Greene EOC Requests Carryover Funds for Capital Expenditures

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the May 26th meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisors, Melissa McDaniel, Emergency Services Manager, requested that the Board change their current fiscal policy and allow hers and several other departments to keep any unspent moneys that was budgeted and have those funds directed to a capital fund.  In the case of EMS the primary expenditure for this fund currently would be for new communication technology.  A similar policy is already in place for the  Greene County Schools.

McDaniel indicated that the past three Capital Improvement Plans (CIP) have included a request for an Emergency Communication System and have not been funded. The current CIP is being accumulated and will again contain a request for a new system. She further indicated that since she originally submitted the CIP request with a cost of $10.3 million, she has been able to identify cost savings reduce the amount required to $7.5 million for the system.

The new system would remedy communication challenges between the sheriff’s department, the fire department and EMS. McDaniel indicated their goal is to have a system that operates at a 95% reliability rate and coverage instead of the 55-75% rates that currently exist in Greene.

To give a specific example of the seriousness of the need of the county, she invited Stanardsville’s Assistant Fire Chief Dusty Clay to tell them what happened on April 25th at a fire on Madison Road in the town of Stanardsville. Clay was the first to respond to the house fire and entered the building. He became trapped when a television and dresser fell on him. Twice he tried to use his system to call for help with no success.

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Only his training as a firefighter, allowed him to calmly try multiple times to free himself finally by using another piece of furniture he was able to pry the dresser off of him and escape. He was treated with first and second degree burns on his back, shoulders and arms. The irony of this situation is that it occurred within the town limits of Stanardsville and the systems in use could not communicate with each other. This was not some distant point on Route 810 – this was in the town of Stanardsville.

McDaniel stated that only the training and experience of Clay allowed him to escape the fire with his life and she is fearful that a less trained firefighter would have perished.

Jim Frydl

Jim Frydl

Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway District) asked McDaniel if the problem is the device or the antennae? McDaniel said the problem is the whole system which is 15-20 years old and the lack of interconnectivity that the different systems present. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) asked how long it would take to correct this situation. McDaniel said that from the time it was started to be installed it would probably take near 2.5 years to be completely operational.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) supported the idea of leftover funds going to this project. Frydl stated that while he proposed the school policy of keeping excess funds for capital projects, he believes that this issue should be budgeted.

Lamb asked Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator, what the status of the CIP is. Svoboda said that it is being assembled and should be to the Planning Commission by July.

Lamb suggested that action should be deferred until the CIP is presented so that the Board can prioritize all projects. Frydl agreed with Lamb and cautioned that Greene County will likely have to borrow funds to do this project and can’t afford to pay cash for this size project. It was agreed to defer action on McDaniel’s request until the CIP can be reviewed.

What seems out of synch is that the county budget for 2015/2016 has been approved with capital expenditures of only $58,836 (this expenditure is undefined). This has been done without a Capital Improvement Plan completed to see what the county’s needs are and what the cost of those items are. Last year’s CIP had a request of over $5 million for 2014/2015 with a grand total of over $167 million.

 

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Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credit: WVIR – NBC29

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 Election Flash — Gooch Running for BOS, Booker to Retire

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Former Palmyra district supervisor John Gooch is throwing his hat back in it.

Gooch told the Free Enterprise Forum that he submitted his paperwork to run again. He served the Palmyra district for one term before losing to Bob Ullenbruch in 2011.

Ullenbruch announced earlier that he will not seek re-election because he is planning to move back to New England to be with family. There have been rumors of other candidates in the Palmyra District, but none have formally announced.

Previously Gooch was on the School Board before making the plunge to the county’s top elected board. He served as chairperson for one year.

In Fork Union, Mozell Booker announced she will run for her third term. She has served as the chairperson the past two years. Last election, Booker defeated Jim Tew.

The election will be Nov. 3.

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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

Albemarle’s Natural Resources Chapter Rewrite – More Planners, Less Property Rights

Albemarle County has been rewriting their state mandated Comprehensive Plan for over four years.  The Free Enterprise Forum has been an active participant in these conversations.  With the plan now headed to its final public hearing on June 10, we will provide our chapter by chapter review over the next two weeks culminating with our overall analysis prior to the public hearing. 

Today – Chapter 4 Natural Resources

By. Neil Williamson, President

Perhaps no other chapter in the Comprehensive Plan has seen more changes made by the Board of Supervisors than the Natural Resources Chapter.

Even the Goal of the Natural Resources chapter has been altered.

