By. Neil Williamson, President
In a previous blog post, I spoke of the importance of counting to three on the five member Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The arithmetic is a little different on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (ACBOS). While Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier’s (Scottsville) vote allowed the ACBOS to instruct their MPO members to vote in favor of the Western Bypass, switching one vote will not change this newly endorsed position of the Board.
It’s all about getting to four.
The June 1st vote to drop the language opposing the bypass from the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) had failed 3-3. According to the ACBOS Rules of Procedures (adopted in January 2011):
Approval by Motion. Unless otherwise provided, decisions of the Board shall be made by approval of a majority of the members present and voting on a motion properly made by a member and seconded by another member. Any motion that is not seconded shall not be further considered. The vote on the motion shall be by a voice vote. The Clerk shall record the name of each member voting and how he voted on the motion. If any member abstains from voting on any motion, he shall state his abstention. The abstention will be announced by the Chairman and recorded by the Clerk. A tie vote shall defeat the motion voted upon. (Article VII, Section 7, Virginia Constitution) Emphasis Added – NW
Charlottesville Tomorrow reported the June 8th meeting had a different result:
Late in a meeting on June 8, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 to direct its two MPO representatives to remove language from the local transportation improvement program opposing the bypass. The unannounced vote reversed an almost 15-year-old policy position of county opposition to the bypass.
Why is this important?
According to the BOS Rules of Procedure, in order to change the current Albemarle County policy will require a majority of the Board of Supervisors. A 3-3 tie doesn’t get you there. In addition, any vote to suspend those rules will require a similar majority vote.
According to the legal notice in Sunday’s Daily Progress, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has scheduled their own June 13th public hearing:
to consider the following Route 29 Western Bypass. Public comment on Albemarle County’s position to support the proposed construction of a Route 29 Western Bypass. This public hearing is not a public hearing of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The MPO will advertise and conduct a separate public hearing on this matter for its purposes. Emphasis added – NW
Not to be confused, the MPO will hold not one but two public hearings on the Western Bypass issue, July 14th and July 27th also at the Albemarle County Office Building. The Free Enterprise Forum found the notice for the MPO hearing to be surprisingly direct for a public notification:
The project that is being considered for this amendment process is the project analyzed in the U.S. Route 29 Corridor Study, Final Environmental Impact Statement Section 4(f)/106 Evaluation, State Project No. 6029-002-122 PE 100, approved in 1993 and U.S. Route 29 Bypass Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, FHWA-VA-EIS-90-02-DS, Federal Protection Number: NH-037-2 (130), State Project Number: 6092-002-F22, PE 101; RUVA-002-001, PE 101, approved in 2002. These proposed amendments will allow for funding for this project and this project only. The proposed amendments will not consider or fund any other bypass routes or general bypass option. Emphasis added – NW
The Free Enterprise Forum believes that these three public hearings (and the Richmond meeting of the Commonwealth Transportation Board on July 20th) will provide more than adequate opportunity for public comment on the US 29 Western Bypass.
The first of the big questions is will the public comments at the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 13, change two votes from yes to no?
If not, the BOS representatives on the MPO will be duty bound to vote in favor of the bypass regardless of any comments made at the MPO public hearings.
The second set of questions revolve around the Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting on July 20th (prior to the final vote by the MPO).
Will this Governor appointed body conditionally approve the funding dependent an affirmative vote on July 27th at the MPO?
Will the anticipated abundant public comment influence these appointees?
Will the CTB seek to change the direction of the Executive Branch?
I can hear you out there counting noses.
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, Louisa and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org