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. 


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.


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


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

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex


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