Monthly Archives: August, 2009

Albemarle Appendectomy

By. Neil Williamson

 Albemarle County is going to some effort to get the public reengaged in their Places29 Master Planning exercise.  Thus it was with great surprise that the Free Enterprise Forum discovered a significant places29_webcomponent of the master plan is unavailable to the public – Appendix 2 – Implementation and project descriptions.

This is just the latest interesting twists in finding “public” information about Places29.  If you are looking for the technical memorandum that back up the report, you will not find them anywhere on the Albemarle County site, you must know to look on the subcontractor Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission site. 

It is in Appendix 2 that people begin to get an understanding of the actual scope of the changes being proposed.  While the larger document speaks of limiting access to US 29, Appendix 2 includes maps that show how challenged the movements from US 29 will be.

Here is a link to one of the “unavailable” projects.  Project Number 22 (of 58) from Appendix 2 page A2-29: 2009_08_31_09_50_45 

As one reviews the project sheet, one can much better understand the verbiage “construct jug handle road and cosolidate access on the east side of US 29 between Timberwood Blvd. and Airport Road.” 

While supressing my conspiracy theorist paranoia, I wondered why would Albemarle County choose not to make Appendix 2 readily available to the public?  Clearly each project has been presented to the Planning Commission and is a part of the public record (if you know where to look). 

After taking a good hard look at just at Project Number 22 [of 58] here are a few musings regarding why the appendix may have been recused from public view:

  • Could it be that the planners would rather discuss the plan from 30,000 feet rather than be challenged by the Forest Lakes residents that will have tortured access to Hollymead Town Center? 
  • Perhaps, the planners would prefer not to discuss how southbound travelers seeking to get to the airport will need to turn right on a new “circulator road” north of the intersection with Airport Road; while northbound airport traffic will divert through Forest Lakes to reach the terminal.  
  • Is it possible the Planners not wish to discuss the volume of traffic that will be channeled through existing neighborhoods based on Airport Road/US29  new “jug handle” alignment?

 The Free Enterprise Forum calls on Albemarle County to place Appendix 2 on the Places29 website to better allow the public to understand the Places29 plan. 

Further, we encourage the public to attend the public information sessions scheduled for September 8th4 pm – 5:45 at the Albemarle County Office Building 2nd floor and September 10th4:30 pm – 6:30 pm at the Hollymead Fire Station.

The Planning Commission Public Hearing on Places29 is not yet finalized but an October 13th hearing is anticipated.

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Greene County BOS on 2010 Legislative Program and Route 29 Study

By.  Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary:

Resolution to accept and appropriate $18,264 in Byrne JAG Program Funds for the Sheriff’s Department – Approved

Resolution to accept and appropriate $16,477 in grant fund from the DMV for the Sherriff’s Department – Approved

Request form Sherriff’s Department for authorization to apply for additional grant funds – Approved

            The Greene County Board of Supervisors received reports on the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission Legislative Program and on the Multimodal Corridor Plan for Route 29 and 33.   

             D. Blount, TJPDC’s Legislative Liaison to Richmond provided a bleak outlook for the coming year. He noted that there would continue to be reductions in aid to localities. He expects education funding to take another big hit in the coming budget year. He predicted that new legislation in land use issues such as urban development areas, proffer and impact fees, and storm water management regulations would be likely. In the area of transportation funds would be limited to maintenance and meeting federal matches. Finally, he noted that FY’s 2011 & 2012 would likely be worse than FY 2010.

             J. Espie of Renaissance Planning Group presented the Final Draft of the Multimodal Corridor Study Plan to the Board. First, he provided an overview the development of the plan including two community workshops occurring in November of 2008 and March of 2009. The remainder of the presentation focused on the Transportation Framework Plan and addressed issues such as connectivity and access management.

