Monthly Archives: June, 2008

Fluvanna Planning Commission: Cell Tower on Hold

By William J. Des Rochers

Fluvanna Field Officer

 

At its June 25th meeting, Fluvanna’s Planning Commission unanimously voted to defer a recommendation on a proposed Verizon cell phone tower in Fork Union.  It was the second deferral for Verizon.  Earlier the Board of Supervisors postponed a decision on the Bremo Bluff facility – both deferrals are for up to three months.

Like the Bremo facility, this application for a special use permit evoked significant community opposition over its proposed placement.  The President of the Fork Union Military Academy, General John E. Jackson, Jr. (ret.) led the opposition.

Planners searched for ideas that might facilitate alternative sites.  Verizon officials contended that this was the best location for their growing Fluvanna network and that it would link with its towers to the north and west of Fork Union.

While admitting their technological ignorance, planners were not sold. They welcomed new Planning Director Darren Coffey’s suggestion that alternatives be explored concurrent with the Bremo Bluff alternative site study commissioned by the supervisors.

Verizon sought to mitigate the visual appearance of the proposed 125-foot tower by designing it as a functioning flagpole.  And, according to a Verizon spokesman, after negotiations with the Military Academy broke down, the company selected the site that includes the William Smith hotel.

Other Commission Actions

In other actions, Commissioners unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors:

·        Revoke the Special Use Permit granted to CPV Cunningham Creek in 2001 for a power production plant;

·        Approve an application by the Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation to rezone 1.4 acres from R-1 (Residential, Limited) to R-2 (Residential, General) to build a duplex dwelling in the Fork Union district; and,

·        Approve an application by Fluvanna Auto LLC to rezone 7 acres in the Palmyra district from A-1 Agricultural (General) to B-1 Business (General).

Separately, the Commission also approved a site plan for 348,000 square feet of office and industrial space on 47 acres in the Zion Crossroads Community Development Area (Palmyra district).

After twelve years, Patricia Eager has left the Planning Commission.  Mr. James Halstead, Jr. will replace her in the Palmyra seat.

Building permits for new construction continued downward in May.  Only six permits were issued, down from 19 in May 2007.  Overall, permit issuances have declined by over twenty percent so far this year.

The Planning Commission’s next meeting will be on July 23rd at 7:00 pm in the Courthouse.

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Fluvanna Board of Supervisors

Meeting Highlights Report

June 18th, 2008

By William J. Des Rochers

Fluvanna Field Officer

As the Board of Supervisors took steps to improve technological communication in the county, several citizens ratcheted upward their criticism of supervisor Marvin Moss (Columbia) and the county staff over land use issues at the June 18th meeting of Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors.

Two new cell communication towers were approved and prompt action promised on a third in the Bremo area of the county.

Cell Towers

The Board the addressed three cell tower proposals for the county.  It approved two:

·        A request by AT&T to construct a 125 foot tower on the corner of Route 616 and Poorhouse Road (Palmyra district); and,

·        A request by the county to construct a 199-foot tower at the county landfill (to be constructed in conjunction with Verizon).   This tower would be integral to the county’s efforts to upgrade its public safety communications system.

The bulk of the meeting was devoted to a second county proposal to construct a cell communications tower on county owned land in the Bremo Bluff area of the county. 

The proposal was opposed by a large majority of speakers, virtually all of who criticized the specific location of the proposed tower, rather than the need for one.  In fact, many residents expressed surprise and concern over the inadequacy of public safety communication in that portion of the county.

Public safety officials from the Sheriff’s Department and Fire and Rescue strongly supported the need for a tower in the area, citing safety concerns not only for citizens, but for the officials as well.

The Board deferred a decision for up to ninety days so that the staff could look into alternatives sites.

Allegations

Ms. Deborah Rittenhouse, former Chairman of the Planning Commission, accused Chairman Marvin Moss of misrepresenting facts to his colleagues on the Board.  Ms. Rittenhouse said that Moss’s statements to supervisors regarding the Central Meadows subdvision planned for the Columbia district were subsequently contradicted by sworn testimony by Mr. Charles Miller of the county health department.

Rittenhouse said that, according to transcripts, Moss told the supervisors during the public hearing that the health department representative would vote against the Central Meadows special use request for a central sewage system if he were on the Board of Supervisors.  In sworn testimony, Mr. Moore said he never made such a statement.

