Affordable Housing Policy Makes Building Affordable Housing Impossible

By. Neil Williamson, President

Back in 2005, when Albemarle County instituted its 15% inclusionary housing regulation on all new residential rezonings, Overton McGee, then Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity CEO stated “It was a good first step”.  I was quoted in The Daily Progress “You just made housing less affordable to 85% of new home buyers”.    My larger economic point seemed to be lost on the reported but time has proven this paradoxical prognostication to be correct.

Please let me explain.

Considering the previous Habitat CEO’s position on mandated 15% affordable housing requirements, it is interesting what the current Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity CEO, Dan Rosensweig said at an Albemarle County work session last week.  From my Twitter feed:

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Recent news reports have highlighted the impact of inclusionary zoning.  The Economist Booming Seattle Struggles to Stay Affordable spoke of “the grand bargain”

Seattle’s proposed solution to this deadlock, unveiled in 2015, is known as the “grand bargain”. It would reduce restrictions and unleash building on big patches of city. In exchange, developers would have to reserve a few units for renting below the market rate or pay into an affordable-housing fund. Such schemes, known as “inclusionary zoning”, are increasingly common in progressive American cities. They can lead to more mixed districts and placate left-wing critics. But they are not without problems.

By reducing future earnings, inclusionary zoning acts as a tax on new development. If the affordability requirements are set too high, many new projects will not be built. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s progressive mayor, championed requirements that at least one-fifth of new units should be offered below the prevailing market rate. San Francisco sets the threshold as high as 30% and imposes a clutch of added “impact fees”. Developers complain that these fees suffocate all but the most lucrative projects—which then invite criticism as “luxury high-rises”.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County have heard the cry of building only high end product.  The perverse reality is that the affordable housing fees actually push against housing affordability.

Due to regulatory hurdles and outright prohibitions, there is a lack of price variety (and format) in the new products being constructed.  In Late July, Daniel Herriges of www.StrongTowns.org wrote of the oft mentioned ‘missing middle’ housing in his article “Why Are Developers Only Building Luxury Housing”.

Missing Middle housing—buildings containing anywhere from 2 to 19 units—can be a sweet spot when it comes to construction cost. Duplexes through fourplexes in particular are built in much the same way as single-family homes, but the cost of the land is distributed across multiple households. Even cheaper to build than a duplex or fourplex is an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). It’s no accident that a disproportionate share of America’s existing “naturally occurring” (i.e. without subsidy) affordable housing takes Missing Middle forms.

Unfortunately, we’ve pretty systematically outlawed the Missing Middle in many neighborhoods. Single-family homes are the only thing that can be built on 80% of residentially-zoned land in Seattle, 53% even in renter-friendly San Francisco, and 50% in Philadelphia, to name just a few cities. In suburbs, it’s common for over 90% of land to be zoned for single-family residences exclusively.

Robert Steuteville writing on www.CNU.org highlights the work of Dr. Arthur C. “Chris” Nelson of the University of Arizona regarding the market demand for the ‘Missing Middle’ housing:

This supply and demand mismatch is behind the need for “missing middle” housing, often built by small developers and builders. Meanwhile, the demand for large-lot single-family housing, the mainstay of the US building industry from the 1960s through 2008, is declining. Nelson’s research comes up again and again in discussions with thoughts leaders in small-scale urbanism. . .

. . .Nelson has been saying much the same thing for more than 10 years—yes, even before the housing crash—and he has been right so far. His numbers are based on demographics, demographic trends, market trends, and housing supply and construction data.

 

If we accept that the majority of the land available for development is designated to single family residential, and that there is a market demand for a different, more intense form of development, can regulations be relaxed to allow such increased density and perhaps increase the supply of missing middle (affordable) housing?

Over the last few years we have seen significantly more multifamily housing units come into Albemarle County Development Area housing mix:

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According to Adam Beltz of the Star Tribune, Minneapolis is now considering fourplexes as part of their affordable housing solution:

In a cityscape dominated by single-family homes, a proposal to allow four-unit residential buildings virtually everywhere in Minneapolis is stirring strong and conflicting feelings among neighborhood leaders.

