By. Neil Williamson
Adapted from comments to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors April 5th, 2017
Wow, did you fit a great deal into today’s consent agenda.
The sheer number of resolutions of intent required almost the entire alphabet for attachments. Clearly what started as “Code Housekeeping” has been greatly expanded to a seismic shift of Albemarle’s Planning Philosophy. In the interest of time I will highlight only two of these shifts.
#1. Banning golf courses. Perhaps it is fitting that this week, the week of the Masters golf tournament, the Board of Supervisors is voting on effectively eliminating new golf courses. Attachment T of your consent agenda item item 8.4.
While this proposal would eliminate golf, swim and tennis club special use permits in the Rural Areas, it really would ban golf courses in Albemarle County. The concept of putting a golf course in the development area would be an economic challenge and would eliminate roughly 200 acres of developable land. The Free Enterprise Forum notes earlier in this meeting you thanked the donors of 1,500 acres of rural area land for a park – does not parkland recreation have many of the same impacts as a golf course? Perhaps Albemarle wishes to eliminate your rural park policies as well.
#2 Shrinking the Development Area using Net vs. Gross density – This deep in the weeds issue will have the likely intended consequence of lowering by right residential density therefore increasing the demand for rezonings and increasing the cost of housing in the community. For two decades, we have heard that placing residents in the development areas provides more efficient delivery of government services. Why now are you going the other direction? The perhaps unintended consequence of this action will be to significantly reduce the carrying capacity of the development areas and therefore accelerate the need for an expansion of the development areas.
The Free Enterprise Forum believes these two examples can trace their lineage to individual applications (or proposals) that ended up not moving forward. In these cases the NIMBY’s (Not In My Backyard) won. Now these same forces are pursuing regulatory changes that are counter to Albemarle’s planning philosophies but suit their needs; rather than pursuing an anti economic development spot zoning decision they are pushing the NIABY (Not In Anybody’s Backyard) agenda.
In this election year, I know this Board will not reject any of the alphabet soup attachments on the consent agenda. I can only hope that these proposed ordinance changes will be fairly researched and debated by all and that the Board of Supervisors stands up to the CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) agenda and consider the impact of your decisions on the basic pillars of your planning philosophy.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak.
Neil Williamson, President
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 www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credits: Old Trail Golf Club