Monthly Archives: June, 2009

Greene County BOS Approves ZTA and Hears Water Concerns from Citizens

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary

SUP#09-001 – Request for a Special Use Permit for an Electronic Message Center on a 1.04 acre tract zoned B-2 and located on Route 29 – Approved

OR#09-001 – Revision to Article 19 – Site Development Plan regarding letters of revision – Approved

The Greene County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday June 23, 2009. J. Allen was not present at the meeting. The Board considered an application for a special use permit for an electronic message center. The Board also heard an ordinance revision request from staff that would allow for letters of revisions in some circumstances. Finally, citizens addressed they Board regarding issues with their water hookup.

The first public hearing on the agenda was a special use permit for an electronic message center. Applicants, Bruce Shifflett and George and Suzanne Haney of Lydia Mountain Lodge and Log Cabins sought a special use permit to place an electronic sign at their new office space located on the southeast corner of the Route 29/33 intersection. They intend to use the space as a central office for several aspects of their businesses including cabin rentals, a dinner show and a new furniture sales department.

On May 20, 2009 the Planning Commission recommended approval of the special use permit with the following conditions: 1) The electronic message center shall be considered part of the aggregate signage; 2) The electronic message center shall not have neon colored lights and shall not flash, rotate or visually move so as to preserve the aesthetic character of the community and promote traffic safety, except as provided in number six; 3) The message center shall not be animated in any manner; 4) The electronic message shall not scroll across the electronic center; 5) The permitted hours of operation for the electronic message center shall be consistent with the hours of operation of the building located on 60-(A)-20E. The electronic message center shall not be operated after 11pm; 6) The electronic message center may be changed at periodical intervals of every two hours within the hours of operation. 

The applicants spoke briefly and stated that the only condition that caused them concern was the limit on how often the sign could be changed. Applicants will be advertising four separate businesses and felt the two hour interval would limit their ability to advertise all of the businesses. Applicant requested that they be allowed to change the sign every two minutes.

The Board of Supervisors focused their discussion on the time interval that the sign would be permitted to change. The Board was sympathetic with the applicant’s situation. However, there was concern over whether the more frequent changing of the sign would cause a safety issue.  B. Peyton noted that this application for an electronic message center was distinguishable from the recent application for an electronic message center for the proposed Arby’s which was approved with a four hour interval. In the case of Lydia Mountain’s office building the property was further from the highway than the Arby’s sign. He also noted that the sign would be facing the road at a different angle. 

B. Peyton moved to approve the application with the same conditions recommended by the Planning Commission except for condition six which was amended to 6) The electronic message center may be changed at periodical intervals of every two hours within the hours of operation. The motion passed unanimously.

The second public hearing regarded revisions to the Greene County Zoning Ordinance Article 19 – Site Development Plan. This ordinance revision would allow staff to issue letters of revision for minor changes to approved site plans. A plan could receive up to three letters of revision before a new site plan would be required. The purpose of this proposed change is to free up staff time and reduce costs to applicants.

The Board expressed a few concerns during their discussion. B. Peyton inquired whether the $100 fee was sufficient to recoup staff costs. C. Schmitt was concerned that the ordinance didn’t contain more specific guidelines and list items that would not qualify for letters of revision such as proffers.

B. Peyton moved to approve the ordinance revision as written by staff. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote.

Finally, in matters from the public two residents who live near Lydia addressed the Board regarding water concerns. Their community of approximately 16-17 households had been notified that they will be taken for the Rapidan Service Authority’s (RSA) water supply. RSA has offered them some financial assistance to drill their own wells; however, residents are concerned that they will not have sufficient lots for the both a well and a septic system. The Board addressed their concerns noting that they could inquire about the situation on their behalf, but the Board has no authority over the RSA to force them to keep the residents on the system.

The Board quickly disposed of the consent agenda and reports from Board Members. The meeting was adjourned until July 14, 2009.

CvilleWaterAnswers.com Launched

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 25, 2009

Charlottesville, VA – The Free Enterprise Forum launched a new web portal CvilleWaterAnswers.com to provide the public with clear concise answers regarding the Community Water Supply.  Designed to promote informed dialog, the site answers frequently asked questions and includes links to web based original source material providing users a conduit to research the supporting documentation.  