A draft of the city’s updated comprehensive plan won’t be published until March 22 or completed until December, but the City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey were recently briefed on the high-level concepts, one of which is a historic rewriting of the zoning rules that would allow property owners to build fourplexes on any residential property in the city.

Middle Housing www.missingmiddle.com describes the fourplex as a medium structure that consists of four units typically two on the ground floor and two above with shared entry.  Typical unit size is between 500 – 1,200 square feet with a net density of between 15 to 35 dwelling units per acre.

How might such a proposal be received in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle’s development areas?

  • How could reducing the regulatory requirements increase housing affordability?
  • Would increasing the developable area of Albemarle positively impact affordability?
  • Would relaxing Charlottesville’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations assist in providing a bulwark against gentrification and revenue for the existing homeowner?

We find ourselves agree with Albemarle Planning Commissioner Pam Reilly who last week said, “We are lacking an affordable housing policy to guide our decision making”.

If the community wants to address the market need for affordable, accessible housing, policies and regulations should permit, but not require, the market to respond to consumer demand for denser development AND redevelopment without mandated affordable units.

Ironically, getting rid of the affordable housing mandate will make housing more affordable.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

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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 Credit: www.missingmiddle.com

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Top Gun, BRT, and The Dog Bone Roundabout

By. Neil Williamson, PresidentSee the source image

In the 1986 blockbuster movie Top Gun, Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was unable to get his head right when he lost his back seater, Goose.  He had to get focused on the future and make peace with the past.  The question when his squadron was in a dog fight, and needed him, would he engage?

I fear this is the same feeling regarding citizens, businesses and landowners in the current small area planning of the Rio/US29 region.

Please let me explain.

Maverick’s question of when to engage is pertinent because while some Rio/29 folks feel as though their perspectives were not taken seriously as the Grade Separated Interchange was pushed through approvals, and they are now hesitant to re-engage in a planning process with what they considered negative results.

Yet, like Maverick, we find ourselves at a juncture that requires us to engage.

This Thursday, August 9th at 6 pm at the Northside library, Albemarle County planners will hold an open house to get the feedback from the community to their long range plan.  The Free Enterprise Forum believes this is the time to engage.

Albemarle County explains the small area plan:

A Small Area Plan is a planning tool used to define a detailed plan for urban development and redevelopment in a focused area of strategic importance. The Rio29 Small Area Plan will devise a vision for the area around Route 29 and Rio Road and create a roadmap for implementation. The vision is guided by stakeholders that live, work, and play in and around the area and by the strategic goals adopted by the Board of Supervisors through the Comprehensive Plan, Places29 Master Plan, and Strategic Plan.

The Plan will help incorporate the new Rio Road Grade-Separated Intersection with future land use, transportation and capital projects in the area  Emphasis added-nw

In presenting the small area planning process, there will likely be caveats that this process is “visioning” and nothing is written in stone, or even funded.  The definition calls for the vision to be guided by the stakeholders however, if the public fails to engage, silence may be determined to be consent.

imageThe problem with long term planning is it is about the future and the future is never as we envision. Just twenty four months after the completions of the Rio/US29 Grade Separated Interchange, planners are already scoping out its replacement, the dog bone roundabout with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Station.

So we are planning for a BRT while we have not yet determined that we want/need this infrastructure investment.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy defines a true BRT system:

See the source imageBus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities. It does this through the provision of dedicated lanes, with busways and iconic stations typically aligned to the center of the road, off-board fare collection, and fast and frequent operations. 

Because BRT contains features similar to a light rail or metro system, it is much more reliable, convenient and faster than regular bus services. With the right features, BRT is able to avoid the causes of delay that typically slow regular bus services, like being stuck in traffic and queuing to pay on board. emphasis added – nw

 

The Free Enterprise Forum believes BRT is dramatically better than light rail, but we are not yet convinced that a mere two years after widening North US29, the community is willing to give up a lane on US29 for bus only access.  Since the jury is clearly still out regarding BRT, should we be planning this critical infrastructure piece with the station as the center?image

In addition, the long term connectivity plan calls for roads to cut through Fashion Square Mall to connect to a new access road paralleling US29 and a pedestrian/bike bridge over US29 and that’s just the Southeast corner of the plan.

