Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Free Enterprise Forum Asks Albemarle Candidates about Unfunded Environmental Mandates

By. Neil Williamson, President

As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors.  Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded.  One question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week. 

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4. The new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) stormwater requirements will hit Albemarle County in the next 24 months.  Meeting these new mandates is inevitable and costly.  How do you propose paying for these required stormwater improvements?  Do you favor a utility fee on impervious services?  How would this impact rural land owners and their contribution to the runoff?

Rio District

Thomas campaignRodney Thomas: I have gone on record as being against a storm water utility fee particularly as passed in the city. These fees are applied based on rooftop space and impervious pavement. This would mean that people living in the rural areas who probably have enough land/grass/plantings around their houses to mitigate storm water would pay as much as a resident in the growth area.

I also don’t like the idea of placing a fee on our non-profits and churches that might have a lot of roof square footage and impervious paved parking lots. Maybe deserving by nature, but it would put very large burden on businesses as well. It is unfortunate that the federal and state governments put these mandates on local government without funding but my thought is that it should be an increase in the general property tax and funded out of the general fund. However a lot is yet unknown in what the requirements are going to be and the details could change my mind.

Sheffield campaignBrad Sheffield: The stormwater regulations will impact rural land owners differently than those in the growth area. I support a utility fee. It is the most equitable way to make sure those who have stormwater controls take steps for mitigation. Further, if the regulations change the fee approach can change easier than changing the tax rate.

Samuel Miller District

Palmer campaignLiz Palmer:  Albemarle County has long prided itself in taking care of its drinking water watershed, adopting most of the Chesapeake Bay ordinance ahead of any other county west of I-95, so the TMDLs are not a brand new concept, but now we are being required to take them seriously.  A stormwater reserve was already beginning to accumulate but in this year’s budget it is being expended, so a new and increased source of funds must be found. 

Albemarle’s situation is much more complex than Charlottesville’s, so we should not copy their ordinance.  But I favor letting citizens know as clearly as possible what their fees or taxes are funding, which implies that a separate stormwater fee is preferable to taking money out of the general fund. 

I do not favor a fee structure that encourages sprawl into the rural area, which means I would not want a tax that put all the stormwater burden on the Development Area. My goal will be to find a fair and equitable and effective funding source that is not so complex that it fails the “predictability” test for developers, and I simply do not yet know how to achieve that. On the ACSA, the concept of “user pays” was common and I think is generally regarded as more equitable than spreading the cost to the general public.

I’m reminded that the Water Supply Plan took scientists, non-profits, governmental staff and officials, businesses, and ordinary citizens’ input before an answer was found.  We don’t have time to dally, but we should get input from as many sources as possible to arrive at the best funding source.

Snow campaignDuane Snow: I do not favor a fee at the present time. I have talked with Supervisors from other Counties. Some have set up a storm water department, others are waiting to see exactly what is going to be require. They are hoping to cover the management of the Act with existing staff.

It is my hope that we will be able to manage this without adding a lot of staff. Staff along with the Board is continuing to analyze what is going to be required and to look at the various options. We are also continuing to lobby the State Government to help fund these mandates.

Jack Jouett District

seay campaignPhillip Seay: I am awaiting information from the State which may provide a direction – maybe not. This needs to be a community effort and probably compromise to reduce the impact but equalize the cost with regard to the various situations handling storm water.

McKeel campaignDiantha McKeel: We are blessed in Albemarle County to have our own watershed and need to be good stewards of our local environment, cleaning up our streams and rivers that are at risk (about 60%), which ultimately helps to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Over the last few years Albemarle County has implemented appropriate policy changes to improve the condition of our riverbanks and the quality of our water. While recognizing Albemarle County will have to make additional changes to meet the new storm water mandates, we are positioned in a better place than other communities.

I do not favor a utility fee at the present time. I need to hear a great deal more from the Department of Environmental Quality and county staff before I would be willing to consider such a fee. Specifically, I would like to know their views of the new regulations and which infrastructure improvements and to test them on those assumptions.

Scottsville District

dittmar campaignJane Dittmar: These new regulations are causing all of the jurisdictions in the Commonwealth and in neighboring states to examine ways to meet the new mandates in the most effective and cost efficient manner. There are various models being implemented or reviewed that we can review that will help us shorten our analysis of the various options we might use in Albemarle County.

Because Albemarle is rural, suburban and urban, we will inevitably hybrid a model for compliance and for paying for the necessary stormwater improvements. I am not educated about the benefits and consequences of various models and will need to do further research before advocating for a specific one.

Burket campaignCindi Burket: I do not like it when the State and or Federal governments determine policy for local governments through unfunded mandates. However, this is a matter that the County will be dealing with in the very near future.

With unfunded mandates from both the State and Federal government to deal with stormwater management, all communities throughout the U.S. will be dealing with this costly issue. The County must submit a Stormwater Management Plan to the State by December, 15th of this year. All the information that is needed to make the important decisions in this matter is still being researched.

As a Board Member I will be researching and learning as much as possible on this matter on my own as well as depending on County staff to help in that regard. There are many facets of this issue that will need to be explored, from how to determine the amount of stormwater runoff that is actually being produced to how to fund such a mandate.

Funding solutions could include, using general fund revenue, using some type of special assessment against benefited properties or by using a stormwater utility fee. Fees are generally based on the amount of impervious services. I am not sure I like the idea of a stormwater utility fee. It seems punitive and unfair I will do the hard work necessary to come up with a stormwater management plan that works best for Albemarle County

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Friday the candidates answer the Final Free Enterprise Forum Five Question – Q5 – Proffer Policy.

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

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex

Free Enterprise Forum Five Q3 Development Area Expansion

By. Neil Williamson, President

As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors.  Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded.  One question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week. 

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3. Since the lines were first drafted in 1979, Albemarle’s acreage for development has been reduced by anywhere from 6-15% via critical slopes, riparian buffers and “Biscuit Run” State Park.  What is your opinion regarding potential expansion of the development areas?  What if any conditions would warrant such an action?

