By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Representative
Fluvanna officials recently released the annual Development Activity Report, which covers 2009. It highlights, in this case, the lack of development activity in Fluvanna over the past year.
For example, residential building permits declined another 5 percent last year to 112, continuing the downward trend that began in 2001. Since that year, new residential building permits have dropped by just over 75 percent.
New subdivision lots also have declined precipitously. Last year, just 90 were created in the entire county, down 40 percent from the previous year and over 90 percent from the 2005 record of 946. While the decline certainly reflects the economic downturn, the 2005 record is somewhat misleading. It likely includes some new subdivisions creation that occurred in response to perceived downzoning potential in the rural preservation areas of the county. That has yet to happen but the question may be revisited again later this year.
A signal accomplishment last year was the approval of a new Comprehensive Plan, replacing the one from 2000. Under the new plan, nearly 90 percent of the county is designated as rural, with the remaining earmarked for growth. A planned urban development district has been added to the plan, as has a fiscal responsibility chapter.
Other highlights from the report include:
· Ten site development plans were approved (8 in the growth area) – down from 17 in 2008;
· Over 10,500 acres in the county have been place in some form of conservation easement, while another 19,400 acres are in the county’s agricultural and forestall district program;
· Overall, three out of every five acres in Fluvanna receive some form of tax relief, most of which comes from land use tax benefits.
One final, and telling, statistic from the report: the average new home price in 2009 was just $160,118, twenty-eight percent below the average price in 2007.