The long term vision will require significant amounts of private property to be acquired, perhaps via eminent domain. Interestingly, the plan calls for roads to run through commercial development but deftly avoids any residential areas (where voters live).image

The Rio29 Design Concepts – Final Draft Open House also includes a number of Transformative Projects.  Broken down into three categories (Short, Mid and Long term) we have not yet seen any cost projections for the projects but we fully anticipate they will be costly.

In announcing the Open House, Albemarle County was very clear in their intent:

Each topic will have its own station where attendees can provide feedback on the designs. Feedback will be shared with the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission as they consider incorporating these final draft designs into the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

The design concepts were developed with feedback from the community over the past 2 years. If endorsed by the Board, these concepts will be incorporated into Small Area Plan document that will be adopted as part of the Comprehensive Plan

 

Much like the climatic dogfight in Top Gun, The Free Enterprise Forum is pleading with the citizens, businesses and property owners to re-engage in the small are planning process.  Absent all voices, the plan that moves fSee the source imageorward may not be the “community vision” for the future.

On August 9th, despite the fact that many will be focused on the upcoming anniversary, I hope the ENTIRE Rio/29 Community will re-engage, only then as a community can we move the shared vision forward.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson

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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: Albemarle County, minnesota.cbslocal.com, Paramount Pictures

New Meals Tax on the Fluvanna Menu

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field OfficerSee the source image

The Fluvanna County voters will decide if the county adds a meals tax in 2019.

The supervisors unanimously voted to send the issue to the people. Staff and the county attorney will ask the circuit judge to include the measure on the November ballot.

“This is [a tax] opportunity we can take advantage of,” said county Director of Community and Economic Development Jason Smith.

Fluvanna currently only taxes residents by assessing personal property and real property. But non-residents don’t pay any taxes beyond the county’s portion of the state sales tax.

“Every time we go to all the towns, cities, counties [that charge meals tax] we help pay their taxes,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District).

There are currently 47 of the 95 counties in Virginia with a meals tax, including neighboring Louisa. Counties have the requirement of a referendum to enact the tax. Also, counties limited to charge a maximum of 4 percent. Only one county that has a meals tax does not charge the maximum.

Towns and cities are not required to have a referendum to enact the tax. There are 110 towns with the tax and all 38 cities have it.

If the referendum fails, the county supervisors can not bring it back to the voters for three years. County residents can petition to include a meals tax vote every year. Staff relayed it took Louisa three tries over nine years to get the measure passed.

“[The meals tax] helps us keep from having one of the highest [real property] tax rates in the area,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).

The meals tax would be applied to any business that prepares food that is meant to be consumed immediately. This would include a grocery store that sells prepared food to restaurants to caterers operating in the county when the food is served. Caterers that prepare food in Fluvanna to be sold in another locality would pay taxes to the locality where the product is sold.

Businesses would be required to submit tax forms every month to the Commissioner of Revenue.

Staff projects based on the county size and the estimated 21 impacted businesses in operation, Fluvanna will bring in $300,000 to $600,000 a year.

If approved by the circuit judge, the item will be on the November 6 ballot. Staff has mapped out an education campaign to help get the item passed on the first try. Ideas include town halls and marketing.

The 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: https://tax.thomsonreuters.com/

A New Charlottesville Parking Chapter?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Back in January, we spoke out regarding the long term parking problem the City of Charlottesville is choosing to ignore.

Currently, the existing garages are effectively full, with greater than 350 potential parkers on waiting lists for the opportunity to buy a monthly parking pass.

Commercial development activity continues in downtown with four prominent parking demanding projects currently in the pipeline. Conservative estimates place the new parking deficit [parking demand less parking provided] created by these developments to be 844 spaces [(386) Charlottesville Technology Center, (213) West 2nd Street, (160) Dewberry Hotel, (85) Vault Virginia].

Then this past week, Charlottesville cut a settlement with Charlottesville Parking Center owner Mark Brown to operate both downtown garages for 16 years.  The Daily Progress Editorial this morning (7/31) suggests “Parking Deal Buys Relief at Least for Now

As a matter of public policy — that is, providing parking for those who visit or work in Charlottesville and ending the uncertainty over whether parking would be reasonably available — the settlement has merit.

So the question is parking “a matter of public policy” and does the City have a responsibility to provide parking for those who work or live downtown?

