Monthly Archives: August, 2010

Streamlining? – End the “Fake” Public Input

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson

Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors will meet on Wednesday (9/1) to discuss the Legislative Review Process including rezonings and special use permits.  While the staff has proposed a number of important shifts including codifying application requirements (to “reduce scope creep according to the staff report) but it fails to address the easiest of the issues – elimination of “fake” public input.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the public should be engaged in a rezoning as it is a change of land use.  With that being said it is important to acknowledge this change of use must be in accordance with the county’s comprehensive plan, a publically debated document seen as “a guide” for future development.

approved stampPublic engagement and discussion of whether the rezoning is in  accordance with the Comprehensive Plan is appropriate and important; but once the application decision has been made, subsequent waivers (and site plan approvals) should not be used as opportunities for the public to revisit the rezoning decision.

The level of detail required in Albemarle County for a rezoning is incredible.  Such detail could, and should be used to consider the entire parcel (and conceptually the related critical slopes waivers, stream crossings etc.) during the rezoning public hearing.  

As identified in the Resource Management study conducted last year:

Site plans and subdivision plans are primarily technical in nature, and, if a plan meets all criteria, it must be approved. These plans may be approved by staff, except for County Code (14.218). The code stipulates that the Planning Commission will review a plat plan if anyone requests they review. This is in keeping with the County’s commitment to maximum citizen participation, but may mislead citizens as to their degree of impact at this stage. (emphasis added – nw)

Currently the Albemarle Planning staff have a negative presumption when it comes to granting waivers.  That is, the answer is no unless the applicant can provide a compelling reason why the waiver should be granted.  In addition, such administrative waivers may be called up by members of the planning commission.

Considering the level of detail required and the significant opportunity for public comment during the rezoning process, the Free Enterprise Forum believes once a rezoning is approved, all waivers should have a presumption of approval and be administratively approved. 

Recognizing the need for objective performance standards to be set to allow for an administrative approval, Albemarle County should work with developers, engineers, surveyors and environmental specialists to determine and codify these performance standards.

To hold a public hearing on a waiver that clearly meets the standards set forth in the ordinance is a waste of taxpayer money, a waste of applicant money and, more importantly, generates unrealistic citizen expectations that the Planning Commission has any power to deny the waiver. 

This is the type of “fake” public engagement that should be rooted out of the legislative process.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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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Seeking “other information” or “the facts”?

By. Neil Williamson, President

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA) Board of Directors  met on Tuesday (8/24) and received a report entitled “Review of the 2004 Water Demand Analysis for the Urban Service Areas of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority.  The report was produced by Swartz Engineering and Economics of Stuart Virginia.  Sean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow has the story.

This review was, in part, to answer a critique by members of the community opposed to the current Community Water Supply Plan.

According to the RWSA minutes, Ms. Dede Smith said on April 27, 2009:

She claimed that the numbers provided by Gannett Fleming “are simply wrong and they have been wrong now since the plan came out.” She felt “it was in our best interests” as we review the dam design and other elements of the plan to “also look at the numbers”

The opponents to the Community Water Supply Plan point to the reduction in water use over the last eight years as an indicator that the trend line established by Gannet Fleming in 2004 could not possibly be correct.

On June 25, 2009 (again according to RWSA minutes) Ms. Betty Mooney said:

She believed this community will use much less water and claimed that the Authority’s data has shown the amount of water usage by this community has decreased and “what the consultants told us was going to be going on, is not going on” because this community “has already dropped 25% below what [the consultants] said” 

Then a month later Ms. Mooney specifically called for this review.  From Charlottesville Tomorrow’s coverage of the July 28, 2009 RWSA meeting:

Mooney also called upon the RWSA to revisit the demand analysis conducted in 2004 by Gannett Fleming that established the safe-yield target of 18.7 MGD for 2055.  She and other members of her group argue that the community will need less water in the future because of better technology and education about water conservation.

Considering these concerns, one might anticipate the opponents of the plan applauding this review the 2004 Water Demand Analysis.  Not Exactly.

