Hide and Seek – Albemarle Comp Plan Revealed

By. Neil Williamson, President

After the Free Enterprise Forum post yesterday, [Why Is Albemarle Hiding Their Comp Plan Proposal?] I received several e-mails asking if this was a nefarious attempt by someone to hide the plan – the answer is clearly NO. But the plan has been in hiding.

echols

Elaine Echols

Elaine Echols, principal planner for Albemarle County and lead on the Comprehensive Plan project called me this morning concerned that the blog was incorrect.  The plan was not hiding at all it was right there out in the open on the world wide web for all to see.

She showed me on the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan Web Page the following:


THE DRAFT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN IS NOW AVAILABLE!!
PLEASE CLICK
HERE TO VIEW 

New Solid Waste Recommendations

Board directed changes to January 23, 2014 Draft Comprehensive Plan

Updates to Website for Comp. Plan Draft 10/7/14

Past Planning Commission review of the Comprehensive Plan

Looking at the 5 choices above, which hotlink would you as a citizen choose to get the draft of the Comprehensive Plan?

If you chose Door Number 3 “Board Directed Changes to January 23, 2014 Draft Comprehensive Plan” you would be a winner(here is the link).

Based on the above, we must retract the statement that the Board directed changes are not available to the public.  The Free Enterprise Forum contends the Board changes are not readily available to the public. Echols agreed to disagree with me regarding the transparency of this information.

We contended that this big happy button on the left side of the Albemarle County Home Page that says “Comprehensive Plan Update” should take citizens to the most recent update – not an out of date iteration.  Echols indicated it does not do that “yet”.

Considering the vastness of the document, the Free Enterprise Forum remains disappointed that the logical button fails to deliver the latest information “yet”

According to Echols, the advertisement for the June 10th Public Hearing goes live on Friday, May 22.  Staff plans to have the “Comprehensive Plan Update” button properly send citizens to the most up to date version by no later than Monday morning “even if they have to come in over the weekend to get it done”.

Staff is open to phone calls and e-mails from concerned citizens about any and all aspects of the Comprehensive Plan.  Echols e-mail is eechols@albemarle.org and the phone number for Community Development is 434-296-5832

The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the significant effort staff is putting into the plan but wonders if they have enough resources to get the job done properly or perhaps Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan is bigger than it needs to be?

No, there is not a nefarious attempt to mislead the public, but the Free Enterprise Forum continues to believe the public, perhaps inadvertently,  may have been misled.

Stay Tuned.

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

Photo Credits: Charlottesville Tomorrow 

Why Is Albemarle Hiding Their Comp Plan Proposal?

alb comp plan revision 1By. Neil Williamson, President

Over the past five weeks, the Free Enterprise Forum has been reviewing (for the 14th time) Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan.

Or at least we thought we were.

It turns out the significantly edited version staff has provided to the Board of Supervisors for their review and discussion is not available to the public.

The Free Enterprise Forum has obtained a copy of the redlined version of the Comp Plan and compared it to the version currently available online.  They are radically different documents.

Please let me explain.

As an example the overarching Goal of the Development Area Plans according to the official draft (Dated January 23, 2015) reads:

Albemarle’s Development Areas will be made up of high quality, mixed-use urban neighborhoods and employment centers that are walkable and adequately supported by services and facilities.

The Supervisors however have a draft (Dated February 25, 2015) that is best described as  more different:

Albemarle’s Development Areas will be vibrant active places with attractive neighborhoods, high quality, mixed use areas, thriving business and industry, all supported by services, infrastructure, and multimodal transportation networks.

We will hold off discussing the merits of the language until our series later this month but why not allow the public to see what the Supervisors are going to be discussing?

In the Rural Area Chapter the Supervisors edits are more severe and still unseen by the public.  In the version online (dated January 23, 2014) accessed 5/18/15 Consideration for more permissive ordinance amendments regarding breweries and distilleries are mentioned:

Strategy 2d: Consider amending the Zoning Ordinance to allow for small-scale beer and spirits production in the Rural Area. Ordinance amendments should clearly define the minimum amount of produce to be grown on site.