Jack Jouett District

McKeel campaignDiantha McKeel – I support an expansion of the growth areas only under very special circumstances such as the recent growth area swap in Crozet. Albemarle County has five percent of county land in the designated growth area. That is 35 square miles or three and a half times the size of Charlottesville City. That amount of land area should handle our growth for many years to come.

Instead of an expansion, we should concentrate on building out the designated area. That helps to contain sprawl, keeping our rural areas protected. It also allows us to keep the tax rate lower as the rural areas do not require as many services. I see the growth area designation in the Comprehensive Plan as a predictor for citizens: where future development will happen and as a guide in investing both in homes and businesses.

Quite honestly, any decisions regarding expansion of the development area should be fact-based. This is an excellent example of an important and far-reaching decision in which our many communities, including the business community should be involved. I have talked about the value of bringing experts and concerned citizens together in a “common ground” approach to issues. I’d like to see that process work.

Phillip Seay: While adhering to established gseay campaignrowth guidelines, we need to be flexible and expand if we need where we can. Obviously, not to out strip natural/man made resources. The point is, being open to change and doing so to adequately meet the needs of our residents.

Rio District

Sheffield campaignBrad Sheffield: I believe firmly first in the redevelopment and infill of the growth area before considering expanding it. We have issues with the proper maintenance of our current growth area and the infrastructure necessary to support it. The County must first resolve those issues.

Further, there are hundreds of projects that have been approved and the first shovel has not gone into the ground. The County needs to have a better handle of which of those projects will move forward and the time frames associated with that.

Rodney Thomas: Thomas campaignI would prefer keeping the development area at 5% of 343 square miles of Albemarle county.

Since we have lost some acreage i.e. biscuit run and critical slopes. I would like the development area to go back to 5%.

I believe the 5% should be a hard line.

Samuel Miller District

Snow campaignDuane Snow: One of the reasons Albemarle is such a great place to live is because of its beauty. We have set as a goal to keep our County 95% rural and maintain a 5% development area. Recently we have reduced our area to about 4% with the removal of the Biscuit Run project and a few others.

I would be in favor of adding an additional 1% back into the growth area through in fill and adjacent land that makes sense.

Liz Palmer: As I see it, since Biscuit Run wasPalmer campaign 900 acres, only 500 of which were in the growth area, and since the county Development Area is about 35 square miles or 22,400 acres, losing Biscuit Run reduced the Development Area by 2%. 

The critical slopes and riparian buffers reduce development acreage throughout the County, not just in the Development Area.  I support adhering to the present lines at this time.

Scottsville District

Burket campaignCindi Burkett: While I think the current 95% rural and 5% development area is a great baseline, it just makes sense to look closely at where we really are at this time.

If we have lost the flexibility of this ratio because of a reduction in the amount of developable land we should consider that. I would not see that as an expansion, but more as an adjustment.

Jane Dittmardittmar campaignIt is my understanding from the current draft comprehensive plan that there is ample capacity for housing, commercial and light industrial development in the growth area for over another decade. I would like to see efforts made to strengthen infrastructure in the growth area to continue new development and redevelopment.

In order for me to feel comfortable expanding the growth area, I would have to know that there was a looming insuffiency in capacity in the growth area. Also, in considering where and how to expand, I would want to ensure that we had planned, approved and funded the infrastructure needed in advance of an expansion.

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Thursday – Candidates answer Q4 – Environmental Mandates of the Free Enterprise Forum Five.

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

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex

The Free Enterprise Forum Five Q2–Transportation

By. Neil Williamson, President

As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors.  Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded.  One question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week. 

  • Economic Development Monday
  • Transportation Tuesday
  • Development Area Expansion Wednesday
  • Environmental Mandates Thursday
  • Proffer Policy Friday 

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2. While a state function, transportation is an important part of locality infrastructure planning. What is your opinion of Albemarle’s transportation network? What is your position on the approved and funded US 29 Bypass? What is the next big step for transportation in Albemarle?

Samuel Miller District

Snow campaignDuane Snow: I am 100% in favor of the by-pass along with about 60% of the County. We’ve come a long way in the last four years in solving some of our infrastructure needs. There are four main projects that I would like to see moved forward as quickly as possible.

· Eastern by-pass and/or a parallel road and bridge into the city.

· Extend the by-pass north of Ruckersville.

· Build Berkmar Extension .

· Turn Rt. 29 through our business district into a Boulevard with bike lanes, cross walks, and other transportation options. The area should be landscaped with trees, shrubs and flowers. Route 29 is the economic engine for Albemarle County.

Liz Palmer: I think you’ve asked a good question, using the wordsPalmer campaign “transportation network.”  It is the network of interconnected streets which should allow drivers some options, especially to make it possible to move around, shop, get to soccer practice – whatever – without ending up driving an auto on a few major, over-utilized highways.  We need more options, such as Berkmar and Hillsdale, and improved connections between them. 

The presently approved bypass costs more than, and creates fewer options for local residents than, an interconnected network in the 29North corridor.  So, as a fiscally prudent person, I prefer the less expensive and more effective options, roughly SELC’s Go29 plan.  The options would also lend themselves more to the bike and bus routes that we increasingly need.  We have other corridors that need attention and may demand their “turn” at getting projects, such as 29 South and Route 250, east and west, in addition to the bicycle access that I’d like to see penetrating the urban ring.

Scottsville District

dittmar campaignJane Dittmar: In the Scottsville District, we have a corridor that would be ideal for public transportation. Also in the years to come, we may want to see public transportation from our “villages” and the Town of Scottsville to the urban ring during commuting hours. Regarding roads, the Scottsville District is experiencing road congestion during commuting times on both Rt. 250 and Rt. 20. This is causing frustration for those who must travel during these times. Already residents along these corridors are questioning whether further development without road improvements should be allowed.

I would like very much for improvements in our county’s road capacities to begin earlier in the planning cycle in the future. Regarding the US 29 Bypass, this is not an important agenda item for residents in my district, based on input from many neighbors I have reached out to over the last 10 weeks. However I know that relieving congestion on Rt. 29 is as important to other districts as relieving congestion on Rt. 20 and 250 is to Scottsville.