The so called “Swartz Report” found:

Examination of the data shows that a drop in water use occurred from FY 1999 to FY 2003 (the year of the Governor’s state of emergency declaration).  Following that, demand increased sharply in FY 2004 through FY 2006.  Since then, water use dropped again.

These fluctuations in customer demand do not appear to indicate a long-term trend.  If the recent data are simply added to the data in the GF [Gannet Fleming] 2004 report and purely statistical analysis is performed, it would show the City ceasing to use water after the year 2060 (see also page A-3.a).  This is clearly not plausible.  Such a conclusion is also in direct contradiction to the implications of City population data shown on page A-5 and to discussions with City planners.

The report concluded:

Based on our study, we estimate the 2060 water demand of the Rivanna Urban Service Area to be 18.45 mgd [million gallons a day] for planning purposes.

Since the report did not support the opponents thoughts regarding water usage, they have come up with numbers of their own.

According to NBC29’s story earlier this week:

Richard Lloyd is a member of the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan and said, “What we need to do is dredge until we see true response to whatever is happening.”

Lloyd disagrees with the Swartz Report, saying it doesn’t take new water trends into consideration. So he put together his own analysis, using information from the report and from the Department of Environmental Equality (DEQ).

Lloyd said, “It shows we can go all the way 2042 before we exceed the 15.5 million gallons a day. The DEQ said we were good under the permitted conditions if we did continuous dredging.”

Lloyd and other members point out that the reports ignore data from the past eight years, when water usage went down. Kevin Lynch is a member of the citizens group who said, “How can you say eight years of data doesn’t pose any trend.”

Members of Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan met with Swartz as a part of their review of the demand analysis [full disclosure the Free Enterprise Forum also met with Swartz]. 

Disliking the results, the CSWP now argues the review was not valid and pulled together numbers of their own that supported their case.

Ms. Mooney actually foreshadowed these events in her comments to the RWSA Board on September 22:

“You have terrible information… You need to redo your demand analysis. We all know that. Look at the information you’ve got. You’re using so much less water. You have to get other information, please, because we can’t afford it.”

Her request is not a search for the “truth” or the “facts”  but for “other information”.

The question now for the RWSA Board is whose numbers do you use to reach a decision on the community water supply. 

The engineering firm you contracted (and paid $24,000) or the advocates for a smaller water supply?

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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

C-ville Planning Commission Field Trip – “Critical Slopes” Tour

By. Neil Williamson, President

Tuesday (8/24) evening, I joined a number of other interested citizens to tag along on as the Charlottesville Planning Commission went on a tour of some of the City’s steeper slopes.  The Commission has been considering sharpening the language regarding waivers for building on steep slopes.  This field trip was to designed to help orient the planners to the real world conditions within the city limits.  Rachana Dixit was also along for the ride and has the story in The Daily Progress.

The tour started at Carter’s View subdivision which predates the100_0317 City’s current steep slope ordinance.  The relatively new development features views of Carter’s Mountain.  The rear of  some of these single family homes actually have a view of the down slope neighbor’s roof line100_0322.

City Planner Brian Haluska discusses Carter’s View slopes with Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Kay Slaughter and City Planning Commission Chairman Jason Pearson

The discussion of how the buildings were placed into the slope and the failure of one retaining wall were topics I heard as the group wandered around the site.  The staff handout indicated ~75% of the site was comprised of “critical” slopes.

100_0315 As this tour was designed to orient the Planning Commission to current conditions, I chose not to speak up too much at this stop but I did ask if the pile of dirt behind the Lot #1 sign would qualify as a “Critical” slope under the current ordinance.  Charlottesville Planning Manager Missy Creasy indicated it would.

“Critical” slope AKA Dirt Pile behind Lot #1 Sign in Carter’s View

The second stop on the tour was a recently acquired image City property for the Fontaine Fire Station.  This land drops away from the current house on the property into a natural swale before rising again at the intersection.

Staff identified 43% of the parcel (18,935 sq. ft.) in critical slope area with critical slopes of up to 100%.