             C. Schmitt inquired about ordinances the County should pass in order to comply with the plan. B. Wanner of TJPDC suggested that the County review its subdivision ordinance. He also noted that many of the access management and other standards applied in the study are fairly new.  He further suggested that the best way to enact this plan is through the CIP and proffer system noting that VDOT and the county can not fund this plan (ephasis added). He also suggested that having a clear plan will help the county “negotiate” with developers.

             S. Catalano again reiterated his frustration that the County continually seeks VDOT’s input of projects and follows their recommendations and yet many of our roads do not meet their standards. He also expressed concern that Route 33 be developed so that it does not have the same problems as Route 29.

             B. Peyton predicted that traffic flow today in Greene County is as good as it will ever be and traffic will only get worse. He noted that there are not sufficient funds to provide the necessary roads. He stated “The answer to control traffic… [is] don’t allow development if it will cause congestion.”

             The Board pulled two items off of the consent agenda for discussion. The items in question were a resolution to accept grants from DMV for the Sheriff’s Department and a request to apply for additional grants. The Board wanted to make it clear that it was only accepting the grant from DMV because the match funds were already in the Departments’ budget. They also made clear that new grants would only be accepted if they do not require a local match. Both items were unanimously approved.

The Albemarle Flu

By. Neil Williamson

Albemarle County is a pioneer in local land use planning.  Long before it was fashionable, Albemarle’s Development Initiatives Steering Committtees (DISC I and DISC II),  spent years working with (and at times against) the development community to create the “Neighborhood Model” principles for new development.  These principles, which are often in conflict with themselves, have since been integrated into Albemarle County’s policies and ordinances.  Regardless of your personal opinions of the neighborhood model, it is the result of locals hashing out their differences and determining a model (not the model) for development in Albemarle County. 

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) is now propagating these (and other new urbanist concepts to surrounding localities with an evangelical zeal.  The Free Enterprise Forum has railed against such cookie cutter planning in the past.  In reviewing an early version of Fluvanna County’s draft comprehensive plan more than two years ago, the place type grid, lifted directly from the DISC II work, was presented as part of the comprehensive plan.  After the Free Enterprise Forum raised concerns, the section was removed. 

Greene County is the latest locality to have exposure to the Albemarle Flu.   By working with the TJPDC and their consultants on both Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)Multimodal corridor study AND the County Comprehensive Plan update, they have maximized their potential for infection.

Last week, Greene County held an open house to display the final draft of the Multimodal Corridor Study. The open house provided an opportunity for citizens to view posters containing a summary of the document. The Multimodal Corridor Study was presented to the Greene County Board of Supervisors last night (8/25). The entire plan is available on the Greene County Comprehensive Plan/Multimodal Corridor website or click here.

Greene County Multimodal Open House

Greene County Multimodal Open House

The open house drew a small crowd eager to comment on the new urbanist vision for the Town of Stanardsville with coffeeshops and sidewalk dining fronting business 33.

Some of the attendees took issue with the lines that were drawn regarding new transportation connections.  Additional questions were raised about the viability of vastly limiting US 29 access to better control traffic.

 The most interesting images however were very reminiscent of images I had seen in both Albemarle and Fluvanna’s planning exercises.  These designs provide wide urban type streetscapes for various traffic conditions.  

The “collector street” design in the photo is 100_4057 fully built out with street trees, park benches, curb & gutter, on street parking, bike lanes and two way traffic. 

Perhaps it is my lack of long term vision but I was wondering where in Greene County such a road would be appropriate and who would be charged with building it?   Such a streetscape will require significant impervious surface and a huge amount of land.  This is just one example of the new urbanist philosophy driving the local government planning process.

The Multimodal corridor study is designed to “inform” the Greene County Comprehensive Plan work that is being generated by TJPDC.  In last week’s presentation to the Greene County Planning Commission, I was struck by the legal interpretations provided by the TJPDC staff.  In addition to suggesting there is a rural clustering mandate from the state (there is not), TJPDC staff also suggested the way to address a state mandate for New Urbanism was to fully enact Albemarle County’s neighborhood model principles (there are several other approaches).

