Monthly Archives: December, 2018

Fluvanna Administrator To Retire

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

Nichols2014

Steve Nichols

Fluvanna County Administrator Steve Nichols announced his retirement effective July 5, 2019.  “Thank you very much for the opportunity,” Nichols told the Board of Supervisors at the December 19 meeting. Nichols has served in this capacity since 2012 [Fluvanna Gets A New County Administrator].

Nichols cited his wife and he have been discussing his retirement and the timing was good for his family. He joked he wanted to be goof off, gopher and golfer while attending less meetings in retirement. Even displayed a few Bitmojis of himself getting ready for the “permanent vacation.”

After the meeting, Nichols touted progress achieved during his tenure. “This board believes and trusts this staff. I’ve been part of that, but all my staff has be part of that. This board is a very supportive board. We’ve made progress because of that relationship between staff members and board members,” said Nichols.

“I think he’s been a great servant to our county,” said chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District). “One of the things he and I have talked about is we haven’t always seen eye to eye but we all have the same goal: we want to move Fluvanna County forward. I wish him well.”

Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) was partly surprised he retired and she hoped he had four years left. “The county is in good shape because of him,” said Booker. She lauded his leadership and naval background as being attributes that led him well in his role in government.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) echoed her thoughts, “[He’s an] extremely hard worker, very committed to the success of the county. He helped guide the board through some very difficult times. [He’s] always put the county first, we’ve been so lucky to have him.”

In his retirement letter, Nichols spent over a quarter of it suggesting the supervisors skip the search for a replacement and name deputy county administrator Eric Dahl to the role.

“It is my hope that you will quickly come to the same conclusion and select Eric to become county administrator when I depart,” wrote Nichols.

Dahl started at the county prior to Nichols and worked as second in the finance department before being named the director. A few years ago the supervisors approve adding deputy county administrator to his title.

“I’ve enjoyed working with him. We’ve had a great working relationship,” said Dahl after the meeting. “I appreciate what he said.”

Booker and O’Brien offered no comment on the suggestion of Dahl as the replacement.

Nichols final day, July 5, 2019, is slated to be a Board of Supervisors meeting. He mentioned he picked the date so his successor would have a month before having a supervisor meeting to prepare for.

The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum

Photo Credits: Fluvanna County

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2018 Forum Watch Top 10

By. Neil Williamson, President

top ten listPerhaps the best thing that can be said about 2018 was it was not 2017.

As our community is still dealing with the very real ramifications of August 2017, The Free Enterprise Forum remained focused on monitoring local government, reducing regulatory burdens, promoting market based solutions, protecting property rights, and encouraging economic vitality.

None of this could be accomplished without the generous support of our donors and our regular readers. Thank you.  As we complete our fifteenth year of operation, we remain vigilant, and “pleasantly” persistent.

Each year, we select the top ten blog posts for our year in review.  There were many other blog posts that reached honorable mention status.  I would be remiss if I did not thank our Field Officers Brent Wilson (Greene County) and Bryan Rothamel (Fluvanna County) for their significant reportage in 2018.

With apologies to the now retired David Letterman, here are our Top 10 posts for 2018:

clip_image002#10 Greene E911 – “A Failure To Communicate”  “ …Representatives of the volunteer rescue squad and Fire Departments also addressed the Board of Supervisors. Their message was clear – we are getting “no clear supervision” and it goes back and forth who we are to answer to.

Several other citizens asked that the Supervisors have the courage to back up and revert to how E911 worked since 2012 and then have a committee analyze how best to address E911 services in the future. One of the final public comments was there seems to be “a failure to communicate” in Greene County”

#9 Lack of Infrastructure Investment Dooms Albemarle’s Neighborhood Model …”A funny thing happened on the way to Albemarle urbanization.  Elements of the Neighborhood Model of development [which had been sold as “A” model not “The” model] became part of the Albemarle County code forcing developers to put in curb, gutter, street trees and other Neighborhood Model “amenities”.  Developers built sidewalks interior to their development and Albemarle County has failed to connect the developments and thus failed to create the “walkability” they promised….”

#8 Is Charlottesville ready for Collins’ Affordable Housing “Marshall Plan”? “…At the end of the meeting, [Brandon] Collins presented a different pers

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Brandon Collins

pective on the reports.  He admonished City Council to think big.  If they are really serious about fixing the housing affordability issue, they should stop depending on developers; they should do it themselves with their existing Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.  Collins’ “Marshall Plan” might include $140 million dollar bond issuance dedicated simply to the creation of new affordable units that will stay perpetually affordable. When pressed by Councilor Wes Bellamy how the city might pay for that debt service, Collins admitted he had not figured that out yet but thought it could be resolved.”