Aerial photograph of the Fontaine Site photo credit: City of Charlottesville

100_0325 On October 13, 2009,   The Planning Commission approved the critical slopes waiver for this parcel. In discussion on the site, I asked the rational for approving this site had to do with the proposed use as a Fire Station.  One Planning Commissioner indicated public purpose was certainly a factor in their consideration. 

I pressed to see if a new residential complex would get the same consideration.  The Commissioner indicated if the applicant made a significant contribution to affordable housing that might be applicable.  He also said there were some on the Commission that felt public purpose was the only reason to grant “critical” slopes waivers but that was a part of the overall discussion to see how the entire Commission (and ultimately City Council) felt about this issue.

Unfortunately, my meeting schedule precluded me from joining the group on the balance of the tour but I did review the information and was intrigued that information about the Brookwood Subdivision was included (but not visited).

image

I spoke with someone close to the actual development of Brookwood and they indicated that the   Brookwood critical slopes were disturbed because the neighbors wanted that road to go through so they would have an additional egress from Ridge Street. 

A previous developer had an approved plan to put a number of townhouse units on the top of the hill with no connection to 5th Street.  All traffic would have exited Ridge.  By right. 

Photo Credit: City of Charlottesville

The new developer engaged the neighborhood  and came up with a better plan.  80% of the neighbors enthusiastically supported the new plan.  That road was VERY important to them.  And the Planning Commission agreed and approved it.  Then with future phases of the project they dramatically reduced the number of critical slopes by having the buildings act as retaining walls. 

The site is challenging with the road included.  Staff indicated 75% of the total site is comprised of critical slopes.  Interestingly this carefully designed project created a net environmental benefit to the community.  Today, the stormwater that leaves the property is actually cleaner and lower peak volume than before development because of the bioretention and treatment. 

The discussion of “critical” slopes will continue.  The Free Enterprise Forum is asking the City to be transparent in their goals for the proposal is it environmental, aesthetic or something else you are tying to protect/preserve. 

As there is no other city of over 20,000 in the state of Virginia with an existing “critical” slopes ordinance, it would do the City well to move slowly and to bring the development community along for the discussion.

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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

VA Secretary of Transportation to Speak at Chamber Free Enterprise Forum Luncheon

from Staff Reports

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and Free Enterprise Forum today announced that Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia Secretary of Transportation, will be the featured speaker at 10rel27a (connaughton pix) the upcoming 2010 Chamber Free Enterprise Forum Luncheonunderwritten by University of Virginia Community Credit Union. The Luncheon gathers and begins at 11:30 AM, Tuesday, September 21st, at the Holiday Inn – University Area, on Emmet Street in Charlottesville.  Each year upwards of 200 business persons and civic leaders or more are expected to attend this engaging event.

Each year the Chamber Free Enterprise Forum Luncheon strives to feature a topical public policy issue of general and direct concern to area business and civic leaders. Transportation, of course, is always an engaging topic and Secretary Connaughton has a broad charge from his boss, Governor Robert McDonnell.

“We are honored to have Secretary Connaughton share his perspective and plans to improve Virginia’s transportation network,” said W. Rod Gentry, Regional Retail Executive for Union Market Bank who serves as the 2010 Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors. “And I’m sure we’ll also have some ideas for him.”

In appointing Secretary Connaughton, the Governor said, “He agrees with me we must be much faster and more efficient in transportation planning and decision making. And his overall background in transportation law and policy give him a broad perspective on this multi-faceted issue, the kind of perspective that is invaluable in a diverse state such as Virginia.” Secretary Connaughton oversees seven state agencies with more than 9,700 employees and combined annual budgets of $4 billion. He and his staff are compiling a list of ideas to make Virginia’s transportation laws and programs more efficient and effective. This growing list is being developed from a wide variety of sources and focus on four general categories: state code initiatives, federal initiatives, administrative initiatives and funding.

Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said, “I am proud to have the Secretary join us in the heart of the US29 Corridor to discuss the McDonnell Administration’s vision for transportation in the 21st Century.”

More than 200 business and community leaders are expected to attend the 2010 Luncheon. Cost to attend is $40 per Chamber and Free Enterprise Forum members or guests. For more information contact the Chamber at: 434.295.3141 or programs@cvillechamber.com.