The Neighborhood Model principles were developed by Albemarle County for Albemarle County.  To suggest Greene County accept them as if they were divinely inspired commandments written on tablets of stone, short changes the citizens of Greene County.  

Serving as the consultant on the Greene County Comprehensive Plan, TJPDC would be wise to focus on working with Greene County to make their plan their own and not simply adopt Albemarle’s Neighborhood Model.

Greene PC Continues Work on Current Comp Plan

Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary:

SUP 09-003 request for a special use permit for an electronic message center by CVS – Approval Recommended*

CPA 09-001 Roberts request to remove approximately 200 acres located along Spotswood Trail, Fredericksburg Road, Monde Vista Lane and Old Durrette Road from the growth area –Approval Recommended*

*Note that all votes were 4-0. D. Lamb was not present at the meeting.

            The Greene County Planning Commission held a work session on the Comprehensive Plan prior to their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Then in their regular meeting, the Planning Commission took up issues concerning the current Comprehensive Plan. The Commission recommended approving changes to the 2003 Comprehensive Plan that will remove some land from the growth area. The Commission also approved an electronic message board for the new CVS. Finally, they discussed making the Planning Commission’s liaison to the Town of Stanardsville a voting member of the Town Council.

             Bill Wanner of Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) led the Planning Commission in work session on the Comprehensive Plan. Wanner provided an overview of the planning process. The Land Use Requirements from the Code of Virginia for growing counties were interpreted by TJPDC staff for the Commission. In addition to information developed or presented in previous work sessions, Albemarle County’s Neighborhood Model was also presented for the first time as an option that should be considered by Greene County. At the conclusion of the presentation, the Planning Commission was provided with several maps of Greene County and asked to develop their own future land use maps.

             The Commission briefly asked questions and made comments on the presentation. There was some concern over the Green Infrastructure Map which had not been previously presented to the public at work shops. J. Frydl also sought clarification on whether clustering was required under to the Code of Virginia or whether it was required to be provided as an option.

             Members of the public were also given the opportunity to provide comment. One resident of Stanardsville raised concerns about the Planning Commission creating a plan for Stanardsville and how that plan would be reconciled with the comprehensive plan that Stanardsville is developing. Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum raised three points with the Commission. First, he noted that rural clusters were only required as an option that could be used by developers. He also noted that there are some downsides to clustering that needed to be considered as well. Second, he pointed out that Albemarle’s Neighborhood Model was developed over two years of public meetings. It is inappropriate to present this new idea to Greene County for the first time so late in the process. Finally, he noted that relegated parking can create new problems such as businesses where the front door is barred and the back becomes the main entrance. He referred to the Crozet library which plans to lock its front doors because it does not have sufficient staff to man both the front and back entrance.

             The first public hearing of the evening was a request by CVS Pharmacy for an electronic message board. Staff provided a brief report noting that the BZA has already approved a slightly larger sign in exchange for reducing the number of signs on the property from 2 to 1. The same conditions as those previously approved for the Arby’s sign were recommended. This property is located on 29 N and sits cattycorner from the Arby’s property.  The Commission quickly concluded that they wanted to maintain consistency between this application and the Arby’s application. The Planning Commission recommended approval for the application for a special use permit for the electronic message board unanimously and attached the same conditions that were placed on the Arby’s sign.

             The Planning Commission also held a public hearing regarding a request to amend the 2003 Comprehensive Plan. Robert & Susan Roberts, Jr. are seeking the amendment to remove 200 acres of their land from the growth area so that it may be included in a conservation easement along with another 300 acres of land that is currently outside the growth area. Two members of the public spoke in support of the amendment to the comprehensive plan.

