Monthly Archives: August, 2013

$20,000 Hookup Fee Discussion Continues in Greene

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The second meeting of August was winding down and, as always, Chairman Jim Frydl asked for any matters from each Board member. Vice-Chairman Davis Lamb offered that he, Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director and John Barkley, Greene County’s Administrator form a committee to study how to change the fee structure for hooking up to the water and sewer system.

The current cost of $20,000 per hookup has hindered development activity in Greene County. Supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton agreed with the situation and asked that the BOS have a sense of urgency to modify the fee structure. He further explained that the income from fees is causing the county to spend funds out of the Reserve Fund in order to pay for the system.

frydlChairman Jim Frydl agreed that this is a complex issue and is being studied. He looked to Administrator Barkley for an update on his progress since he has recently taken his position in Greene. Barkley stated that he, Bart Svoboda and Herb White  have been studying the issue and comparing Greene’s fee structure to those of surrounding counties. Frydl asked when staff would be able to report back to the BOS and it was agreed to put the item on the agenda for the second meeting in September on the 24th of the month.

Back at the workshop with local business people, held on May 28th this economic development issue was highlighted by Steve Jones, President/COO of the Fried Companies, LLC.  Several weeks ago developer Larry Hall  was asked what issues are holding up development in Greene County. His top two issues were the fee structure for EDU’s and the slow process in getting projects through Greene County.

May, June, July, August, September – how long does the project take to be studied and recommendations be made? Hopefully the September 24th meeting will have a clear recommendation on how to modify the fee structure and restart development activity in Greene.

——————————————————————————

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.

Celebrating A Full Ballot & Friday Night Lights

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

Ballot BoxLate August is a time of great optimism in both politics and football.  The “real” campaign has not yet started, the road to victory is in sight  and everyone is undefeated. 

Looking across the region, the Free Enterprise Forum is heartened that a majority of the local races are contested. 

We applaud all those seeking to serve; it is a major time commitment.  Earlier this year when considering their annual salary ($14,542), Albemarle Supervisor Dennis Rooker joked “Where are the living wage folks now” considering the significant number of hours each supervisor dedicates to the “part time” supervisor position.  We concur with Mr. Rooker’s statement and recognize the significant sacrifices most supervisors make to provide representation at a myriad of committees and commission meetings. 

With that being said we believe a strong, vibrant and fair contest for Supervisor (or City Council) enriches the community engagement, shines a light on the import of local government and makes for better public policy.

From big picture discussions of development areas and enterprise zones to more finite conversations about how the noise ordinance impacts local businesses, the community is stronger for the vetting of views.  Absent a credible challenger, incumbents tend to do the minimum amount of campaigning required to make sure folks know they are running.

The 2013 election is an “off” year election.  Back in 2009, voter turnout hovered around 40%.  Interestingly, that 40% was rather evenly split in Albemarle County where both contested Board of Supervisors races were won by about 300 votes (5%).  Make no mistake your vote matters.

This is an historic election in Albemarle where four supervisors will be elected (Scottsville for the balance of Chris Dumler’s term).

bigalignmentConsidering all four Albemarle County Board of Supervisors contests have two candidates the math wiz in me has determined there are sixteen possible candidate combinations to join the one Democrat (Mallek) and one Republican (Boyd) to make the 2014-16 Board of Supervisors (see graphic)

Based on the current slate of candidates, Albemarle’s Board is guaranteed to gain some gender balance as both announced Scottsville candidates (Burkett, Dittmar) are female.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that when voters are provided a true choice, election turnout increases.  It will be most interesting to see how voter turnout in the City of Charlottesville with a full slate of political party candidates in 2013 compares to the 2009 election which featured two independent candidates (Fenwick, Long) vs. two Democrats (Szakos, Norris).

Greene County voters will also have choices this year as both seats up for election are contested.  In the newly created Midway District, incumbent Jim Frydl is facing a challenge from Steve Keene.  With the retirement of Clarence “Buggs” Peyton, the open Stanardsville Supervisor seat is being sought by former At Large Supervisor Patsy Morris and William “Bill” Martin.

Incumbent Don Weaver is running unopposed for the Cunningham district seat in Fluvanna County.  In the Columbia District, Elizabeth Franklin is running against John “Mike” Sheridan.  Voters in the Rivanna District will have a choice between Tony O’Brien or Frederick “Rick” Kelly.   

