Neil Williamson, President

Weddings should be celebrated.  Regardless of the ceremony or the participants weddings are a joyful time that from a public policy perspective generate significant economic activity absent the demand for significant public services (school, fire, police).  Last week, Albemarle County considered an “Indecent Proposal” that would have drastically limiting the frequency of events on rural lands (95% of the county).

Please let me explain.

Last Tuesday evening, a rare joint meeting of the Albemarle County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors heard a great deal from both wedding venues and the vendors that support them.  Albemarle staff had prepared a proposed ordinance that, among other things, would limit the ability of wineries, breweries and distilleries to 24 events a year.  In the end the supervisors backed away from the most restrictive portion of the ‘indecent proposal’.

The testimony Tuesday was insightful and passionate.    Wedding Photographer Jen Fariello asked pointedly “Why are weddings being attacked?”  Wedding planner Adam Donovan-Groves [name correction 9:01 6/20 nw] told of one recent wedding whose local fiscal impact exceeded $250,000 musicians, gift packs, invitations, transportation, jewelry, photographer, etc.

During the discussion, I unscientifically developed a simple back of the envelope calculation regarding local wedding annual economic impact:

$10,000 wedding cost (likely low)

50% of 200 guests are from out of town 1 hotel night stay ($150) + meals ($100)

$10,000+[(200/2)*$250] = $35,000

If we factor in 20 Saturdays in wedding season and 75 wedding venues a VERY conservative wedding economic impact is $52,500,000

Anna Quillen of a transportation company explained the impact was significantly larger than just the venues;  her job (and her employee) are interdependent on the wedding industry.  Charlotte Shelton of Albemarle Ciderworks expressed her concern that  small enterprises need event revenue to be economically viable.  Sarah Henley of Henley Orchards explained that events help keep farms sustainable and in family ownership.

There were also a number of rural landowners who were concerned with the potential proliferation of event venues across the rural landscape.  One Free Union resident suggested “Don’t overlook the economic value of the family farm in this community”.

After about an hour and a half of testimony the issue came back to the joint work session for discussion.

Supervisor Rick Randolph suggested creating an objective sliding scale  grading system for scoring a potential event venue for evaluation.  Commissioner ‘Mac’ Lafferty suggested requiring such a scale might create “a chilling effect” on the expansion of wedding venues in Albemarle County.

Supervisor Norman Dill indicated his concern that “So many of these rules will limit creativity”.  Dill also said setting a cap for the number of events for only new entrants is unfair.

The group also discussed the concern worried about unintended consequences of mandating paved roads in rural areas where neighbors don’t want their roads paved.

Supervisor Brad Sheffield asked directly if the wineries are doing such a good job self policing, is this a solution in search of a problem.

The result of the work session was to move forward with an ordinance that more directly ties the event space to the agricultural use on the property but would not limit the number of events a parcel could hold.  Additional consideration regarding amplified music and set backs will also be a part of the draft ordinance.  Staff hopes to bring such an ordinance to stakeholders late this summer and the Planning Commission in early fall.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes this long (4 hour) work session format was helpful.  Absent the Supervisors’ direct input, we believe the event control portion of the indecent staff proposal would have moved forward.

We are hopefully optimistic that the latest controls being discussed don’t hinder this vibrant rural economic engine that is helping to keep rural Albemarle economically and environmentally sustainable.

The revised proposal has been made, however the key  question remains — will Albemarle say “I do”  — that’s the $52.5 million dollar question.

Stay tuned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

Photo Credits: Aaron Watson Photography,  Keswick Vineyards, Albemarle Ciderworks, Celestial Sights Photography, Jack Looney Photography.

Greene Supervisors Hear From Blue Ridge Heritage Project

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Nearly ninety years after the Virginia state [not federal] (correction 6/17 nw) government utilized eminent domain to create the Shenandoah National Park, local efforts are  memorializing the men, women, children, churches, and businesses who were literally pushed off the mountain.

The Blue Ridge Heritage Project (BRHP) is a grassroots campaign to erect memorial stone chimneys in the eight counties surrounding the Shenandoah National Park to commemorate the sacrifices made by families forced to move from their homes when the park was created

Jim Lawson, co-chair of the local steering committee of the BRHP, addressed the Greene County Board of Supervisors at their June 14 meeting.