The Planning Commission recommended:

Albemarle’s streams, rivers, and air will be clean.  Rural Area mountains, woodlands, and wetlands will provide large areas of habitat for diversity of flora and fauna.

The newly revised goal is much more expansive and interventionist in its tone:

Albemarle’s ecosystems and natural resources will be thoughtfully protected and managed in both the Rural and Development Areas to safeguard the quality of life of current and future generations.

If there was any question the direction the Chapter is headed, the BOS rewritten chapter declares

Natural resource protection is the County’s highest priority.

Really?? 

Natural Resource Protection is the Highest Priority? 

Over the safety and protection of your citizens? 

Over the education of the children where you currently dedicate 60% of your budget?

The Free Enterprise Forum believes this is philosophical hyperbole and is not supported by the facts (or four supervisors), we hope such inflammatory and incorrect language will be removed from the plan.

The Planner’s Plan Part I – We find it curious when a major strategy for a plan is to do another plan.  This phenomena occurs in multiple places throughout Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan:

Strategy 1c: Develop and implement a comprehensive water resources plan that sets expectations for public water supply, surface water protection and improvement, and groundwater protection.

Many if these elements will be already completed as a part of the state-mandated TMDL Action Plans, why would Albemarle seek to go significantly further than required?  Perhaps they are seeking to justify/spend a new “rain tax” similar to the City of Charlottesville

Strategy 1e: Secure funding for water resource management programs

Funding for water resource management programs is essential to their success.  At present the County is considering a stormwater utility fee to help pay for the higher level of environmental protection required by the State.

This document is building the case for expanded water resource protections (often at the cost of property rights) beyond the State requirements.  To be opposed to this straw man philosophy suggests you are opposed to clean water.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The Free Enterprise Forum sees the ever expanding Natural Resources Chapter as symptomatic of the current Board’s direction to control more and more landowner activity.  We believe securing such funding is critical to the expansion of government.

The Planner’s Plan Part II – Strategy 4a calls for an “Action Plan for Biodiversity” which we see as a property owner rights reduction plan.

The action plan can be developed from the inventory and analysis.  The plan should contain the map of important landscape features and individual species occurrences that can be included in the County’s Geographic Information System.  When made widely available, County staff and the public can use the information for conservation purposes as well as reviewing requests for legislative approvals. … From that action plan, the Natural Heritage Committee can develop a list of short term conservation targets.

Where are the property owners’ rights in the unelected Natural Heritage Committee’s hit list? 

The curious reader might be asking how will this work be accomplished?  Not to worry, the plan calls for an expansion of government into conservation biology:

Strategy 4d: Asses the need for hiring a County staff member with expertise in conservation biology, and/or training existing County staff in the principles of conservation biology to assist in the development of the action plan and coordination with other County actions.

Mountain Protection – Almost a decade ago, Albemarle County went through a very emotional and divisive process regarding a propose Mountain Protection Ordinance. Rather than letting this be settled, the Comprehensive Plan revives this property rights trampling zombie of an idea.

One of the complaints about the direction of the county at that time was the lack of respect for private property owners, whose stewardship created the beautiful mountain vistas.  This lack of recognition is clear in the preamble of Objective 5: Retain Mountain Resources

Albemarle County’s mountains are the source of important natural functions, such as providing clean water, contributions of healthy air, and habitats for many of the County’s plant and animal species.  The mountains are also the source of many agricultural and forest products and add to the County’s appeal to tourists.  To many residents, the mountains give the County its “sense of place in the State and country.”

Nowhere in the above statement does it speak to the private ownership of the lands being discussed.  It only gleamingly mentions the agricultural and forest uses of the land that have kept the land economically sustainable for generations.

Further evidence of Albemarle’s anti-property rights campaign can be found buried on page 4.37 of the Natural Resources Chapter.  This concept that could significantly reduce the development potential of the majority of the parcels in the county. Interestingly it is not its own strategy or objective just a third paragraph under strategy 7a.

The second step is to prevent building in these areas.  County regulations already require that buildings be located away from streams and rivers.  Expanding those requirements to areas near intermittent streams and the mouths of mountain streams can help prevent debris flow impacts.

To understand the impact of this concept one must understand that an intermittent stream can be defined as A stream that flows seasonally when the water table is high, such as during and after periods of heavy or steady rain.  This means the swale that runs behind my house is an intermittent stream. 

The Natural Resources Chapter as rewritten by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is much more a planner employment act that seeks to limit private property property rights than it is about ecosystems development and preservation.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

NEXT – THE LOUISIANA “OVERLAY DISTRICT” – A JEFFERSONIAN APPROACH TO PROPERTY RIGHTS?