With so much money flowing into Virginia to fund advertising in the only competitive gubernatorial race in the country, it may prove hard to hear the local candidates above the Richmond hum – but listen.  Take the time to learn who is running to be your local government representative and why. 

The Free Enterprise Forum will do our part by asking candidates “The Free Enterprise Five” five questions that hopefully will provide the candidates the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their opponents on critical issues of the day.  We will run their answers to the questions in late September/early October on the blog.

sy symsAs the days start to get longer and we prepare for “Friday night lights” please spend some time getting to know your local candidates.  To paraphrase the late clothier Sy Simms “An educated citizen is our best voter”.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson 

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.  www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene PC Considers US29 Rezoning Request –Residential or Commercial ?

By Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer

The Greene County Planning Commission was requested to change a zoning from B-2 to B-3 on Wednesday, August 21st by CRBFAV, LLC/EARR I, LLC. The specific location is on the west side of US29, just north of the Food Lion shopping center below Ruckersville. Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda  gave an overview of request RZ#13-002  stating that the Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as a mixed use of office and residential and that no red flags were presented by all of the agencies that review rezoning requests.Document1

Bill Gentry  represented the applicant – a local property manager and realtor – in this rezoning request. The request to change the property to B-3 (see page 33 of Greene County Zoning Ordinance ) is to allow for greater economic development in an area where many parcels are already classified as B-3. The specific rental tenant that the owner has been negotiating with has service vehicles which would only be allowed by a rezoning to B-3.

Chairman Anthony Herring opened the public hearing, all of the speakers were residents of Deer Lake subdivision west of the property requesting the rezoning. Marianne Shepard spoke first and had three areas of concern. Traffic entering the subdivision of Deer Lake Estates is already a problem since the commercial lot uses the same entry on Buck Drive off US29 Southbound. She expresses concern over the environment – both noise and run off of oil and gas (Deer Lake has a lake to the east of the development and just west of the commercial property that fronts US29 South). And finally safety of the homeowners with increases traffic on Buck Drive.

Jeff Womack spoke of a rezoning hearing in 2010 where the same lot was requested to go from R-1 to R-3 and at that time the Planning Commission along with staff recommendations, compromised with the current R-2 zoning due to the high traffic. Logically he questioned why the zoning should now be changed to B-3 when, if anything, the amount of traffic has increased on Buck Drive due to more homes being built in Deer Lake. His other concern was that even though the company that would use the lot had some concerns, the rezoning to B-3 would allow a variety of uses including nightclub that would be very disruptive in front of a residential community at night.

Holly Boggs has just moved into the development in the past 6 months and has concern for the safety of her two children. Craig Herr expressed many of the same concerns and further complained that the entrance to the commercial property off Buck Drive wasn’t up to other commercial entrances with curb and guttering – a concern for the lake.

Herring closed the public hearing and asked for discussion among the commissioners. Vice-Chairman Jay Willer spoke first and expressed concern that he has already seen several service vehicles on site.  Svoboda stated that he had been to the property several weeks ago and not seen any service vehicles.  Willer asked for a clarification as to the statement in the Comprehensive Plan for this area.  Svoboda stated that the area is identified as business/general but that there is no specific intensity assigned, this hearing tonight is what determines the specific assignment.

Commissioner Norm Slezak reported that last week he and Svoboda had gone to the site and in the morning the service vehicles were not present, but they may have been out making calls. The residential area is well kept and from the commercial property in question, there is straight view across the lake to the residential area. He also complimented the residents in coming out and expressing their views  . From an environmental aspect he agreed with the concern about the chemical possibly leaking into the lake and also had concerns over increased traffic onto US29. His final comment was there is plenty of B-3 zoned property in the same general area and he was not in support of the rezoning.

Herring indicated that Greene County wants to be business friendly. He hoped that the business would have researched if service vehicles would be allowed in B-2 before entering into a lease. US29 will become more and more congested and allowing this lot to be B-3 would only accelerate this issue. With no other comment from the commissioners, a unanimous vote was recorded recommending denial of the rezoning request.

As with all planning commission rezoning recommendations, this issue will go to the Greene County Board of Supervisors for their decision with the information from the Planning Commission hearing for final action.

——————————————————————————

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.

Will Albemarle BOS Rubberstamp Comp Plan?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden famously asked, “If you don’t have time to do it John woodenright, when will you  find time to do it over”? 

