Category Archives: About the Blog

Free Enterprise Wants 7 Minutes and Your Opinion

See the source imageAs a community leader, can you spare 7 minutes of your time to complete an important, anonymous, survey regarding the Free Enterprise Forum?

Your voice is important.  The Board seeks your input via this short, albeit unscientific, survey.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded public policy organization focused on local government in the City of Charlottesville and the surrounding counties.

We utilize direct appeal, research papers, social media, mainstream media, and blog posts to add pro-business balance to public policy discussions.  Areas of impact include housing affordability, land use, economic development, as well as environmental regulation.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Free Enterprise Forum Board of Directors is discerning the organization’s effectiveness and future direction and the results of this survey will help.

Please click on this link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CZNSBPR) or any of the survey hyperlinks in this post to complete the 7 minute survey.

Thank you in advance for your participation.

Robert P. Hodous, 2019 Free Enterprise Forum Chair

Photo Credit: Incolors Club

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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.

Fluco Blog Partners with Free Enterprise Forum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bryan Rothamel’s Fluco Blog Partners with Free Enterprise Forum

Charlottesville, VA – The Free Enterprise Forum and the Fluco Blog today announced a partnership to share news content. Under the agreement, articles written by Fluco Blog founder Bryan Rothamel will appear on the Free Enterprise Forum Blog and in their other internet publications.

“There is a need for timely local news in Fluvanna County,” Rothamel said, “With their presence at local government meetings; the Free Enterprise Forum has improved the understanding of the issues.”

In 2009, Rothamel started Fluco Blog as a side project. Fluco Blog grew to the most read news website in Fluvanna County. After two years, Rothamel took a break. The Fluco Blog returned on November 15, 2012.

“Bryan’s knowledge and understanding of Fluvanna issues is without peer in local media,” said Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson. “While the organization will take positions on Fluvanna policy issues, Bryan will continue to use his journalistic skill to bring all sides of the story to the public” Williamson concluded.

The Free Enterprise Forum, now celebrating its first decade of service, is a privately funded, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy organization focused on local government in Central Virginia. Their coverage of Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene is funded by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®.

How Have You Helped Free Enterprise?

Even if all of this is true — You are not a member of the Free Enterprise Forum.

No one is.  We are not a membership based organization.

As a public policy group focused on local government, we believe the more people that hear our message of less government intervention and smarter regulation the better.

When we speak out about the boondoggle that is Places29, we want the world to hear, not just our members.

But now, we need your help. All of this work costs money.

Will the Free Enterprise Forum be prepared to answer this challenge?

Will you help us? Please give today to keep the voice of the Free Enterprise Forum clear in the County office buildings and in City Hall.

Your gift of $100, $250, $500 or even $1,000 will go a long way to helping us achieve our mission to add balance to the debate.

Please send a check today or click here to donate online.

Localities across the region are preparing to swear in new officials. Never in my seven years at the Free Enterprise Forum has so much been expected from newly minted officials.

While some might consider this a time the Free Enterprise Forum can coast, the need for solid fact based research supporting free market solutions may be even greater now.

While some many Boards seem to slanting toward being more business friendly than previous iterations, the reality is the policy battles will be as fierce as ever.

Thanks to generous supporters, we now have field officers reporting from in Greene and Fluvanna County as well as our significant efforts in the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle and Nelson County. The Free Enterprise Forum is adding balance to the debate throughout the region.

Your support makes this possible, please click here to donate online today!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson 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 and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Blog Purpose and Mission

The Free Enterprise Forum is a non-profit organization analyzing local government policy and monitoring more than 100 boards and commissions in Central Virginia.  In an effort to share and discuss policy decisions we have decided to start a blog geared toward:

  • Providing and promoting a forum for solution-oriented discussion that will better our community.
  • Sharing real time information with community members catalyzing proactive policy discussions.
  • Engaging and connecting stakeholders in local government policy decisions.
  • Gauging reactions of the community to local policy proposals.