The Stanardsville Town Council already provided their support for the memorial. The presentation to the Supervisors tried to explain why the BRH wants to honor the people that were displaced and also want to educate the public of what took place.

The total Greene County displacement was made up of 56 families, 123 landowners, 4image schools, 4 churches and many businesses such as stores and mills. In addition, 6 individuals were granted lifetime rights due to their age. No one sold their property voluntarily in Greene. The symbol chosen for the exhibit is a chimney since that is the only part of any structure that still exists from that time.

The proposed plaque would list the names of the 56 families and would be placed at the county administrative building in Stanardsville. In addition, there would be kiosks in the county that would exhibit educational display panels. The cost the project to Greene County would be nothing – the BRH will finance the total cost of the project and currently has about 25% raised along with pledges already made. image

Lawson presented a petition with 250 signatures that have been gathered in the past two weeks to the Supervisors asking them for their support. Chairman Bill Martin asked what BRH would like the supervisors to do.

Lawson just asked that the county work with them to have the Planning Department identify a proper location for the plaque and the kiosks and finally asked that the Supervisors pass a resolution to approve the placing of the memorials at a future meeting.

No action was taken on this issue at the June 15 meeting.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Albemarle BOS Playing Fast and Loose with Earlysville Road

By. Neil Williamson, PresidentDont close Earlysville Road

With less than 60 days of experience of reduced tuck speeds on Earlysville Road and ignoring an $7,900 study to the contrary, Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors again seems poised to close a portion of the road to trucks.

This clearly reminds me of Yogi Berra’s “Deja Vu all over again”

Please let me explain.

We wrote extensively about this issue the week of the March 2016 public hearing [Ignoring  Earlysville Evidence].  Minutes prior to the required public hearing on this issue, Supervisor Brad Sheffield suggested the lower speed limit as a compromise and asked speakers to address this option.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs’ article on the Supervisors meeting clearly outlined the issues –

About 20 people spoke during a public hearing Wednesday, with the majority arguing against the ban on through trucks between Woodlands and Dickerson roads.
“The reality is that Route 743 is a major north-south artery built with state and federal dollars,” said Blair Williamson, owner of the S.L. Williamson asphalt paving company.
More than 120 people who live on the road had signed a petition asking the county to request permission from state officials to enact the ban. …
As part of the staff analysis, the firm EPR was paid $7,900 to conduct a study of the road last spring.
The review counted traffic and analyzed Virginia Department of Transportation crash data for a three-year period. The counts showed that vehicles with more than three axles ranged between 0.19 and 1.49 percent of daily traffic during the week and that trucks with two axles ranged between 12.72 percent and 16.81 percent.
There were 60 vehicular wrecks between 2012 and 2015 but only one of these involved a truck. [Emphasis Added – NW]

At the end of the public hearing, after the board discussion made it clear the request for restriction did not have the support of the majority of the Board members, Supervisor Ann Mallek indicated that she preferred to defer the agenda item to see how the reduced speed concept worked and then they would not have to be bothered with another public hearing.

This was a rather shrewd political move — mollify the people who took time out to their evening to speak in opposition (or in support) then put it on an agenda in the early summer when folks are less likely to return to express their opinions.  Why would they be less likely — because there is NOT a public hearing required prior to action.

Considering the incredible hoops that this community has been put through regarding a public process for transportation projects, I must say I am disappointed by this fast and loose (but legal) political maneuvering.

Based on the material available to the public there is not significantly new data coming before the board regarding the impact of the speed restrictions.  It seems like the only thing that will be different on June 8th from March 8th is there will be no public hearing and likely not much public input.

Perhaps that was the idea all along.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VDOT Updates Greene Supervisors

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

image

Joel DeNunzio

Joel DeNunzio, the resident engineer from Charlottesville’s office of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  covered two areas with the Greene County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (5/24)  – 1) the Secondary Six Year Plan for Fiscal Years 2016/17 through 2021/22 and 2) the normal quarterly update.

