Albemarle as Princess Elsa

By. Neil Williamson, President

frozen_elsa-wideJust as in the 2013 Disney smash movie, last night the Albemarle Supervisors in a couple of split votes  have effectively “Frozen” new residential development.

The end result will, in due course, significantly increase housing costs and pressure on the rural area and by right projects.  Chasing the elusive cash proffer, Albemarle may lose the intent of its  community vision as expressed in the Comprehensive Plan. And all of this could have been avoided.

Please let me explain.

All of this is in response to a new state law (effective July 1, 2016) that was created to make proffers better reflect the specific impacts of a proposed residential development.  The goal of the legislation is to make cash proffers fair.

Unlike the 2013 state proffer reform that Albemarle County adroitly avoided via years of Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee (FIAC) meetings (18) followed by no action, the 2016 law put Albemarle into a flurry of activity ending with the repeal of their cash proffer policy but not the elimination of cash proffers.

It is becoming clear this strategic repeal of the soon to be illegal proffer policy was designed and timed not to facilitate new development but instead to provide Albemarle questionable legal leverage to reject cash proffer amendments filed prior to July.

As a result of this legal slight of hand, Albemarle seems to be eager to delay or deny any application that might set precedent due to any  cash proffers.

Further there are indications that Albemarle will seek to impose new higher fees to capture the staff time required to assess and calculate the exacting amount of financial impact of a development on the four permitted areas: education, transportation, public safety and parks.

This untimely chill on new residential development comes the same day as the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) market report (pdf) is released indicating:

Inventories are now one-third lower than the peak levels of 2010, when there were 2,812 active listings at mid-year and home prices were still searching for a bottom. At that point, there were 13.1 months of supply in the region and prices still had a few years left before bottoming out. Currently, the 1,836 active listings represent 7.3 months of supply given the average sales pace of the last twelve months. Still a buyer’s market, but trending towards balance compared to the 9.4 months of supply available last year.

If inventory is tightening and the supply of new homes is being “frozen” what does market economics predict regarding future housing affordability?

Absent proactive rezoning, such dramatically increasing development fees and dubious prospects for future rezonings will force many developers to either develop using stale zoning with in the development areas or build in the rural areas.

As we stated in our 2013 White Paper – Contradictory Consequences(pdf):

In addition cash proffers are an unreliable way to fund infrastructure spending.  Forecasting cash proffer revenue is much like predicting snow in Central Virginia, localities do not know when it is coming, how much they are actually going to get or when it will stop. Cash proffers rarely, if ever, total the amounts localities are banking on.

Based on this research, we believe local governments are starting to recognize the negative impacts of cash proffers. Localities are finding that just because the state legislature may empower the ability to collect cash proffers in may not be in the localities best interest to collect them.

The elimination of cash proffers will promote better community design and encourage new home construction invigorating the economic vitality of all localities

Cash proffers have produced a plethora of Contradictory Consequences without achieving significant benefit. Now is the time to repeal this rezoning ransom.

Albemarle is not alone reprising the role of Princess Elsa in this sad, cold, housing limiting  drama.  We have heard reports of similar “Freeze Everything” response to the new proffer reform from local governments across the Commonwealth.

While there are undoubtedly some who welcome this result, the Free Enterprise Forum believes that in time, just as in the movie, someone will come along and fix this problem, likely via a lawsuit forcing the Supervisors to do what they should have done with cash proffers in the first place:

Image result for let it go frozen

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

Neil 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: Disney, memecrunch.com

Greene Supervisors Deny Auto Shop SUP Amendment

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In their first July meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors denied a special use permit request that if approved would have amended an existing special use permit the terms of which are not currently being met.

Confused yet?  Here is the back story.

Ronald Snoddy received a Special Use Permit (SUP) on October 29, 2014 to expand his auto restoration home business on Mathew Mills Road (Route 607) with approval to construct a building at the back of his property to paint the cars that he restores.

In the 17 months that followed the SUP approval, Snoddy found a paint booth system small enough so that he would not need to construct a new building to house it and, in fact, it would fit in one of the existing buildings with some modifications. So Snoddy was able to avoid a significant expenditure and has been painting the automobiles that he is restoring. [Snoddy was issued a citation for being in violation of the 2014 SUP. He has appealed that violation. The appeal will be heard by the Board of Zoning Appeals on July 27th ]

At some point in the last few months, perhaps recognizing a lack of consistency with the  2014 SUP, Snoddy applied for a new SUP that more accurately depicted the placement and uses on his property.  Snoddy appeared before  the Greene County Planning Commission on May 18th to ask for a revision to SUP 14-009.