             N. Slezak provided an overview of his site visit noting that the property was pristine with lots of pasture and rolling hills. In their comments, the Commission was supportive of the amendment. B. Martin asked about the total amount of property that would be put in an easement which is 529 acres. J. Frydl noted that he had some concern about piecemeal amendments to the comprehensive plan; however, in this instance while the property is in the current growth area it does not have easy access to services. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the amendment by a unanimous vote.

             Finally, the Planning Commission discussed the possibility of giving their liaison to the Stanardsville Town Council full membership and voting rights within the Town Council Planning Commission (corrected). Staff noted that this would create more cohesion between the county and town. It would also help the Council meet its required number of voting members. Currently, the town cannot fill all the commission seats. Staff will be working on the proposal for a future meeting.

DCR Regulation Needs Revision to Save The Bay AND Preserve Economic Vitality

Public Comment on Proposed DCR Storm Water Regulations. 

By. Neil Williamson, President

The Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy group based in Charlottesville, is committed to environmentally and economically sustainable measures to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The value of the Bay as an ecological resource can not be overstated.  Since our founding in 2002, we have often worked collaboratively with other advocacy organizations to develop reasonable and rational solutions to our community needs.

Around the world, Virginia is blessed to have an excellent, business friendly reputation.  This reputation is based on our excellent schools (and the resulting workforce), desirable location, small government, well integrated transportation network and relatively favorable regulatory environment.

To remain globally competitive, Virginia business must have the ability to develop industrial and commercial sites as well as nearby affordable housing without unnecessary, burdensome regulation.  This is the best prescription for the creation of high paying jobs and healthy homes for those workers to return each evening.  Further, these jobs, homes and the commerce they produce together help grow the Commonwealth’s tax base.

The Free Enterprise Forum is very concerned that the proposed stormwater regulations will have severe unintended economic and environmental consequences.  Further, these regulations will drastically hinder, through dramatic cost increases, the ability of localities to deliver core governmental services. The regulations’ new technical quality and quantity standards create an undue burden on new development and redevelopment with only minimal benefits provided to the overall environment. 

The water quality standard targets a small amount of phosphorous in urban development, which itself accounts for less than one percent of the acreage in the watershed annually.  The .28 lbs of phosphorous per acre per year standard in the regulation over the next twenty-five years, based on historic development patterns, only reduces the projected urban and suburban phosphorous loads by just under 124,000 pounds in the 25th year of the plan, at the extraordinarily high cost of $2.1 Billion. 

With the increased restrictions on impervious surface created by this regulation, and the requirement to mitigate runoff from pervious surfaces as well, compliance requires additional acres in residential developments.  In urban core areas, that land comes with a premium price attached to it and reduces available densities as more land will be required for stormwater management facilities.  This will drive the cost of housing in high density urban areas to unaffordable levels and also make much job producing commercial and industrial development activities problematic.  If enacted, these regulations will eliminate much of the development currently on the drawing boards.

One unintended effect of these regulations will be to push development out to where land is less expensive and offers opportunities for large lot developments.  Such large lot developments result in expansive, highly fertilized lawns and gardens and community open space fertilized by homeowners associations all generating significant nutrient load.    

Further, the movement away from urban cores is in direct contradiction to the stated policies of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor evidenced by House Bill 3202 passed during the 2008 Special Session.  House Bill 3202 creates a requirement for Urban Development Areas (UDA) in localities with high growth rates.  The goal of the legislation is to compact future development into densely populated communities where home, work, and recreational opportunities are all within walking distance of each other.  Development within a UDA under this regulation would be extremely expensive, and would likely eliminate the option for affordable housing.  In some cases, it will preclude development all together. 

Another unintended effect of the regulations will be a dramatic disincentive for infill, redevelopment projects.  The Governor’s vision for urbanized core is dependent on utilizing the land within the UDA to redevelop as higher density housing and commercial projects.  The proposed regulations place an unreasonable burden on redevelopment projects that will likely make many such projects financially unsustainable. 