The Six Year Plan is a partnership between VDOT who provides funding and Greene County who prioritizes the projects as funds are available. The plan DeNunzio presented was unchanged from last year. The top project comes under the Rural Rustic Road program and is a project on Matthew Mills Road and it is fully funded for $1.39 million . In descending order, the other projects are Simms Road, Route 630 between Routes 810 and 631 for $210,000 in the next three years, and .55 miles of Beazley Road is scheduled for 2018-2020.

VDOT logoAs the Six Year Plan requires a Public Hearing and the first to address the Board was Bill Murray who lives on South River Road. He indicated that at the end of South River Road where the pavement ends there is about .4 miles where he and three other families live. When there is rain the road has ruts that VDOT has to come out and scrape to level the road which happens about every three months. His request is to have VDOT pave this section of road which would eliminate the need for the scraping every three months.

David Underwood brought up that he had previously requested on April 8, 2014 that that VDOT allocate funds for paving the road in his development and to add this project to the six year plan.

DeNunzio addressed the two questions that the public brought up. On the South River Road project he will see if it can be moved up on the prioritization and notify the Board to confirm that they want to reprioritize the project. On the second question it is not in the Rural Rustic Road list and therefore only 5% of the funds used on all other roads could be allocated for this project. This amounts to 5% of $60,000 or only $3,000. Not enough to do the project.

With no more questions from the Board, the Six Year Plan was approved unanimously. The meeting then moved on to the quarterly update from DeNunzio. The work scheduled on Route 607 should be completed by September, 2016. The Route 29 and Route 33 intersection project will be added to the list in July but he is unsure when funding will be placed in the six year plan.

The repaving on Route 33 and the Route 33 bypass is having trenching being added to widen the road to get additional width for bicycles – although not enough for a true bike lane.

Vice Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) asked DeNunzio where to find the Route 607 and Route 29 project on the VDOT website – DeNunzio said he would email her the link. Board Chair Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked when a traffic study for the Ford Avenue and Business Route 33 intersection would be undertaken and DeNunzio indicated that it will be completed by next week.

Martin then asked DeNunzio a question that a resident of the county had asked – at the Route 33 and Route 33 Bypass there is trash – dirt, debris, etc. – and he wanted to know if the trash is VDOT’s and, if so, can it be cleaned up.  DeNunzio indicated he would check into the intersection and see if VDOT can do the cleanup.

Finally, Martin congratulated DeNunzio on all of the work that VDOT is doing in Greene County however he asked that VDOT do a better job in communicating their schedule of work. DeNunzio indicated that the information is sent out weekly and that the information is passed on to fire, rescue and the school system.  Martin indicated that there have been some changes to the schedule that were not communicated and asked if VDOT could correct the information as the changes occur.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

WarGames and Albemarle’s Proffer Paradox

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL  (adapted from Comments to the Albemarle County Planning Commission May 24)

By. Neil Williamson, President

war-games1Tonight, you will be hearing from newly appointed County Attorney Greg Kamptner regarding the Virginia State Code changes and how this will impact your ability to calculate, collect and legally defend the use of so called “voluntary” proffers in the future.

The entire exercise reminds me  of the penultimate scene in the 1983 move WarGames (more on that later).

To be clear, despite being on your agenda, the Free Enterprise Forum does not believe this issue is within your areas of expertise and we believe you are being used by the Board of Supervisors for political cover.

The Free Enterprise Forum has long contended that cash proffers are nothing more than a “Welcome  Stranger Tax” that provides an unreliable and relatively insignificant revenue source for infrastructure capacity improvement.  While we actively supported the new legislation, we continue to believe the elimination of cash proffers is good public policy and good fiscal policy.

Katherine Hafner of The Virginian-Pilot has a good wrap up of the new legislation which goes into effect July 1st.

Introduced by Sens. Mark Obenshain, R- Harrisonburg, and Richard Saslaw, D- Fairfax County, the legislation prohibits localities from asking for proffers deemed “unreasonable” or not directly related to the impacts of a development itself.

The state proffer system, enacted in the mid-1970s, started with modest goals, allowing landowners to chip in for road improvements and the like when new homes appeared likely to strain city services.

The system has evolved into a form of taxation on the industry and new homeowners, said Mike Toalson, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Virginia.

“The bill was brought forward to rebalance it back to a system that would make it more fair,” said Toalson, who worked with legislators.

The law stipulates that developers should offer money or improvements only for impacts “specifically attributable” to their projects.