As you say, it is approved and funded and it is my understanding that supervisors are not involved in the final regulatory approval process currently underway.

Cindi Burket: Burket campaignI support the construction of the bypass. This is a road that needs to be built. This bypass is the beginning effort to reduce traffic congestion and

address the accident rate on the County’s part of the 29 corridor. Furthermore, this transportation project includes other necessary work including: Extension of Hillsdale Drive, widening of 29 and the Best Buy Ramp. This bypass has been voted on and approved by the County Board, approved by VDOT and it would be a great disappointment to the majority of Albemarle residents if this road and the funding that goes with it would be unrealized.

I think the next big step for Albemarle transportation will be working on making some changes to 250 East on Pantops and 20 South towards Scottsville.

Rio District

Thomas campaignRodney Thomas: Since Hillsdale, Best Buy ramp, and the widening of 29 are funded as part of the Western Bypass funding package. The next priority should be Berkmar Drive extended and improved transit to 29 north.

We also need to turn Rt. 29 into a boulevard to make pedestrian friendly crossings. Rt. 250 at Pantops could use some improvement as well. I support the Bypass.

Brad Sheffield: Albemarle County continues to make poorSheffield campaign transportation decisions that lead to small and specific dysfunction. Unfortunately, those individual choices add up to a County-wide system that is incompatible with our growth and fails to meet the needs of the residents.

I believe that the US 29 Western Bypass is an antiquated plan. It exemplifies how the County needs to stop deliberating on important issues and make timely decisions. This project is based on obsolete data, old assumptions and it does not fit the community as it has grown since the initial Bypass decisions over 10 years ago. As a transportation professional, I am of the opinion that this road, as designed now, will add to our transportation system’s impaired functionality.

The next big step is to re-approach the formation of a Regional Transit Authority. Many of our transportation issues are related to the density created by the growth area. We need to provide better alternative forms of transportation to reduce the traffic impacts. This process needs to start with gathering better traffic data. We have at least one big project, the John Warner Parkway, that will make an impact on the traffic patterns. We need real data right now so we can measure the impact and be prepared to make some quick decisions in the next four years.

Jack Jouett District

seay campaignPhillip Seay:  A. We really do not have major traffic issues. We have become accustomed to getting to a location in a certain time and now that travel time depending on the day, time of day and scheduled events has somewhat increased. It does concern me that we continue to build in high density commercial areas knowing that traffic will increase. Additionally, the Bypass will take the truck and travel through traffic out of the equation. I would think with up to date traffic counts this number would show the benefit of the Bypass in alleviating this traffic on business 29.

B. Done deal thus far. Let’s work together to make this the best possible road by keeping communication lines open and being upfront in preparing residents and businesses before, during and after the known and unintended consequences of construction. Do it right the first time!

c. Berkmar Drive extended. Improvements with regards to safer bus services (location of stops, lighting, protection from weather) and providing the needs of pedestrians to better access homes and businesses.

McKeel campaignDiantha McKeel: Our transportation network needs to be regional in nature and planning. I would like to see increased cooperation between the County, the City, and UVA. An example is the Adaptive Transportation System currently supported by both the City and County. I also support an improved system of walking trails, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements, seamlessly connecting the County and City. The current bus system (CATS) needs to be a more efficient operation and needs infrastructure improvements at stops and safer connections for citizens.

I am opposed to the proposed US 29 Bypass as it will not reduce our traffic congestion now or in the future. And, there are much less expensive projects that would more effectively move traffic though our community.

The funded projects I support: completion of the Meadowcreek Parkway; adding the lane to Rt. 29 South from Hydraulic Road to the 250 Bypass with an additional ramp at Best Buy and an extended taper lane; completion of the Hillsdale Connector.

Future projects I support would be the widening of Rt. 29 between Polo Grounds and Hollymead to eliminate the hourglass; the Berkmar Extended project. Eventually I believe our community will need the overpasses at the intersection at Hydraulic and possibly Rio. I also see reconfiguration of the dangerous exit ramp connection on Interstate 64 with the 250 Bypass as important future project.

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Wednesday – Candidates answer Q3 – Development Area Expansion  of the Free Enterprise Forum Five.

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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, Louisa and  Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex

The Free Enterprise Forum Five–Q1 Economic Development

By. Neil Williamson, President

As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors.  Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded.  One Question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week. 

  • Economic Development Monday
  • Transportation Tuesday
  • Development Area Expansion Wednesday
  • Environmental Mandates Thursday
  • Proffer Policy Friday 

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1. Economic Development has been advocated by the current Board of Supervisors.  What is your vision for the proper role of government in economic development?  How do you grade Albemarle’s recent three year effort in gaining and retaining business? 

Scottsville Candidates:

Burket campaignCindi Burket – The proper role of government in dealing with economic development is to streamline regulations for new and established businesses, setting common sense regulations that promotes growth while protecting our environment.

Making Albemarle County an attractive place for businesses to move to by keeping taxes low, having a ready workforce from which they can hire and by setting an optimistic and enthusiastic tone to make it all happen.

dittmar campaignJane Dittmar In 1995 I was proud to be on a team of private and public sector officials who launched the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development (now called the Central Virginia Partnership) and eventually chaired the partnership from 2003-4

I authored the original plan that was used to eventually write the agreement with the unusual funding formula drawing 50% of the funds from the private sector and 50 % from the public sector with leadership of the partnership switching each year between the private and the public sectors. I chose this model because in the partnerships I studied across the commonwealth, those that relied totally on public funds, tended to exclude private sector leadership. The partnerships that relied totally on private funds were not as stable because they shrank or went out of existence during recessionary times. The one jurisdiction that did not join the Partnership at its inception was Albemarle County. By 2000 Albemarle was reconsidering this and in 2011 the chairman of the partnership that year was Tom Foley, the County Executive.

I am very pleased by the progress our Boards of Supervisors have made in recent years supporting the hiring a professional staff member to focus on business services. If elected, I would like to ensure that the next comprehensive plan thoughtfully lays out a vision for economic development that focuses on business retention and attraction. I would also like to continue efforts to streamline the development timeline if there are more efficiencies to be found.

