By. Neil Williamson, President
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:
#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
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?…”
#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 Utility 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.
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!
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.