Comprehensive Plan Question – How should Albemarle Grow? or Should Albemarle Grow?

Albemarle County has been rewriting their state mandated Comprehensive Plan for over four years.  The Free Enterprise Forum has been an active participant in these conversations.  With the plan now headed to its final public hearing on June 10, we will provide our chapter by chapter review over the next two weeks culminating with our overall analysis prior to the public hearing. 

Today – Chapter 3 Growth Management

By. Neil Williamson, President

To accept Albemarle’s growth management chapter,  one must accept the concept of directing growth to the Development areas by making that portion of the county more attractive for residential uses via infrastructure investment and innovative design strategies.  The problem is that has not occurred.   We take issue with the word continue in Strategy 1b:

Strategy 1b: To help promote the Development Areas as the most desirable place for growth, continue to fund capital improvements and infrastructure and provide a higher level of service to the Development Areas

If Albemarle County continues to fund capital expenditures at its current rate there will be very few new projects and the vast majority of projects will be required, and often deferred maintenance projects.

Strategy 1c Continue to recognize the shared responsibility between the County and new development to pay for infrastructure and improvements to the Development Areas to address the impacts of new development.

This long promised concept of supposedly shared “concurrency of infrastructure” has been placed squarely on landowners developing their property but off site infrastructure investments envisioned by the Master Plans (and related small area plans) are not being met by the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.  This strategy is used to justify the legal extortion known as Cash Proffers.  According to the latest Albemarle County Proffer Report, The County has collected over $6.8 Million dollars in cash proffers yet has failed to provide full funding for their own Capital Improvement Plan.  The reality is cash proffers, while significant, will never (and should never) fund the entire CIP.

Instead Albemarle’s “growth management” vision is more about prohibiting uses in the rural areas rather than encouraging them in the development areas.  The plan seems to want to create a 95% in a park like setting that is “nice to look at” rather than the privately held agricultural economic engine that the rural areas chapter seems to both embrace and push back on (more on this in a later post).  This is just one of countless conflicting visions that exist internal to this plan.

Density Dreaming – Once again the County has determined that the development area boundaries that were drawn in 1977 are not to be significantly adjusted to deal with market demands.  The one expansion is a correction of an anomaly in the Albemarle County Service Authority service area.   The Free Enterprise Forum believes Albemarle County’s growth management plans are based upon higher density than the community or the market will currently support.

Due to the lack of supply of Single Family Lots in the development area, we believe Albemarle’s 1977 era growth control policy will push growth into the rural areas AND into the outlying counties.


All this at a time when the market seems to be desirous of more urban feel but a single family product.  If neighboring localities provide the market what it desires, Albemarle may not be where Central Virginia grows – maybe that was the idea all along.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President



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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