Notes from the Places29 Sausage Factory

By. Neil Williamson, President

Last night (11/10) the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors choose not to move forward on a vote on Places29 Master Plan because the text of the Plan as presented failed to fully embrace the direction of the Board.

On September 2, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s report the direction provided by the Board of Supervisors, had the following headline:

Controversial interchanges removed from Places29 master plan

As one who attended the meeting, I concurred with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s assessment.  Imagine my, and the supervisors surprise to find the following language still in the plan:

A. Page 7-15 “and other site conditions near the recommended grade separated interchanges at US29/Rio, US29/Timberwood Boulevard, and US29/Airport Road”

        B.  Page 8-5 “Design and construct US29/Hydraulic intersection as a single point interchange

        C.  Page 8-6 “Intersection Improvements at Rio Road and US29 including the eventual grade separation of the intersection and adjacent and parallel roads”

       D. List of Implementation Projects Project 7 “may also include the design of Ashwood Blvd grade separation

       E.  List of Implementation Projects Project 15 “including ultimate grade separation design concepts”

       F.  List of Implementation Projects Project 46 “Construct grade separated interchange at Ashwood Blvd.”

       G.  List of Implementation Projects Project 47 “Construct grade separated interchange at Airport Rd…”

       H.  List of Implementation Projects Project 50 “Construct Grade Separated Interchange at Timberwood Blvd”

       I.    List of Implementation Projects Project 51 “Construct grade separated interchange at Hilton Heights Road”  [emphasis added-nw]

Regular readers of this blog know when The Free Enterprise Forum reviewed the Places29 plan and found these references we called for the plan to be vetoed.

Our call for rejection was based on not only the interchange references but several other factors including the proposed consideration of the Places29 SuperTax, up to $.25 per hundred property tax surcharge to pay for transportation improvements within the Places29 footprint.  In last night’s meeting the Supervisors chose to take this out of the plan.

More editing remains however.  In our comments last night, the Free Enterprise Forum requested a legal opinion from Albemarle County Attorney Larry Davis regarding the enforceability of section 8.8 f

Commitments to phase proposed development to the availability of adequate services and facilities.”

The concept of phasing approved development in the development area is troubling at best.  At worst, the requirement of “adequate services and facilities” prior to permitting approved development is a legislative initiative that has failed in each of the previous ten General Assembly sessions.  Thus this provision CAN’T be enforced and should be dropped.

We are also concerned with some of the language surrounding the concept of Small Area Plans.  The small area plans seem to be a planner employment act.  On page 4-18 the Uptown designation, that may take decades to build out, calls for a Small Area Plan to

“define purpose, location, and use/design expectations more completely, as well as market feasibility and timing.” 

Determining market feasability and timing is not the function of government [in fact it is the only thing they do not regulate] — it is the private sector that decides when to put money at risk to determine market viability.

 The Free Enterprise Forum remains concerned about the reality of Places29 and citizen expectations it may generate.  Looking at the rendering below, how long until you believe this reality will occur along Airport Road:

 

urban frontage

Drafting legislation has often been referred to as watching sausage be made, the Places29 process certainly fits this bill.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson

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