The proffers are also now restricted to core public facilities such as schools or sewer systems. Toalson said his association saw some cities extract money from developers for unrelated, offsite enterprises such as retirement homes.

“We’re not going to be the bank anymore for whatever you might want within your capital improvements program,” he said.

As you can see from your Capital Improvement Plan Public Hearing this evening,  Albemarle County has failed to maintain the concurrence of infrastructure needed to support its existing population.  This failure is not the result of newly rezoned property but is in fact due to a lack of a political will to spend the money required to enact the vision stated in your much vaunted Comprehensive Plan.

Despite having no budgetary control, this Planning Commission has often raised concerns regarding the amount of work being placed on limited staff resources.  Mr. Lafferty, in particular, has raised this issue in many of your discussions.

Reading the new proffer legislation, we believe it would be irresponsible for Albemarle staff to move forward without a determination of the total staff cost associated with the calculation, collection and defense of the cash proffer policy for each and every rezoning.  The Proffer Paradox is that the likely revenue generated from a standard size rezoning in Albemarle County will be exceeded by the staff costs associated with obtaining the proffer.

WarGames-are we still playingThis is where WarGames comes in.

In the climactic scene, where a rouge computer is running all the models for thermonuclear war, as it is quickly decoding the numbers needed to launch the missiles – it determines that the only way to win is not to play – will Albemarle be smart enough to see this as the solution to their cash proffer policy? Or will the potentially empty proffer piggy bank be too alluring to refuse?

Stay Tuned.

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

Photo Credits: MGM

Fluvanna Gets Brewery and Assistant Administrator

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna County is about to get its first brewery after unanimous approval from the Board of Supervisors.

foamy-pint-smallAntioch Brewery is looking to get started as a home industry on Branch Road. The brewery has spent a year testing and learning from around the area because it didn’t have approval yet.

The brewery will not have a tasting room but the goal is to eventually have a public tap room in a Fluvanna location but not the same property.

The capacity of the home industry allows 40 gallons a batch and approximately two batches a day. It will use well water and representatives of the organization think the Fluvanna well water helps the taste of the trial runs.

“I don’t see any adverse effects to the neighbors,” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District) about the application.

Eric Dahl

Eric Dahl

In other business, the county has a deputy county administrator. Eric Dahl, the finance director, was promoted to deputy county administrator and finance director.

The county last had an assistant county administrator in 2010 when Shelly Wright was the assistant county administrator to Cabell Lawton. When Lawton resigned in early 2010, Wright served as interim. Wright left later in that year and the job was never filled.

With the county trimming the budget to bare bones in the last several years, adding a job of at least $100,000 in salary plus benefits never made it past the, “that seems nice” phase.

Dahl will get a total raise of $12,000 with an initial bump from the county immediately then an additional two percent when the state raises take effect in December. Dahl will make $82,000. [clarification 11:52 5/24 NW]

According to county administrator Steve Nichols, Madison County is advertising a job of the same title for $85,000. Dahl was the full time finance director with a budget analyst also in his department. That position is currently vacant.

Supervisors voted 3-1 to promote Dahl with Weaver voting against it. Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) was absent.

“I have some reservations,” said Weaver. He felt raising someone so

Weaver2014

Supervisor Don Weaver

significantly in one year was too much. Weaver regularly wants items like these to be discussed in the budget calendar.

Nichols already started grooming Dahl for the new job by sending him to an out of county meeting that Nichols usual attends. The week preceding Memorial Day, Dahl is the county administrator designate as Nichols will be on vacation.

The next meeting of the supervisors is June 1 at 4 p.m. Supervisors also scheduled a work session before the 7 p.m. June 15 meeting. The work session will be on water infrastructure policy, economic development and revenue enhancement.

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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

Photo Credit: BeerLegends.com, LinkedIn, Fluvanna County

Greene Repair Shop Seeks Revision to SUP

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In October, 2014 Ronald Snoddy got approval from the Greene County Board of Supervisors for a Special Use Permit to expand his vehicle restoration business at his home on Matthew Mills Road . His plan was to construct a new building of 6,000 SF – but it never happened.