In addition, the increased restrictions on impervious surfaces will dramatically impact the development of new schools, libraries and fire stations.  While the Free Enterprise Forum does not usually comment on schools, we do believe public education is a core governmental function.  The proposed regulations would likely double the amount of land required for any school project and would more than double the land requirements for a high school project.  The localities will be directed by state code to position their schools within the UDA, where land costs are higher than comparable land outside the UDA.  This creates the proverbial perfect storm where despite the relatively small environmental benefit, taxpayers will pay exponentially higher taxes to fund the land acquisition and the land acquired will then be unavailable for potential residential or commercial development.

The Free Enterprise Forum is not opposed to reasonable, rational standards that will have the intended impact of improving the Chesapeake Bay.  We are opposed to the current regulations that force unfair, unreasonable requirements on localities and the development community.

We understand the Homebuilders Association of Virginia (HBAV), The Virginia Association of Counties (VaCo), Virginia Municipal League (VML), The Farm Bureau and other interested groups have proposed several alternative plans.  In addition, we are also aware of a most interesting five point proposal by Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chairman (and a former Clinton White House Senior Advisor on Environmental Issues) David Slutzky.  We strongly encourage DCR to consider these suggested alternatives in place of the current proposal.  While we fully support a science-based alternative proposal.  We believe both the HBAV and the Slutzky plan offer workable solutions worthy of serious consideration.

Recently, a veteran businessman said the DCR proposal under consideration is the most detrimental government action he has ever seen in his forty-year career. 

The stakes are high.  Without being overly dramatic, the economic vitality of the Commonwealth, in many ways hangs in the balance.  The Free Enterprise Forum calls for coordination between DCR, HBAV nd others to develop a plan that “saves” the bay without destroying our economic vitality.

ACSA Skyrocketing Connection Fees

By. Neil Williamson, President

If you were running a utility and determined a need to raise “hook up” fees by 41%, how would you do it?

Would you alert your customers and slowly implement the change to allow planned projects to prepay fees in order to obtain the current rates and meet previously prepared financial projections or would you “rip off the band aid” and implement the change immediately without concern for projects in process?   

On Thursday (8/20) at 9:00 am the Albemarle County Service Authority is poised to “rip off the band aid” and dramatically increase both ACSA system development and Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) capacity fees (the fees paid by new units to buy in to the existing water and sewer system).  In addition, ACSA is eliminating the Local Facilities fees assessed on entire developments as they connect to the system. 

While the Free Enterprise Forum believes the elimination of the confusing Local Facilities Fee is a good thing, it is important to note the overall fee changes are are designed to significantly increase fee revenue.

The following are the proposed changes that would be effective September 1, 2009 [12 days after the public hearing] if approved:

Connection Charges Fee

Current Charge (per ERC)

Proposed Charge (per ERC)
System Development Charge -Water

$1,037

$1,640
System Development Charge -Sewer

$1,532

$2,250
RWSA Capacity Charge -Water

$2,095

$3,725
RWSA Capacity Charge -Sewer

$2,425

$2,680

Housing Affordability

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) tracks impacts of price increases on housing affordability.  In the 2005 “Priced Out Study” they found:

If an impact or other construction-related fee goes up, all else equal, the price of the home will go up and fewer households will be able to afford it.  In fact, the final price of the home to the buyer will usually go up by more than the increase in the fee.   The reason is that, when costs of construction and development rise, other costs such as commissions and financing charges also rise.  Rates of return to home building also need to remain competitive with other investments, or businesses will leave the industry until the rates even out.  

As a result, most cost increases are passed on to the buyer with a mark-up.  The size of the mark-up depends both on the type of cost increase and when it’s imposed in the development/construction process.   NAHB has estimated that a $1 increase in impact fees imposed at the time of development will typically raise the price of a house to its final customer by $1.25. 