Charlottesville enacted a parking action plan (January 2017-January 2020) that may remain as current policy but has been largely ignored by City Council.

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Currently, the Charlottesville Planning Commission is considering their long term (20 year) comprehensive plan for the development of the City.  Other than the inclusion of the Parking Action Plan internal to the 2016 Economic Development report, the draft comprehensive plan is silent about parking. 

A portion of the Bonus Height/Affordable Housing Financial Analysis prepared by the Form Based Codes Institute and Partners for Economic Solutions was presented to City Council earlier this summer and included specific parking construction costs.

Parking is a major cost factor, averaging $5,000 per surface space, $20,000 per space in an above-ground parking structure and $32,000 per space in a below-ground structure. Surface parking is the least expensive option, by far, but it consumes a great deal of land

If we accept that there is not land space available for an 844 space surface parking lot in Charlottesville, the we can project the cost for “solving” the projected parking shortfall will be between $16.8 million and $27 million dollars.

imageThe long term parking shortfall, and Charlottesville’s ostrich like response to it, creates at least two likely outcomes:

1.  The City does nothing and the parking shortfall results in development projects (or existing businesses) failing due to lack of parking for employees or customers.

2.  The City recognizes the need for significant parking investment and dedicates significant resources to it.  How they might pay for such an expenditure is unclear.

One thing is clear, ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

An idea that has been discussed is to require by code that any business with more than 25 employees has to submit a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan annually.  This is a written plan on how the business would mitigate their effect on parking and traffic congestion.  It might include employee incentives to use transit, carpool or bike to work.

Planning for the future parking needs, the Planning Commission is uniquely positioned to aid in this endeavor as it seeks to revise the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  The Free Enterprise Forum calls on the Planning Commission to draft a new chapter on Parking ad clearly state if the city is accepting the responsibility for providing parking or not.  This document is the clearest place to state this critical public policy.

Or they can choose to remain silent on the issue – either way it is a choice.

Stay tuned.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President


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: City of Charlottesville, Community. curiosity.com

Greene Planning Has Work Session on Animal Kennels

By. Brent Wilson Field Officer

At the May, 2018 Greene County Planning Commission meeting a public hearing was held related to animal kennels and several issues were to be researched as how other counties handle some issues and these were to be discussed at the June, 2018 meeting

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Stephanie Golon

County Planner Stephanie Golon  reviewed the issues for the three members of the Planning Commission (two members were absent from this meeting). Currently animal shelters are by right when there are 10 or more dogs are on sight. Personal dogs that are not for breeding were not included in the discussion. From May’s meeting the question was – should the level be lowered to five dogs down from ten dogs.

The issue then shifted to the age of the dog – when is a puppy no longer a puppy? Then what constitutes a breeder was discussed – does he raise dogs for sale and does he advertise in the paper and on the internet?

While the May meeting brought out a number of citizens, there was no one signed up to speak at the public hearing.  Golon stressed that a specific number needs to be identified to determine what a kennel is vs. raising dogs for a family.

Chairman Jay Willer wondered if a decision should be delayed since two commissioners were absent. Golon indicated that there are no public hearings scheduled for the July, 2018 meeting at this point. Willer proposed that the Planning Commission delay their decision until the August, 2018 meeting and, therefore, allowing the two absent commissioners time to review the information from tonight’s meeting and hold a public hearing in August.

Golon said that she would reach out to the two absent commissioners and provide the information discussed tonight and answer any questions that they may have in advance of the August meeting. With that decision, it was moved that there would be no Planning Commission meeting held in July.

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 http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene Supervisors Don’t Budge on Request to Lower Proffers

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

On Tuesday(7/24), in a largely predictable move, the Greene County Board of Supervisors chose to retain the original cash proffer amounts on a proposed development located slightly Northwest of the intersection of 607 and US29 (Sheetz). in Ruckersville.

Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development defines a Cash Proffer as:

A cash proffer is (a)any money voluntarily proffered in a writing signed by the owner of property subject to rezoning, submitted as part of a rezoning application and accepted by a locality pursuant to the authority granted by Va. Code Ann. Section 15.2-2303 or Section 15.2-2298, or (b) any payment of money made pursuant to a development agreement entered into under authority granted by Va. Code Ann. Section 15.2-2303.1.