On Wednesday, August 14, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will receive their first staff report on the State mandated five year update of their Comprehensive Plan.  The question before the Board is how detailed a review do they want? 

While the report correctly indicates the Albemarle  Planning Commission held almost forty meetings on the document, the Free Enterprise Forum was critical that some of those meetings were literally meetings to discuss how how the commission was going to discuss comprehensive plan issues when it was time to discuss them.

Several of these meetings were joint City/County Planning commission meetings funded by the nearly $1,000,000 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “Livibility” planning grant designed to coordinate planning in the City, County and University.  This grant was applied for and administrated by the recently released Stephen Williams formerly of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC).   While these joint meetings did foster a better understanding between the commissions and a recognition of the Rivanna River as a shared under appreciated resource, we fail to see $1,000,000 of benefit.

Regardless of all of the above, Now the Comp Plan goes to the Supervisors for their review. 

How through should the review be?

Since the Planning Commission spent so much time on it, staff asks if a truncated review would be most appropriate.  We disagree with this approach.  The state code is rather clear on the different responsibilities:

§ 15.2-2223. Comprehensive plan to be prepared and adopted; scope and purpose.

A. The local planning commission shall prepare and recommend a comprehensive plan for the physical development of the territory within its jurisdiction and every governing body shall adopt a comprehensive plan for the territory under its jurisdiction.

In the preparation of a comprehensive plan, the commission shall make careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of the existing conditions and trends of growth, and of the probable future requirements of its territory and inhabitants. The comprehensive plan shall be made with the purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the territory which will, in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the inhabitants, including the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The comprehensive plan shall be general in nature, in that it shall designate the general or approximate location, character, and extent of each feature, including any road improvement and any transportation improvement, shown on the plan and shall indicate where existing lands or facilities are proposed to be extended, widened, removed, relocated, vacated, narrowed, abandoned, or changed in use as the case may be. emphasis added – nw

In addition to aligning the potential infrastructure improvements, the comprehensive plan also dictates the limits of the development areas in the County.  Originally set in 1979, the development area lines have only been slightly modified by Comprehensive Plan updates. 

Somewhat surprisingly the acreage of land available for development however, has been dramatically reduced in this time.  Yes, you read that correctly, despite not moving the lines, development area has been reduced.  Critical slopes, stream buffers, increased setbacks and the “Biscuit Run” State Park have all contributed to the 6-15% reduction of  development area acreage.  The Planning Commission elected to ignore those realities and not even deliberate the merits of any of the potential development area expansions.

To be clear, we have been engaged in the Comprehensive Plan process for over two years.  We have written extensively about our concerns with aspects of the Plan. Many of our suggestions have been taken and we are appreapprovedstamp_thumb.jpgciative of the progress that has been made.

However, the Free Enterprise Forum not only believes the Board of Supervisors should review the Comprehensive Plan closely, we hope all candidates for the Board will make this an issue in their campaigns.

This document is designed to guide development in Albemarle County until 2018 shouldn’t it get more than a rubberstamp?

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson  

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.  www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits : Quotecollection.com

Fluvanna Water “Corrections” Leaked

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — In a week full of leaked documents, another hits the list. This time, possible corrections to the water infrastructure return on investment.  See the leaked document by clicking here.

An email forwarded to Fluco Blog includes possible corrections and errors in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s ROI. The email is dated Aug. 2. It was sent by Steve Nichols, county administrator, to the planning commission’s acting executive director, David Blount, and a planner, Will Cockrell. The Board of Supervisors’ email list was carbon copied.

The correction summary sheet is four pages, landscape. It includes where county staff reportedly feels numbers are missing, formulas are incorrect and assumptions are off.

The vast majority of issues the email raises concerns about are Excel formulas related. The issues are listed from the ‘No Water’ tab of the document but majority are repeated onto the Aqua’s and Department of Corrections’ tabs.

The possible issues with the ‘Pro Formula’ tabs occur in both the Aqua and DOC tabs.

Late Saturday night, supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) apologized on the Focus on Fluvanna’s Future private Facebook group for releasing the ROI too early. In his apology, he notes county staff has found possible errors and the planning district commission was re-examining the ROI.

Last week Chesser released a portable document file of results of the ROI on the FFF Facebook group. Late last week Fluco Blog obtained a full, locked version of the ROI spreadsheet that is questioned in the latest leaked document.

The Board of Supervisors next meet on Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Fluvanna County High School auditorium. There is no 7 p.m. hearing.