Rio Candidates:

Sheffield campaignBrad Sheffield: The role of government, with respect to economic development, is to provide good, competitive infrastructure and public-private partnerships necessary to attract new business and to enhance existing business. I give Albemarle County a “C.”

The County is failing at maintaining the infrastructure to existing businesses, which not only hurts those businesses, but affects the decisions of new businesses who might consider locating here. We could be doing a better job with attracting more innovation and small business growth by building better “places” that create the environment needed to build on energy and activity.

Also, over the last three years we have failed to capitalize on the City of Charlottesville’s shift to residential growth. We should have been establishing policies and approaches to making Albemarle County’s growth area the strongest economic hub in the region.

Thomas campaignRodney Thomas:  The action plan deserves high marks for designing a plan. The next step is to fund and implement it. The targeted industry study was a valued effort to match the skill sets of our workers with the jobs of the future.

What we must not lose sight of is that there are many skilled level support jobs that go along with the targeted jobs. We are still going to need electricians, carpenters, etc.. In a vibrant economy. These are career level jobs that should also be referenced in the study as an important part and we need to recognize this when considering government action.

Jack Jouett Candidates:

McKeel campaignDiantha McKeel: I fully subscribe to the purpose of government as promoting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s my view that government should be a catalyst in bringing together those components that achieve each of these goals. Economic development is a vital path for the pursuit of happiness and on the local level that means creating a climate where our workforce is well-educated and in alignment with workforce needs; our community is safe and we are tapping into our natural resources, which in Albemarle is the creativity and innovation of all of our partners, including the university.

This reliance on building partnerships is why I proposed and led the way for our school division to join and become an active participant in the regional Chamber of Commerce. I supported the 2010 BOS’ adopted Economic Vitality Action Plan. As public officials it is our responsibility to work to expand our commercial tax base to reduce the reliance upon property taxes in support of county services and infrastructure improvements. Over the past three years, I would grade the county as achieving a B—for example we’ve made some good grades with the Target Industry Study and we’ve protected our exemplary bond rating. We’ve moderated tax rate increases.

We need to be A-plus, however, and that will come from taking steps that achieve the promise of our growth potential, leveraging our high quality of life and our intellectual and creative resources to become a national model of excellence.

seay campaignPhillip Seay: Our County government should encourage and demonstrate economic development. Implement and fund The Economic Action Vitality Plan with the understanding of the needs and wants of the community.

Samuel Miller Candidates:

Palmer campaignLiz Palmer: As the economy slowly recovers, everyone can claim credit for our local situation, and probably we all should claim credit. The local government can set the tone, express interest, review ordinances, engage the public in discussions and, in other ways, affect the morale and reality of our local economy.  Its own human resource decisions enlarge, or shrink, the number of employed people, and its salary scale affects other employers’ pay scale decisions (and vice versa).

I believe that retaining the attractiveness of our county is a subtle but major part of what government can do to attract and retain businesses.  We must not assault the county in the name of economic development. Likewise, the quality of our schools is a major expense and a major part of what local government does to attract residents and business-owners.  Taking this broader view, I think the last three years are a mixed bag, with some words of encouragement but some doubts planted regarding the County’s interest in assuring the quality of life that is so important to present and prospective employers.

Snow campaignDuane Snow: Prior to 2010 Albemarle County did not have an economic development plan, with action steps. They had an economic development statement. We are now in the implementation part of the plan.

Economic Development is a major part of the County’s responsibility.

· provides well paying jobs for our community/career opportunities for our children.

· Provides additional tax revenue to fund the core responsibilities of Government . Thereby reducing the pressure to raise property Tax.

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Tuesday – Candidates answer Q2 – Transportation of the Free Enterprise Forum Five.

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

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex

Greene County Candidate Forum Held

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

On Saturday, October 19th, the Ruckersville Elementary School PTA  and the League of Women Voters held a forum  for the four candidates for the two Greene County Board of Supervisors positions open this November 5th. Current BOS Chairman Jim Frydl is facing Steve Keene  for the Midway seat.   In the Standardsville District, former at-large supervisor  Patsy Morris is competing with Bill Martin.Greene Candidate Forum 2013 credit Newsplex

The Forum Moderator, Charlottesville attorney Tara Boyd, outlined the forum ground rules the event would start with opening statements from the candidates followed by three questions that all four candidates had received prior to the forum. In addition, audience members were welcome to submit questions in writing of which four were selected. All of the questions were asked of all candidates in a rotating format.

The following are the Free Enterprise Forum notes from the event.  With two staffers at the event, we have attempted to capture the meaning in each candidate’s answer, but it is important to recognize our notes are not verbatim quotes – nw.

Opening Statements:

Patsy Morris:  I work for the United States Post Office and have for 14 years.  I also previously served two years as a member of the Greene County Board of Supervisors. I support land rights and is not in favor of contractors buying up land to resell. I believe the past 2 years the BOS has spent, spent, spent.

Bill Martin: Demand for services is growing in Greene County putting a strain on resident’s property taxes. Virginia has passed on unfunded mandates that are increasing the county’s burden. The commercial tax base must be expanded to lower property taxes on residents.

Jim Frydl: Four years ago I was elected to the Board, this year my peers elected me as Chairman. During the economic downturn, Greene has done better than most counties. We cannot spend beyond our means. Greene property tax rate is the same as it was four years ago, while Albemarle County is up 7% and Madison County is up 66%. Frydl indicated economic growth has added 368 new jobs during his tenure.

Steve Keene: Originally from Southwest Virginia, I chose to relocate to Greene County.  I have generated positive results in the Sheriff’s Department including trash pickup using inmates and those out on probation. Teachers are leaving county schools since no raises. We need to buckle down because we are in hard times.

Question #1. According to the US Census and the Weldon Cooper Center, seniors 65 and over currently represent 14.5% of Greene County residents. That is expected to grow to 16.7% by 2020. By 2030, seniors will represent 20.1% of Greene’s population. While that has many positive aspects for the community, it will also put increased demand on many county services such as JABA, Greene County Transit, and health and emergency services. How would you address the budget impacts of those emerging needs?