The Free Enterprise Forum has been a steadfast opponent of the cash proffer system. See the source image

At the May, 2018 meeting the Greene Planning Commission agreed to lower the proffer for a 2008 Planned Unit Development from $9,000 to $1,200.  Of course, the Planning Commission only makes a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

At the July 24th Board of Supervisors meeting the Board heard the request from the Kinvara Properties, LLC to reduce the amount of proffers for the 50 units proposed for the property. This calculates to a reduction in proffers of $390,000.

The new zoning administrator, Jim Frydl, outlined the public hearing which is about the property between the Food Lion development and Deer Lake Estates. And specifically, the public hearing was to deal with the request to amend the amount of proffers.

Butch Davies represented Kinvara Properties and explained that the company his client is negotiating with doesn’t believe they can pass on the cost of the $9,000 proffer in their price to the customer. In addition he explained that the economy has changed since the proffer was originally agreed to. He also believes that Greene County needs affordable housing for the workforce.

The meeting next shifted to comments from the public which all that addressed the board felt that the county should not change the proffer agreement that was originally made. Many felt that the county shouldn’t lower the proffers as it would set a precedent that would encourage other developers to request lower proffers also. One speaker from the public also shared that his work age children are just starting out in the workforce but their incomes are too high and they would not be eligible for the units in this project. So, in fact, the units are not “affordable housing for the workforce”.

The irony of the concern of setting a precedent by lowering the proffer is that the state has developed new proffer guidelines  which are designed to more accurately capture new government costs that are specifically generated by the development.  Therefore future proffers will likely be significantly reduced for new projects. So, in fact, the lowering of the proffer amount for this request would not set a precedent for future considerations (but might for the limited number of other unbuilt projects with existing proffers).

The consensus of the Board was that the original proffer agreement needs to be honored since it was freely agreed to by both parties. In fact the feeling is that the economy has improved recently. However, the concern that Kinvara Properties expressed at the Planning Commission meeting was that property wasn’t marketable with the full $9,000 proffer.

Based on this economic reality, the property will probably remain undeveloped with the current proffer burden until the market reaches a point where the project can sustain such costs or the parcel is again rezoned (with lower proffers).  In either case the community’s vision as expressed in the Comprehensive Plan for affordable residential development in the Ruckersville development area is a dream deferred.

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 http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org

 

Charlottesville Needs Strong Voters

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

imageThe current question floating around Charlottesville City Hall centers around the concept of a strong mayor or a weak mayor form of governance.  While a majority of Council is seemingly disposed NOT to deal with this question now, the discussion is continuing.  In 2010, The Free Enterprise Forum advocated for such a discussion [Does Charlottesville Want To Elect A Strong Mayor?].  Today, we continue to believe the mayor discussion is healthy and useful, but it must also include the idea of a strong voter.

Please let me explain.

Today, each Charlottesville City Councilor is elected At-Large and then the Council votes amongst itself who will serve as the Weak Mayor. Rather than focusing the question of mayoral power, what if we instead focused on increasing the power of the individual voter.   The time has come for ward representation on City Council.

imageChanging from an at-large to a ward system is not a new idea.  In the late 1970’s there was an unsuccessful effort led by the NAACP.  Republican City Councilor (now radio host) Rob Schilling pursued such a change in the mid 2000s.  In 2006, several different maps of potential wards concepts were created by the City.

Local blogger Blair Hawkins who has  tracked this issue for many years links at-large elections to dilution of minority representation on council:

By itself At-Large is not enough to oppress blacks if blacks are 52% of the population. You need Annexation of white suburbs to dilute black power. Since the late 1800s black population has been fairly steady in the old town, called the inner city today. Under the Ward system, annexations would not matter much because the inner city would still have a representative on Council. Under At-Large the 80% whites determine all decisions and all discussion.

In February, Charlottesville Tomorrow hosted a panel discussion regarding the future of Charlottesville governance.  Joan MacCallum, the first woman elected to the Lynchburg City Council in 1978, spoke about their shift to the ward system:

“Until 1976, all seven members were elected at-large,” said MacCallum, “In that year, Lynchburg doubled its area by adding portions of Campbell and Bedford Counties. Both of these areas were overwhelmingly white, and it was recognized that this action diluted the black vote in Lynchburg.”

