By. Neil Williamson, President
Adapted from comments given to Albemarle County Planning Commission August 18, 2015
Good Evening. My name is Neil Williamson and I serve as President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization focused on local governments of Central Virginia.
During my daughter’s accepted seniors college tour we heard two types of pitches from the schools she was considering the first “We are a great school, you are lucky to be considered” vs the college president saying directly “If you hear just one thing today please know, we want you here”. Guess which school we selected.
In recent months, I have heard that it is “A new day in Albemarle County” regarding economic development. I have been told that along with the hiring of an economic development director, there is a renewed zeal for generating business tax revenue to help relieve pressure on the residential tax payer.
Tonight may be the first evidence of this new positive attitude. In the work session, Mr. Loach objected to Albemarle County Board of Supervisors acting as the applicant in this case. Clearly this is not that unusual as some on the commission remember the proactive rezoning of Downtown Crozet was handled the same way.
Tonight you have heard from some that this approval has been fast tracked. These are many of the same voices that objected when I suggested the US29 Solutions package was being steamrolled through. I will say now, as they said then, all the proper work sessions and public hearings are being accomplished.
As one who has worked in national sales, I can tell you without question the one thing you need is inventory. Absent available inventory, sales do not happen. It seems clear from the staff analysis, Albemarle County is clearly lacking properly located and sized light industrial land.
Tonight you have the opportunity to take a step forward and recommend approval of land dedicated in the comprehensive plan for JOBS.
Not recommending approval of this Comprehensive Plan Amendment also has meaning, it means the Planning Commission does not see the development area as a living breathing thing but as if it came down from the heavens etched in two stone tablets.
Please do not return to the Albemarle Arrogance that says to those who want to operate a business “you’re lucky to be here” and instead say you are “open for business”
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.