The recent success of farm wineries in Albemarle County and microbreweries in adjoining Nelson County have prompted several requests to pursue beer production as well as production of spirits. Full-scale breweries use complex manufacturing processes and large quantities of water, so they are more appropriately located in the Development Areas. Microbreweries, on the other hand, can operate at a much smaller level. The main difference between breweries and wineries is the crop used for processing. Grapes traditionally grow in Albemarle County, but grains and hops are not typically grown in the County. In addition, the quantity of grains and hops needed for a brewery is much larger than the amount of grapes needed by a winery. Microbreweries often also rely on restaurants for their business, which are not recommended in the Rural Areas. If a microbrewery were to be developed at a small scale where onsite tasting activities resembled those of a winery, it might be an appropriate use. If a microbrewery needs a restaurant use in order to be viable, it would need to be located in the Development Areas.

Some property owners have also expressed an interest in placing distilleries in the Rural Areas. Distilleries can have a direct relationship to locally produced fruits and grains and, unlike breweries, have low water requirements. If fruit or other crops are grown locally, a distillery might be appropriate in the Rural Area. The scale of the distillation operation would need to be small enough that it didn’t generate a major trucking or water demand. The State Alcoholic Beverage Commission should be consulted as it regulates this use differently than breweries and wineries.

In the Supervisors version (Dated November 13, 2014) but not available to the public – ALL OF THE ABOVE LANGUAGE IS REMOVED.

Do you think the document is different absent this passage?  These are just two examples  there are literally HUNDREDS more.

First and foremost, The Free Enterprise Forum alerted Albemarle County officials of our concerns over three weeks ago.  At the time we were assured it was a technical error and it would be fixed.  We remained quiet and waited for the fix.

Today, after confirming the change has not been made, we are raising the alarm.

As we are less that one month away from the public having their last opportunity to voice their concerns about the plan – It would be helpful if we could be singing from the same sheet of music.

In addition, we are concerned such faulty notification may legally nullify the proper advertisement of the Comprehensive Plan Public Hearing and further elongate this four year odyssey.

Regardless of your position on the content of the plan – Albemarle citizens have a right to see what is under consideration.

Don’t they?

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

Photo Credits: Towdistributing.com

Greene Extends Permit for Recycling Center

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Greene County’s Apex Corporation / Larry and Barbara Hall requested an extension of their Special Use Permit (#15-004) to make up for delays that has impacted their recycling operation north of Lowes off Route 29 southbound at the May 12th Board of Supervisor meeting.

imageThe original SUP (#14-006) was approved on May 27, 2014. The Planning Commission approved the revised SUP last month with only the elimination of the screening requirement being changed.

Brent Hall spoke for his parents and explained that it has taken 8 months to get the site plan approved. Rapidan Service Authority (RSA)  continues to be an issue to be resolved. Hall is requesting that the SUP be extended by 8 months and that the screening requirement be eliminated since it would actually require the cutting down of existing trees and replacing them 6 foot high trees which would not be as high.

The hearing was then open to the public but no one signed up to comment. The hearing then shifted to the Board. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) stated he attended the Planning Commission meeting last month and he agreed with the Planning Commission’s approval of the extension. Supervisor Eddie Deane (At Large) apologized to the applicant for not noticing that requiring the 6’ evergreens wouldn’t make sense.

Hall was asked to clarify the issue with RSA and he explained that first he had been connected to RSA but then they disconnected his operation. Lamb asked the Board who should be providing water to the property – RSA or Greene County? Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) stated that the Halls would need an EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit) to access water. Hall stated that they currently own 13 EDUs so that was not an issue. The issue is that he doesn’t want to use an EDU for a temporarily use. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway District) interjected that the source of water was not part of the SUP. But if they did not want to use an EDU to hook up then they would need to secure their water from RSA.  Deane was sympathetic to the Halls problem and that they pay over $60,000 in taxes to the county and “we don’t want to push businesses out of Greene.”

Frydl addressed Hall’s reference to how Albemarle County would be more accommodating than Greene County. However, Frydl stated that zoning violations in Albemarle County are fined $200 and then there is an ongoing fine of $500 for every 6 days that you are in violation. Greene County however allowed the Halls to not be fined before they received their original SUP. Frydl further addressed the charge of the county delaying the process by 8 months. According to his research, the county took 55 days to handle the SUP. Other departments, such as the Health Dept., caused the additional delay. So for that reason Frydl stated he could not support the extension to the SUP.

