FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL
By. Neil Williamson, President
Tomorrow night (6/11) the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will be considering how to best assist businesses negatively impacted by the 2+ years of construction of the Rio/US29 grade separated intersection.
The Free Enterprise Forum is somewhat conflicted regarding “government help”. We firmly believe in the free enterprise system and that a critical part of that system is business failure to make room for new innovations. While we believe in the “creative destruction” concept, we prefer it is the market not the government doing the destruction.
We have also documented our belief that Albemarle County’s 22 Entrance Corridors (including US29 and Rio East) are over regulated by the Architectural Review Board(ARB). Given these realities we believe the best way for government to help the impacted businesses is to get out of the way, a least a little, for the construction period + six months.
While we continue our opposition to this project, we call on the Albemarle BOS to respectfully request VDOT coordinate the projects so that the planned parallel road network is available during construction of Rio/US29.
We also ask the BOS to consider a new Rio/US29 construction zone overlay to their zoning maps. This overlay would be as wide as the Entrance Corridor overlay and will run from Woodbrook Drive on the north to Hydraulic Drive to the south.
Sign ordinance relaxation – businesses would be granted double the existing draconian signage allowance. Such signs could be internally illuminated including logos. Sign colors would not be limited by the ARB approved color wheel.
Advertising/PR support – a “ramp up” campaign will educate the public regarding alternate routes to reach existing business. County employees and Supervisors will take part in the education campaign with outreach into the community.
Sponsor Monthly “We’re Still Open” events at impacted businesses – such after hours events can help fight the logical tendency to avoid this important commercial corridor
The Free Enterprise Forum continues to believe the best thing for the Titanic’s maiden voyage would have been to simply not hit the iceberg and the best thing for Albemarle is to not move forward on the Expressway concept phase one.
We recognize that on June 18th the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will likely endorse the “Shucet Solution” and we will be set on an unavoidable collision course with the iceberg. The cynics among you will describe these actions the same as instructing the band to continue playing as the ship sinks.
I believe these reasonable reductions in over regulation measures might save some, but not all, of the impacted businesses.
Given the choice, shouldn’t we work to increase the number of survivors?
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a 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: Free Enterprise Forum, Red Bubble, Titanic Universe