The Free Enterprise Forum has raised concerns in recent weeks regarding the level of transparency in the process.  Of additional concern is the plan’s failure to capture the impact of inflation on future project costs.

Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said, “The approved water supply plan was developed in a well designed, participatory, public process.  Unfortunately, the permitting process and the costs associated with the plan have not been readily available to the general public.  CvilleWaterAnswers.com seeks to provide citizens a portal to get to such often elusive information.”

 “Regardless of the Free Enterprise Forum position on the Community Water Supply, CvilleWaterAnswers.com will not shy away from researching the difficult questions and providing clear fact based analysis, whether it is supportive of the approved plan or not” Williamson said.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded, public policy organization covering local government in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties.  For more information about The Free Enterprise Forum, visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org

VDOT Study Headed For Collision With Places29 & Other Local Comprehensive Plans?

By.  Neil Williamson

Last Friday afternoon, I drove up US 29 to spend a couple of hours at a “consultant studio” for the US 29 Corridor Study.  As the only member of the public present, I was impressed with the level of candor among the consultants and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) representatives.

VDOT US 29 Study

VDOT US 29 Study

As a review, the goals of the $1.5 mllion dollar US 29 Corridor Study is:

to create a Route 29 corridor blueprint that includes a short-term action plan, intermediate recommendations and a vision plan that identifies long-range goals, policies and recommendations.The Route 29 corridor is a vital link in Virginia’s transportation network and ensuring its long-term viability is essential to the future development of the state’s economic potential.

Along with identifying the numerous local needs along this regional corridor the study will also develop a vision for the future for how to best meet those needs.

The corridor study will consider a range of mobility options and needs along the corridor, including personal and commercial vehicles, rail and public transit as well as other modes of transportation.

The results of the study will be used to help establish local, regional and statewide goals for a long-range transportation blueprint that will form the basis for future projects along the Route 29 corridor.

Based on Friday’s meeting, the last paragraph is where the potential conflicts are starting to simmer. The US 29 Corridor study is clearly transportation focused.  Land use in the corridor impacts the efficiency of the corridor.  One member of the group assembled raised significant concerns regarding the study going too far into dictating to localities’ land use designations for “their” respective portion of the US 29 corridor.  Another member suggested if the local land use decisions have been harmful to transportation, the study should call it out.  I beleive this is the paradigm shift VDOT may be seeking

The discussion included ideas such as locality funded interchanges constructed using property tax increases resulting from corridor development.  At one point, the concept of a corridor wide transportation service district (with taxing power) was floated.  It was clear to this observer that VDOT does not have money to fund infrastructure improvements and is seeking new revenue streams.

No decisions were made in this informal gathering but the tone of the conversations were terse regarding localities seeing stoplights on US 29 as a part of their economic development program.  This is the conflict between transportation and land use planning.  Transportation is getting vehicles (and product) efficiently through the corridor and land use is focused on developing (or not developing) property to its highest and best use  in the corridor.

As the consultant group continued to wrestle with these issues (the report is due out by the end of the year), I was having difficulty reconciling the goals of the US 29 Corridor Study transportation dominated plan vs. the land use dominated goals of the Places29 plan.  As comprehensive plans tend to be land use dominated, I can places29_webimagine such  conflicts occurring up and down the US 29 corridor.

It will be most interesting to see how VDOT maneuvers to avoid the collision of  these two differently focused planning exercises. And, perhaps most importantly, their implementation plans.

Land Use Policies Impact on Housing Prices?

By. Neil Williamson

The June 29th edition of  BusinessWeek has a Housing Market 2012 cover story.  The article accurately points out:

ALL REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL

Of course, the national median price is an artificial construct, since there is no such a place as National Median, U.S.A.

The article selected seven different markets to examine.  The Free Enterprise Forum is most interested in the comparison of three of these markets: Seattle, Saratoga Springs, and Omaha.  Our interest is less focused on how the regulatory environments and market conditions impacted the availability and affordability of homes. 

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs is held up as the “Anti-Suburb” a town of about 28,000 is a part of the Albany area but has a personality far beyond that of  just a bedroom community.  Located in an MSA that includes 17 Colleges and Universities, in addition to the State Capitol located 35 miles to the south, Saratoga Springs, not unlike Charlottesville, is more financially insulated than many other communities.  The tony town has been the beneficiary of over 100 years of state and corporate altruism.

