Shrek’s Onion and the Albemarle County Planning Commission

By. Neil Williamson, President

See the source image

Adapted from comments to the Albemarle County Planning Commission March 19, 2019.

There is nothing the Free Enterprise Forum likes more that solid objective data, add charts and infographics and you have our undivided attention.  At first, I was thrilled to see the depth and breadth of the 2018 Planning Commission Annual Report.

That’s when Shrek came to mind, and we started to peel away the data layers.  The more I enjoyed the data, the more concerned I became about the inclusion of such expansive data in the Planning Commission Annual Report.

The charge for the production of an annual report comes directly from Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2221:

5. Make recommendations and an annual report to the governing body concerning the operation of the commission and the status of planning within its jurisdiction;

Most jurisdictions produce a short less than five page report noting the number of meetings held, the recommendations of various applications (Zoning Text Amendments, Zoning Map Amendments, etc.)

In contrast, Albemarle’s 2018 report weighs in at 23 pages and includes several important data points and layers that have questionable nexus with the actions of Planning Commission or “the status of planning within its jurisdiction“.

While we find the data to be compelling, we are not convinced that the Planning Commission has a direct impact on the County Building Energy Usage, Recycling Rates or Public Safety Response Times:


The Free Enterprise Forum understands the Albemarle Planning Commission is legislatively charged with drafting the Comprehensive Plan every 5 years.  We recognize Albemarle’s expansive comprehensive plan includes goals far outside the purview of the planning commission.  The metrics above are being used to track the progress of the goals of that Comprehensive Plan.  While we applaud the tracking of this data, we believe it belongs in the recently released Albemarle County Annual Report.

To include  such data in the Planning Commission annual report, suggests the PlanImage result for shrek onionning Commission may have impact on these results which honestly are far outside its legislative charge.

We fear such expansive reportage could be used to falsely justify Planning Commission mission creep rather than a laser like focus on their direct charge.

Like Shrek’s onion, our answer is layered, we love the data but not the placement.


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

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures

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