How would this look to a project?  Here is one example from a local engineer:

A 200 unit apartment complex (1/2 ERC charge per connection) would currently pay $708,900 for connection fees for the development; but with the proposed connection fee charges, that cost would increase to $1,029,500.

Escalating the cost utilizing the NAHB figures, the impact of the fee increase will be in excess of $2,000 per apartment in our example.  Considering such apartments are often the first step on the home ownership ladder, these increased fees, whenever implemented, will have a negative impact on the availability of affordable housing in our community. 

What are these fees?

The ACSA system development fee, poised to increase by 41% is designed to:

defray, in part, the cost to Albemarle County Service Authority of providing major transmission and distribution mains, collection lines, pumping stations and storage facilities which are necessary to provide service to new customers

The increase in the ACSA includes all FY2010-FY2018 capital improvements associated with increasing capacity.

The RWSA capacity fees are also poised to increase by 41% to cover the capital costs of the US Route29 Pump Station and Pipeline, The Ragged Mountain Dam, The Meadowcreek Interceptor as well as the nutrient improvements at the Moore’s Creek water treatment plant.  It is important to note these increases do not include all the capital costs that will be associated with implementing the approved community water supply plan. 

Analysis

Over the years, the Free Enterprise Forum has been highly impressed with the manner in which ACSA operates.  As an organization, they are customer focused and tend to remove politics from their decisions.  In the case of the connection fee increase, they commissioned a rate study to examine their pricing structure and the proposed fees have come out of that study. 

The Free Enterprise Forum does not question the need for the capital projects.  To date, we have not examined the integrity of the study’s cost division of capital expenditures between new and existing users.  Such joint cost allocations always require some level of subjectivity. 

We are very concerned the potential chilling effect the implementation of these changes may have on development projects already in the works.

When operating a business, you must regularly review your product or service pricing structure to make sure you are both covering your costs (including a gross profit margin) and remaining competitive.  If you find your costs escalate dramatically, you must make a decision regarding how to best pass on those costs without losing market share.  In some cases, this may mean increasing your prices slightly every month rather than a huge increase at onetime.  While this may eat into your gross profit margin over the short term, you enable yourself to retain market share.

Market share is not an issue for a monopoly such as the Albemarle County Service Authority, or is it? 

Clearly it is Albemarle County’s stated goal to densify the urban core (the ACSA service area).  Such urbanization is designed to relieve development pressures on the rural areas.  If the cost of buying into the water system infrastructure increases by 41% (after significant increases just last year) some development may be forced into the rural areas.  If however these increases were stepped in over time, it would allow for the market to adjust to these changes just as it adjusts to other price increases.

Conclusion

In a perfect world, the Free Enterprise Forum would like to see these increases postponed and then stepped in on a monthly basis over the course of a year.  Understanding the administrative costs associated with such a stepped increase would be significant, one option worthy of consideration is to implement 50% of the increase be effective June 1, 2010 with the balance of the increases to be considered at a public hearing in July 2010, with implementation scheduled for January 2, 2011. 

Absent such an innovative implementation schedule, the few projects that have been able to arrange financing in this challenging market may lose such funding due to the dramatic cost increase.  Many approved (and desirable) projects, and the jobs that go with them, will remain on the drawing boards due to the unanticipated increased fees.   

It is our free  market belief that a delayed fee increase will spur economic development, postpone housing affordability issues, and actually increase the number of connections in FY2010.  Beyond just good economic development, such leadership would be ACSA protecting its marketshare from rural area leakage promoting Albemarle County’s goals of density in the urban ring.

Planning Fluvanna’s Economic Development

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

Fluvanna County’s Economic Development Commission is embarking on an ambitious program to engage the community in planning the county’s economic future.  Commissioners are in the final stages of preparing a “business plan” that would be a reference point for those discussions.

At its August 11th meeting, the commissioners decided to merge two documents that will form the basis for the consultations; four goals, or “imperatives” as one version calls them, will define the criteria by which proposals should be judged. They are:

  • Quality of Life and Convenience;
  • Strong and Sustainable Jobs;
  • Environmentally Efficient; and,
  • Diverse the Tax Base.

