By. Neil Williamson
Tonight (5/12) the Albemarle County Planning Commission will consider minor changes to their entrance corridor regulations to reduce confusion in the ordinance. The Free Enterprise Forum, while appreciative of the effort, believes more comprehensive change is in order.
In the early 1980’s there was a popular bumper sticker that stated “All Dirt Roads Lead to Tech”. I am reminded of this concept in considering the number of “Entrance Corridors” Albemarle County has enumerated in its ordinance. Albemarle County has designated TWENTY ONE (21) roads as “entrance corridors”.
- U.S. Route 250 East
- U.S. Route 29 North
- U.S. Route 29 South
- Virginia Route 20 South
- Virginia Route 631 South from Charlottesville City limits to Route 708 and from U.S. Route 29 North to Route 743
- U.S. Route 250 West
- Virginia Route 6
- Virginia Route 151
- Interstate Route 64
- Virginia Route 20 North
- Virginia Route 22
- Virginia Route 53
- Virginia Route 231
- Virginia Route 240
- U.S. Route 29 Business
- U.S. Route 29/250 Bypass
- Virginia Route 654
- Virginia Route 742
- Virginia Route 649 from U.S. Route 29 North to Virginia Route 606
- Virginia Route 743 from U.S. Route 29 North to Virginia Route 676
- Virginia Route 631 from U.S. 29 North easterly to the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks.
When the state granted localities the power to determine an Entrance Corridor, I do not believe it was the legislative intent to provide such a wide swath of power.
Section 15.2-2306 of the Code of Virginia authorizes the creation of such districts along streets or highways which constitute “significant routes of tourist access to the locality or to designated historic landmarks, buildings, structures or districts.” Upon designation of such an area, the Ordinance may require review to determine whether proposed construction along the tourist route is “architecturally compatible” with the historic landmarks, buildings or structures located in the destination. In the event such an ordinance is adopted, it authorizes the Board of Supervisors to designate areas within the County as entrance corridor overlay districts and to establish standards for such districts.
With 21 entrance corridors, Albemarle County spends a vast amount of money and staff time aggressively examining the architectural design, landscape design, color scheme, lighting and signage of all parcels sharing a boundary line with the EC or within 500 feet of the EC.
Is this the proper scope for the Entrance Corridor?
The Free Enterprise Forum believes that in time Albemarle County may face a lawsuit for overzealously embracing the Entrance Corridor concept. Until such an aggrieved party comes forward, any property owner located within 500 feet of the 21 Entrance Corridors has a reduction of property rights and are subject to big government, via the Architectural Review Board deciding how to design their project.
As we see increasing retail sales flee out of Albemarle County, perhaps such roads should be considered “Sales Tax Escape Routes” rather than Entrance Corridors.