The Planning Commission recommended denial of the request on May 18th but as in all cases, the special use permit request goes forward to the Board of Supervisors. Snoddy presented the request to the Board of Supervisors  stating he felt he would be able to reduce the noise level of the paint booth and also reduce the emissions from the booth with a charcoal filter system.

The issue is that the building where he wants to locate the booth is close to one of his neighbors. In the public hearing, the neighbor near the location of the paint booth addressed the Supervisors and stated that the booth would be 50 feet from his property. He has concerns over the noise and emissions from the paint booth and sited that the issuance of a SUP requires that the character of the area not be changed which he feels the paint booth would change the character of the neighborhood where the originally approved location would not.

With the public hearing completed, the process shifted to a discussion of the Supervisors.

clip_image002

Michelle Flynn

Supervisor Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) stated that the original SUP clearly approved the construction of a separate facility at the back of the property which did not occur. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) clarified that the first SUP was for construction of a structure farther away from neighbors and would comply with screening requirements. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) stated he served on the Planning Commission in 2014 when the first SUP was approved and recalled that the location for the new structure was to be at a lower elevation and therefore the sound and fumes released would be reduced.

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) wanted clarification – are there really two issues being discussed. Planning Administrator Bart Svoboda explained that if the revision was approved then it would replace the original SUP. If the revision was denied, then the original SUP would still be in effect.

Cox indicated his desire to see the operation continue and while there is some noise the lot provides natural screening and he can understand why Snoddy doesn’t want to add the expense of a new building if he doesn’t have to.

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) was pleased with Snoddy’s approach with his neighbors. But he expressed concern that relocating the paint booth would adversely affect the neighborhood and he wasn’t sure why the building approved by the first SUP couldn’t be constructed.

Snoddy addressed the Board at this point and asked if he could have time to speak to his neighbors and address the noise/pollution issues and would the Board be willing to approve the SUP if the neighbor’s concerns were addressed?

Several supervisors expressed reservations about guaranteeing approval even if the neighbors were satisfied.

Flynn had concerns that Snoddy has violated the first SUP by not placing the paint booth in the structure that was approved. Martin asked why Snoddy changed the location of the paint booth and was told that he found a paint booth that would fit in one of his existing buildings.

clip_image004

Jim Frydl

Frydl  agreed with Flynn that Snoddy was currently operating illegally since he didn’t locate the paint booth per the approved SUP.

Martin asked Snoddy how much time he would need to make the changes to the system?  Snoddy stated up to 60 days.

Flynn stated that she could not guarantee that she would approve the new SUP even if the changes were made.

At that point, Snoddy asked for a brief recess and finally came back to the meeting and said he is requesting a deferral of 60 days with no guarantee of approval after that time. The Board voted 3-2 to not grant the applicant requested deferral. Another motion was made to deny SUP 16-002 which was approved 4-1 with Cox voting against the motion.

Despite the clarity of the decision several questions remain open:

  • What will Snoddy do with his current paint booth system?
  • Will he construct the building approved by SUP 14-009 or will he stop painting vehicles (even though he now owns a paint booth)?
  • Is Snoddy going to stop painting vehicles where he currently has the paint booth located since it is outside the original SUP and in violation of the law?

A number of these questions may be answered by the ruling of the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing and subsequent decision on July 27th.

Stay tuned.

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 Supervisors Approve Tower, Change Municipal Rezoning Regulations

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County  Board of Supervisors approved a relocation of a microwave tower at the Dominion Bremo Power Plant on July 5.

The new tower will be 1,400 feet from the current tower. Its new location requires it to be taller, coming in a 390 feet. Fluvanna is planning on also putting E-911 radio equipment on the lattice tower.

Weaver2014

 Don Weaver

Don Weaver (Cunningham District) raised concern the public didn’t realize the new tower will be 390 feet. He thought local residents would have concern with a taller tower. Staff said the tower is the same sea level height because the terrain is lower.

Also on July 5 supervisors approved including Columbia area property into the county’s special flood hazard district.

The state requires localities to designate flood areas in special flood hazard districts in order for the property owner to apply for federal insurance protection.

The Town of Columbia designated land, allowing residents to apply. When the town government disbanded, effective July 1, 2016, the county had to amend its districts to include the same land.

Supervisors also approved three changes to county ordinances that speeds up the approval process of the county rezoning land for public use.

Up until July 5, the county would have to pay fees to the county to review proposed county changes to land use. Essentially, it was a delay in the process as the county moved money from one account to another account.

Any proposed land changes will still have to be reviewed and necessary permits obtained, but the county will no longer pay itself to do the reviews.

Supervisors typically have slower summers so they will only have one meeting date in July. The next scheduled meeting is August 3 at 4 p.m.