Bill Martin:  Seniors are the soul of our county. Demand will grow in future years and it is our challenge to assess needs in all areas. The BOS need to balance the needs vs. revenues. Our seniors need more attention. I support the reduced property tax rate program for needy seniors and we need to continue to look at changes to the tax rate for seniors.

Frydl Campaign photo

Jim Frydl

Jim Frydl:  I have a passion for seniors. During my term on the BOS we have expanded the tax relief for seniors. I have supported increased funding for rescue squads and our fire and safety departments along with the Sheriff’s volunteer program.

Steve Keene:  This area needs to be improved. We can look to seniors because they have more experience and can volunteer. Seniors also have less demand for services than younger citizens do.

Patsy Morris:  We could look to sell ads on our county vehicles. When I was on the BOS, I encouraged a lower tax rate for seniors. I will work the Commissioner of Revenue to continue to lower Seniors tax burden.

Question #2. With our schools facing cuts to their budgets year after year even as they continue to grow along with recent Virginia Education Association reports showing that compensation for Greene County teachers is slipping from middle towards the bottom for our area – how will you work to ensure our schools are fully funded and able to stay competitive with surrounding localities?

Jim Frydl:  18% of our population is students, and when you include parents, the percentage of the Greene County population personally impacted by our education funding decisions grows to 65%. Quality schools benefit a county in attracting business. Even when the county faced $2 million in cuts from state funding, I supported funding the schools. I would support any unspent funds from the schools budget be placed in a fund for future capital improvements/maintenance or the schools.

Keene campaign photo

Steve Keene

Patsy Morris:  We must keep teachers and put the dollars in the classroom. But how much can we afford?

Bill Martin:  Last year, cuts in Federal and State funding took $750,000 from our schools. The schools absorbed this cut while only receiving the same level funding from the county. New businesses look for quality schools for their employees. Strong schools equal a strong county. We need to improve communication between the BOS and the School Board.

Question #3. What do you view as the biggest challenge facing our county, and what are some key measures you would advocate for to help address this challenge?

Steve Keene:  Teamwork and communication are our biggest issues. I would work to improve the communication gap between the BOS and the School Board along with each department in the county. Also, the water impoundment and growth in the county are important.

Patsy Morris:  Open communication with the school so we can understand what we can and can’t afford. Teachers need to get the best pay.

Bill Martin: Population growth is putting pressure on how to generate additional tax revenue. Since 2006, our sales tax revenue has grown by $600,000 which has the value of $.04/$100 on your personal property tax rate. We need to do more and attract clean businesses to the 6% of Greene County zoned commercial while still maintaining our scenic views.

Jim Frydl:  Our seniors and our water supply are our two key items. We must hire competent people. The connection fee for water and sewer needs to be changed to attract more users. An example of reducing regulatory barriers is we reduced the minimum square footage required for a home in the Greencroft subdivision and the number of homes constructed more than tripled.

The last phase of the forum consisted of questions from the audience.  Questions were provided in writing and selected by a League of Women Voters screener.

Question #1. We need to balance spending vs. the tax rates – where can we trim expenses vs. spend more?

Patsy Morris: We need to cut spending for schools and other agencies. We need to hire part timers so that we don’t have to pay benefits. The property tax rate should have only been raised $.01/$100 instead of $.03/$100 this time.

Martin Campaign Photo

William “Bill” Martin

Bill Martin:  While schools are the largest portion of our budget, all departments should have a hard review. I would propose a zero based budget approach  vs. incremental budgeting. We need to take care of quality teachers while still looking for cuts. Our latest property tax rate increased by $.03/$100 combined with the lower assessment generated equalized tax revenue – no increase in the average tax bill. The end result was to bring the rate back to what it was four years ago.

Jim Frydl:  Last year the schools were the only department to go down, mainly from the state cutting $600,000 in funding. Other departments, including the sheriff’s department, increased. One of the reasons we hired our new County administrator was his  experience with zero based budgeting.

Steve Keene: Criminal justice costs are eating us alive. Probationary personnel are picking up trash . My opponent has indicated the new Sheriff’s programs cost the County money.  I do not agree.  I challenge him to show me where the County is spending new money on these programs.

Question #2: There is tension in the county between those born in Greene vs. those who have relocated to Greene – please address.

Bill Martin:  I understand the concern but we are all residents of Greene County. Since moving to Greene County I have been very active in the community. We chose to move here for the beauty of Greene County.

Jim Frydl: I don’t think it matters at all rather it is the commitment needed to be involved and care. My goal is to serve the people of Greene County on the BOS.

Steve Keene:  I agree with both Bill and Jim. Character is important to keep the rural, clean county. We are all here from different parts of the state and even the country. We should reward good behavior.

Patsy Morris: I am a native of Greene County.  The natives of Greene County worry about land in the county being sold for big bucks and trying to change Greene County. Don’t change our county. I will try to protect our rights. I’ll bet you didn’t know what the STAR program in Stanardsville was going to do. I thought it was just new sidewalks.

Ballot-Box_thumb.jpgQuestion #3. Earlier in the evening many candidates mentioned commerce as the source of new revenue for the County.  Does such revenue come from growth in commerce or increased fees and taxes on commerce?

Jim Frydl:  Government doesn’t control the free market, must have reasons for businesses to come to Greene. We hear from large chains that we don’t have enough rooftops to attract them to come to Greene. Government can encourage them by reducing barriers. In a recent BOS roundtable Walmart commented how easy Greene was to work with, the same was said by Pioneer Bank.

Steve Keene: Greene has chased some businesses from the county. We must look at how to decide the price of water and sewer and the water impoundment. The counties ISO rating needs to be lowered. There are good facts coming out with this discussion.

Patsy Morris: It has been said that “we need more rooftops” in Greene County – I don’t’ understand? The Stanardsville voting district is big, I know I’ve been knocking on doors. Greene County doesn’t need to be a bedroom community for Albemarle County any longer. We need the water impoundment and the water and sewer hookup fee of $20,000 must be lowered.