Martin understood why there is no need to replace the trees per the original SUP. However, he did not see the need to extend the SUP, similar to Frydl’s position. Chairman David Cox’s only comment was that he agreed that the 6’ trees should not have been required.

The final issue discussed was whether there was a need to require a performance bond to ensure that the land would be returned to an acceptable level for A1 zoning. Martin asked Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda what is needed and what the cost might be. Svoboda answered that there is a fee based on acreage but that the potential removal of rock would have to be investigated to see what costs might be involved. Cox asked Hall if he knew what the cost might be. Hall said he didn’t plan on leaving any material but there was already and ENS bond to protect the land which should suffice for stabilizing the property. Cox commented that he didn’t see the need for a performance bond.

With no other comments Supervisor Deane proposed that the extension be approved for the SUP. Lamb seconded the motion. Frydl and Martin voted against the SUP, with Deane, Cox and Lamb voting  in favor of the SUP extension.  therefore the Halls will have until February, 2017 to finish their recycling operation.

As the meeting was moving on to the next agenda item and the Halls were exiting the meeting, Deane addressed the Halls by stating – “don’t leave us” in asking the Halls not to move their development out of Greene County.

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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

“Nero” – Albemarle’s US29 Business Assistance Program Delayed

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

nero-plays-while-rome-burns-w450A popular (and generally debunked) legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero played the fiddle during the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64. This story has given rise to the idiom “fiddling while Rome burns”, which means to occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a crisis.

Given the different rates of production between the public and private sectors, this idiom may be appropriate in the Albemarle County’s laborious discussion of potential business assistance for those impacted by the Route 29 Solutions.

In yesterday’s (4/30) Route 29 Solutions Project Delivery Advisory Panel (PDAP) meeting, Lane-Corman, the contractor for the projects indicated currently they are on schedule and will meet or beat all the deadlines in the project timeline.

In a previous meeting, Lane-Corman indicated that their target completion date for the first project, the Rio/US29 Grade Separated Interchange is August 5, 2016.  This date is an important milestone in the “No-Excuses” incentive portion of the project contract:

The Design-Builder will receive a “no excuses” incentive payment in the amount of Eight Million Dollars ($8,000,000) if the Milestone One Completion Work is completed on June 29, 2016. For every day after June 29, 2016 the Design-Builder takes to complete the Milestone One Completion Work, the incentive will decrease at a daily rate of Thirty One Thousand Six Hundred Forty three Dollars ($31,643) until August 5, 2016 when the “no excuses” incentive payment for Milestone One Completion Work will be Six Million Eight Hundred Twenty Nine Thousand Two Hundred Nine Dollars ($6,829,209).

The Design-Builder will receive a “no excuses” incentive payment for Milestone One Completion Work in the amount of One Million Eight Hundred Fifty Four Thousand Three Hundred Sixty One Dollars ($1,854,361) if the Milestone One Completion Work is completed on August 6, 2016. For every day after August 6, 2016 the Design-Builder takes to complete the Milestone One Completion Work, the incentive will decrease at a daily rate of Thirty One Thousand Six Hundred Forty Three Dollars ($31,643) until September 2, 2016 when the “no excuses” incentive payment for Milestone One Completion Work will be One Million Dollars ($1,000,000).

US29 solutions Incentives

While the financial incentives seem to be keeping the private sector moving ahead of the agreed upon schedule, the same can not be said for the public sector.  As a part of the PDAP meeting, Albemarle County’s Community Development Director Mark Graham revealed that the county’s long anticipated Business Assistance Program that was scheduled for discussion at the Board of Supervisors in May has been delayed and now will not be on their agenda until June.  Graham cited the desire for increase business engagement as the rationale for the delay.

The Free Enterprise Forum has advocated for the business assistance program to include a relaxation of sign regulations to increase the visibility of businesses impacted by construction [US 29 Business Assistance – The Least Albemarle Can Do].

