Lack of Citizen Engagement on Places 29

By. Neil Williamson, President


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


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

2 responses

  1. Dump Places 29! Just use some common sense and build the Western Bypass!!

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