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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

Albemarle New Tax Targets Small Businesses

By. Neil Williamson, President

An open letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

Dear Supervisors,

Thanks to restrictive land use decisions and other cost factors, many of the small businesses that service Albemarle County are located outside of the county limits. These enterprises are important players in our regional economy and, perhaps unknowingly, via your agenda item #23 you are about to stick it to them by requiring increased accounting and a new local tax all for a gain of just over $10,000 a year in revenue.

Please let me explain.

Currently any business located outside of Albemarle County with Albemarle gross receipts greater than $100,000 has to report that income and pay Business and Professional Occupational License (BPOL) Tax to Albemarle. The proposed ordinance drops the gross receipts threshold to $25,000.

Sec. 8-603 Contractors, developers, electricians, plumbers, steamfitters and speculative builders.

Each person engaged as a contractor, developer, electrician, plumber, steamfitter or speculative builder shall be subject to a license tax, and other provisions, as set forth herein:

A. Each contractor, developer, electrician, plumber, steamfitter or speculative builder contractor speculative builder or developer shall be subject to a license tax of sixteen cents ($0.16) for each one hundred dollars ($100.00) of gross receipts from the business conducted during the preceding fiscal or calendar year.

B. Each person engaged in the business of a contractor shall include in his gross receipts all work done, whether such work is done by contract, subcontract, day labor or time and material.

C. Each contractor who has paid a local license tax to another locality in which his principal office or branch office is located shall be exempt from obtaining a license and from paying a license tax to this county for conducting any such business within this county unless the amount of business done by any such person in this county is equal to or greater than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00). The amount of business done in the other locality in which the license tax is paid may be deducted by the person from the gross receipts reported to this county.

Nothing being proposed is illegal but just because you can does not mean you should.

Beyond the problematic issue of double taxation (will the entity continue to pay for ALL their gross receipts in their home locality), the Free Enterprise Forum is concerned about fairness to small business.

Consider the small family owned HVAC repair company located in Greene County. They do the majority of their work in Greene but from time to time they do work in Albemarle. Because this ordinance is based on gross receipts all of the pass through costs are included, if HVAC install is between $5,000 and $15,000 this company could only take on less than 5 such jobs a year or it has to file for business taxes in Albemarle.

The choice is for the small business to either not offer service to Albemarle or to increase its accounting costs and tax payment planning. Any increase in pricing will be passed along directly to the end user.

And what is the anticipated benefit to Albemarle?

From Albemarle Finance Director Betty Burrell’s staff report:

•  Sec. 8-603(C) – License Tax — threshold for out-of-County contractors – projected $10,250 revenue gain per year. Staff does not anticipate a significant budgetary impact from the other proposed revisions. [Emphasis added nw]

I understand state law has changed that will allow you to do this.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes this lower threshold will inadvertently increase administrative cost for already financially strapped small contractors and in the end harm Albemarle citizens with increased costs, reduced services or both.

Please retain the $100,000 threshold.  Thank you for your service to the community.

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.

Greene County Awards Reassessment Bid

By Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Greene County reassesses property values every two years and it is scheduled to happen again this fall. Two vendors  provided quotations including the firm that has performed the service the past two times – Pearson Appraisal Service Inc.

As a part of their June 28th meeting, County Administrator John Barkley  presented the two vendors quotations to the Board of Supervisors  for their review.

clip_image003Pricing from both vendors was based on the number of parcels included in the reassessment.

Blue Ridge Appraisal Company, LLC from Staunton submitted a quotation of $8.25 per parcel with an estimated number of parcels of 10,600 for a total cost of $87,500 using BAI Software .

Pearson Appraisal Service, Inc.   is located in Richmond, Va. and has done the last twopearsons appraisals for Greene County. The price quoted by Pearson’s per parcel was $5.96 for 10,400 parcels for a total cost of $61,984. In addition, for new appraisals a cost of $31.25 was quoted and it is estimated that there would be 24 parcels to appraise.

The total estimate from Pearson would be just under $63,000 vs. a budget of $62,000. Barkley felt certain that the price with Pearson could be negotiated down to the budgeted level. Barkley further explained that Pearson has a good reputation and does reassessments from Virginia all the way down to Georgia.

The timeline for the process would be to have the vendor complete the analysis by September 16th.

Notices would be mailed to property owners by November and the appeals process would take place in December of this year. With all of that completed the new rates would go into effect the first of 2017. After several clarifying questions the Board of Supervisors voted to award the reassessment process to Pearson.

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

July 1, 2016 – Unleashing Community’s Economic Power?

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

Today’s most radical ideas, may be commonsensical tomorrow.