The BusinessWeek article quotes local architect Daniel Neary:

“Architects and planners got together with local politicians to make sure we stayed vibrant to compete” with other communities.

While the article suggests that Saratoga Springs typifies “New Urbanism”, the photograph supports another conclusion.  Standing in front of his four bedroom colonial (on what looks like at least a 1/2 acre lot with a two car garage) Manhattan transplant Jeffery Cannizzo is the exception rather than the rule with a two mile commute to his office.

The Saratoga Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area had a $2,540 drop in  median home price in the last year (2007/08).  The Free Enterprise Forum believes that this less than average drop can be credited to three market conditions: stability of state jobs, strong tourism industry and a flexibile approach to developing a  walkable “New Urbanist” neighborhood that would allow real front yards (as opposed to the porch on the sidewalk) and two car garages (as opposed to alleyway parking).

Omaha

 BusinessWeek cited Omaha’s strong job market and ultra-low unemployment as positive factors in their region’s modest $930 drop in median home price (2007/08).  The Free Enterprise Forum believes other factors cited later in the article are as important, if not more important to the vitality of Omaha:

…boasts an abundance of land and power, an extensive fiber optic network and a favorable tax regime.”

Last year, Omaha added 2,700 new jobs while the U.S. lost 3 million.  Interestingly, the photograph featuring the Omaha family is taken in the driveway leading to a two car garage attached to a 3,000 square foot home.  With two young children in their arms, the couple seem eager to play with the children in their ample front yard.  

Seattle

Trumpeted as having a low inventory of housing, BusinessWeek credits the $42,000 drop in median house price to tight building restrictions and basic geography.  These are the same forces that pushed housing affordability in Seattle through the roof and forced many service workers out of the city and onto the regions overburdened transportation network.

BusinessWeek identifies the geographic challenges as:

Not that there is much undeveloped land to buy.  An isthmus, Seattle is hugged by Puget Sound on the west and Lake Washington on the East. 

With such constraints, Seattle does not have a significant supply of homes on the market.  It would take just five months to move through the entire inventory compared with roughly nine months for the U.S. as a whole …

Seattle’s regulatory environment is among the toughest in the nation.  Geographically (and topographically) challenged, Seattle has positioned itself as the environmental leader of the evergreen state.   By severely limiting construction on steep slopes and restricting land owners ability to develop their property, government has constrained the supply of housing.  The governmental stranglehold has pushed single family housing prices beyond the reach of the average wage earner in the city.  This can result in an increase in dense city living, which in tun can support significant transit operations; the other alternative is the dispersion of the population to more housing friendly environments which results in Herculean commutes into the urban core.   

The article highlights a young professor, who bikes to work and his young family in front of their 4 bedroom home with carriage style garage doors.  In contrast to the other photos in the series, the 1947 home does not have a significant yard but hints at a small fenced side yard for the children.

Three communities, each with a different approach to their housing needs.  An examination of these articles leads me to more questions than answers:

  • Which of the three do you feel best represents the Charlottesville Market?
  • Do you believe local architects embrace the “Neighborhood Model”  in the same fashion as Saratoga Springs?
  • Should we change our regulatory environment to mirror one of these communities?  
  • What role does land use regulation play in our regional housing affordability?

Divided Charlottesville Planning Commission Recommends Approval of Single Room Occupancy Facilities

By: Justin West, Charlottesville Field Officer Intern

             In meeting that boiled over into heated debate on more than one occasion the Charlottesville Planning Commission narrowly recommended a change in the City’s zoning ordinance which would allow for Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Facilities, by a 3-2 vote on June 9th. SRO’s are seen by many as an inexpensive, partially government subsidized housing option for the homeless, those with very low income, or special needs; however, beyond this point the Commissioners were unable to reach a consensus on what these dwellings should look like in Charlottesville.