“Supervisors need to rely on accurate and truthful information from their colleagues in order to make intelligent decisions”, Ms. Rittenhouse said.

Mr. Samuel Patterson then charged that the county staff withheld a key document from both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors when the two bodies were addressing the Ironhound subdivision (Palmyra district) rezoning request last year.  

The county’s Health Department wrote to the Planning Department on October 11th, 2007, that there might be insufficient drainfield area in the subdvision to support a rezoning from 29 to 58 dwellings.  Planning Commissioners never saw the document and Supervisors never received it until mid-June of this year.

Supervisors agreed to take the matter up in a closed session after the public meeting.

Land Use Issues

The Board did not have to address two land use issues that were on the agenda.

Carysbrook Holdings withdrew its rezoning application to construct 139 homes in the Carysbrook area of the Fork Union District.  The development would have been located on Route 615, approximately 300 feet north of Route 15.

Church Hill Development requested a one-month deferral of its application to rezone property for its Ironhound development.  Located in the Palmyra district, the rezoning would permit the construction of 58 dwellings on 68 acres.

Supervisors instead approved an indefinite deferral to allow more time for staff review of what could be, according to the county administrator G. Cabell Lawton IV, significant changes in the site plan. 

The Board also reappointed Ms. Elizabeth Fortune (Rivanna) and Mr. Barry Bibb (Cunningham) to the Planning Commission.  Mr. James Halstead Jr. was named as the Palmyra representative, replacing Ms. Patricia Eager, who is leaving the Commission.  All terms begin on July 1st, 2008 and end on June 30th, 2012.

In another action, the Board extended for just one month the contract for services of the county attorney for a flat fee of $5 000 per month and additional hourly charges for non-routine services.  Supervisors Gene Ott (Rivanna), Charles Allbaugh (Rivanna) and Don Weaver (Cunningham) all objected to the increase in hourly fee rates and requested additional information;

The supervisors’ next meeting will be held on July 2nd at 2:00 pm at the Courthouse.

Fluvanna County Loses Land Use Case

by. William J. Des Rochers

Fluvanna Field Officer

In a significant land use decision, circuit court judge Paul Peatross, Jr. ruled that Fluvanna County cannot require a special use permit for a private community wastewater system.  

Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors previously had denied a request for such a permit by Mr. Michael Clark, the developer of the Central Meadows subdvision in the Columbia portion of the county.

Mr. Clark, who was instructed to apply for such a permit, then challenged the requirement in curt, contending that the wastewater system was a by-right use, and the court agreed.

The decision is a blow to the county’s efforts to curb development in the “rural preservation” areas of Fluvanna.  The Central Meadows project calls for a clustered 430 residential units on 1,025 acres and would be served by an alternative wastewater system that would culminate in a constructed wetland.  It is in an A-1 (Agricultural) zoning district.

While such a cluster development is a by right use in the A-1 district, county officials sought to block it by requiring the special use permit.   The Fluvanna County Planning Commission had recommended approval of the community wastewater system, and also provided fodder for the plaintiff’s court case.

At the public hearing, Planning Commissioner Angus Murdock, a leading rural preservationist and a resident of the affected area, stated:  “this is an inappropriate density and we have the opportunity to reduce it through the backdoor so to speak … I’m saying we have the opportunity to reduce the density of what he [Clark] can build here via the Special Use Permit process.  Maybe that’s sneaky but…”

Mr. Murdock also doubted that the applicant could find sufficient drain fields to avoid employing the community wastewater system, and therefore have to reduce the project’s density.  But, he acknowledged that: “Time will tell – maybe we’ll be burned.  The density issue is the big one”.

At least for this round, he got burned, and so did the county

A Desire Named Streetcar

On Monday, Charlottesville City Council will receive a report from the Mayor’s Streetcar Task Force that discusses the viability of a street car line on West Main Street.  An initial review of this report indicates the task force is favorably inclined to the vision of a streetcar on West Main. They were unable to come to this conclusion in the report rather their conclusion is that the concept requires more study. 