In the April 16th meeting, PDAP Moderator Philip Shucet clearly indicated that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) policy does not govern business signs on private property.

rio corners signage draft

CORNER DESTINATION SIGNS- DRAFT

VDOT is appropriately focused on those things it can control in its right of way.  One may have differing opinions of the signage (or place names) currently under consideration but at least they are moving forward.

Albemarle County has been discussing their business assistance program for over a year and now enterprises will have to wait another month to see what, if anything, the County will be willing to do to help them survive the construction and post construction period.

In the time the County has been discussing this program the private sector has responded to the request for bids, had bids awarded, been given the notice to proceed and these transportation  projects are underway.

Considering the significant contact over the fifteen months between county officials and businesses and the speed of the construction projects – the Free Enterprise Forum finds this latest delay, to “better engage the business community”, difficult to swallow.

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

Photo Credits: sodahead.com, VDOT

Greene Supervisors Increase Tax Rate

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Dozens of voters showed up at the Raymond Dingledine Performing Arts Center for Greene County’s public hearing on setting next year’s budget and the tax rates on Tuesday, April 28th. Greene’s Administrator John Barkley  outlined the budget process to help fund the core services of the county – the schools, fire, rescue, parks, etc. [VAVoters.org has the video of Barkley’s budget introduction here.]

The advertised property tax rate was proposed at $.75/$100 of assessed value  (up from $.72/$100) driven mainly by the 3% increase in school funding to increase staffing due to growth in the number of students.

Bob Young 4 Supervisor - Photo credit campaign

Bob Young

After the introduction, Chairman David Cox opened the public hearing. The first speaker was announced candidate for At-Large Supervisor Bob Young.

Young expressed concern over the county continually drawing from the reserve fund to balance recent budgets including the proposed budget for 2015/2016. This year the reserve fund was drawn down by $4 million and the new budget shows $3.2 million from the reserve fund being used to balance the budget. He further expressed concern that without the reserve fund the equalization rate would have to be over $.90/$100 of assessed value.

Other public comments ranged from concern that low income housing drives up personal property taxes, concern of fixed income people paying higher taxes, the need to provide a future water supply for the county, etc. Some of the comments were off topic and focused on procedures within the county office building.

William Shifflett brought a county personnel issue that regarding a loan of $5,200 to Administrator John Barkley from the BOS for Virginia Retirement Service (VRS)  contributions. In addition, several comments were made related to the process within the county related to Special Use Permits.

Sharon Mack - Linked In

Sharon Mack

Finally, Sharon Mack from the Greene County School Board thanked the Board of Supervisors for considering increasing the schools budget to address the increasing student enrollment. In addition, the proposed budget includes a 2% increase for Virginia Retirement System funding and a 2% raise for staff.

The meeting then shifted to the Board of Supervisors who discussed the budget and tax rates. Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) spoke first and expressed concern about the financial condition of the county and the declining reserve fund.

eddie_deane

Supervisor Eddie Deane

He pointed to the auditor’s comments about the county being stable but declining. He believes that the county has dropped below the minimum reserve balance that it has established and he stated he could not vote to pass this budget in his last year of being a supervisor.

Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) stated he concurred with Deane and that the equalization rate would be $.92/$100 of assessed value if there was no contribution from the reserve fund. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) stated that the reserve fund is not below the level set by the Board of Supervisors and that the water empowerment is causing the need to draw funds from the reserve fund. $2 million dollars is needed for Water and Sewer and Water Empowerment. Addressing the public comment regarding the  loan to Barkley, Frydl said it was due to a mistake made with his VRS contribution and the employee should not be penalized.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville) stated that the Board of Supervisors needs to stand together and that Supervisor Deane had made the comment during the budget process that the budget is “cut to bare bones”. The school faculty and staff is the lowest in the area and a 3.3% increase is not outrageous. Part of the budget issue in recent years is the lack of sale of Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDUs) certificates when the water and sewer project was completed. He appreciated Young’s willingness to get involved and invited others to attend future Board meetings and run for office.

Martin believes that Greene County is managing through the recession better than most counties in the area. The fact that the population in Greene’s schools is increasing  indicates that the county is attracting more residents. He further encouraged residents to speak to their state representatives about unfunded mandates being pushed down to the county level.

david_cox

Chairman David Cox

Chairman David Cox (Monroe) has heard of horror stories of other counties not addressing the need for water. He agreed that Greene must keep going forward in acquiring land for the water supply. He appreciated the departments tightening their budgets and he is comfortable with the budget being presented tonight.