            The Commission debated how many individuals should be permitted to rent these facilities, what amenities they should have, and where they should be located among other issues on Tuesday. The most hotly contested aspect of the ordinance and the factor that led to the close vote was whether or not the units should be required to have bathrooms and kitchens. Commissioners Cheri Lewis and Michael Osteen represented the two dissenting votes and argued that SRO’s should not be required to have bathrooms and kitchens in each unit.  As Osteen argued they wanted “more flexibility in unit type” in order to allow for the SRO’s to be more affordable, appropriate for those than cannot maintain their own facilities, and to create more incentive for private companies to construct them in a profitable manner.

           On the other side of the issue Commissioners William Emory, Mike Farruggio, and Genevieve Keller, argued that Kitchens and Bathrooms are necessary for the dignity of the tenant and to establish the practice of self sufficiency. In the end, majority rules and the recommended ordinance will require kitchens and baths.

            Aside from the central tension over unit type the Commissioners were able to broker a series of more agreeable compromises. A couple of these compromise provisions in the approved ordinance are that SRO’s must be within a quarter of a mile from transit options and a maximum of 15% of the units may allow for two residents (with the reasoning being that 30% of the homeless are married and they should be accommodated). Despite a fair effort to reach a consensus the Commissioners still ended up quite divided on the ordinance, as Commissioner Lewis aptly and exhaustedly summed up by declaring “I’m disappointed I can’t vote for this ordinance, but I can’t at this time”.

Other Items on the Agenda

             There were three other items unanimously recommended for approval during the June 9th meeting. A preliminary site plan for a Whole Foods that would sit on the intersection of Hydraulic Road and the future Hillsdale Drive extended was approved and contained considerable changes from the original plan that was presented on July 22nd 2008. The project is still very much in its infancy and remains contingent on continued review, however the Commission seemed pleased with how the project has evolved but still sees it as a work in progress, a view best summarized by Commissioner Osteen when he told the representative for the applicant “I appreciate the effort, but for me its not there yet”.

            The Commission settled on a set of requirements it would recommend for Accessory Dwelling Units as well. The requirements go as follows; the accessory unit cannot be higher than 25 feet, the eve of the accessory can’t be higher than the eve of its principle structure, the high point of the accessory cannot be higher than the high point of its principle, and the footprint of the accessory cannot exceed 40% of that of its principle.

            The final item on the agenda was the passage of a new sign ordinance for the Downtown mall in the wake of the old signage not meeting Americans with Disabilities Act and being removed. Café’s on the mall will now be allowed to have signs 5 feet in height with a face of 3 square feet. The ordinance also provides for establishments to use sandwich boards that are a maximum of 4 feet in height and 2 feet wide. One or the other, but not both, may be used be used by downtown businesses if the ordinance is passed by Council. Although the revised signage plan was approved unanimously, both Commissioners and local business owners were critical of the City for not appropriately taking side street businesses into account during the rebricking and with this new sign ordinance. Director of Neighborhood Services Jim Tolbert assured all parties that City staff will soon meet with downtown businesses to find a more agreeable way to solve the signage problem for the side streets.

Could Places29 Shrink to “The Big Five”?

By. Neil Williamson

In today’s (June 19) Daily Progress on Page A2 there is an odd juxtaposition of stories.  The top left features an article outlining the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce opposition to the Places29 master planning process; the bottom right outline drastic cuts in Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) operations including closing 19 or the state’s 42 rest areas.  To add to the cacophony, Sunday’s Washington Post featured an editorial by outgoing Governor Tim Kaine entitled “Virginia’s Unbuilt Road to Progress“. 

Our analysis of all of this “chatter” is there will be continue to be significantly limited dollars for transportation projects in the short term.  The Free Enterprise Forumbelieves transportation is a core government function of the state.  We anticipate this will be a key issue in the Gubernatoplaces29_webrial election this fall.

In the meantime, we also believe there is a growing recognition among Albemarle County planning staff that Places29 is not going to be built out in the terms described in the master plan.  Just as we have seen the Crozet Library construction schedule slip due to financial conditions, we are starting to see a move at the staff level from ‘an integrated plan that requires all elements to be efficient’ to ‘let’s prioritize those things that might actually get built’.