In summary, the Mayor’s Streetcar Task Force feels that the proposed streetcar system is an excellent opportunity to improve transit and accomplish the city’s stated development goals along the West Main Corridor. While the Task Force can not recommend the implementation of such a system at this time, the Task Force enthusiastically recommends further practical study of this proposal as outlined in the attached work plan. Two especially important elements of this work plan will be the cost and development analysis tasks. Together, these tasks will determine the costs and benefits of a potential streetcar system. As an immediate step, the City should hire the necessary consultants to study the base cost to build and operate a streetcar system as proposed in this report, and to forecast the development effects of the proposed streetcar. {Emphasis in original}

What I perceive written throughout the document is a vision of the West Main Corridor without cars whereby citizens are forced onto fixed rail public transit without a reasonable alternative.  Before anyone suggests my paranoia has gotten the better of me, please read the following excerpt from the report:

We also need to decide if cars will continue to be a major part of this corridor, both as transportation, and as a land use [car service shops, etc.].

 This anti-mobility position may play well with our current high gas prices, but gasoline will need to increase significantly to outweigh a fixed rail system with a capital cost exceeding $17.1 Million dollars a mile. 

 

The report to council also envisions business booming along the streetcar line.  A few years back The Free Enterprise Forum conducted limited research on Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and the viability of mixed use businesses included in TODs.  One of the owners we spoke with made it very clear the only reason his operation was viable was due to heavy federal tax subsides.  As such subsidies are going away (and perhaps should have never been introduced in the first place), I anticipate the report to be overly optimistic regarding such business growth.

The report attempts to tie the decision of a fixed track streetcar system over a bus system without speaking of the inherent flexibility of bus systems to continuously adjust for changes in settlement and business patterns. 

The report indicates:

The idea of a streetcar system fits well with the goals of environmental sustainability that the Charlottesville community and city government have already clearly established. A streetcar’s electric power has much greater energy efficiency than a comparable bus line, has no point-source pollution, and reduces demand for petroleum fuel. More importantly though, a streetcar will encourage dense, mixed-use development, absorbing new residents within the city core instead of pushing new development outside of the city where an automobile dependent lifestyle is the only available option. {emphasis added}

The sustainability of huge new capital expenses on the shoulders of the citizens rather than those benefiting from the program is of significant concern as well.  As one who has ridden on the streetcars in Portland and Minneapolis and found their ridership wanting, I believe this idea is on the  wrong track.

Reason Economist Randal O’Toole penned a paper some time ago outlining the many ways localities have failed regarding rail transit.  In his Rail Disasters 2005 he cites:

Rail transit is promoted as a way to reduce congestion and air pollution. But it cannot do these things if rail construction causes or is accompanied by declines in overall transit ridership, or if it slows the growth in transit ridership to less than it was with a bus-only transit system.

The desire named streetcar has visited many towns.  Based on our highly successful trolly program, I do not believe City Council should climb aboard this untenable transit option. 

Greene County BOS Report

Greene County Board of Supervisors

Greene County Administration Building

6/10/2008

Kara Reese, Free Enterprise Forum

 

Present

Steve Catalano, Chairman

Buggs Peyton, Vice Chair

Jeri Allen

Carl Schmitt

Mike Skeens

 

Also Present

Barry Clark (County Administrator)

Ray Clarke (County Attorney)

 

7:30 pm – Call to Order

 

 

1.         Matters from the Executive Meeting of the Board.

            Three matters were called up from the Executive Meeting. Most significant was the approval of execution of a contract to purchase new county vehicles and busses pursuant to the newly adopted budget.

 

2.         Electoral Board – Request to Establish a Central Absentee Precinct (CAP)

 

            Ellen Deane, Chair of the Greene County Electoral Board, requested that the County enact an ordinance permitting the establishment of a Central Absentee Precinct (CAP) to be located in the Registrar’s Office. The County is no longer permitted to use paper ballots for in-person pre-election absentee votes. In order to comply with new laws, the County must either (1) create one central location where absentee ballots can be cast on a voting machine or (2) a machine must be provided for each individual precinct to allow for in precinct counting.

 

            The Electoral Board is advocating for the creation CAP. There is already an extra machine available for use. The only estimated additional cost of this option is approximately $300 to staff three additional election officials.  In contrast, providing a machine for each precinct would require the purchase of three additional machines at an estimated cost of $5000.00 per machine.

 

            After a brief the discussion, the Board of Supervisors requested that the County Attorney draft an appropriate ordinance to create a CAP. It is expected that the ordinance will come before the Board for a vote in the July 8th meeting.            

 

 

 

3.         Matters from the public

            Andrea Wilkinson complemented the Board on the development and presentation of the Water Study. She was glad to see a resolution regarding the letter of intent to cooperate with Stanardsville for regional water supply planning.

