Biscuit Run State Park – Where Do We Grow From Here?

 By. Neil Williamson, President

[For additional context on the Biscuit Run issue please see our previous post “Is Biscuit Run a Canary in a Coal Mine”]

As Brian Wheeler reported in today’s  (12/31) Daily Progress, and well covered by his Charlottesville Tomorrow’s story, the Biscuit Run development has been purchased by the state of Virginia for use as a future state park.  Governor Tim Kaine, who successfully instituted urban development area mandates for high growth localities in the state, is removing 3.5% (800 acres) of Albemarle County’s designated development area.

This is a reduction of Albemarle County’s development area.  For those unfamiliar with Albemarle County’s policies, 95% of the land mass in the county is planned to be “Rural Areas” the balance 5% (less now) is designated as development areas where limited infrastructure funding is focused to deliver a higher level of service to a higher density population.

John Cruickshank, head of the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club is quoted in Brian Wheeler’s story:

Asked about the County’s concern that pressure may build for replacement land in the growth area, Cruickshank said he did not expect that to be a problem.

“I don’t see that this is a reason to open up new areas for growth. There has already been plenty of growth and other areas zoned for new development,” said Cruickshank. “A lot of that growth is already going to occur north of town and there is plenty of room for people who need homes.”

The Free Enterprise Forum must respectfully disagree with Mr. Cruickshank’s assessment. 

A development area of 5% (or more) should promote mixed use development that allows those citizens who choose to live in denser communities the benefit of close by employment opportunities and amenities.   If the development areas are not of sufficient size to allow for orderly development, individuals will be pushed into “by-right” development in the rural areas where government services are more expensive to provide. 

Without selecting specific parcels or regions, we believe Albemarle County’s development areas must be restored to their previous size.  Several proposals regarding development area adjustments have been discussed in the Albemarle County office building over the last 18 months.  These, and perhaps others, deserve consideration by the Board of Supervisors. 

While the development area has been reduced by the state without Albemarle County’s action, only Albemarle County action can restore the development areas to their proper size.

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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2 responses

  1. If not an immediate restoration of growth area, there should certainly be an ace up our sleeve the next time we have to bargain for an increase or variance in the current growth area.

    A growth area without a plan to create jobs and a more stable tax base is going to be an un or under developed growth area, so there is a lot of work still to be done.

    The other question is: Where did the state get the money for this? Budgets are being cut left and right, and the state can buy 800 acres of land for a state park? Hmmm.

  2. […] After attending the Places29 work session in Albemarle County yesterday (1/13), I was encouraged by the discussion of potential additions to the development areas in Albemarle County.  Regular readers know in 1980, 5% of Albemarle County was designated as for development.  Recently that number dropped by 3.5% due to the new Biscuit Run State Park.  […]

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