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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

 

Albemarle Struggles To Embrace Economic Development

Albemarle County has been rewriting their state mandated Comprehensive Plan for over four years.  The Free Enterprise Forum has been an active participant in these conversations.  With the plan now headed to its final public hearing on June 10, we will provide our chapter by chapter review over the next two weeks culminating with our overall analysis prior to the public hearing. 

Today – Chapter 5 Economic Development

By. Neil Williamson, President

Albemarle County can’t help itself.  Even in a well written comprehensive plan chapter dedicated to the advancement of economic opportunity for all, the very first objective is almost an apology for business intruding on the Comprehensive Plan:

Objective 1: Ensure that economic development efforts are supportive of the County’s Growth Management Policy and consistent with other Comprehensive Plan goals.

Compare this to the opening objective in the Natural Resources Chapter:

Objective 1: Protect the quality and quantity of surface water and groundwater water resources in the County.

The Economic Development Chapter seeks to balance its demands with all the other chapters while the Natural Resources Chapter starts with one of the primary functions of the plan.  The Free Enterprise Forum believes that Objective 1 of the Economic Development chapter should be eliminated.

Further in the Chapter when attempting to seem open for business, new urbanist design demands offer restrictions to that very option.  Imagine evaluating an Albemarle site vs another locality considering the undertone in this strategy:

Strategy 1a: Promote new employment activities in the Development Areas and encourage developers of commercial and industrial projects to incorporate the Neighborhood Model principles.

This strategy hints at a high level of government influence on the design of future building plans.  If this is what the community wants, it should understand it places Albemarle at a competitive disadvantage for many potential employment opportunities.

Albemarle has been of two minds for many years regarding rural enterprises.  One former supervisor once said “We love the wineries just not all the customers”.  This Economic Development chapter correctly references recent state legislation clearly delineating rural area Agritourism rights for events.  The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the added emphasis on rural area economic activities beyond just farming, as these events are often what makes the privately held rural area parcels economically sustainable.

It is important that the Economic Development chapter include a reference to the housing of the workforce but it is puzzling that the one of the primary references under the “balance housing to jobs” strategy is the need for “affordable housing’ and the very next line discusses the mandated (and expensive) elements of the County’s mixed use Neighborhood Model.

Even with the above constraints, a much larger issue is where will businesses grow?  The Economic Development chapter offers some hope that Albemarle may be focused on this question soon:

Objective 4 Ensure that there is sufficient land to accommodate future business and industrial growth and a plan for infrastructure to serve employment areas where these businesses are located.

In an op-ed that ran in The Daily Progress in October of last year we asked Do Jobs Fit In Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan? Our premise, which is confirmed in the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan is that while there may be enough total acreage available to meet the needs of future enterprises, it is not properly sited nor zoned and much of it is fragmented. 

The reality we continue to see is Albemarle is losing many businesses when they seek to expand or upgrade their facilities due to a lack of available product as well as the costly and unpredictable nature of their development approval processes. 

In addition, the choices Albemarle has made, especially relating to the size and location of their development areas, have hindered the number of parcels properly located for many commercial and industrial employers.

Perhaps we are too close to the issue but we read some sections of the economic development plan and hear the echoes of the Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP) rhetoric:

It is also important to remember that the purpose of this economic development policy is to provide Albemarle residents with an improved standard of living, improved job and wage opportunities, and work force development opportunities rather than to seek to stimulate further population growth. ….

Strategy 6b: Continue to evaluate the fiscal impacts of new business and industrial development as one indicator of positive economic development, along with other impacts of new business and industrial development, such as environmental impacts, traffic impacts and standard of living impacts….. In Albemarle County, though, new business and industrial growth must be compatible with the other goals in the Comprehensive Plan

We applaud much of what is in the economic development chapter, just as we are happy with the hiring of an economic development director. 

With all due respect, we continue to believe the biggest restrictor on economic development is not the market, nor the workforce nor even the location.  The biggest barrier to businesses bringing new jobs to Albemarle County is Albemarle County, and just maybe that the way the community wants it.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

TOMORROW – ALBEMARLE’S NATURAL RESOURCE CHAPTER REWRITE- MORE PLANNERS LESS PROPERTY RIGHTS

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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

 

Comprehensive Plan Question – How should Albemarle Grow? or Should Albemarle Grow?