 

4.         Consent Agenda

  1.  
    1. Minutes of the previous meeting
    2. Resolution to request VDOT to install “Watch for Children” signs in Godalming Subdivision.
    3. Resolution authorizing and amendment to Assumption Agreement with respect to the assumption of certain revenue bonds of the Rapidan Service Authority – Removed from the consent agenda
    4. Resolution regarding regional water supply planning and submission of a letter of intent to cooperate with Stanardsville to create a regional plan.
    5. Resolution to request that Governor Kaine and the Virginia General Assembly to enact a significant transportation funding package in an effort to resolve the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure needs.
    6. Requests for Fireworks Permits.

 

J. Allen moved to approve all items on the consent agenda except for item (c) which is to be removed from the agenda.

 

Vote:

All matters on the consent agenda except for item (c) were considered together and passed unanimously.

 

5.         Other matters from the Board

            a. Board Retreat at Rosewood Inn on July 1, 2007, 8 am

 

            There was significant discussion about what items needed to be discussed at this years retreat including:

         reworking current business zoning categories

         creating a new comprehensive plan

         what the Board’s vision for the County will be

         Staff will provide an overview of where the county stands with its current zoning.

         Transportation issues

         Possible development of a Board policy with respect to contributing to the reserve fund

         Budgeting issues

         Adoption of an ant-idling policy

         Water planning

         Schools

 

b.   S. Catalano would like the Board to discuss adopting a policy regarding how it will handle the legislature cutting funding after a Budget has been approved in the future.

 

c. J. Allen noted that the inoperable vehicle ordinance will be presented in July. The abandoned cars code section is still being reviewed by the County Attorney but should also be presented in the near future.

 

d. The Board discussed whether staff would need to attend a June 16, 2008 meeting that the DEQ is holding at the Forestry Department. It was concluded that B. Clark and at least one Board member were already planning to attend the meeting.

 

e. J. Allen would like to request permission to raise the transient occupancy tax from 2% to 5%. The county will need enabling legislation from the state to do this. J. Allen believes the additional 3% should go to tourism, so the burden is no longer on the EDA to fund it.

 

d. J. Allen would like to Board to consider an ordinance to address barking dogs. There was some discussion about enacting a general nuisance ordinance. The Board would like to here from the Sherriff regarding this issue as well as the public.

 

            f. The next Board of Supervisors meeting will by July 8, 2008.

 

Adjournment 8:30 p.m.

 

           

Criminalizing Canines – Albemarle’s Urban Metamorphosis

Later today, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will consider an amendment to their code to include dog barking as a nuisance.  The proposed ordinance defines excessive dog barking as lasting more than thirty minutes will no more than five minutes without barking.  The penalties ratchet up for repeat offenders including Canine Confiscation.  The Board last considered this matter in 1996 and decided against such an ordinance as civil penalties are already on the books.

The  Board is also very interested in limiting the number of canines you can have in your home.  This part of the change in the code is not yet ready for public hearing but I anticipate it will come forward in the next three months.

While I understand the Board has been lobbied by several communities where excessive dog barking is a problem, I contend this is another example of the urban metamorphosis in Albemarle.  As the Comprehensive Plan dictates more dense development, more and more regulations are being contemplated to control more and more aspects of our lives.  This is a philosophical shift from rugged individualism to “Government Knows Best”.

This phenomena is not exclusive to Albemarle County.  Two years ago, the General Assembly was considering a smoking ban in all restaurants.  While the Free Enterprise Forum does not have a position on this issue, I (a nonsmoker) believe every restaurant owner has the right to ban smoking in his or her establishment (as we are seeing now with O’Grady’s).  I contend that nonsmoking restaurants have a higher likelihood of my patronage and if the majority of people are of the same opinion, business will improve with such an individualized ban.  When I raised this policy issue with one of the Albemarle Supervisors, he indicated he agreed with my concept of freedom but not in this case as there was a larger public health issue at stake.  Government will take care of you even if you won’t take care of yourself.

The very concept of a local government body mandating the number of dogs you own on your (up to 4.99 acre) parcel should be alarming but due to the shifting populations and changing demographics few folks are upset (or even aware) of this proposal.

To be clear no one should be subjected to dogs howling all night, but are additional police powers really the answer? 

Should we abdicate all aspects of personal responsibility and create an Orwellian world where the Board of Supervisors is empowered to legislate good neighborship?

Or perhaps, I am the one howling at the moon.

What Drives Innovation?