Lynchburg switched to a ward system to ensure there would be at least one African-American on Council.

MacCallum said the combined system has served Lynchburg well.

“We recognize that we do have a large black population, and it was necessary for them to be recognized,” MacCallum said.

To be clear, we do not believe the ward system is a panacea to all that currently ails Charlottesville.  We understand that many localities that have ward systems often complain about the number (and expertise) of candidates.  We are well aware of the turf battles that such representation can create.  In addition, we recognize the significant legal obstacles that exist to making this change.

The Free Enterprise Forum still believes you can have an elected Mayor AND Strong Voters (ward system).

We suggest an even number of ward elected councilors (4,6,8) and an at large elected mayor, who is also a member of Council.  We tend to believe neither extreme (Strong or Weak) is the exact fit for Charlottesville and a hybrid will likely develop.  Over the next few months, we hope the discussion will focus on how to get all of the citizens reconnected with Charlottesville and reengaged in the political process.

A good first step would be putting the elections more directly back into the hands of the governed.

Strong voters make strong cities.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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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: City of Charlottesville, Blair Hawkins, Politicalpolicy.net

Usurping Authority – Crozet Community Committee Resolution Recognition Request

Adapted from comments to the Albemarle County Planning Commission July 17, 2018See the source image

Good evening.  Tonight, under new business, you have been asked to formally recognize a resolution from the Crozet Community Advisory Committee.

This would be a mistake.

Beyond being a very close vote (8-5) of an unelected advisory body, this type of mission creep is exactly what the Free Enterprise Forum warned about as the power of the Community Advisory Committees has expanded.

In 2015 we told the Albemarle Board of Supervisors:

While these entities may have been well intentioned at their formation, they have become an unelected mandated review sieve that provides planning commissioners and members of the Board of supervisors more than just a sounding board – they have become gatekeepers and defacto political cover for the Board of Supervisors.

The resolution provided to you, without your specific input seems to cite specific survey data and Master Plan sections but such items can not be taken in the abstract but should be considered in the context of the entire master plan to provide planning guidance not prescriptive or eliminate consideration of important economic development opportunities.

From the resolution:

WHEREAS, a combination of the current Crozet Master Plan (CMP), the recent survey results, and the opinion of the CCAC support this vision and these principles;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the CCAC requests that the Board of Supervisors schedule the update to the CMP as soon as possible, given the continued rapid growth in the Crozet area.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAC requests that the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors formally affirm the following principles in the CMP to provide direction and guidance in future decisions until the CMP Update is completed and adopted. As the prevailing vision of the CMP is to preserve Crozet’s “small town feel,” even while the area experiences further significant development, the following guiding principles support this vision:
1. Do not alter nor expand the current Crozet Growth Area Boundary [CMP pg.5, 32;survey slides 17,18].
2. Ensure that Downtown Crozet is the center of development for the Growth Area and a priority area for the focus of public capital investment and resource allocation [CMP pgs.21,24,54;survey slides 20, 21, 22];
3. Limit development along Route 250 West, west of Crozet Avenue [CMP pgs. 30, 37; survey slides 24, 25].
4. Recognize that Route 250 West is a State Scenic Byway containing aesthetic and cultural value and honor its status when making land development decisions [CMP pg.18; survey slide 24, 25]
5. Do not approve any rezoning for development of the I-64 and Route 250 interchange area (Fringe Areas and the Route 250 West Corridor) [CMP pgs. 32, 33; survey slide 26].
6. Expand transportation options in the Crozet Growth Area, and ensure that necessary infrastructure improvements keep pace with new development. [CMP pg. 41; survey slide 29] Priorities should include:
a. Library Avenue extended to Parkside Village [CMP pg. 39]
b. Bus and Shuttle services to the area [CMP pgs 40-41; survey slide 29];
c. Bike and Pedestrian pathways and improvements along Routes 240 and 250 [CMP pgs. 37, 38; survey slide 29];

Albemarle County is a large county with many demands, to elevate Development Area Citizen Advisory Councils as drafting resolutions to limit development fails to fully recognize the primary import of the Development areas to the Comprehensive Plan goals: to provide an area to develop!

