By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
At the December 11th meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisors everyone who spoke about Greene County pursuing Route 810 and Route 230 as a Scenic Byway were against the idea. Economic Development Authority Director, Alan Yost, asked that the Board advertise and hold a public hearing to give the public notice of the opportunity to discuss the issue.
So the schedule for the January 8th meeting included a public hearing on the Proposed Virginia Byway designation.
Virginia code dictates that public hearings must be advertised in the local paper in advance of the meeting. Due to an error at the Greene County Record, the required notice did not appear in the newspaper and therefore the public hearing could not officially be held although the meeting room was at capacity with citizens ready to speak on this issue.
The Board of Supervisors recognized that a large number of citizens came to the meeting to be heard on the issue so they went ahead with a “Public Comment” session and allowed the public to speak on the issue and assured them their comments will be added to the comments made at the January 22nd public hearing.
Yost thanked the Board for going forward with the meeting and presented several reasons why the Board should support the Scenic Byway resolution. Yost indicated Scenic Byways are supported in the Comprehensive Plan, more tourists will improve the economy of the county, tourism tax revenue helps decrease the tax burden on the residents of Greene, and tourism doesn’t place demand on County services such as the school system.
In addition, Yost is working with Albemarle County and Madison County. Madison has already approved the Scenic Byway for Route 230. Albemarle is behind both Madison and Greene County in their process.
Yost indicated that Greene County would incur no cost with the program, there are no restrictions to what vehicles can use the roadway, Route 810 is actually rated by VDOT for 4 times the current traffic volume and it is estimated that a 4% increase will occur from the designation.
Finally, Yost referred to the editorial in last week’s Greene County Record which referenced 3,000 miles of Scenic Byways in Virginia. Yost stated that he has been unable to find a county that regrets naming a Scenic Byway and a county can change their mind and remove the designation at any time.
Supervisor Dale Herring (At Large) asked Yost if the designation would apply to the parts of Route 33 Bypass and Route 33 Business that connects Route 810 and Route 230 and was told they would be included in the proposal to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and that small sections of four lane roads have been designated when they connect other parts of a Byway. Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) outlined the route as Route 230 to Route 33 Business through Stanardsville to Route 33 By-Pass West to Route 810 toward Albemarle County.
The presentation shifted to comments from the public of which 18 of 19 speakers spoke in favor of the Scenic Byway designation. One of the main issues brought up is the town of Stanardsville would benefit from tourism traffic which has been down since the Route 33 Bypass was built around the town.
The hope is that more traffic through town would attract more businesses to locate in Stanardsville. One thought was that if the Scenic Byway was adopted that possibly the southern portion of Route 810 would be better maintained.
The final speaker in favor of the Scenic Byway designation took off from the movie Field of Dreams by suggesting the Board to…. Approve It and They Will Come!
There was one speaker opposed to the designation. His comments focused on the road conditions and narrowness of Route 810 at the southern end near Albemarle County was not safe or adequate for the increased traffic.
Vice Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) reminded everyone that the formal public hearing on this issue will be held at the next Board meeting on January 22nd. She assured those that spoke tonight would have their comments entered into the record as will any emails, phone calls or letters up until the next meeting. Martin was pleased with the great attendance and encouraged others to come to the next meeting. At that point the issue was tabled until the January 22nd meeting.
Later in the meeting it was announced that Greene County has hired a new County Administrator – Mark B. Taylor – who holds the same position at Spotsylvania County and he will start in April.
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