Monthly Archives: December, 2013

Greene PC Approves New Health Club

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Greene County’s Planning Commission approved a Special Use Permit (SUP) at their December 18th meeting for a new health club in the Gateway Market Center.

Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director, presented the SUP request. The 3 plus acres is located north of the McDonald’s Restaurant and the small strip center that includes Subway and the Virginia ABC store. It is located on the corner of Enterprise Drive and Stone Ridge Drive and borders Route 29 South.

There were no concerns from any agencies who reviewed the request. The health club would have service hours extending into the evening but this should not be an issue with other businesses adjoining the parcel except for the A-1 parcel where the Circle Inn is located. Svoboda said that staff recommended approval of the SUP for an indoor recreational facility with one restriction – that a health club be the only specific use approved.

Gateway Market Center hopes to break ground in January or February and have a tenant arranged to manage the health club. The principal works at the National Ground Intelligence Center and has a franchise to operate the health club.

There were no public comments so the commission moved directly of their portion of the session. Commissioner Frank Morris  supported the SUP and was glad to see another business come to Greene. Commissioner Vic Schaff questioned how this SUP differed from the one for the veterinarian office at the Best Western development in southern Greene County  Svoboda indicated the Best Western Development included 5 parcels while this application is a single parcel.

Commissioner Norm Slezak raised concerns about the lack of an acceleration lane on US29 south as you would leave the development. Svoboda said that the entrance north of Enterprise Drive has a stop light that breaks up traffic. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will have the final decision if any change is to be made. Enough traffic might result in the turn lane at the Route 33 light could be extended to Enterprise Drive. Slezak also asked if he health club would operate 24/7 since it was described as using a card access system. Svoboda indicated that he believed the client base would be mainly daytime and evening and that there is no residential near to disturb.

Commissioner Eva Young had no comments on the pending application in this her first meeting. Chairman Jay Willer expressed concern over the amount of parking.  Svoboda indicated that there is additional parking on either side of the building and there are two entrances.

With no further discussion, the SUP was unanimously approved and will be passed on to the Board of Supervisors in January, 2014.

As noted above, Planning Commissioner Eva Young has replaced former Chairman Anthony Herring who resigned. At the end of the meeting, Norm Slezak announced his resignation, again reducing the Planning Commission down to 4 commissioners.

The new Greene County Board of Supervisors will begin reviewing applications for the opening on the Planning Commission in January.

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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.

Fluvanna Sends Aqua a New Offer

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

After giving the county attorney time to revise the Public–Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act (PPEA) contract with Aqua, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to send a new offer to water service company.

Fred Payne, county attorney, briefed the supervisors on changes he recommend to the last iteration of the contract before the two sides stepped away. His changes were based on four key points: constitutionality, more reasonable protection for the county, fulfilling requirements of the PPEA and good practice of contract law.

The changes were specific to changes to the water and sewer lines contracts. The most common change was to give more protection to the county in regards to how the agreement might terminate in various ways. Previous versions of the contracts required Fluvanna to pay Aqua or its subsidiaries, even if both sides agreed to terminate the contract early.

Another notable changes were specifying venue of legal dispute to Fluvanna’s Circuit Court or elsewhere only if permissible by law, lowering the threshold of commitments to begin the water service contract and wording regarding appropriation versus financial obligation.

In regards to minimum commitments to begin the service agreement, Payne suggested reverting to an original wording of 15,000 gallons a day from a minimum of 30 households. Previously, the agreement required 120,000 gallons of water a day commitment to move the contract past early stages. The lower threshold will allow Fluvanna to start the contract and organically grow development.

Wording and penalties of failure of re-appropriation of funds were changed to move away from obligation on the county’s part.

Now the supervisors have approved to send the offer to Aqua for consideration, the contract and working documents will be available for public consumption.  http://fluvannacounty.org/content/documents/BOS/Packages/2013/00%20-%20Package%202013-12-04%20Addendum%20-%20Aqua%20Agreements.pdf

The likelihood of the contract being accepted in current form by Aqua is low; perhaps even lower than when the Aqua deal was resurrected in November. Payne noted some items changed were discussed previously and might not a big deal to change. However there are more drastic changes, such as shift of financial responsibility after a terminated contract, that have not been negotiated.

Even if Aqua does accept the deal, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will have to approve the contract. Such approval will include supervisors-elect Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) in the New Year.

In other board news, the supervisors bid farewell to Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) and chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) after four years of service. Supervisors also unanimously approved a special use permit for a commercial kennel in the Bybee area.

The only presentation was a briefing on the annual audit of the county finances. Of note, the county has $99.717 million worth of debt. The county is projected to pay of the debt by 2036. FY2013, which ended in June, saw the highest sales tax revenue for Fluvanna.

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bryan-rothamelThe 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 covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.

Will Albemarle’s Lame Ducks Support Economic Development?

By. Neil Williamson, President

lame duckEconomic development deferred equals jobs denied.

The 2013 election is over.  Three new Albemarle County supervisors will be sworn in on December 19th.  What, if anything, should the existing Board of Supervisors due in the interim?

In a comment to the Free Enterprise Forum blog retiring Supervisor Dennis Rooker suggests that important decisions like the direction of an economic development office should not be decided by the lame duck board:

“It would be wise for the new Board of Supervisors to have this information and make this decision after they take office; after all, they will be living with the economic consequences.”

Read Mr. Rooker’s entire comment here.

I must heartily, and politely, disagree with Supervisor Rooker we will ALL be living with the economic consequences.  Last time I checked, Supervisors were elected to four year terms, not 3 years and eleven months.  The supervisors should not accept Mr. Rooker’s delay tactic and should vote up or down on the permanent establishment of an economic development office.

Mr. Rooker raises a fair point in understanding the return on investment on economic development.  While the Free Enterprise Forum applauds the concept of objective metrics for success at all levels of government, we do not feel the establishment decision must wait until these metrics are determined. 

A little context for those just joining the discussion, for many years the economic development attitude in Albemarle County was one of affluent arrogance.  Commercial interests were lucky to be coming to the great Albemarle and if they really want to be here they will not mind answering to a higher standard than anytown USA.  There was a time in the recent past when Albemarle County  (one of the regions largest employers) was neither a member of the Chamber of Commerce nor a participant in the Regional Economic Development Partnership.

In the last few years we have seen a much more vibrant embrace of economic development.  There was unanimous support for the Economic Vitality Action Plan.  Albemarle County Executive Tom Foley served as Chairman of the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development.  These are all advancements but with a new Board are we headed back to the previous paradoxical paradigm?

Only time will tell.

The question before the CURRENT Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday is one of investment and intent.  Does the Board intend to take the next logical step for economic vitality and move forward with an office of Economic Development or (pardon the mixed metaphor) will the lame ducks choose to punt?

I know which way I am betting.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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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