Learning from VDOT’s US 29 Gainesville Experience

By. Neil Williamson, President

In considering the continuing plans for the US 29 Corridor, we must look beyond just Places29, Albemarle’s ill conceived planning boondoggle and look to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to understand how the state of Virginia may envision the future of this National Highway.

It was with this lens that I read with great interest yesterday’s Washington Post article entitled “Smoothing out Linton Hall Road InterchangeGainesville’s snarls”. 

Before too many folks comment that this is not an analogous comparison as US 29 and I-66 do not equal US 29 and Rio Road,  I suggest focusing on the Gallerher Rd/Linton Hall Rd/US 29 intersection which is to the south of the I-66 Interchange.

According to VDOT:

Route 29 carries roughly 57,000 vehicles a day through Gainesville and that is expected to increase to 87,000 by 2035. Linton Hall Road carried 15,500 vehicles per day in 2005, and by 2035 it is expected to grow to 42,000.

In describing the project VDOT uses much of the same planner language we have become accustomed to in Places 29:

The new, grade-separated interchange at Route 29/Linton Hall Road will create a limited-access facility on Route 29 between Virginia Oaks Drive and Heathcote Boulevard.

View a video rendering of the new interchange. (For optimum viewing, right-click on the link and choose “Save as” to your local machine.)

In order to achieve this great through put, VDOT has spent the last three years acquiring the land around the road junctions, relocating utilities and demolishing 38 buildings.

In addition, according to the Washington Post article:

Meanwhile, Route 29 will be widened to six lanes in this area. Driveway entrances and the two traffic lights between I-66 and Virginia Oaks Drive will be eliminated. This work is scheduled to be done in December 2014.

VDOT estimates the cost of the Linton Hall Interchange to be $267 million. 

What can we learn from this project as it may apply to Charlottesville?

VDOT is most concerned with the efficient movement of vehicles through the corridor.  This concern manifests itself in the closing of driveways, signalized intersections and all other impediments they can remove.

places29_web Recognizing that some may not believe such plans are in the works for Charlottesville, I encourage you to examine the maps in Technical Memorandum #7 that form the Access Management study of Places29. 

Technical Memorandum #7 (part of Places29) specifically calls out:

The purpose of access management is to maximize the effectiveness and safety of the roadway system as it relates to providing access to land adjacent to the roadway. Access management, as it is currently applied, recognizes the need for roadways to accommodate varying degrees of through traffic movement at the expense of access to abutting property. Under this basic principle of access management, higher order roads favor through movement over direct access to property, which essentially requires property access to occur via lower order roads that intersect with the higher order roads. In this context, traffic function (i.e., the degree to which through traffic movement is given priority) controls the design of the roadway. [Emphasis added-nw]

If VDOT’s Gainesville actions and the principles expressed in technical memorandum #7 are accurate, I believe both would be compelled to agree with the Places 29 critics who have called the proposed road “an Expressway” that will cut the community in half.

It does not take a traffic engineer to look at the design of the Linton Hall Road interchange and see the large footprint (and destroyed businesses) left in its wake. 

The US 29 corridor subcommittee is meeting in Culpeper on Friday (8/27) to discuss among other things the “Charlottesville” issue.  The Commonwealth Transportation Board indicated in December that they were not thrilled with the US 29 corridor report issued and specifically asked for four actions:

  • A prioritized list of intersections to be replaced by grade-separated intersections and interchanges
  • A plan to improve mobility and accessibility north of Charlottesville, evaluating various alternatives and not limited to prior proposals
  • A plan to improve mobility and accessibility in the Gainesville, Haymarket and Buckland region, evaluating various alternatives and not limited to prior proposals
  • A plan to minimize the number of traffic-control signals in the corridor.

Taking them at their word, the CTB wants overpasses not traffic control signals in the corridor. 

This leads this writer to wonder, if given an expressway is to be built should it run through the middle of the community or perhaps, there is some other option available to move traffic that has no desire to be in Charlottesville but desires to pass by the area to get to points north or south?