The effort seeks to merge the objectives of the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan with the need to develop a diversified economic base in the county.  A preoccupation with both planning and development commissioners will be how to balance development with the stated desire to preserve the rural character of the county.

This will not be easy.  For example one development commissioner implied that a (hypothetical) major electronics plant in a rural part of the county might not be welcome because of the location.  While the economic implications of such a plant would have to be known before such a decision could be made, it highlights the tension that exists between the two key objectives in the county.

The Commission hopes to wrap up the merged document by the end of August.  It then will:

  • Begin interviewing local businesses;
  • Hold approximately twenty outreach meetings in the community – with a goal of reaching approximately one percent of the population (about 250 citizens); and,
  • Designate, subject to Board of Supervisors’ approval, one area of the county as a “recovery zone” that would be eligible for recovery zone bonds.

Greene County BOS Adopts Resolution Opposing Storm Water Regs

By. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer

Action Summary:

  • RZ 09-001 Public hearing regarding a request from Wexford Subdivision, LLC to amend proffers – Approved
  • Public hearing regarding proposed amendments to Greene County’s Ordinances to include utility lots – Approved
  • Resolution opposing storm water management regulations 4 VAC 50-60– Approved

The Greene County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution opposing the new storm water regulations at their regular meeting on August 11, 2009. In addition to discussing the regulations, the Board heard a request to amend proffers from Wexford LLC. Amendments to both the zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinance were also considered. The Board then heard a request from the Greene County Combined District Court staff fore an additional $840 in funds for the current fiscal year.

Storm Water Management

           The Board of Supervisors addressed the new storm water regulations not as an agenda item but under other matters from the Board. The issue was initially raised by S. Catalano who proposed the resolution. He noted that the regulations would have huge economic repercussions as well as possibly infringe on the county’s rights. Under the new rules the county would either have to administer the program locally and collect fees that would likely be insufficient to cover the costs of the program or give up some local controls and allow the state to administer the program. S. Catalano proposed a resolution which focused on the unfunded mandate portions of the regulations. C. Schmitt countered with another resolution which had a much less aggressive tone. The second resolution also contained a recommendation that the state administer the regulations for a trial period of 2 -3 years so that localities could see the real cost of the program before deciding whether they want to administer the regulations.  The Board chose to adopt C. Schmitt’s proposed version of the resolution.

Wexford Subdivision

           Wexford Subdivision requested an amendment to their proffers. First, they requested that a proffered volleyball court by changed to a general sports field. Second, they sought to lower the minimum square footage on homes in the subdivision from 2400 square feet to 1600 square feet. The county will receive $5780 for each home that is built under 2400 square feet. The planning commission recommended approval of the amendments by a 3-2 vote. 

Applicant addressed the Board noting that the market had changed since 2005 when the proffers were made.  Applicant noted that reducing the size requirement may help them sell lots and be more competitive in this market. 

Lee Estes was the only member of the public to speak at the meeting. He noted that he lives nearby and believes that this is a good subdivision.  He noted that this is a good idea to help move some homes in the area.

In discussion from the Board, J. Allen observed that proffers are intended to offset the impact of a project. She felt that 600 square feet would have little impact on the community and that the additional cash proffer would compensate the county for the changes. S. Catalano noted that he had some reservations about renegotiating proffers in general, but felt in this instance that the county was being compensated for the change. J. Allen move to approve amended proffers. The motion was passed by a unanimous vote.

Utility Lots

            The Board also considered and approved revisions to both the Greene County Zoning Ordinance and the Subdivision Ordinance to include utility lots. These changes will allow for lower cost acquisition of small plots of land that house utilities such as wells or a radio tower. The utility lots will not include larger utility projects such as a water or sewage treatment plant.  In order to reduce the costs of acquiring the smaller utility lots, landowners will no longer use one of their division rights in order to sell a small lot of land for a utility.  The amendments to the ordinances were approved by a unanimous vote.