The Big Five

Earlier this Spring, Albemarle’s Chief Planner David Benish outlined “The Big Five” transportation improvements to the Albemarle County Planning Commission.  Charlottesville Tomorrow has the story:

Benish laid out five projects that he said were essential to the US29 corridor:

  • Implement the earlier 29H250 studies and build Hillsdale Drive Extended
  • Build Berkmar Drive Extended
  • Build a grade separated intersection at Rio Road
  • Widen US29 to 6 lanes north of Polo Grounds Road to Hollymead Town Center
  • Create an enhanced transit system

 

The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the focus Mr. Benish has provided as it is much easier for the public to understand and evaluate these five significant projects than the lengthy tome (and associated technical memorandums) that are Places29.

Will Places29, the poster child of Governor Kaine’s marriage of Land Use Planning and Transportation Planning, be reduced to a list of five significant transportation projects?

No… but reality dictates that as the highway department is closing 19 of 42 rest areas, closing 51 VDOT local residencies, and cutting roadside mowing by $20 million, the idea of launching a twenty year, half BILLION dollar road construction project in Charlottesville is not likely.

Despite a number of good aspects of the plan, The Free Enterprise Forum agrees with the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce that Places29 is fundamentally flawed.  Perhaps a public discussion of the “Big Five” will help us get back on the road to reality based planning.

City Council Chooses Not to Act on Potential Onesty Aquatic Center Parking Shortage

By: Justin West, Charlottesville Field Officer Intern 

Residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Meade Park are concerned the opening of the new Onesty Family Aquatic Center, slated for later this month, will result in overflow parking that will crowd their neighborhood streets. Their concerns stem from a real shortage in parking for the facility. The approved plan includes just 38 parking spaces for the 62,000 square foot facility, 66 spots short of the 104 required for a structure with its amount of usable recreational area. This shortage was permitted by a September 2009 Planning Commission decision to grant Onesty a waiver for its parking requirement.

During the Monday June 15th Charlottesville City Council meeting, City staff presented Council with a solution that came from a June 4th meeting between staff and residents from the area. The proposed solution would create a trial permit parking zone in the following areas; Chesapeake Street from Meade Avenue to Fairway Avenue, Meade Avenue from Market Street to Fairway Avenue/Stewart Street, East Jefferson Street from 12th Street to Meade Avenue, 13th Street between East Jefferson and Little High Street, Little High Street from 13th Street to Meade Avenue, and 400-433 Fairway Avenue.

This potential permit parking zone would have lasted from June 20th to September 8th, effective seven days a week from 10 am to 8 pm. Despite staff recommendations and resident concerns the majority of Council was quite hesitant to take any proactive measures to handle the apparent parking dilemma. Councilor David Brown was perhaps the most vocal in his opposition to creating the permit parking zone now. Brown cited concerns over whether or not parking will truly be an issue at the facility as his reason for hesitation, essentially saying that preemptively dealing with the problem would unnecessarily restrict parking in the area without cause. Mayor Dave Norris was the only Council member that sided with the Meade area residents, saying his “preference is to be proactive”.

In the end Norris was the only dissenting vote as Councilor Brown’s motion to defer the issue until mid-July carried by a 3-1 vote. The intent behind the vote is that Councilors will follow the issue closely until their second meeting in July when they will have had a few weeks to observe the parking habits of the Aquatic Center patrons, giving them a factual basis for deciding if the temporary permit parking zone is necessary.

City Bus Fare Packages to Become More Rider Friendly

For most riders of the CTS bus system fares will be simpler, more rider friendly, and most importantly less expensive according to the Transit Manager for CTS Bill Watterson. In a presentation before Council, resulting in the 4-0 passing of the proposed new fare structure, Watterson detailed his plan. The one way, single ride fare will remain 75 cents and 35 cents for those who qualify for a reduced fare, but the multi-ride packages that CTS offers will soon receive an overhaul.

When the changes take effect the daily fare will drop from $2 to $1.50 and a reduced fare option of 75 cents will be added. In addition, the 10 and 40 ride packages that were $6 and $21 respectively will be replaced by a $20 monthly pass, which will also for the first time have a reduced fare option at $10.

 The fare structure changes came as the result of a rider survey conducted by CTS and are designed to be more rider friendly than the old options. “This is about finding ways to structure our fares to increase ridership” Watterson commented, also adding that these changes should be close to expense and revenue neutral. The changes are aimed at increasing ridership on the system which has already seen a 50% increase in riders over the last 5 years.