Bill Martin: We need to encourage more commercial growth to generate more tax revenue and help take the pressure off personal property tax rates. We need to grow the tax pie larger by attracting more businesses. We should also streamline local government and make it easier for businesses to come to Greene County. Finally, the town of Stanardsville has a place in the economic development of Greene County.

Question #4: Property Rights vs. Eminent Domain?

Steve Keene: I am generally against the use of eminent domain. There must be good common use for the county to take property under eminent domain.

Patsy Morris:  I would never vote to allow property to be taken. The government is taking more and more control. We have no money.

Bill Martin:  A person should be allowed to manage his own property. Eminent Domain has some uses, the bypass on Route 33, but I don’t see any other uses in Greene County.

Jim Frydl: Eminent domain is not a county issue. Bill is correct, property rights stay with the property regardless who owns it. I would support property rights even if I disagreed, since it is the law.

The forum provided a good way to gauge the candidates and their beliefs for the future of Greene County. We encourage the voters in Greene County to turn out and vote on Tuesday, November 5th

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Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a non partisan 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.

Photo Credits: Newsplex.com, candidate websites, Facebook

Fluvanna BOS Sends Walker’s Ridge Application Back to Planning Commission

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — The Walker’s Ridge development took a strange turn late into the night as the supervisors voted to send it back to the Planning Commission.

The staff presentation, applicant presentation, public hearing and board discussion all occurred as planned but things changed when county attorney Fred Payne gave legal advice, three hours into the hearing.

Payne discussed the legal requirement special use permits must not adversely effect the surrounding properties. Payne raised concerns about water table impact, traffic, phasing and proffers offered.

One of the major points Payne raised was new proffers offered by the applicant, Hotel Capital LLC, included only using community wells in the first phase. In order to start the second and third phases, the development would not use onsite ground water. Most assumed this as Walker’s Ridge would use public water.

Payne suggested if the first phase of the development was complete but public water wasn’t complete, the applicant could request a change of rezoning because the land had restrictions that left it unusable. If the developer sued to remove the zoning restriction, it would most likely win removing any zoning from the property.

Supervisors chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) was upset the statutory concern that the special use permit had to prove benefit based on law was not brought up earlier in the process. Payne and county administrator Steve Nichols relayed it was discussed at the Planning Commission level but perhaps not specifically said as a legal concern.

Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) is the supervisor representative at the Planning Commission. Kenney asked him if he knew of the legal concern.

“No one talked about the statutory concern,” said Chesser. Chesser did mention concerns were raised it did not benefit the county but more of opinion than law.

Chesser said, “This spells something out a lot differently.”

Planning director Allyson Finchum was asked if she relayed this specific concern to the applicant including the legal aspect. She said in her 25 years of planning experience she did not understand the importance of the requirement.

“I, myself, did not understand the seriousness of this,” said Finchum.

The agent for the applicant, Keith Smith, did not know of the requirement either. He requested the supervisors defer the application for 30 days so his client could supply more documents to the county.

The supervisors instead voted 4-1 to send it back through the Planning Commission. Booker dissented.

The application has changed since the Planning Commission recommended denying the application.

The latest proffers include only the first phase would use onsite ground water. The cash proffers were based on the latest Capital Improvement Plan of $48.5 million. The total cash proffer per unit was $4,800.

All amenities were proffered to be completed or in construction prior to submittal of the second and third phases’ site plan. The commercial property of phase one will also be complete before the submittal of the second and third phases’ site plan.

The development plan has also decreased from 1,180 units to 952 units. The plan also has 180,000 square feet of commercial.

Still, the changes didn’t sway the public. Over 20 speakers from the public spoke during the hearing portion. Every single one was against the proposal.

Even the streamline version of Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors timeline extends the application two or three months.

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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.

 

Fluvanna BOS Candidate Forum

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — The four vying for two spots of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors participated in a cordial candidate forum last week.

The forum, put on by the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce, had each candidate answering eight questions plus opening and closing statements. The questions varied from why each is running to infrastructure to what each candidate wants at the end of the term.

Columbia District

elizabeth franklinElizabeth Franklin and Mike Sheridan are both running as independents for the Columbia District.

Franklin sees herself as a highly experienced candidate because of her time following the supervisors the last few years.

“I don’t think anyone running has the grasps of Fluvanna issues as I do,” said Franklin.

Sheridan believes it is time to ‘restore the trust in leadership’ of the mike sheridan credit Fluvanna Reviewsupervisors. He mentioned his history as a coach to help find compromises and forge the government together as a unit, especially in working with the School Board.

“We have to find a way to get things done here,” said Sheridan.  When it comes to school funding Sheridan, a school teacher, described the issues with current pay structure.

Sheridan said, “We have to find a way to help the teachers. I live with it every day.”

In other answers, Franklin mentioned that the classrooms couldn’t be ‘robbed’ anymore. In the direct question about school funding, she responded, “The trick is we have to look at all the things we are spending money on.”

Rivanna District

In the Rivanna District, Republican nominee Rick Kelly is against independent candidate Tony O’Brien.

“I am supposed to ask questions and that’s what I’ll do,” said Kelly who also announced he will not take the supervisor salary.

O’Brien sees how Fluvanna has grown over the past 20 years and how that has effected the county services.  “We have grown. We have grown substantially. We have pushed our core services to the limit,” said O’Brien.

When it comes to balancing the tax base, Kelly said the county needs to plan Zion Crossroads.  “We need to study this issue, we need a plan,” said Kelly. He also rejected the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission studies and warned a plan with Aqua is not officially done.

O’Brien says infrastructure is critical in economic developmtony obrienent because other counties offer services including water. He said businesses will not relocate in Fluvanna if the county is “not competitive in terms of the service we offer to the other counties.”

In four years, Kelly wants to see the budget process giving everyone a little piece of the pie, but noted the pie is only so big. “Everybody gets a little bit of everything that want,” said Kelly.

O’Brien’s vision of what will happen in four years if he is elected is the long discussed economic development is finally started.

Closing statements

The candidates closed the less than two hour forum with two minute statements.