While we concur with the Crozet community’s frustration at Albemarle’s failure to provide concurrent infrastructure, but we balance that concern with the reality of significant infrastructure infrastructure that has been focused in Crozet.

At best this is unnecessarily usurping the authority of those properly elected to serve Albemarle County, at worst it can be seen as a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) statement from a designated growth area that has seen significant infrastructure investment.

Please do not endorse, accept, or recognize this unbalanced resolution.

It is another step down a very slippery slope.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

Photo Credit: be-hockey.com

Fluvanna Chasing VDOT Smart Scale Funding

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna County has one traffic light. And according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  estimates, it should stay that way.

Image result for smartscale virginiaFluvanna will have four “Smart Scale” applications to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to be considered this cycle and two include adding two more roundabouts instead of traffic lights.

Virginia‘s SMART SCALE (§33.2-214.1) is about picking the right transportation projects for funding and ensuring the best use of limited tax dollars. It is the method of scoring planned projects included in VTrans that are funded by House Bill 1887

imageThe intersection of Route 53 and Turkey Sag Trail rated the highest priority in the county. VDOT’s engineers recommended a roundabout. The proposal includes a multiuse path alongside Route 53 and connect to shopping centers on Turkey Sag.

“This works much more effective than a typical intersection,” said Chuck Proctor from VDOT.

If selected by the Smart Scale process and approved by the CTB, this would be the fourth roundabout on Route 53. There are two complete; one at South Boston Road and another at Route 15. There is one in preparation at Lake Monticello Road.

VDOT is recommending another roundabout on Route 250 at imagethe intersection with Troy Road. The supervisors requested this intersection to be studied especially for economic development reasons (a part of the Smart Scale scoring system). Zion Station and Zion Crossroads Industrial Park are both near the intersection.

The other two applications are intersections on Route 15 that the supervisors are sending applications to improve safety concerns.

imageThe first is Bybee’s Church Road where VDOT proposes adding turn lanes to help reduce rear end collisions, the primary cause of accidents at the intersection.

The other was heavily used Troy Road and Route 15 where a curve, dip and traffic have caused issues. VDOT found a way to add turn lanes, lower the road and straighten the curve to improve sight distance.

All will be sent to the CTB for review. The review cycle is ~16 months:

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It is not anticipated all four projects will receive Smart Scale funding. Those that do not get funding will be eligible for other revenue sources available to the area VDOT office.

The 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: VDOT

Delta Response Team Rescue Headed to Fluvanna

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Fluvanna County will start with a new contract ambulance service this upcoming year.

Delta Response Team (DRT), headquartered in Appomattox, No automatic alt text available.was selected after a Request for Proposal (RFP) process was completed by the county. It will cost the county $438,000 for 24-hour services. The county budget $600,000 for FY19.

“We are not here to make a career service,” said Susan Walton, president of DRT.

DRT started in Appomattox as a way to compliment a dwindling volunteer force that county had. Over time and with DRT’s help, Appomattox has increased volunteers to help hold the line on adding additional career services.

Fluvanna is currently paying for one career service ambulance 24 hours a day to run out of the Palmyra Rescue Squad Station through a contract with UVA. Volunteers will continue to run out of the other stations.

The county has the option of adding additional services to theNo automatic alt text available. DRT contract on an as needed basis including additional crew, use of a DRT ambulance, billing review and consulting services.

DRT will help the county with volunteer efforts including allowing volunteers to train with DRT staff.

“We would love the volunteers to get on the truck to run with us,” said Walton who continues to volunteer in Appomattox.

“The more [volunteers] train and run with us, the better for the community,” Walton said.

The staff DRT will run for 24 hours with a 48-hour off period following. Fluvanna can request an additional crew with as little as 12-hour notice. This could be helpful in times of large events.

While DRT will operate under the Fluvanna Rescue license including using the FRS vehicle, DRT can provide an ambulance if something happens to the Fluvanna vehicle. That vehicle will be under the DRT license.

The Buckingham County Volunteer Rescue Squad (BCVRS) president sent a letter of recommendation. DRT started providing similar service to Buckingham for over 18 months. BCVRS found dropped calls decreased with DRT.

Three other companies submitted to the RFP including Emergency Services Solutions, American Medical Response and incumbent UVA.

The 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: DRT Facebook Page