Albemarle County has been rewriting their state mandated Comprehensive Plan for over four years.  The Free Enterprise Forum has been an active participant in these conversations.  With the plan now headed to its final public hearing on June 10, we will provide our chapter by chapter review over the next two weeks culminating with our overall analysis prior to the public hearing. 

Today – Chapter 3 Growth Management

By. Neil Williamson, President

To accept Albemarle’s growth management chapter,  one must accept the concept of directing growth to the Development areas by making that portion of the county more attractive for residential uses via infrastructure investment and innovative design strategies.  The problem is that has not occurred.   We take issue with the word continue in Strategy 1b:

Strategy 1b: To help promote the Development Areas as the most desirable place for growth, continue to fund capital improvements and infrastructure and provide a higher level of service to the Development Areas

If Albemarle County continues to fund capital expenditures at its current rate there will be very few new projects and the vast majority of projects will be required, and often deferred maintenance projects.

Strategy 1c Continue to recognize the shared responsibility between the County and new development to pay for infrastructure and improvements to the Development Areas to address the impacts of new development.

This long promised concept of supposedly shared “concurrency of infrastructure” has been placed squarely on landowners developing their property but off site infrastructure investments envisioned by the Master Plans (and related small area plans) are not being met by the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.  This strategy is used to justify the legal extortion known as Cash Proffers.  According to the latest Albemarle County Proffer Report, The County has collected over $6.8 Million dollars in cash proffers yet has failed to provide full funding for their own Capital Improvement Plan.  The reality is cash proffers, while significant, will never (and should never) fund the entire CIP.

Instead Albemarle’s “growth management” vision is more about prohibiting uses in the rural areas rather than encouraging them in the development areas.  The plan seems to want to create a 95% in a park like setting that is “nice to look at” rather than the privately held agricultural economic engine that the rural areas chapter seems to both embrace and push back on (more on this in a later post).  This is just one of countless conflicting visions that exist internal to this plan.

Density Dreaming – Once again the County has determined that the development area boundaries that were drawn in 1977 are not to be significantly adjusted to deal with market demands.  The one expansion is a correction of an anomaly in the Albemarle County Service Authority service area.   The Free Enterprise Forum believes Albemarle County’s growth management plans are based upon higher density than the community or the market will currently support.

Due to the lack of supply of Single Family Lots in the development area, we believe Albemarle’s 1977 era growth control policy will push growth into the rural areas AND into the outlying counties.

2014_Year_End_Building_Report(1)

All this at a time when the market seems to be desirous of more urban feel but a single family product.  If neighboring localities provide the market what it desires, Albemarle may not be where Central Virginia grows – maybe that was the idea all along.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

TOMORROW – ALBEMARLE STRUGGLES TO EMBRACE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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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

Greene’s Lydia Mountain to Expand

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Bruce Shifflett, the owner of Lydia Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins, asked Greene County’s Planning Commission for a Special Use Permit (SUP # 15-003) so he could construct a general store and five lodging houses, some fronting Route 33 westbound at the monthly meeting on May 20th. Lydia Mountain consists for various sized cabins, a motel, a pavilion, and recreational activities such as a zip line and tubing track.

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Director / Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda presented the SUP to the commissioners explaining that the property is an odd shaped lot – an “L” shape that is not deep off Route 33. Svoboda explained that there are to be several entrances directly from Route 33 – one to the store and the other to the 2 units fronting Route 33. He stated that Greene’s Comprehensive Plan supports tourism and transient travelers. His recommendation to the PC is to approve the SUP with a limitation of guests staying no more than 30 days of a year.

Shifflett addressed the Planning Commission and he explained that the current building used to be a general store. He envisions reopening the store on a limited basis, mainly as a check in location but also to purchase fire wood and other supplies. He also wants to “clean up” the corner which is the entrance to Lydia Mountain.

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Chairman Jay Willer asked how far this location is to the Skyline Drive National Park. Shifflett said that it is a little more than five miles.

The hearing then shifted to the comments from the public. Tina Deane, Lydia Mountain’s property manager, spoke and she was in favor of the SUP. She was hopeful that having a storefront on Route 33 would help their customers locate Lydia Mountain and she also offered the general store as a visitor center for Greene County to supplement the current visitor center on Route 29.

The endorsement from the commissioners was evident as there were no questions. A motion with the limitation of the store and five houses and no guests to stay beyond 30 days in a year was made and seconded. The motion passed 5-0 and Willer commented to Shifflett that this is a “great addition” to the county and recommended that he meet with Alan Yost, Director of Tourism for Greene, Economic Development & Tourism Director, who was in the audience, if the Board of Supervisors approves the SUP.

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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

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

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