Snoddy has since revised his expansion plan and decided to expand his business but not by constructing a new structure, he is requesting to add on to the existing building on the property. However, the expansion puts the addition to the back of his property – a different location than the new building previously approved.

The real issue seems to be the paint booth and the concern with noise and fumes that it may generate.  Snoddy indicated that he operates the booth from 10am to 4pm but he would like to expand the operation to 7am to 4 pm.

Three people addressed the commission during the public hearing. The first speaker indicated that he is an expert in the paint booth equipment and is available to answer any questions about the process. He indicated that the equipment is inside and the air is filtered several times before it is released outside. It is possible that the process could be modified to lower the noise to the outside.

The other two speakers were Snoddy’s neighbors and spoke in opposition to the Special Use Permit (SUP16-002) . Skip Forbes lives behind Snoddy and he can smell the fumes from the paint process. He has measured the noise from Snoddy’s business and said it registers 69 DB. He can also hear grinding and pounding when he is outside of his home. Finally, he is concerned about the impact the business will have on his property value. Michael Dubell pointed out that Snoddy did not do what the original Special Use Permit was for so how can he amend the Special Use Permit?

The commissioners then discussed the request. Commissioner John McCloskey asked about the expansion site.  Snoddy stated he put the mechanicals inside to cut down the noise and his wife can barely hear his equipment in her beauty salon which is located in their home.   McCloskey asked how the paint fumes are handled and Snoddy explained that the fumes pass through multiple air filters before being released to the air.

Chairman Jay Willer stated that Snoddy is not in compliance with the Special Use Permit from 2014 and this new request would have to be approved to be in compliance.  Snoddy said he had no intent to build 60 x 100 ft. building which was approved in 2014 but may do a 20 x 40 ft. addition.

Commissioner Vic Schaff made a motion to recommend denial of the request since the original Special Use Permit was not followed and the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny the Special Use Permit with Commissioner Frank Morris voting in favor. As in all cases, the action will go to the Board of Supervisors for their review and final action. 

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene County Youth Center Goes To Bat For Financial Support

By Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the May 10th  Greene County  Board of Supervisors meeting the 2016/17 budget was approved. At the same meeting, Greene County Youth Center (GCYC) President,  David Mack addressed the Board about their future infrastructure  needs.

imageMack explained that the GCYC is an all volunteer organization headed by a 12 member Board of Directors serving rotating three year terms. The center provides spring and fall baseball and softball for over 300 youth. The focus of their request is for financial assistance to  improve their athletic facilities off Route 33 west of US29, behind the Ruckersville fire hall.

GCYC’s main source of funds is from fundraising efforts such as the recent Bingo event which raised $6,000 and the concessions at the games which raise from $25,000 to $30,000 per year. The major facility improvement this year has been to overhaul the batting cages and enclosing them. The Swing

The next major task on their infrastructure improvement agenda is to refurbish 3 of the 4 ball fields at an estimated cost of $25,000 per field plus providing lights for the fields at a cost of $100,000. This year the 12 & Under District tournament will be held in Ruckersville which will attract many teams from outside of Greene County.

The GCYC is requesting financial assistance to help finance these projects for the enjoyment of the youth of Greene County.  The GCYC believes their programs provide important services to the citizens.

Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) asked when the Greene County Parks and Recreation stopped providing this activity. Mack believed it was approximately a dozen years ago and at that point the county department  only offered t-ball for the very young.

Supervisor Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) asked about the direct costs to the players. Mack said that player fees range from $75 to $95 and there is a financial aid program to assist those unable to pay.

In terms of the cost to GCYC to provide the different level of programs, t-ball is the least expensive with no umpires and a much lower level of insurance. The teenagers require an insurance cost of more than three times that of the t-ball program.

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) thanked Mack for making the presentation and reminded him to bring these issues up at the next (FY18) budget cycle. It should be noted that the FY17 budget just approved has no funds appropriated for GCYC.

In a related note, the only speaker from the public at the beginning of the meeting asked that with all of the funds needed in the school system that the Board of Supervisors should not provide funds to organizations outside the county’s operation.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits: Greene County, Greene County Youth Center, Frydl  Campaign

Ripping of the Rio GSI Band-Aid

By. Neil Williamson, President

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

“This is gonna hurt” — Taking off a Band Aid, you know there will be pain.  There are two diametrically different schools of thought regarding bandage removal: slowly easing it off the wound, or ripping it of swiftly.  The US29/Rio Grade Separated Interchange (GSI) project is clearly the latter of the two.