Franklin again brought up her history of attending meetings, “I believe I’m one of the best prepared supervisors to take that seat.”

Sheridan discussed his hopes to improve the county, “We want this county to be the best county in Virginia for us to live.”

Kelly wants to see creative ways to solve the county problems, “There are a lot of things going on out there but we have to look. I don’t see that now.”

O’Brien closed that the county has made continual mistakes with Zion Crossroads, “Do nothing isn’t going to change the mistakes of this county.” He continued, “We need leaders that are willing to take a few risks. If we do nothing, we get nothing.”

The election is Nov. 5. Don Weaver (Republican nominee) is running unopposed for the Cunningham District.

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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.

Photo Credits: Candidate Websites, Fluvanna Review (Sheridan)

Greene BOS Considers US29 Business Uses

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Tuesday, October 8th the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard a request to rezone from B-2 to B-3 for 3 acres just north of Food Lion on the southbound side of US29 – expand the options for business to more intense uses. Many see  US29 as the business corridor into Ruckersville.  The intersection with Carpenter Mills Road includes Sheetz on the north East Corner, Food Lion on the northwest corner, an undeveloped PUD on the southwest corner, and the partially developed Fried property on the southeast corner.  The proposal to increase the number of uses on a parcel just north of the Food Lion made good sense to some. But not to the residents of Deer Lake that sit behind the 3 acres with a lovely lake in between.

This application first came forward, per Greene’s procedure, to the Greene County Planning Commission on August 21st  and the Commission unanimously denied the request.  Procedure dictates, all requests, regardless whether they are approved or disapproved, move to the BOS for final review. 

Bart Svoboda, Planning Director/Zoning Administrator, outlined the request (RZ#13-002) of CRBFAB,LLC/EARS I LLC for the parcel on the County Tax Maps as 60E-(A)-6B. The current structures on the property were model homes and there were no red flags by any of the agencies. The Comprehensive Plan defines this area as a mixed used area. The Planning Commission’s report their denial was due to the buffer between this property, the residential area to the west would be impacted and there are many other parcels in the Ruckersville area already zoned B-3 (see page 33 of the Greene County Zoning Ordinance).  Mr. Svoboda mentioned that the request made to the BOS offered a buffer area of cypress trees to be planted to block the view of the lot from the residential area to the west and that several by right uses of B-3 zoning would be excluded – dance hall, hotel/motel, night club and non-accessory structures.

The applicant was represented by Attorney Craig Johnson and manager of EARS and Bill Gentry, realtor for the property. They indicated  only 1 of the 3 acres was usable for development. The property may be sold in the future and the property just south of the lot owned by Kinvara (the Food Lion shopping center) is currently zoned B-3. Across the street from the entrance there is an auto repair shop on another B-3 parcel. A rezoning to B-3 would make this property compliment the Kinvara property and add to the tax base along with employing more residents of Greene County. The increased traffic by Home Paramount Pest Control, the current tenant, would be minimal.

Home Paramount was represented by Dale Trumbly and told the BOS that the business is a clean industry and has existed since 1939.  Small quantities of pesticides are kept on site and they are under lock and key. Vehicles are periodically inspected, the staff is highly trained and they all are subjected to background checks.

Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) opened the hearing to the public and many residents of Deer Lake were in attendance to speak out – just as they had been at the Planning Commission hearing. The issues brought up by the residents included being concerned about the B-3 zoning that would allow different businesses other than Home Paramount, why is this lot needed to be rezoned to B-3 with plenty of B-3 properties already available in the Ruckersville area, and in 2010 the property was requested to be rezoned from B-1 to B-3 and a compromise of rezoning it to B-2 was adopted – why change? Other residents brought up concerns that their property value may decline if some of the B-3 uses were developed on the property , the 6’ trees being offered to be planted would need to be 40’ in order to block the view from Deer Lake and in 2003 a VDOT study said that the intersection into Deer Lake was near capacity – there have been over 2 dozen homes built since then. With the majority of the property draining toward the lake, there is fear of a chemical leak into the lake. One resident of Deer Lake suggested that the owners of the property have their own access off Route 29 instead of using the turn into Deer Lake. The last speaker was David Holtzman of the Piedmont Environmental Council who stated that this area is what drivers see coming south on Route 29 as the gateway to the Corner Store/Food Lion commercial area. He suggested that design guidelines for this area be developed to enhance this commercial area.

After the close of the comments from the public, Mr. Gentry asked to speak to the BOS. He believed that the cypress plantings would grow quickly and in a few years would block most of the views from Deer Lake.  He felt that the owners of the property have tried to address the concerns of the Planning Commission with the proffers they have offered and this rezone would be good for the residents of Greene County.

Vice Chair Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) asked about the specific chemicals being used and was assured that solid chemicals are used on site but that liquid chemicals are not stored locally or used in Ruckersville. Supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville) listed several questions/concerns that he had – there is already an adequate supply of B-3 in the Ruckersville area and what was the basis of the PC’s denial?

Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) thanked the large turnout – “this is democracy in action”. While he said he is normally pro-business he expressed concerns about the topography of the land requesting the rezone. Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) concurred with Mr. Peyton and Mr. Deane. Finally Chairman Frydl’s comment was that the fact that uses within B-3 are being offered to be eliminated usually means that the parcel doesn’t fit the B-3 category. He had concerns about safety issues and would appreciate the applicant addressing them and then noted that the BOS could approve, deny or defer. At this point Attorney Craig Johnson requested that the BOS defer the request and that the issue be brought back to the Planning Commission in order to address all of the issues brought up. The BOS approved the deferral unanimously.

After the meeting, Mr. Gentry and Mr. Johnson explained that they wanted to ensure what the county would require to have the rezoning approved and felt the deferral back to the Planning Commission was the best way to go forward.

It was clear, had the vote been taken, the application would have been denied by the Board of Supervisors.  The application  has valid points by both sides.  the applicant now will further modify the proposal to determine if after they answer the BOS concerns there is still enough value created to justify moving forward with the modified  B-3 rezoning request.

One other item of note, the BOS welcomed Alan Yost who recently joined County staff as the Economic Development Coordinator.

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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.