Deane stated that he felt that the personal property tax rate should be increased by $.03/$100 of assessed value so that there is not a larger increase next year. Frydl made a motion to accept the $.75/$100 rate and Supervisor Lamb seconded the motion which then passed on a vote, 5-0.

Photo Credits: Bob Young Campaign, Greene County, Lined in

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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

Fluvanna Increases Tax Rates

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna BOS_group2014_smThe Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors passed the budget on a unanimous vote for the second time in three years.

The budget season was without much fanfare besides the long work session that set up the final budget. No residents even spoke at the public hearing. The advertised budget of $68.3 million passed without further discussion on April 15.

The real estate tax rate goes from $0.86 (equalized) to $0.899 per $100 assessed. The personal property rate goes from $4.15 to $4.35 per $100 assessed.

Before the board passed the budget and corresponding tax rates, it did vote to de-fund five previously approved capital improvement plans totaling $505,000. That will help offset some costs for this year’s capital improvement plan.

LMVFD LogoThe bulk of the April 15 meeting was spent on a rezoning request from the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad. The LMVFRS has purchased land adjacent to its current property in hopes of expanding the original building.

The current property is zoned R-4 and the purchased property is A-1. The plan is for the expansion of the building to straddle the property line. In order to do so, the county advises for the property in total to have the same zoning.

LMVFRS, in requesting the rezoning, offered proffers to eliminate the R-4 by-right opportunities of single-family dwellings, single-family attached dwellings and townhomes. The applicant did not proffer out multifamily dwelling.

Len Bozza, representative of the applicant, said he wanted to leave that option of a small multifamily building as a way to attract future volunteers. He said the volunteer organization could offer reduced rent to people who run a high percentage of calls.

The planned expansion of the building will only take up half of the six acres of the property. With the remaining three acres, a rental building of less than 10 units could be constructed.

Leaving that option almost stopped the rezoning. O’Brien moved to pass the rezoning but it couldn’t get a second.

Two neighboring residents were concerned with what the proffers left out. It also concerned three supervisors who were failing to second the motion. Bozza offered to proffer out the multifamily units. The rezoning then passed 5-0.

Supervisors will advertise an ordinance to allow participation in the Virginia Association of Counties/Virginia Municipal League  Virginia Investment Pool Trust Fund. To allow the county’s finance board to participate, the supervisors have to pass an ordinance, which requires a public hearing.

Participating in the investment pool will diversify the county’s investments and slight increase in revenue of county reserves. The net yield of the investment pool in February was 0.58%. The public hearing is scheduled for May 20.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Credits: Fluvanna County, Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department

Frustrated Developer Tells Greene PC He’s Had Enough–He’s Leaving

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Last week (4/15) the Greene County Planning Commission heard a request to amend an existing Special Use Permit (SUP# 14-006) from APEX, LLC / Larry and Barbara Hall . While the end result was what the applicant requested, the discussion at the public hearing left some citizens with questions regarding Greene County’s application and zoning enforcement processes.

IMG_20150423_081842545_HDR

Hall has a recycling center north of Lowes and he asked that the two year Special Use Permit (SUP)  be extended by eight months since he feels that the county delayed the process of issuing an approved site plan by that length of time.

As background, the recycling center initially started operations under the belief that it was a by right use, only later to learn that the use required a special use permit.

The recycling center is a unique center in that it takes concrete and grinds it down to saleable product. The original SUP was to start on 5/27/14 but it took until 2/25/15 to resolve issues so that the site plan could be approved. In addition, Brent Hall, speaking for his father Larry, asked that the landscaping requirement be waived since in two years (or less) replacing the existing trees with a berm and smaller trees will not block as much as is now blocked.

IMG_20150423_083302829_HDR

In addition, the condition of having a dirt pile that has been removed from Rivanna Service Authority’s (RSA) right of way no longer is an issue since it has already been removed. These are the three changes to the SUP that staff and the Halls are seeking. Commissioner John McCloskey asked Svoboda if there have been any violations at the site to which Svoboda replied no.