In both the skinned knee and the road construction project, the merit of the “rip it off” option is reduced duration (if not intensity) of pain.

Please let me explain what I have learned about this ‘short term’ pain which will start May 22nd.

As it has every night in recent months, at 9 pm on Sunday May 22nd the U.S. 29/Rio Road intersection will close to cross traffic; the difference is this time it will not reopen at 6 am on May 24th.  Vehicles will be allowed to turn right onto Rio and Rio traffic will be allowed to turn right onto U.S. 29 but the cross over will close. On U.S.  29 two southbound lanes and three northbound lanes will be maintained between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

A milling crew in action

Starting the night of the 22nd, the construction crews will begin digging out the asphalt (about three feet deep) and earth required to construct the bridge in the center of the intersection.  Two different milling crews will utilize two ten hour shifts and a total of thirty trucks to move the 60,000 yards of dirt and millings from the Grade Separated Interchange project up US 29 to the Berkmar Extended project where it will be stockpiled.

 

The dump truck fleet will be coordinated by a contractor spotter that will have the ability to stop traffic at the existing temporary light at Berkmar Drive.  Trucks will cue in the construction area on the southbound side and when the spotter turns the light red for US 29 traffic, the trucks will complete a U turn to head North on US 29 up to Towncenter drive and then take Dickerson South to Earlysville Road and then Rio Mills Road.
The clearing will start in the center but then alternate between the north and south side of the bridge.  It is important to note that two lanes Southbound and three lanes Northbound will remain open during from 6 am – 9 pm.  At night, the lane closures will be more significant (similar to today’s nigh time pattern).

As the excavators are doing their work on either side of the bridge, carpenters will be utilizing pre-tied rebar to install lagging for the retaining walls. As the earth on either side of the bridge are appropriately dropped, the clearing of earth under the bridge deck can begin and the piers that have already been poured (under the steel plates we have been driving over) can be exposed.

 

VDOT bridge engineer Brad Chapman inspects a bridge abutment under the construction of US29/Rio.  The abutment is covered by steel plates during the day

All 60,000 yards of dirt and millings will be cleared from the site by June 15, 2016.  To be clear, a fleet of 30 trucks will be going up and down US29 for 20 hours everyday for 23 days.  It will be an intensive, albeit short, clearing period.

 

The plan calls for the bridge beams to be placed starting on May 26th (a mere 39 hours after the intersection closes), with the concrete for the deck itself to be poured on top of the beams in June.

Everyone involved in this project has a high level of confidence in the safety as well as the integrity of the plans.  It is the consensus opinion that the contractor Lane/Corman will complete the majority of the work ahead of the contract requirements.

The Five Million Dollar Day.  Based on our analysis of the documents presented, and the level of confidence expressed by the contractor, the project administrator and engineers working on the project, Free Enterprise Forum believes the contractor will substantially complete the project on or before August 5, 2016 thus qualifying for the $6,829,209 incentive, that drops to $1,854,361 on August 6, 2015.

To qualify for the financial incentive, the contractor must meet a number of specific objectives including the ability for all lanes of the new interchange to be open for daytime traffic (6 am  – 9 pm).  This means not all the work will be done, but all the work that requires daytime closure will be completed.  It is anticipate the nighttime lane closures (such as we have now) will continue through December 2016.

While the Free Enterprise Forum remains steadfastly opposed to the Rio GSI, we have been impressed with the level of detail, safety and professionalism of the contractor.  We are also supportive of the financial incentive that shortens the construction period and lessens the pain for all involved.

Once more with feeling, we supported the other Route 29 solution projects (Berkmar Extended, Hillsdale Extended, US29 Widening, US29/250 Interchange improvements, Synchronized lights) but we believe the community would have been better served without the Rio GSI. We continue to believe citizens do not know Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan calls for 7 of these “intersection improvements”. Whether they admit it or not the expressway is coming.

That being said, if you are going to rip a Band Aid off, you know the pain is coming,  the quicker you do it the better.

Respectfully Submitted,
Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

Photo Credits: VDOT

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