#7 Delta Response Team Rescue Headed to Fluvanna …Fluvanna County will start with a new contract ambulance service this upcoming year.Delta Response Team (DRT), headquartered in Appomattox, was selected after a Request for Proposal (RFP) process was completed by the county. It will cost the county $438,000 for 24-hour services. The county budget $600,000 for FY19.  “We are not here to make a career service,” said Susan Walton, president of DRT.

#6 Albemarle Rushes Rural Rights Reduction “…This proposal has sped through the County’s approval process faster than any in recent memory.  Their “need for speed” is not clear and an e-mail requesting more information has not been returned.

Throughout this speedy process, there has been significant discussion regarding the impact of this land use change on property values.  In testimony before the Planning Commission several residents suggested the value could drop by up to 90%.  One speaker indicated that a potential real estate contract is in peril because of the proposed ZTA….”

#5 Government Tourism Coup Will Produce Poor, Politically Palatable, Promotion and Pitiful Profitability “…So now that the tourist tax dollars have been properly collected and turned over to the government, who should be in charge of making the marketing decisions designed to generate tourism?

The industry or the elected officials?…”

See the source image#4 Top Gun, BRT, and The Dog Bone Roundabout “…The Free Enterprise Forum believes BRT is dramatically better than light rail, but we are not yet convinced that a mere two years after widening North US29, the community is willing to give up a lane on US29 for bus only access.  Since the jury is clearly still out regarding BRT, should we be planning this critical infrastructure piece with the station as the center?

In addition, the long term connectivity plan calls for roads to cut through Fashion Square Mall to connect to a new access road paralleling US29 and a pedestrian/bike bridge over US29 and that’s just the Southeast corner of the plan….”

#3 Parking Is Driving Charlottesville’s Future  “…  Prediction: In 2056, Charlottesville’s Market Street Garage and City Hall Complex will be razed to make way for a new Hotel and Conference Center.  There are two distinctly different paths to this prediction, economic dislocation/collapse [think Detroit 2013] or a capstone of a visionary community investment program – interestingly, parking will be a leading indicator on the City’s direction.

Please let me explain….”

#2 Over 1/3 of Albemarle’s Entrance Corridors Are Illegal “…The Free Enterprise Forum has learned that eight of Albemarle County twenty-one Entrance Corridors fail to meet the state requirements for such designation.  Some of these have been in violation since inception in 1990.  This revelation, made by staff, calls into question the legality and enforceability of any ARB conditions placed on properties along the eight illegal entrance corridors….”

and the #1 post for 2019  Albemarle’s RAIN TAX Bureaucracy “…Albemarle’s Stormwater https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/no-rain-tax-logo.jpg?w=175&h=175Utility Program’s 10 year budget is $52 Million dollars But note there is no new department….Albemarle County’s program budget (chart below) shows that roughly 1/3 of every dollar generated by the RAIN TAX foes to these two line items.  That between $1.2 – $2 million dollars annually.   The Free Enterprise Forum contends absent this funding mechanism, those funds could be used for stormwater infrastructure if they were not being spent on administration and enforcement.

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But most of all THANK YOU, the readers and supporters of this blog and our work in Central Virginia.  Without your generous support, we would not exist, thank you!

BRING ON 2019!

Respectfully Submitted,

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.

Greene Supervisors to Meet at Undisclosed Location


****CORRECTED 4:18 pm****

By. Neil Williamson, President

Over eight years ago, the Free Enterprise Forum called out the Greene County Board of See the source imageSupervisors for holding a public meeting and not notifying the media [Greene Supervisors Hold Secret Public Meeting].  This morning, in a moment of Deja Vu all over again, Greene County alerted the media, of a special meeting on December 18th at an “undisclosed location”. Here is the proposed agenda:

Greene County Board of Supervisors

Undisclosed Location

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 – 8:00 a.m.

1.         Call to order

 

2.         8:00 a.m.         –           CLOSED MEETING

Matters pursuant to Section 2.2-3711 (a, 1-7) of the Code of Virginia

3.         –           OPEN MEETING

4.         Reconvene, certify closed meeting

5.         Adjourn

We applaud Greene letting us know they are meeting.  We anticipate this is regarding the hiring of their new County administrator which is absolutely a proper use of the closed meeting provisions provided by Virginia State Code.