Another Day of Panes at Albemarle’s ARB

By. Neil Williamson, President

This week’s Albemarle County Architectural Review Board (ARB) meeting was long, tedious and at times troubling.  The results of the meeting included mandating a change of the shade of orange in a small business logo, thinly veiled (unreasonable) demands regarding window functionality and an overarching architectural arrogance regarding other professionals.

Please let me explain.

To be clear, the Free Enterprise Forum does not have any position on these specific projects but we do have concerns regarding the manner the applications moved forward.

First a primer, according to Albemarle County:

The Albemarle County Architectural Review Board (ARB) is appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is charged with the responsibility of regulating the design of development within the County’s Entrance Corridors. Entrance Corridors are streets that provide routes of tourist access to the County and to historic landmarks, structures, and districts. The goal of this regulation is to ensure that new development in these corridors reflects the traditional architecture of the area and that development within the corridors is orderly and attractive.

The concept of protecting the entrance corridors make sense to many folks.  Care to guess how many “entrance corridors” there are in Albemarle County? – Twenty One.  Along each of these “Entrance Corridors” there is an overlay that gives the ARB (and staff) the ability to dictate design decisions.

Based on testimony to the Board of Supervisors, it is anticipated that The new John Warner Parkway/Meadowcreek Parkway will be the 22nd Entrance Corridor when it is completed.  The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned the number of Entrance Corridors far exceeds the legislative intent of the General Assembly.

pj networksChanging Colors – In attempting to gain an approval of a sign for their new Rio/US29 location PJ Networks submitted an application to include three colors on their sign to mirror their corporate identity.  The company actually has a temporary sign already in place that uses their corporate colors (see photo). 

The ARB however took issue with the shade of orange used in the sign as it was not from their approved list of colors for this shopping center. Staff suggested that the applicant use red instead of orange.   Recognizing the import of the orange and blue theme, the applicant accepted an ARB compromise that he change the shade of orange to match an approved shade elsewhere in the corridor. 

Window Panes – In another application considered in Monday’s ARB meeting, a business owner is acquiring the iconic Pizza Hut Building on Pizza Hut 3US29.  The owner contemplated several modifications to the building to make it better suit her business needs.  One of those considerations was the replacement of the Pizza Hut roof with a more traditional roofline and the replacement of the angular windows with more traditional box windows.  The owner also wanted to add faux windows to the roofline and reduce the number of windows on the north face of the building to allow for backroom operations.

ARB Member (and architect) John Quale took great umbrage at the concept of “fake” windows.  Despite the applicant concern that real windows could not be supported by the existing truss system, Mr. Quale was adamant about his desire that real windows be used.  He cited his “duty as an architectural professional” to speak up about such a travesty.  In addition he was concerned there would not be enough light in the backroom from the two windows that were targeted to remain.

While I am not an architectural professional, I do believe that the ARB purview should be limited to the visual impacts of the design NOT the functionality.  I understand there is a school of thought in architecture that form follows function.  Too often I see the ARB actions (and relegated parking requirements) where design is in conflict with function.

Pet Supply Shelves windowIn driving down US29 to the intersection with Greenbrier, one can see how such how conflicts between design and function are resolved. Pet Supply Plus has their front picture windows on US29 providing a great view of their shelving.  Would screened “fake” windows been so bad in this case?

Throughout Monday’s meeting, Mr. Quale continued to express what can best be described as an undercurrent of “architectural arrogance”.  When an applicant brought forward changes to an approved plan, Mr. Quale questioned what the original architect thought of the changes.  When informed the changes were being made by the construction professional, Mr. Quale was visibly upset. 

To his credit, ARB Member (and architect) Bruce Wardell corrected Mr. Quale suggesting it did not matter who prepared the plans, “the applicant could have a gorilla do it if the plan could be approved”.

The Free Enterprise Forum remains concerned that Albemarle County’s ARB regularly overreaches its somewhat limited authority and applicants have little or no recourse beyond not moving forward with projects.  One is left wondering what economic vitality projects have chosen not to locate in Albemarle County due to the twenty one entrance corridors and their overlay design restrictions.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

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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, Louisa and  Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Water Deal Runs Dry

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — The proposed water deal between Fluvanna County and Aqua Virginia is done as the two sides have come to an impasse.

The deal had legal concerns that were to be worked on since the public hearing in September. The deadline to remedy the issues was Oct. 2. Instead of announcing a final deal in place, both sides announced talks have mutually ended.

Sources close to the agreements believe the sides were very close and were able to overcome many legal obstacles. There was much desire for both sides to work out a deal because of the economic impacts.

Fluvanna was looking at the opportunity to supply water to the Zion Crossroads area without having to build and maintain the main infrastructure. The most valuable part was the county’s only withdrawal permit is for the James River, across the county. The cost of building just a treatment plant to is higher than paying the Aqua deal for 20 years.

aqua-america-logo_thumb.jpgUsing Aqua’s proposal of 500,000 gallons per day of drinkable water also would put Fluvanna on state economic development lists, encouraging businesses to move to the county. The reasoning of bring water to Zion Crossroads was to diversify the tax base with commercial payers.

The Aqua proposal would allow the company to allocated unused portions of its current withdrawal permit. The current plant at Lake Monticello would not need expansion but adding Fluvanna as a customer would help defray the costs current Aqua customers bear alone.

At the regularly schedule meeting on Oct. 2, supervisors announced the deal was no longer being discussed. Aqua Virginia issued a press release late Wednesday night that confirmed the stalemate but left hope of a possible deal in the future.

“Together, we tried to come to an economically and environmentally friendly agreement with the county that would make this plan beneficial to everyone,” said Shannon V. Becker, president of Aqua Virginia, in the statement.

“Although we couldn’t finalize the  terms of an agreement at this time, if asked, we would look forward to an opportunity to provide a viable solution to this need in the future.”

From here the supervisors can vote to reject the deal and likely would if needed. Technically, the supervisors can only vote to approve the deal 30 days after the public hearing that was held on Sept. 18. The chances of that occurring are approaching zero.

Aqua Virginia’s media release can be read here.

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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.