Category Archives: Forum Watch

Albemarle’s Anemic VDOT Economic Development Score

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

Albemarle County earned a failing report card from Virginia Departmentepic fail of Transportation (VDOT) regarding the economic development impacts on their proposed transportation improvement.

This low score, coupled with other factors, resulted in the ONLY Transportation project Albemarle County The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization [correction 11:27am 2/22-nw] submitted for possible funding the I-64/US29 Interchange (Exit 118) ranking 282 out of 287 projects statewide and DEAD LAST in Culpeper District.

Like a parent, the Free Enterprise Forum is concerned with this economic development report card and we wonder if Albemarle is willing to do what is necessary to improve their scores.  We believe absent a paradigm shift regarding economic development and proactive zoning Albemarle County  may not receive significant transportation dollars for a generation.

Please let me explain.

The Commonwealth just completed the first ever objective scoring exercise of transportation projects.  This exercise is the result of a 2014 state law commonly referred to as HB2.  This legislation was so significant – it has its own website.  According to the website:

House Bill Two (HB2) is about investing limited tax dollars in the right projects that meet the most critical transportation needs in Virginia. At the heart of the new law is scoring projects based on an objective process that involves public engagement and input. Once projects are scored, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will have the best information possible to select the right projects for funding.

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed HB2 into law in 2014, which directs the CTB to develop and use a scoring process for project selection by July 2016. Candidate projects will be screened to determine if they qualify to be scored. Projects will be scored based on an objective and fair analysis applied statewide. The law will improve transparency and accountability. The public will know how projects scored and the decisions behind the CTB’s project selections.

In an attempt to capture the different demographic needs of the state, different values are placed on the six different areas of scoring.  Albemarle and Charlottesville are in Category B.

In Category B, accessibility factors (which really are about economic opportunity) are weighted 25%,  economic development factors are weighted 20%, safety factors are also weighted 20%; Environmental quality and land use are each weighted at 10%.

In VDOT’s safety calculations, fatalities rank significantly higher than simple injury and property damage accidents rank even lower.  As this is an interchange not an intersection, the majority of the accidents are sideswipe incidents.

In his article on the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s meeting on this issue Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs quotes Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission Executive Director Chip Boyles:

“We got zeroes for economic development and we got zeroes for crash frequency reduction,” Boyles said, adding that there have been no fatalities at the intersection in the past three years.

Short of generating a rash severe life grabbing accidents, there is little a locality can do to change the safety ranking.  The other areas however localities can make a difference.

Examine the scorecard below for Exit 118, 60% of the accessibility factor revolves around “Increase in Access to Jobs” another 20% of this score is related to “Increase in Access to Jobs for disadvantaged Populations”. Therefore, 80% of the accessibility score relates to economic opportunity.  Reading the report card below, Albemarle failed to achieve a full integer on accessibility scoring .9

The Charlottesville Tomorrow article highlighted opportunities for improving scores:

John Lynch, VDOT’s Culpeper District administrator and a voting member of the MPO, said localities can increase scores by demonstrating they are actively investing in infrastructure.

“As you progress through the development of that site you would get more points towards that particular element because you’re investing money into that plan,” Lynch said.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the HB2 ranking system is here to stay and that the system as currently designed favors those localities seeking to use state dollars to advance economic development and economic opportunity.  The logical nexus is that by spending limited state dollars on projects that increase economic activity, there will be more state dollars to spend in the future.

This is where proactive zoning comes in.  Proactive zoning is when a locality seeks to rezone land, with the consent of the owner, to the uses already approved in the Comprehensive Plan.  Albemarle county last completed a proactive rezoning when it created the Downtown Crozet District.  Opponents of proactive rezoning cite the lack of applicant proffers creating an undue burden on the locality to mitigate the project impacts.

While we have been a proponent for landowner authorized proactive zoning for many years, the new transportation funding paradigm makes the proffers argument moot.

If proactively rezoning land, and investing in infrastructure, allows the community to be not only more attractive to new or expanding business but will improve our chances to receive needed state funding for transportation, the economic benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

poker chipsHB2 Transportation funding is very similar to sitting down at a new poker game.  The cards are the same but the rules are now completely different.  The big question is  if the Albemarle County Supervisors will ante up.

If not, other localities surely will and they will reap the benefits of their foresight and investment.