We believe holding the meeting at an “Undisclosed Location” is a violation of the **spirit but not the letter [added at 4:13 pm nw]** of public meetings law.

§ 2.2-3707. Meetings to be public; notice of meetings; recordings; minutes.

A. All meetings of public bodies shall be open, except as provided in §§ 2.2-3707.01 and 2.2-3711.

C. Every public body shall give notice of the date, time, and location of its meetings by:

1. Posting such notice on its official public government website, if any;

2. Placing such notice in a prominent public location at which notices are regularly posted; and

3. Placing such notice at the office of the clerk of the public body or, in the case of a public body that has no clerk, at the office of the chief administrator.

Emphasis added – NW

After publishing this post, I learned of a different code section that explicitly permits closed meetings at an undisclosed location.

B. The notice provisions of this chapter shall not apply to closed meetings of any public body held solely for the purpose of interviewing candidates for the position of chief administrative officer. Prior to any such closed meeting for the purpose of interviewing candidates, the public body shall announce in an open meeting that such closed meeting shall be held at a disclosed or undisclosed location within 15 days thereafter.

Greene County Board of Supervisors is hosting a legal meeting at an undisclosed location.  Despite being just as legal as the secret public meeting was in 2010 — it does not make it right.

Yogi Berra said it best, “Deja Vu all over again”.

Respectfully Submitted,

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 and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credit: davescottblog.com

Greene Supervisors Approve Ruckersville Rezoning

By Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Ruckersville, especially near the intersection of US 29 and Route 33, is one of Greene County’simage designated development areas.  The northwest corner of Ruckersville has developed with Walmart and Lowes. The newly redeveloped Market by Tiger Fuel opened its doors late last year on the Southeast corner. Last night (12/11) the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard a rezoning request  that could eventually add residential uses and lead to a solution to efficient access to the northeast corner of Ruckersville.

For over a decade, Frank Eways has tried to develop a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on his property on Moore Road off Route 33 East with no success. So he has now partnered with Denstock, LLC from Charlottesville to develop an apartment complex on the property.

Planning Director Jim Frydl presented the rezoning request.  The Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) would provide water and sewer to the site.  The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) traffic impact study for the apartment project indicated the traffic created by the apartment use is close to the traffic predicted by the existing PUD.

The school impact data indicated these apartments would have less impact than other development types. The average number of students per Single Family Home is .56 students/house, a Multi-Family Unit – townhouse/condo – normally is .32 students/unit. However, Terrace Greene apartments in Greene County near the Albemarle County line have produced .14 students/unit. In addition, Terrace Greene low vacancy rate indicates a strong demand for high end apartments.

Denise LaCour from Denstock, LLC has significant local development experience. She was the head of the Kessler Group that developed Forest Lakes and in 2013 she started Denstock. Currently Denstock has developed 965 high end apartments in central Virginia with another 224 units in process

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Stone Creek Village near Monticello High School – Developed by Denstock, LLC

Denstock’s plan is to develop the Eways property and hopes that the county will approve a connector road to US 29 at the intersection where the road from Lowes intersects US 29. The connector road is not part of the rezoning application however it is on the agenda for the Planning Commission next week as a Special Use Permit.

LaCour addressed the markets the project is trying to serve – millennials and baby boomers – both with disposable income and without families. In broad strokes she described millennials as mobile and not wanting to be tied down to owning a property. She also indicated Baby boomers don’t want the maintenance that comes with ownership. They want to be able to travel for weeks at a time without worrying about mowing the yard.

In the public hearing portion of the meeting three citizens spoke about Moore Road being a rural road.

Supervisors Chair Michelle Flynn pointed out that the area being considered is not zoned agricultural but is being considered to rezone from PUD to R-2, Residential with basically the same density. She also highlighted that the demand for this project is confirmed by Terrace Greene being full.

Supervisor Bill Martin indicated this property is in an area that is planned to grow but that the existing PUD zoning has not been successful. The presentation clearly demonstrates there is a demand which is supported by Terrace Greene’s success. He also appreciated the explanation of the connection to US 29 – although it was not part of the rezoning being requested – it demonstrates a long term solution to getting traffic onto US 29.

Supervisor Marie Durrer clearly stated that she was against the rezoning request prior to the meeting but, now understanding that the plan is to eventually connect to US 29 where the Lowes intersection is located, has changed her mind. Supervisor David Cox also agreed that the connector road was a major factor in his supporting the rezone request.