Greene Co. Combined District Courts

            Finally, the Board heard the first reading of a request from Greene combined District Court for the additional allocation for $840.00 for the current fiscal year. The Court needs the additional funds to pay for court appointed attorneys in cases charged under the Greene County Code where the right to counsel attaches.

The Clerk of Court explained that the State was cracking down on these fees. There are some crimes that are included in both the State Code and the County Code. If officers write the County Code Section on the Summons the County is responsible for paying the court appointed attorney.  The Clerk noted that a few officers still charge defendants under the County Code instead of the State Code. In the past, the Clerk admitted she has changed the code section under which a defendant is charged from the County Code to the State Code to avoid the fees, but she noted that she has been told she can no longer do this.  The Board of Supervisors will hold the second reading of this request and vote on it at their next regular meeting.

            The Board will meet two more times in the month of August. The will meet with the School Board on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at 8:30 am at the Best Western Hotel. They will also hold their regular meeting on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 7:30 pm.

Miscounting Cars in Places29

By. Neil Williamson

In last night’s (8/11) Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting, there was a discussion regarding the potential of expanding the growth area to include an area on the northwest corner of US 29 where it crosses the South Fork of the Rivanna River. In the original Places29 Draft, two hundred acres around this area were suggested for inclusion in the development area by the Places 29 consultant team. This concept was later removed by the Planning Commission.

Unfortunately, the traffic impacts were NOT removed from the Places29 traffic study. places29_web

This means the traffic generation figures the entire Places29 Master Plan is built on erroneously include:

  • 70 extra acres of Urban Residential
  • 90 extra acres of Neighborhood Density
  • 10 extra acres of Neighborhood Service 

Considering the long gestation period for Places29, The Free Enterprise Forum is very concerned that this issue was just brought to light last night. While we do not anticipate this will dramatically change the outcome of the traffic modeling, we know Albemarle County would not accept such sloppy traffic work in a rezoning application.

When Albemarle County is the one preparing the traffic study, shouldn’t the same standard of performance be demanded?

Fluvanna Supervisors Punt on Draft Stormwater Regs

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors opted not to register its concerns over Virginia’s draft stormwater management regulations at its August 5th meeting.  Rather that pass a resolution that would have objected to the regulatory cost and the impacts upon developers and its land use policy, supervisors deferred any comment until after the state’s August 21st deadline.

As supervisors were discussing the issue, Chairman Marvin Moss (Columbia) made a surprise intervention to suggest a deferral.  Ostensibly, the reason was to wait for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District’s letter on the same subject.  That letter reportedly will be circulated just prior to the comment period deadline.  It appeared from the discussion that at least some supervisors were unfamiliar with the issue’s implications, despite supervisor John Gooch’s (Palmyra) efforts to inform them on previous occasions.

In another important decision, the supervisors approved a new zoning category:  the Planned Urban Development (PUD) district. The new district would permit significantly greater density in mixed-use developments designated for growth areas.  The likeliest area for initial development would be in the vicinity of Zion Crossroads  — which would require a minimum 20 acre PUD. 

Other areas of the county would require smaller minimum acreage.  Bonus density increases would be granted depending on the amount of open space in the proposal as well as commitments to affordable housing.  Supervisors did understand the linkage between affordable housing and the expenses that would be incurred to meet the states stormwater management regulations.

In other significant activity, supervisors accepted a proposal by DigitalBridge Communications to provide broadband services to under served (rural) areas of the county under Virginia’s Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Policy Act (PPEA).  This will allow DigitalBridge to move forward with the design and grant application.

Supervisors will not meet again formally until September 2nd, but are scheduled to have a working lunch with Congressman Perriello on August 17th, at the Old Fluvanna Courthouse.