My post yesterday considered the tipping point regarding folks moving back into the urban core.  While I suggested the number might be closer to $7.00 a gallon, I failed to address two important economic aspects to this argument, price elasticity and innovation.

If as suggested in my previous post, gasoline prices reach $7.00 a gallon push more of the population into the urban core, the prices for those properties will increase according to this demand curve.  For this example let’s suggest a family moves into the urban core reducing their driving by 200 miles a week.  The monthly savings of 800 miles month not traveled (at 20 mpg) is 40 gallons multiplied by $7.00 equals a monthly gasoline savings of $280.  Such a cost savings would likely be very attractive to many purchasers creating increased demand for such housing.  The increased demand will create upwards pressure on urban housing prices in these areas until such a time that it wipes out the effective cost savings.

Meanwhile on the other side of the demand curve let’s suggest 1,000 families make the move to the urban core and use 40 gallons less fuel each month.  This would mean 40,000 fewer gallons of gasoline were being consumed thus lowering the demand curve for gasoline and negatively impacting the price.  In addition, the families moving out of the suburban and rural areas are creating less demand for housing in these areas thus lowering the prices that can be achieved.  Under this scenario, less affluant buyers will find more housing in the suburban areas where the barriers to entry are lower but the commuting costs (which do not have to be paid upfront) are higher. 

Such equilibrium in the market will keep gas demand relatively equal.  This is where innovation comes into play.  The transportation innovation of the streetcar helped build cities outer edges with residential housing.  The automobile provided the world will even more mobility followed by the innovation of the interstate highway system and telecommuting (working from a home or remote office).  Mainstream car companies are selling hybrid fuel vehicles faster than they can assemble them.  The next innovation to impact human settlement patterns may be hydrogen fuel cells or it may be something else entirely.

Innovation occurs naturally when the forces of need place pressures on the creative minds of a generation to solve the need. But as just as Theodore Levitt said “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”  I fully anticipate that by 2012 the standard vehicle in the United States will be smaller than today and may run, at least partially on alternative energy.  The economic pressures to create such a vehicle are immense and the economic cost to those companies that do not adapt will be extinction.

Other adaptions I see in our future include:

  • Housing in 2012 will be more energy efficient (but not smaller) and energy audits may become an important part of the standard home inspection.   
  • By 2012, nuclear energy generation will gain in acceptance and at least four new nuclear power plants will come on line before 2020.

All of these advances will occur thanks to the ingenuity and inventiveness of the human race (not just Americans) when faced with the economic realities of the 21st century.

       

$4.00+ Gasoline – High Enough to Make You Move?

It’s official, over the weekend AAA (the American Automobile Association) reported the national average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was over $4.00.  Morning news programs jumped on the news rolling out any number of financial experts to predict where the cost of gasoline will be in the next 90 days.

While we are seeing significant drops in the number of gallons of fuel pumped each month, I wonder where the price must be to change lifestyle decisions of the American public.  We are already seeing Ford F- Series truck sales volume drop by 30% and Honda Civic sales volumes increase by over 30%.  We are also seeing a number of “choice” transit riders increase because due to the price increases they no longer consider commuting by public transit a choice. 

Changing the type of vehicle you drive and how you commute into work are significant decisions but do not have as big an impact as the decision on where to buy a home.  If you choose to purchase a home in an urbanizing area near your place of employment (and shopping and amenities) you will reduce your commuting costs but you may have to give up the large yard and other suburban benefits.  The market generally places a higher premium on those homes closer in, so you may have to accept a smaller house if you choose to live in the urban area.

The New Urbanists would argue the large yard would require additional gasoline to keep the grass cut and the larger house may cost more to heat and cool.  These are all soft costs that home buyers should (but do not always) consider when making their purchase decisions. The benefits to urban living are many and for a growing cohort in our community the pros out weigh the cons for this lifestyle change. 

While I continue to hear experts anticipating a seismic shift in the market toward urban living, the numbers as yet do not bear it out.  According to June 16, 2008 BusinessWeek article on vacation driving, a car driving 278 miles has seen a real increase in gas prices of $7.74 in the last year.  If driving an SUV the same distance the increase is $10.30 over June 2007 prices.

The cost of fuel is on the minds of home buyers but until it becomes significantly more expensive, we have not yet reached the economic tipping point. Once the tipping point is reached and sustained (likely $7.00+) then we may see significant relocation and a truly market driven change in human settlement patterns. 