Just a thought…..

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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

Greene County Seeks to Prioritize Schools’ Athletic and Performing Arts Capital Projects

By. Neil Williamson, President

greene county seal Last night (8/17), the public had the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding a Greene County steering committee’s priorities for the proposed improvements to the Greene County Schools athletic and performing arts facilities.  Roughly forty citizens attended the meeting as did all of the School Board members and two members of the Board of Supervisors.

greene county track crack There seems to be community agreement that the facilities are in need of repair and replacement.  The question is which facilities are included in this project and at what cost.  To that end, a steering committee was formed to determine the community priorities.

The steering committee includes citizen representative Bob Burkholder, School Board Chair Michelle Flynn, Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville), School Board Member Darcy Higgins, Schools Activities Director Katie Brunelle and School Superintendent Dave Jeck. 

The process, which usually would take nine months, has been compressed to three in order to meet a December 31 deadline for low interest Build America bonds (which are funded by the federal stimulus package).

According to the US Treasury, Build America Bonds are designed to spark local infrastructure investment.

New capital projects, such as school and hospital construction, transportation infrastructure, and water and sewer upgrades, are being funded by either Build America Bonds or the 2010 School Bond Allocation program, Recovery-funded financing tools that allow state and local governments to borrow money at lower costs.

Architect Bill Bradley of SHW Group walked through the prioritization set by the committee and was seeking public input regarding their opinions of the committee’s work.

The overarching goal of the project is to address unmet needs in the competition/performance venues and bring those facilities into compliance with current building code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The committee broke projects down into three groups:

  • Must Do: Items that are required for safety, building code or ADA
  • Should Do: Unmet needs in competition/performance 
  • Would Do:  lower priority unmet needs

The following projects were described as fundamental:

  • Access to the Site image
  • Upgrade Site amenities (toilets/concessions)
  • Securing the site
  • Improve track surface (6 lanes)
  • Improvements to the main competition field
  • Retrofitting grandstands
  • New Gymnasium floor
  • Create new baseball and softball facilities with lighting
  • Upgrade Performing Arts Center

One conceptual master plan was unveiled for public comment that unified the entrance to the athletic facilities and increased the number of restrooms and concessions. 

GCPS_proposed site_color_100730

The steering committee mentioned a number of items that had been moved into the “Would Do” category – lower priority unmet needs these included tennis courts, swimming bubble, and nature trail/cross country course.

The steering committee is scheduled to meet again and finalize their recommendations, those findings and more refined designs will be presented to the public on September 9th.

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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

Lack of Citizen Engagement on Places 29

By. Neil Williamson, President

100_0266

While Albemarle County’s planning staff should be congratulated for working hard to reach out into the community regarding Places29, it’s not working.

As one of the few people who attended the May 2010 open houses, I can attest that the community is no longer engaged in this planning process.

But wait, how is that possible, this is a community that thrives on involvement.

For example late last year, when Albemarle County requested a developer put in an 8 foot bike path that might be used as a cut through to the Woodbrook community, the neighborhood came out en masse.

Charlottesville Tomorrow reported the September Albemarle County Planning Commission Public hearing:

During the public comment period, sixteen residents from Woodbrook spoke out against the footpath proposal, expressing frustration that the developers had not removed the path from the project entirely. When one resident asked his fellow neighbors whether they believed that a 10-foot wide asphalt trail was still a roadway, many raised their hands in agreement.

If these residents were opposed to an 8 foot bicycle path what do they think of the road proposed to connect their single point of access development to the adjoining commercial properties?

 100_0301The proposed road would run from along the eastern side of US 29 from the river south behind Woodbrook Shopping Center before terminating at Westfields Rd (in the middle of the current Montague Miller building).

The relative silence from Woodbrook (and Carrsbrook) neighborhoods is significantly100_0302 different from the continuing community engagement in the Crozet Master Planning process.

[Looking west toward US 29 at the intersection of  Woodbrook Dr. & Brookmere Rd]

The question is why has the community failed to continue their engagement in this planning process?

