Albemarle’s “Protection Measures”

Adapted from remarks provided to Albemarle County Board of Supervisors June 11, 2014

By. Neil Williamson, President

The Free Enterprise Forum has been an active participant in the Comprehensive Plan discussions over the last 36 months.  We continue to find the Historical, Cultural and Scenic Resources chapter is fundamentally flawed in so much as it continues to reference the County’s 2000 Historic Preservation Plan. While the Free Enterprise Forum believes in incentivizing historic preservation we balance this desire with property rights. Several items in the 2000 plan have been rejected by this Board and the community at large.

Specifically, the property rights trampling Mountain Top Ordinance as well as a proposed historical preservation ordinance have repeatedly rejected. Should these flawed ideas from the 20th century continue to be referenced in this document?

As is often the case with Comprehensive Plans, this chapter seems to focus significantly on creating new regulations, often called “protection measures”. We firmly believe voluntary measures along with incentives are a better methodology to achieve historical preservation. Specifically we oppose Strategy 2b on page 5.9 calling for new regulations including a historical overlay district in the zoning code.

The concept that every property under such an overlay would be subject to additional regulation is a less than subtle attack on property rights.

We also take issue with the idea that the community has a “common responsibility for these resources” as mentioned in the third objective. Privately held homes [historic or not] are just that privately held, the community does not have a responsibility or relationship with these private properties.

On a positive note, we are happy to see our active work with the Planning Commission and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation resulted in significant changes to now voluntary Monticello viewshed strategy. We do request the word “voluntary” be added for clarity in the last sentence of Strategy 4c.

Just as we often worry about expansion of government, the Free Enterprise Forum is concerned that via this Comprehensive Plan Albemarle County is actively seeking “Greater ability to regulate aesthetics” on page 5.11

Specifically under Strategy 5b: Albemarle County is seeking “enabling legislation… to provide for a scenic protection and tourist enhancement overlay district”, the Free Enterprise Forum is opposed to the inclusion of this language in the Comprehensive Plan and will work to defeat any such legislation in the General Assembly.

Just as we said in our discussions with Monticello, if you want to preserve the view – BUY IT.

The Free Enterprise Forum respectfully asks that you reconsider Strategy 7f calling for adding roads to your existing list of 21 Entrance Corridors. When does it stop?  When all roads are under ARB review?

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson


20070731williamson 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


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