 

 

  

Expanded Coverage Fluvanna BOS

The Free Enterprise Forum is expanding.  Effective June 2nd, we have field officers both Greene and Fluvanna County.  Last month the blog featured a couple of postings from Ms. Kara Reese regarding Greene County’s Board and Planning Commission action.   Late last week, Mr. William Des Rochers filed his first Free Enterprise Forum Fluvanna County Report (see below).

The Free Enterprise Forum is a non-profit 501c(6) organization.  Thanks to generous contibutors like you, we are able to complete our mission.  Please consider donating www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Meeting Report:  Fluvanna Board of Supervisors

June 4, 2008

 William J. Des Rochers

Fluvanna Field Officer

 Fluvanna’s supervisors made quick dispatch of a thin agenda at their June 4th public session.  The Board completed its work in less than two hours.

The session primarily was devoted to housekeeping chores such as changes to the county’s personnel guidelines, and routine reports.

County Administrator G. Cabell Lawton IV announced that county officials will visit New York City on June 25th and 26th to seek a bond rating.  Mr. Lawton also reported that the new library building, currently under construction at Pleasant Grove, is structurally sound.  Concerns were raised after trusses collapsed twice earlier this year.

In other Board actions, supervisors approved:

·        The addition of a workplace violence policy to the county personnel manual;

·        Revisions to the county personnel manual covering leave transfers and overtime/compensatory time policies;

·        A budget supplemental appropriation to the Parks and Recreation Department in the amount of $5,500 to come from departmental revenues from various programs;

·        The use of the county seal by the Commonwealth’s Attorney as a hyperlink by the Check Enforcement Program’s website;

·        A VDOT resolution request a project adjustment involving the abandonment of the old Route 15 right-of-way (at the old Palmyrabridge site); and,

·        An agreement with the Fluvanna SPCA to manage and maintain the county’s animal shelter.  The county would spend $6,000 per month for the services; and the agreement would include an annual escalator clause of 5 percent.  It would cover the period July 1st, 2008 to June 30th, 2011.  Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) dissented, concerned over the agreement’s cost.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on June 18th, at 7:00 p.m. in the County Courthouse.

 

Planning Priorities Postpone Places29

In an effort to put the best face on yet one more delay in the Master Planning Process for the North U.S. 29 Corridor known as Places29, Outgoing Director of The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commision Harrison Rue and Albemarle Planner Judy Wiegand are quoted in Sunday’s Daily Progress stating the project is extremely complex, more so than any other planning done in Virginia, that’s why it’s running behind. {emphasis added}

For those of you just tuning in, this process was started with great fanfare as a joint VDOT/Albemarle County Planning Project, a national model linking land use and transportation together.  With a combined budget in excess of $1.2 million dollars.  Officially launched with an aptly named Citizen Academy in May of 2005.  The project just celebrated its third birthday by missing yet one more deadline.

The plan has not had significant public work since the August 2007 release of Chapter Five.  Despite the fact that the Places29 plan still lacks an implementation plan, the latest estimates have the Albemarle County Planning Commission reviewing the plan in the late summer/fall with the Board of Supervisors weighing in by November or December.  If previous performance is any indicator, I would be very surprised to see The Board of Supervisors start their review of the project until well into 2009. 

Master plans are designed to be reviewed every five years not take five years for construction.  Even more troubling is the lack of detail available in the five chapters that have been drafted.  Areas of significant concern have, rather than addressed, been selected for future small area plans.  Such powerful thinking will keep at least a generation of Albemarle County planners employed for the foreseeable future.

In an effort to provide context to the Places29 project, the Free Enterprise Forum has published two studies WorkPlace 29 and the Rio/US29 Intersection study.   Rather than embrace someone doing something on Places29 these reports have been dismissed by those internal to the Places29 planning process.

Considering the hours of meetings and group think workshops that have been put on by the planners and consultants on this project, citizens have a right to be upset at the lack of any real progress in the last year.  By selecting themselves as the steering committee for the project, the Albemarle County Planning Commission, must shoulder a lion’s share of the responsibility for missing yet one more deadline. 

The Free Enterprise Forum recognizes The Albemarle County Planning Staff has been understaffed for some time and management have pulled planners from projects such as Places29 to meet other more important planning priorities. 

In private industry, if such a 1.2 million dollar project were this far behind and significant milestones missed, project managers and their steering committee would face significant penalties including project, manager and steering committee termination. 

In public policy, no such accountability exists.