Brent Hall  next addressed the Planning Commission and he bluntly stated he disagreed with some of the information Greene Planning Director Bart Svoboda included in his staff report and presentation.  Hall said that he has grown very frustrated in dealing with Greene County staff, specifically  Svoboda, and believes he has received contradictory directions.  Hall also said that he feels he has been lied to. Hall simply wants the SUP to be extended to 2/25/17, two years from the date when all the issues were resolved on 2/25/15.

Hall went further to state that the family would take their development to Albemarle County and are leaving Greene County. Further he stated that when Albemarle County gives a direction it is consistent and it can be relied upon as opposed to what he has experience in Greene County.

Hall explained his frustration with Greene County in that he would get a verbal ok to start work only to be told he was in violation of county regulations and had to stop and address a new issue.

IMG_20150423_081944833_HDRThere was no one signed up from the public to speak on the issue, so the discussion moved to the Commissioners. Commissioner John McCloskey  was in favor of extending the Special Use Permit to 2/25/17.

Commissioner Eva Young asked Hall if he had received answers to his questions. Hall replied that at one time he sent 8-10 emails with no reply and he felt that the process was intentionally being delayed. Commissioner Frank Morris was extremely concerned about the process being held up and he would prefer that businesses be supported in their efforts.

When Hall was questioned about future development in Greene from the commissioners he again stated that he has no plans to further develop in Greene County and he is going to Albemarle County since he doesn’t want to deal with the difficulties he has encountered in Greene.

The details of the Special Use Permit were all modified to the Halls’ request plus the elimination of the requirement of disposing of the dirt pile per RSA’s right of way. The easy part of the hearing was approving the SUP – the much harder part may prove to be researching and resolving the process issues raised by the applicant and finding a new user for the highly visible US 29 location.

Photo Credits: Free Enterprise Forum taken 23 April 2015

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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

Fluvanna Supervisor Ullenbruch Not Running

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna County Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch will not seek re-election for the Palmyra District seat, despite speculation and reading into recent public comments.

Ullenbruch released the following written statement to the Free Enterprise Forum:

Ullenbruch2014

Fluvanna Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch

Since I will be moving out of the Palmyra District at the end of my present term and moving to Cape Cod, I will not be seeking re-election to the Board of Supervisors.

It is a time in my life where I want to be close in proximity to my grandchildren and family. My parents are aging and other health issues with family members were defining factors in planning the move.

I would like to thank the members of the Fluvanna Republican Committee for the encouragement and ever continued support. I need to give the Committee time to recruit a viable candidate for the Palmyra District Seat.

Finally, I would like to thank my constituents. I have enjoyed serving the Palmyra District throughout my term and look forward to finishing the year.”

Ullenbruch ran as a Republican in 2011, defeating incumbent John Gooch.

Often times in board votes Ullenbruch has sided with fellow Republican Don Weaver (Cunningham District).

Now the Palmyra seat is wide open for the 2015 election. So far obvious candidates to run for the seat are not clear. Board of Supervisors meetings have been scarcely attended, even during the budget season.

The other Supervisor seat up for re-election this cycle is in Fork Union. Early speculation is the incumbent, Mozell Booker,  will seek re-election but she has not commented on the matter.

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bryan-rothamel.jpgThe 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 Credits: Fluvanna County

Greene Supervisors Approve B&B

By. Brent Wilson Field Officer

The Greene County Board of Supervisors gave approval for a Bed and Breakfast on Route 33 west of Stanardsville just below the Shenandoah National Park at their April 14th meeting. Rob and Carmen Lynch represented three principals requesting a Special Use Permit on the nearly 14 acres zoned C-1 – Conservation.

Bart Svoboda, Director/Zoning Administrator,  presented the Special Use Permit (SUP# 15-002)  to the Board and explained that up to 13 units can be permitted which this particular SUP requests only 5 cabins and a lodge. A SUP can place restrictions similar to those that the Planning Commission proposed on March 18th when they unanimously approved the Special Use Permit. Svoboda stated that the SUP fit the county’s Comprehensive Plan by encouraging tourism and encouraging frequenting businesses in Greene County and that even though it is located outside the growth area it is near the Shenandoah National Park which has many tourists traveling Route 33. Mr. Lynch agreed with Svoboda in that the B&B fits well in the area and hopes that it will encourage tourists to spend their tourism dollars in Greene.