RADICAL IDEA 1 – What if our zoning agreed with the community vetted Comprehensive Plan?

RADICAL IDEA 2 – What if local businesses looking to expand could do so without a year+ rezoning process?

RADICAL IDEA 3 – What if such an increasing commercial development increased the community’s job opportunities and tax base?

Each of these three “RADICAL” ideas could be made possible, perhaps even probable after July 1, 2016.

Please let me explain.

As many Forum Watch readers know, several new laws  go into effect on July 1st.  Perhaps the most significant to the work of the Free Enterprise Forum is proffer reform.  The hard fought reforms require “voluntary” proffers to have a specific, direct and material benefit to the residents who indirectly pay them.

Localities across the Commonwealth are wrestling with how to best meet the fairness demanded by the new code.  Albemarle County has repealed its cash proffer policy and has indicated it will no longer seek to mandate 15% of all new housing units be “affordable”.

While we opposed all cash proffers and affordable housing proffers since their inception, we choose today not to just celebrate this important victory but to also contemplate how the removal of this new home buyer punishment might actually free the community vetted comprehensive plan and increase economic vitality.

Image result for proactive As we have quietly discussed these ideas, there are some in local governments that are starting to recognize how removing the yoke of proffers makes PROACTIVE REZONING much more palatable.

Proactive rezoning is when a locality (with owner consent) takes the initiative and rezones land to match their comprehensive plan designation.  In practice, it makes it easier to develop to the uses and densities expressed in the community vetted Comprehensive Plan.

Proactive rezoning requires political will and in smaller cases (ie: Downtown Crozet District) often comes with flexible form based zoning regulations that dictate the shape of future development while preserving owners ability to utilize the code flexibly.  The  code is very clear:

The purpose of the Downtown Crozet District (hereinafter referred to as the “DCD”) is to establish a district in which traditional downtown development, as described for the CT6 Urban Core and CT5 Urban Center transects in the Crozet master plan, will occur.

To these ends, the DCD provides for flexibility and variety of development for retail, service, and civic uses with light industrial and residential uses as secondary uses. The regulations for the DCD are intended to promote a development form and character that is different from typical suburban development allowed by conventional zoning, and are also intended to: (i) promote the economic and social vitality and diversity of downtown Crozet; (ii) implement the Crozet master plan for the downtown area of Crozet so that it may serve as the commercial hub of Crozet and its environs; (iii) provide a greater mix of uses in downtown Crozet, including increased employment; (iv) facilitate infill and redevelopment; (v) increase the utility of the land; (vi) retain the uniquely diverse character of Crozet; and (vii) promote a pedestrian-friendly environment.

These regulations are intended to provide maximum flexibility in establishing uses and structures in order to implement the relevant policies of the Crozet master plan. [emphasis added-nw]

Prior to July 1, opponents of proactive rezoning used the incorrectImage result for ALbemarle rezoning rationale that landowners, through the extortion like proffer process, would fund the infrastructure needs of the entire community in order to get the rezoning they needed – the reality is that this has never been the case.

If proffers are taken off the table and a landowner still must meet all local, state and federal regulations prior to site plan approval, why then shouldn’t our zoning match our Comprehensive Plan?

Could it be that retaining the current subjective legislative review allows those opposed to specific projects (regardless of their accordance with the Comprehensive Plan) an opportunity to scuttle the community vision for the future?

Do citizens actively fight the implementation of the community approved Comprehensive Plan?  — You bet.

According to the Crozet Citizen Advisory Council (CCAC) minutes (February 2017) regarding a project that met the targeted population density in the Master Plan and is in the designated development area:

Leslie said that she thought the development is not at the right place. There would be too much traffic and at some point the CCAC needs to recommend that traffic and other infrastructure issues be dealt with before there is more growth.  Phil said that he opposes the project on the basis of density, and John Savage said that it is inconsistent with other uses along Route 250 there. [emphasis added-nw]

Wait a minute – I thought this was the group charged with implementing the Master Plan for increase density not opposing it?

While we take no position on this specific rezoning, this type of  obstructionism prevents the vision of the comprehensive plan from becoming a reality.

Proactively rezoning land for the density and uses determined in the comprehensive plan will significantly reduce the time it takes for a project to be approved without sacrificing existing protection for the community.

The time has come to make the zoning code match the aspirational ideals of the Comprehensive Plan.  Proactive Rezoning would significantly reduce the barriers to develop in the development areas and would unleash the economic power of the Community’s Vision.

Will any locality seize this powerful economic opportunity?

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: Albemarle County, Charlottesville Tomorrowhttp://wrightoncomputers.com.au

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

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