Rezoning of 814 Hinton Stricken From Agenda at Last Second

Upon arriving at Monday’s meeting some attendees may have noticed one hot button issue removed from the agenda. Sometime after the agendas were printed and the rezoning of 814 Hinton Avenue was placed on the consent agenda to be presumably fast tracked to passage, Council decided to defer the item to a later date.

The issue, which has been one of much contention for residents of the Belmont neighborhood seemed to be on its way to passing last meeting (June 1st) after all four present Councilors spoke out in favor of rezoning the current structure at 814 from R-1, a residential zoning, to Neighborhood Commercial Corridor in order to allow for the property owners to open a restaurant on the site.

Many within the neighborhood have significant concerns over the perceived increase in traffic and noise that expanding the commercial section of Belmont would have on the surrounding neighborhood. It was this argument that led to the Planning Commission’s denial of the rezoning attempt by a 4-2 vote last month. On the other hand, proponents of the rezoning contend that because of its location the property naturally belongs in Belmont’s burgeoning commercial center.

There was no word at the meeting on what caused the issue to be deferred, when exactly, or in what form it will appear on the agenda next.

Free Enterprise Forum Defends ‘Reality Check’ Report

Public Statement of The Free Enterprise Forum June 16, 2009

In 2002, then Governor Mark Warner dramatically changed the manner in which transportation projects costs were determined when he mandated the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) use project year dollars instead of constant year dollars in the Department’s six year plan.  According to Governor Warner, this common sense approach gave a more realistic projection of actual construction costs and helped minimize the annual shortfall of millions of dollars as projects were completed over their planned budgets.  That’s prudent planning and governance.

Last month, the Free Enterprise Forum released the ‘Reality Check’ report regarding the cost methodology used in Places29’s Technical Memorandum #11.  Just as Governor Warner did in 2002, the Free Enterprise Forum report called into question the validity of using constant year dollars instead of using an inflation escalated number to better capture the likely costs when the projects are actually constructed.

The Free Enterprise Forum stands squarely behind the data in its report, but the media release that accompanied the report unnecessarily ramped up the rhetorical tone of the discussion.

The fact that the cosplaces29_webts selected to appear in the Places29 report may mislead the public by suggesting lower project costs than are likely, does not rise to the level of “deceit”.   It is simply the way staff and the Albemarle County Planning Commission (ACPC) chose to represent the costs of Places29.  While disagreeing vehemently with that approach, the Free Enterprise Forum regrets what was an inartful characterization of it. In addition, we regret the release did not acknowledge the Planning Commission’s thorough public discussion of this issue.

The Free Enterprise Forum’s media release expressed its significant and ongoing frustration with the Places29 process and with the current draft report that:

  • contains cost figures for projects likely not to begin for several years and which may take twenty or more years to complete that do not account for inflationary factors [yet inflated traffic projections are used] (Reality Check Report).
  • retains costs that are dramatically lower than previous VDOT cost estimates (see the 29/H/250 Corridor Study) for comparable tasks to be assumed in Places29 and do not appear to adequately reflect the costs for right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation, which, together, may, in fact, cost more than the actual road construction at the proposed grade separated interchanges.
  • lacks an economic impact analysis for a corridor that is the commercial lifeblood of our community where more than 20,000 jobs are located with an annual payroll of almost one billion dollars and along which a large percentage of  local real estate, sales, meals and business license tax revenues are generated.
  • lacks easy citizen transparency (the costs are in a technical memorandum on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission web site, not on the County’s Places29 web site).

Taxpayers deserve the best and most accessible accuracy government agencies can offer them regarding the real costs of proposed projects.

The Free Enterprise Forum recognizes there are positive elements to the Places29 plan. 

The Free Enterprise Forum will never shy away from highlighting policy disagreements with the ACPC (or any other governmental entity).  Similarly, it will always urge that government entities take care to present issues and facts to the general public in transparent ways that can be easily and accurately understood.  Citizens and taxpayers deserve nothing less. 

