By. Neil Williamson, President
In tonight’s (4/26) Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting the commissioners again voted that their opinion on Cash Proffers was more important than state law (and the staff opinion). And this wasn’t even the first time this year that they made such a vote (Albemarle Planning Commission Tells Supervisors To Violate State Law)
Add to this “fun house of mirrors” that this very same Planning Commission voted 5 – 0 on a Resolution of Intent to consider amending the Comprehensive Plan by repealing the Cash Proffer Policy. This issue will come to the Planning Commission as a public hearing on May 10th.
I’d like to be able to explain all of this — but I am at a loss.
As a reminder what is at stake is a reduction of cash proffer of ~$15,000 per single family home in rezoned residential housing.
Here is the justification the Planning Commission made to support their first arrogant state code violating vote in February:
By a vote of 7:0, the Planning Commission recommends denial of ZMA-2015-09 Spring Hill Village Proffer Amendment for the following reasons:
1. Some reduction in cash proffer amounts may be in order based on looking at the school enrollments and capacities; but, the Commission at this point does not know what the reduced amount would be.
2. The recommendation of the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee (FIAC) of this reduced amount has not yet been fully analyzed by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors; and, the additional information is still needed that was requested a number of weeks ago.
3. A full analysis should be conducted of the actual costs to the county of going forward with this development, and
4. The Board of Supervisors should set a new proffer policy, not use this project to set a precedent, and possibly consider repealing the current cash proffer policy while that is undertaken.
#2 is perhaps the most outlandish of these. The proffer change was driven by a 2013 change in state code. A full three years late Albemarle still has not obtained “the additional information still needed that was requested a number of weeks ago”????? Based on this logic, the applicant is being punished because Albemarle County did not do their job.
In the meeting, the commissioners discussion started with school impacts and Commissioner Mac Lafferty again stated his belief that the action should go directly to the Board rather than the Planning Commission. The Free Enterprise Forum agrees with Lafferty’s position.
Commissioner Bruce Dotson suggested the applicant, who is selling product at $600,000+, can afford the proffer. The applicant indicated they can afford it but told the commission the previous proffer amount is now in violation of State law. The Free Enterprise Forum believes the fact that a project can afford it is not germane to the argument.
Tonight’s vote was unanimous 7-0 to recommend denial of the cash proffer amendment.
The repetitive arrogance of the Albemarle County Planning Commission to determine they are above the Code of Virginia is astounding.
Remembering the Planning Commission is merely advisory to the Board of Supervisors, the true question is will the current Board of Supervisors also choose to willfully violate state law?
Only time will tell.
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.