Although the connector road will be addressed as a Special Use Permit and is not part of the rezoning application, the applicant clearly stated that the connector road is a critical piece to the success of this development. With that, the Supervisors unanimously approved the rezoning request.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you.  To support this important work please donate online at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org

A Holiday Tradition– “Rio The SmallPlan”

Adapted from comments to the Albemarle County Planning Commission 12/18/2018

By. Neil Williamson, President

In what has become either a dreaded recurrence or a nice tradition, the Free Enterprise Forum annually presents a reworked holiday poem as a literary gift to the Planning Commission.

Last year, we penned Rudolph the Rio The SmallPlanForm Based Code.  In 2017 we started the tradition with An Albemarle Planning Christmas.  So this year before we pack up our holiday fare and go over the riparian buffer and through the forest easement to grandmother’s house for the holiday, with apologies to original songwriters Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson we offer the 2018 poem “Rio – The SmallPlan”.

Rio the
SmallPlan

Rio, the SmallPlan was a fighter against sprawl
With a dog bone roundabout and a transit stop
And roads right through Fashion Square Mall

Rio, the SmallPlan is a fairy tale, they say
He was made of ink, but the planners think
He may come to life one day

There must have been some magic
In that new Form Based Code they penned
For even before they got it enacted
Rezonings started to trend

Oh Rio, the SmallPlan was alive as he could be
And the Planners say he could bend and play
Just the same as Euclidian and me

Roads running here and there

Through structures in the square,

Saying “Market Build me if you can…”

Traffic calming humpty, hump, hump,
humpety, hump, hump

Look how Rio thrives, traffic calming
humpety, hump, hump,
Elevated crosswalk, bumpety, bump, bump

the walkable community where everyone drives.

Rio, the SmallPlan knew his roads were interconnected
So he said, “Let’s run and we’ll have some fun
Now, before I am traffic infected”

Rio, the SmallPlan knew his roads were interconnected
So he said, “Let’s run and we’ll have some fun
Now, before I am traffic infected”

Down to ACAC with a set of green dots in his hand
Runnin’ here and there, all around Albemarle Square
Sayin’, “Prioritize me if you can”

Traffic calming humpty, hump, hump,

humpety, hump, hump

Look how Rio thrives,

traffic humpety, hump, hump,
flooded parkland sump pump,

the walkable community where everyone drives.

He led them through
pedestrian oriented plan
Right to Rachel, the Planner Czar
He only paused for just a moment
When he heard her holler, “Car”

Because ol’ Rio, the SmallPlan, he had to hurry on his way
But he waved goodbye sayin’, “Don’t you cry
when market condition are right, I’ll be back again some day “

Merry Christmas to one and all.

santa neilRespectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

 

 

Original Songwriters: Jack Rollins,Steve Nelson

Albemarle’s $5 Million ACP Mitigation & The Big Blue Marble

By. Neil Williamson, President

See the source image

The PBS series The Big Blue Marble was very popular in my elementary school years.  This program was ground breaking in presenting environmental (and social) concepts to children around the world including the interconnectivity of all natural systems to one another.

Based on recent actions, we are confused if Albemarle County considers itself part of the world’s larger interconnected ecosystem or an independent environment.

In their recent discussions of proposed stream health guidelines in the development area, Albemarle County seems to claim independence from the larger ecosystem –

9. Require that all stormwater treatment be conducted on-site or that any nutrient credits purchased are from a nutrient credit bank located in Albemarle County in order to qualify for special exceptions to zoning requirements, density bonuses, or cluster provisions,

Despite our recent post [Snow White and Albemarle’s Stream Health Incentives] highlighting the fact that currently no such nutrient credit bank exists in Albemarle County, staff contends this concept of “Albemarle Specific” Credits were critically important to the environmental community.

With this understanding we were perplexed by Allison Wrabel’s front page Daily Progress article [$5M in pipeline funds to support new Albemarle park] .

Though the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route does not cross through Albemarle, $5 million in pipeline mitigation money is earmarked for the future Biscuit Run Park in the county….Being in the route of the pipeline is not a criterion to receive mitigation funds, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources Joshua Saks said…

Philosophically, the existence of the federally approved mitigation offer ignoring geographic specifics and Albemarle’s acceptance of such funds indicate an understanding and acknowledgement of natural interdependence.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes intellectual integrity requires that Albemarle County drop its isolationist environmental stream health demands and join with the rest of the world on our journey through space on our shared Big Blue Marble.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

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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.

Photo Credits:lermaster.weebly.com