Time will surely tell.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil 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:   Charlottesville Tomorrow, VDOT

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Asking the Wrong People the Right Question

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

What if during the climatic western movie scene, the stable boy, who knows the location of the gang’s hideout, went to the grocery clerk rather than getting word to the Lone Ranger?

This is exactly what Albemarle County is doing on Tuesday night.

Please let me explain.

On September 3, 2014, Albemarle BOS directed their appointed bodies to evaluate and come up with a recommendation to address changes in state code regarding cash proffers.

The Board of Supervisors requests that the Albemarle County Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee provide advice and recommendations to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors on revisions to the credit provisions and the per unit cash proffer amounts of the Cash Proffer Policy…Provide this advice and recommendation at the earliest possible date.

To be fair, the members of the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee did their work as effectively as they could despite what the Free Enterprise Forum sees as staff driven delays.  After the FIAC report was issued, staff continued to drag their feet.

For the last four months, the Free Enterprise Forum has regularly highlighted Albemarle County’s Cash Proffer Policy is in direct violation of State law.  County Attorney, Larry Davis, disagrees indicating that Albemarle has not had a rezoning come before it since the change in state law and if such a rezoning application did come before the Board, legal staff would inform them of the impact of the change in state law on the cash proffer amount.

With all due respect Mr. Davis, might the $20,000+ cash proffer amount per unit be a reason Albemarle has not seen more rezonings coming forward?

The results of the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee (which included a member of the Planning Commission) should have been sent directly to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors for immediate action.

While we believe cash proffers should be eliminated entirely, the proposal from the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee helps put some reasonable, rational, (and legally mandated) conditions on the calculation of Albemarle Illegal Cash Proffer Gravy Train.

Whether the Planning Commission, who in the role of the Western Grocery Clerk, is ill equipped to process this request, will send this recommendation forward to the Board of Supervisors  is yet to be seen.

We hope the hero shows up soon, to bring Albemarle in line with the law.

Stay Tuned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil 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:   Charlottesville Tomorrow, maryrobertsonwriter.blogspot.com tomsoter.com

Year of Shaking My Head – 2015

By. Neil Williamson, President

It is amazing to look back and see how often this year, I was top ten listdumbfounded by the strategy, actions and inactions of public officials and the lack of action by some because while the process was broken, it was meeting their need.

Here are the Free Enterprise Forum Top Ten 2015 SMH moments

#10 U.S. 29 is not a city street Kevin Bacon and Albemarle’s Thank You Letter for VDOT’s U.S. 29 Steamroller

While we have found former Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  Commissioner Phillip Shucet to be a most effective facilitator and an honest supporter of the McAuliffe administration positions, we believe the public has not been, nor will be, fully “engaged” in the process.  As an example, In  last week’s BOS meeting Supervisor Ann Mallek suggested there would be a public hearing on the design of the interchange – Nope.  Even though this is a design build process, the VDOT proposed design (not what will actually be built) was already taken to public hearing, satisfying the legal requirements.

Aubrey Layne photo credit VDOTIn his Daily Progress opinion piece on Sunday (1/11), [Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey] Layne used the same song sheet as he wrote somewhat single mindedly of Albemarle County’s economic engine that is North US 29:

“Between Short Pump to the east, Staunton to the west, Danville to the south and Gainesville to the north, no section of highway carries more traffic than U.S. 29 between U.S. 250 and Rio Road – not even Interstate 64. U.S. 29 is not a city street.  It is a major Virginia arterial highway” Emphasis added-nw

#9 Fluvanna sees higher taxes as far as the eye can seeFluvanna 4% Property Tax Increase Proposed

This year, Fluvanna is projecting a five-year forecast to see how future budgets will look, conceptually, based on what decisions are made this year. It includes a two percent rate of inflation along with anticipation of certain upcoming projects.

The projection based off of Nichols’ budget shows a real estate tax rate of $1.05 in FY17, $1.06 in FY1Weaver20146 and FY19 and a $1.11 in FY20.

“Even if they are ballpark figures, it is alarming,” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District).

Nichols replied, “It is absolutely alarming.”