———————————————————–

The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Fluvanna Water ‘Leaks’ Continue – Public Hearing Cancelled

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — Fluco Blog has received a leaked version of the entire return on investment (ROI) spreadsheet, including water-supply_thumb.jpgassumptions used.  Joe Chesser previously released a portable document format (PDF) of just the results tab of the latest Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) ROI. Fluco Blog has received the entire spreadsheet from multiple sources close to the process.

While the results version Chesser released gives the final picture, the assumptions for the results has been questioned. Multiple sources close to the internal county dialog have confirmed county staff have questioned assumptions and/or the Excel formulas used.

Those same sources are saying the hold up in releasing the document has centered around those questions. Reportedly, TJPDC has reconfirmed the information and formulas without any major corrections.

Major assumptions for the ‘expected growth’ model of the Department of Corrections only plan, 75,000 gallons of water per day plus 125,000 gallons of sewer, include an average growth of housing units of seven a year for the first five years. Residential growth then slows to three a year from the sixth through the 20th year.

The commercial growth includes an average of 19,000 new square feet per year for the first five years. For the next 15 years, the average growth is 11,000 square feet per year for commercial. The forecast also averages 2,000 square feet a year of restaurant space for the first five years and zero additional square feet for years six through 20.

aqua america logoThe Aqua deal of 500,000 gallons of water a day plus 125,000 of sewer a day uses assumptions for the ‘expected growth’ scenario of adding an average of 10 homes a year for the first 15 years then an average of eight a year for the final five years of the 20 year forecast.

Commercially it includes adding an average of 41,000 square feet of retail space for the first 15 years then averaging 32,250 square feet a year for the final five years. Restaurant footage added is projected at 1,000 square feet average a year for 15 years and zero square footage for years 16 through 20.

Each proposal has water rates of $8 per 1,000 gallons of water use and $10 per 1,000 gallons of sewer use. Both proposals use the same connection fees as well.

The expected growth model for the DOC proposal uses the water capacity nearly by year seven and is 12,000 gallons short by year eight. The same model for the Aqua proposal uses 153,113 in the final year, thus leaving 346,887 gallons extra capacity even in the last year.

The DOC plan, by limiting available water also limits development, will not exceed the 125,000 gallons of sewer capacity the entire 20 years. The Aqua plan would need additional sewer space by at least the 15th year.

The document is locked via password, unbeknownst to Fluco Blog.

Originally the public hearing for the Aqua proposal was scheduled for Aug. 7 but was not properly advertised. It has been postponed to another meeting. The regularly scheduled 2 p.m. Board of Supervisors meeting will still occur, at Fluvanna County High School’s auditorium.

————————————————————–

The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Fluvanna Water ROI Report Suprises

By. Brian Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — Rivanna District supervisor Joe Chesser has released the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) return on investment on an online message board. The ROI was expected to be released early last week. According to multiple sources, there is high internal debate between county staff, Board of Supervisors and the TJPDC.

.

Chesser released the ROI on Focus on Fluvanna’s Future Facebook group page. After his initial post he wrote, “Below is the latest ROI that the County staff had developed by the TJPDC. The staff has some issue with this ROI. They feel that the formulas used are inaccurate.  “The County asked TJPDC to recheck their work. TJPDC reviewed and found that there were minor change but did not change the results. Please take a look.”

.

View the ROI here

.

Multiple sources close to the debate have said the changes county staff have desired result in the Aqua proposal coming out near or even below the Department of Corrections (DOC) proposal. Reportedly, TJPDC has rejected these changes.  The ROI Chesser released, reportedly directly from TJDPC without changes, has the Aqua plan making money annual by year four under ‘expected growth’ projections. It would make money cumulatively by year seven under expected growth. In 20 years, it would cumulatively make $34 million.

.

Under a slow growth projection, the Aqua pipeline makes money annually in the sixth year. By the 15th year it would make $2.9 million cumulatively. Overall, slow growth has the county making $6.6 million over 20 years.

Using the released ROI, the DOC only plan makes money annually in years five through eight but then starts losing money again. In year 20, it is making $39,212 a year but overall it has lost $1.785 million. The issue being under the DOC plan, water usage is capped at 75,000 gallons per day of usage requiring another water source for anything over 75,000 gallons.

.

The Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on the Aqua public-private partnership agreement on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna County High School auditorium.

————————————————————–

The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com