By. Neil Williamson, President
The subtitle of The Friday Night Lights television program ask the question “What if a moment could change everything?”; an appropriate question considering the facts surrounding the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Comprehensive Plan Amendment decision this week.
This morning (9/21) The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce released an updated Orange Dot report on family self sufficiency. The report, which will be presented at the Chamber Jobs Action Summit on Wednesday found:
The Report update identifies that within the City of Charlottesville, 1,800 families (25%) lack self-sufficiency and within Albemarle County, 3,861 families (16%) also lack self-sufficiency. Using a realistic formula accounting for area costs for food, shelter, clothing, energy and transportation – and child care where needed, area families (depending upon the number of children) need to earn $35,000 – $40,000 a year to be self-sufficient.
This unsettling information comes as the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors are poised to vote on a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to expand the development area by adding land near the intersection of US 29 and I-64 for light industrial jobs. While the timing of the expansion is being driven by a specific economic development prospect, the decision is significantly larger than any potential applicant.
In discussing the issue Planning Commissioner (and BOS candidate) Rick Randolph has inaccurately positioned the question. In addition to referring to this as the “Brewery CPA” on his campaign Facebook page he also wrote:
It is apparent from my remarks on the 18th that I opposed this proposed beer industry being located at this site at this time. This does not mean, as I stated, that had the CPA been for a 1,000 employee high-tech industry wanting to open an East Coast corporate center in this property that I would have felt the same way.
Albemarle County, not any business, is the applicant for the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment. This point, while being made abundantly clear to all attending the meeting, has been conveniently left out of Randolph’s political statement. This omission, and his apparent lack of understanding that absent this CPA approval his fictional 1,000 employee high-tech industry would be lacking space in Albemarle is regrettable. The fact he is propagating such misinformation through his campaign is enlightening.
This Sunday, The Daily Progress ran a front page story regarding the CPA and those who support jobs in Albemarle. I was quoted in the article:
“It’s beyond one applicant,” Williamson said. “This is the county as an applicant trying to expand the product base that you have to sell as economic development. If Albemarle chooses not to move forward with economic development, with this economic development Comprehensive Plan Amendment, I fear the ripple effects to be negative for perhaps a generation.”
Here in the start of High School Football season, the BOS would be wise to consider why these so called Friday Night Lights are already lit when visiting teams arrive at the stadium in the late afternoon. As with economic development, you can’t just flick a switch and turn the lights on and when they go off it takes a long time to get them back on.
We believe a moment can change everything. We continue to hope the Albemarle Board of Supervisors keeps the Open for Business light on by voting in favor of jobs in approving this CPA.
Neil Williamson, President
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.