The ACPC took on a large task when it chose to serve as the steering committee for the Places29 Master Plan.  The Free Enterprise Forum is appreciative of the significant time and effort the ACPC and staff have put into this extensive process.  The Free Enterprise Forum will seek to strike a more positive tone in its constructive criticism.  The Free Enterprise Forum shares the ACPC goal that continued active public involvement will have a positive impact on the final work product.

Greene County Board of Supervisors Hear from VDOT in Route 29 Corridor Study Work Session

 

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary:

Resolution recognizing volunteer fire departments and rescue squads as legally organized and authorized providers of fire and rescue services for inclusion in the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program – Approved

Resolution approving request from STAR to use the Courthouse/County Administration Grounds for the 4th of July Parade – Approved

Motion to award the contract for work on Pump Station #13 to Lance Construction of Broadway – Approved

The Greene County Board of Supervisors dealt with a light agenda on Tuesday, June 9, 2009. The Board welcomed Stephen Williams the new executive director of Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. They then held a work session with VDOT on the statewide Route 29 Corridor Study. The Board was able to dispose of most other matters quickly as part of the consent agenda.

Stephen Williams, Executive Director or Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) was introduced to the Board of Supervisors. Williams has twenty-five years of planning experience. He noted that his philosophy as director of TJPDC would be to “provide the best possible service to our member governments.”

VDOT US 29 StudyNext the Board of Supervisors heard from VDOT regarding the Route 29 Corridor Study. This is one of many overlapping studies currently being conducted on Route 29. This particular study focuses on Route 29 from Gainesville, Virginia all the way to the North Carolina Boarder and covers approximately 219 miles.  Workshop sessions have been held in several localities as a part of the study. As a result of those sessions VDOT has identified a number of themes for the improvement of Route 29. These include access control, congestion mitigation, corridor planning and multi-modal means of transportation. VDOT is also interested in increased stewardship or management of policies that affect Route 29.

The Board provided few comments on the study. C. Schmitt had attended the planning workshops. He recognized that many of the ideas put forth in those meetings may never be developed because of a lack of funding. S. Catalano was very interested in a statewide plan for Route 29 but showed some hesitance at increasing VDOT’s control over localities. He also observed that many localities relied on Route 29 as a business corridor because it was the only infrastructure available to them. B. Peyton felt that the most immediate need was to manage access to Route 29. In his opinion, new housing developments should never be given direct access to 29 but should instead be required to link to existing secondary roads to access Route 29. The Board generally agreed that an overarching plan for the corridor is needed, however; that plan needs to be sensitive to the challenges that small localities like Greene County face.

The Board moved quickly through the consent agenda and a few housekeeping matters from their Executive Session. With no comment from the public or other matters from the Board the meeting was adjourned.

Fluvanna Election Slate Set

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

It took until the last day of filing for some to turn in the paperwork but the Fluvanna Supervisors races are set for this fall.  Here is a breakdown of who is running for what.

Columbia District:  Board of Supervisors chairman Marvin Moss will stand for reelection.  As chairman, Mr. Moss has overseen significant developments in the county – most notably the funding for the new high school and the adoption of a joint Fluvanna – Louisa Water Authority to bring water from the James River to Zion Crossroads.  But as chairman he has not been a unifying force for the county and perhaps no other member of the Board draws more animosity.  His opponent is Mr. Shaun Kenney, a conservative in one of the most liberal districts in the county.  No doubt his opponents will remind voters that he is, of all things:  a Republican.  But as political leaders on both sides have stressed, party affiliation really does not count for much in Fluvanna’s local elections.

Cunningham:  Supervisor Don Weaver is running for reelection.  The institutional memory of the Board, he is unabashedly conservative in fiscal matters.  His opponent, yes there is an opponent this time, is novice politician Mr. Keith Smith, a local real estate developer and consultant. 

Rivanna:   Supervisor Charles Allbaugh, a rookie last time around, will try to retain his seat against a challenger:  Mr. Joe Chesser, who is contesting his first race.  Mr. Allbaugh, closely tied to the building of the new high school is seen as an ally of Mr. Moss on the Board.   Mr. Chesser is a member of the Planning Commission and was involved with the development of the recently approved Comprehensive Plan.

The Moss “alliance” enjoys a  4-2 voting majority on the Board of Supervisors.  Consequently, a loss of one member on the BOS would likely require more compromise than hitherto has been seen.