#8 Albemarle’s Political Cover Committees – Meanwhile, back in Albemarle County the county is seeking a diversity of opinions as long as they all agree #SMH  Eliminate Albemarle’s Mission Creeping Community Councils 

In addition, Albemarle’s new Community Council Policies also suggests the councils reflect a diversity of perspectives as long as all members of the councils support the approved master plan:

The Advisory Councils will provide assistance, feedback and input to County staff and the Board of Supervisors on community and county efforts related to implementation and support of the adopted Master Plan, in accordance with established county procedures. Advisory Council members will communicate with their constituencies to increase understanding of and support for successful implementation of the Master Plan. The membership is broad-based to incorporate a variety of perspectives and ideas and to provide citizens, business people, and representatives of community highlight added-nw

If all the members of the Community Council must be drinking the Kool Aid that the Master Plans came down on stone tablets from the Board of Supervisors – What’s the point?

#7 ARB managing views that can’t be seen  In June, we were shaking our head when we asked about  the authority of the Albemarle Architectural Review Board (ARB) over the Rio area businesses that will not be visible to at least half of the US29 motorists Is The Rio Ramp An Entrance Corridor?

Are entrance ramps arterial streets? wendy's frosty

While a Wendy’s Frosty is good, is it historic?

Interestingly, the ARB seemed equally concerned how to best treat this new Rio GSI reality.  “I don’t even know how to think about this,” said ARB Chair Bruce Wardell.

For those not paying full attention VDOT has awarded a contract to build US 29 under Rio Road thus making those businesses above somewhat invisible to through traffic.

rio gsi

#6 Albemarle Comprehensive Plan Places Preservation of Natural Resources as #1 Priority What abut citizen health Safety and Welfare? Albemarle’s Natural Resources Chapter Rewrite – More Planners, Less Property Rights

The newly revised goal is much more expansive and interventionist in its tone:

“Albemarle’s ecosystems and natural resources will be thoughtfully protected and managed in both the Rural and Development Areas to safeguard the quality of life of current and future generations.”

If there was any question the direction the Chapter is headed, the BOS rewritten chapter declares

“Natural resource protection is the County’s highest priority.”

Really??

Natural Resource Protection is the Highest Priority?

Over the safety and protection of your citizens?

Over the education of the children where you currently dedicate 60% of your budget?

The Free Enterprise Forum believes this is philosophical hyperbole and is not supported by the facts (or four supervisors), we hope such inflammatory and incorrect language will be removed from the plan.

#4 Albemarle Planning Commission Attempts to Bully staff The Albemarle County Planning Commission was unhappy that the economic development office did not come to them first regarding the Deschutes Brewing prospect.  Despite being beyond their role in government, their egos were bruised in the process.  This lead to our #4 SMH moment Albemarle PC Seeks Improper Staff Influence

How much is designated Light Industrial in the Comprehensive Plan but not in the underlying zoning?

These would seem like a set of objective questions to ask of a professional staff to produce an objective report – But not in Albemarle County.

Please let me explain.

Oct 20 PC meetingAt the very end of this week’s lengthy Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Tim Keller (At-Large), with just two members of the public in the audience (FEF & SELC)  and with the consent of his fellow commissioners, explicitly directed staff to have Economic Development Director Faith McClintic meet with the Planning Commission PRIOR to finalizing her inventory report on Light Industrial land.

Remembering that the Planning Commission is made up of politically appointed individuals (one of which is running for Scottsville Supervisor), one might reasonably ask why should the Economic Development Director, who reports to the County Executive, be required to run her professional report past the PC before it goes final?

The ONLY reason is because they want to impact the content of the report.

While I’ll agree the PC should see and comment on the report after it is written, to give them editorial control seems far beyond the pale and entirely unprofessional.

#5 Greene County battles with Jail Superintendent over budget and plan There was a great deal of head shaking in Greene this year (gun range, recycling center, public comment) but the Jail has been a source of some interjurisdictional anger.  As out own Brent Wilson reports Jail House Rocks Greene BOS

Bill Martin Greene County SupervisorSupervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) expressed concern about the poor timing in the budget process of the CVRJ and the impact to Greene County. Up until December, there was no indication of a significant increase and then in December, 2014 [Central Virginia Jail Superintendent Glenn] Aylor announced over a 50% increase in operating cost allocation to Greene County.

[Ruckersville Supervisor Davis] Lamb responded that there are a lot of pieces to the prison budget.

