Streamlining – One Baby Step At A Time

By. Neil Williamson

In yesterday’s (1/7) Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board approved a very minor step forward toward reducing the regulatory maze development proposals must endure. 

The Free Enterprise Forum, while supportive of the change, compared the Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) to being given a small Dixie cup of water as you cross the desert.  The changes to Administrative Waivers as originally proposed by the Development Review Task Force were far more expansive and would have truly streamlined the process, kept the public informed of the process and provided staff with specific guidelines required to grant the waiver. 

Why did the Zoning Text Amendment that finally reached the Board not include all, or even most, of the concepts of the Task Force? 

Because it had to go through the Albemarle County Planning Commission first.

Despite two Planning Commissioners sitting on the Development Review Task Force, the Commission would not relinquish control over these minor issues to staff.    Over the last two weeks’ meetings the Planning Commission seems to be upset with the professional planning staff having the ability to make any administrative approvals.  In two different applications, one member of the commission grilled staff regarding the administrative waiver process and questioned why such issues do not come to the Planning Commission for approval. 

Increasingly, Albemarle County’s Planning Commission is out of step with the Board of Supervisors.  Yesterday, the Board of Supervisors wrestled with the idea of not enacting the ZTA as written and readvertising it with new, more expansive language to include critical slopes waivers.  The benefit of this approach was that then the process would not legally have to go back to the Planning Commission (irony?). 

Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors decided to enact the Administrative Waiver ZTA as written and directed staff to move forward, with all deliberate speed, on the critical slopes waiver ZTA .

I just hope they told their appointees on the Planning Commission.

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