Bill Martin Greene County Supervisor

Greene County Supervisor Bill Martin

The lack of public comment clearly came as an endorsement for the project. The discussion amongst the Board members also indicated support for the project. Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District,  asked Mr. Lynch did they plan on the maximum number of people of 100. Lynch indicated that the 100 was the maximum the Planning Commission allowed and he felt that would not be the normal activity but special events might raise the number.

Supervisor Eddie Deane, At Large, didn’t believe this project would compete directly with Lydia Mountain Cabins  and that this project would attract more tourists to Greene County. Supervisor Jim Frydl, Midway District, thinks the location near Route 33 and the Shenandoah National Park  is good for this type of venue and it is a good application.

Supervisor Frydl made a motion to place the same restrictions on the Special Use Permit as the Planning Commission passed:

1) 6 cabins and 1 lodge

2) any renter is limited to 30 of 365 days per year

3) limit to 100 guests between 7 am to midnight

4) site approvals required

5) must be developed in accordance with the map in Special Use Permit

With no further discussion, the motion passed unanimously 5-0.

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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

US 29 Business Assistance – The Least Albemarle Can Do

By Neil Williamson, President

question-signLast night (4/7/2015)  the Albemarle County Planning Commission considered and approved changes to the temporary sign ordinance allowing 10 signs that will be removed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for the easements and construction of the US29/Rio Road Grade Separated Interchange.

Prior to their action the Free Enterprise Forum spoke as a part of the public hearing:

Tonight you have before you common sense regulatory relief for the 12 businesses that will lose their permanent signage during the utility relocation and construction of the Rio US29 Grade Separated Interchange.  This regulation will allow these businesses to erect temporary signage for the duration of the construction period.

Our long standing opposition to this project is well recorded. I continue to believe the costs far outweigh any limited benefits and it sets the stage for the eventual Albemarle Expressway that will decimate this important business corridor. Yes, the lost signage is just one of the ways many businesses will be impacted by the Rio GSI.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has already started discussions with business owners about just compensation for the signs scheduled to be removed.

Removal of these signs could start in just a few weeks’ time. We applaud staff for moving this up the agenda to assist the impacted business. We believe not only is this regulation change commonsensical – it is clearly the least you can do.

We look forward the staff promised phase two and phase three  of the signage review. It is our hope that businesses that have restricted visibility or limited access gain increased signage by right for the construction period and the six months after. Further, we ask that you use this opportunity to set up a provision in code that helps businesses during such road construction regardless of location.

The Free Enterprise Forum encourages you to approve the zoning ordinance before you and move it forward to the Board of Supervisors with all deliberate speed.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

While the Planning Commission acknowledged that Joes Diner arrowthere would be a lack of visibility for businesses during and after construction, staff made clear their position in opposition to any additional signage in this area.  Staff believes that VDOT’s proposed way finding signs will be more than adequate.

This temporary sign ordinance is really setting the tone for Albemarle’s Least You Can Do “Business Assistance Program”.

Here are the not so lofty goals of Albemarle’s “Business Assistance Program”:

Goals of the Program
 Provide accurate and complete information in advance to help businesses plan for the construction period
 Provide resource expertise to support affected businesses
 Create a rapid response communication network during construction that identifies critical business issues and responds to needs of businesses
 Ensure fair and equitable assistance for all qualifying businesses
 Leverage opportunities for partnership – take advantage of ideas, services and relationships that partners can offer to help businesses manage the challenges of construction
 Actively engage construction contractor to positively affect business outreach and support

This is significantly lower bar than was discussed when the projects were first proposed.  Clearly as the momentum for project construction increases the likelihood of significant resources being allocated to  businesses assistance has been reduced or eliminated.

Speaking last night of concerns regarding equity across the entire county, the Albemarle Deputy County Attorney minimized efforts to promote the construction challenged businesses via county communication tools.

Yes, Albemarle has a business assistance program for those impacted by the Route29 solutions projects – it is the least they can do.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson

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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

Photo Credits: VDOT, http://quovadisblog.com 

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