The process has been too long – almost at five years, is too big, from US250 to north of Airport Road, and, perhaps most importantly, residents do not believe it will ever happen. 

We have gone from the early days of this plan where school cafeterias were filled with consultants and residents with red pens, to a mere handful of folks at the new Hollymead Fire Station.

So we now have an overblown plan that even the planners admit needs to have small area planning to have significant meaning.  

The plan has little, if any, citizen support and virtually no support from the business community. 

There is no identifiable resource to fund the infrastructure improvements. 

It is a planner’s plan.  

While there are projects within the plan that are doable, the Free Enterprise Forum believes (as we first said in 2008) Places29 is a bloated boondoggle.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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

Fluvanna – Louisa Joint Waterline Dead on Aug 15?

By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer

According to an individual present at the James River Water Authority water supply meeting held earlier today, Louisa County officials told their Fluvanna counterparts that absent a deal by mid-August, Louisa would back out of a joint water line venture.

Louisa officials also intimated that should this occur, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality DEQlogowwould probably rescind the James River water withdrawal permit. Should that happen, Fluvanna would have to rely on the Rivanna River to serve customers in other parts of the county.

Louisa further reminded Fluvanna that it also would serve the state correctional facility for women in the Zion Crossroads area, something that Louisa had deferred as an incentive for Fluvanna’s cooperation – Fluvanna would have been awarded that business.

On August 4th, Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors established a subcommittee to change the service agreement between the two counties and the water authority.

Whether the subcommittee can reach an agreement within Louisa in ten days is doubtful. Fluvanna officials had hoped that the private sector would agree to set up a special taxing district to minimize the use of public funds. Even if that were successful, there is no guarantee that the district would be financially viable to assume the waterline repayment obligations — something that would take months to determine.

Should Louisa terminate the agreement, then for practical purposes the James River Water Authority also would end since there would be no reason for the joint authority to exist.

How Economic Vitality is Like the Weather

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

With Albemarle County poised to vote on their Economic Development Vitality Action Plan and the City of Charlottesville discussing using incentives to draw an employer from Albemarle County to the City, the Free Enterprise Forum is considering if economic development/vitality should be considered in meteorological terms.

weather When a thunderstorm approaches from the South, it generally does not stop at the Charlottesville City limits.  No, in most cases the rain will move through without any concern for the local government subdivisions.  If the storm is strong enough it may follow US 29 North into Greene County or shift East along the River to Fluvanna County. 

The same can be said for economic development.  If a major employer comes into one locality, the strength of that business will determine the ripple effects their operation will have on surrounding localities.

Just as the mountains stop many a rainstorm before they ever reach the valley, onerous regulatory burdens that drive up cost of housing/business operation clearly have an impact on the distance of the ripples.

The relocation of the Defense Intelligence Agency to Rivanna Station in Albemarle County clearly is having an impact on Greene County and the City of Charlottesville.

From the DIA Survey conducted by Center For Regional Economic Competitiveness, a non-profit research organization affiliated with George Mason University in 2009:

As for where they are most interested in buying or renting a home, most reported that Albemarle County would be their first choice, followed by Greene County and Charlottesville.
Respondents indicated that several factors are likely to influence their housing choice: high school options for their children, potential job opportunities for their spouses, the commuting distance to work, and more general quality of life amenities.

Therefore, it could be argued that rather than Mayor Dave Norris and Supervisor Ken Boyd going toe to toe regarding who “lured” what business across the jurisdictional line, perhaps Charlottesville could focus their energy on developing an economically sustainable business development plan for the Martha Jefferson Hospital site and Albemarle County could market a recently vacated large corporate business space on Pantops.

The Free Enterprise Forum recognizes that the resources for economic development are not endless and believes the available resources should be focused directly on projects and proposals that actually increase economic opportunities for current and future residents.  In addition, significant effort should be made to reduce regulatory hurdles and streamline operations to improve the business climate in the region.  Such an “Open for Business” attitude will generate interest from outside companies AND allow current enterprises to grow here at home.

Only by working together, can our localities survive the continuing economic storm.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded 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