Martin stated he understood the complexity but all five counties that utilize the regional jail were caught by surprise by the size of the budget increase. Residents of Greene County are pushing back on a $10 facility fee on the water and sewer bill, Martin can’t imagine what residents will say when they see the cost increase for the jail in the upcoming budget.

Martin continued to state that the communication between the Greene Board of Supervisors and Aylor has been poor. He was not impressed when Aylor spoke at the last board meeting and Martin questions who is serving whom.

[Midway Supervisor Jim] Frydl questioned Lamb why the alternative budget that the five counties had presented at the last jail meeting wasn’t considered? Lamb’s only reply was that if you can find a better plan to bring it to the meeting and there are many variables. Frydl asked Lamb if he was ok with the jails budget to which there was no reply.

#3 Greene County Muzzles Public Comment The Free Enterprise Forum continues to have issues with Greene County’s current Matters from the Public Policy but after months of “inappropriate” public comments Greene seemed to want to muzzle public comments as Brent Wilson reports

The hearing of comments (or not hearing comments) from the public has been a work in progress the past several weeks in Greene County. The year started with all comments being allowed at BOS meetings with very little guidelines or restrictions. Several weeks ago, the Chairman decided to eliminate all comments from the public from the July 28th agenda.  The Board discussed the issue at the July 28th meeting and adopted (4-1 Deane opposed) a very restrictive procedure in place to allow public comment at the July 28th meeting

This takes us to the most recent Board of Supervisor meeting. Chairman David Cox, Monroe District, started the meeting stating that it is critical to hear comments from the public. He has not been trying to silence the public but trying to control rude and confrontational behavior.

Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District, stated he believes that Cox has an impeccable record in allowing all comments – sometimes to a fault. Cox would never disallow the public to speak and he believes that Cox will be fair to all citizens and not infringe their freedom of speech.

The Free Enterprise Forum has written extensively regarding the import of public comments and we believe they should be placed near the top of every agenda. While the comments some citizens make may cause you to shake your head, not hearing those citizens speak is much worse.

#2 Albemarle Chooses Not To Have a Beer – In a clear affront to the County’s new Economic Development Initiatives, Albemarle County decided not to expand its development areas enough to accommodate Deschutes Brewery [and about 100 new jobs]  from Bend, Oregon while shaking our head we did come up with  Da Lessons from Deschutes

Deschutes-BrewingIt is entirely possible that [Former Albemarle Supervisor] Sally Thomas’ position of keeping growth in check may be the majority opinion of Albemarle County citizens.  If the philosophy of the Board is that any business is lucky that we are allowing them to locate here and should be happy to jump through our bureaucratic hoops, then there is not “A new day” in Albemarle.

The current and future leadership of Albemarle County need to determine the direction of the Economic Development Department.  That decision, perhaps more than any other, will determine not only the success of businesses to locate and expand; but also the jobs that may or may not be available as well as the percentage of government costs that will be carried by property taxes.

Da Lesson from Deschutes – Albemarle was not ready.

Da Question from Deschutes – Do they really want to be?

But this year’s #1 is without a doubt

#1 If I call you Karl Marx is it an insult?  Fluvanna County’s Board of Supervisors gave us plenty to shake our heads about this year including accusations of Communism.   The Board meeting sounded more like a playground taunt than a governing body as our own Bryan Rothamel reported Fireworks at Fluvanna Supervisors Meeting

After Parish briefly started his presentation on the [employee] recognition program, which includes monetary gifts for various awards throughout the year, Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) raised his issues with the recognition program.

Ullenbruch2014

Ullenbruch compared the recognition program as a pat on the back and children in youth sports getting a participation trophy. He then concluded his remarks and what ensued was Ullenbruch leaving the meeting after Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) responded.

Here is a transcription from the end of  Ullenbruch’s statements. It was the 1 hour, 59 minutes mark of the meeting.

Ullenbruch: You are hired to do a job. You are hired to do a job the best you can. I’m not saying our employees are paid enough or they’re not recognized enough. I’m not saying that at all. I’m trying, once again, keep people from being divided. This is devise. I’ve lived in this atmosphere of awards and plaques and that-a-boys, in the back, in the little huddles, in the little corners, it becomes a bitch session. The intent is not for that to happens, but it happens.

O’Brien: You sound like a communist, Bob. I mean honestly, why don’t we–

Ullenbruch: Wow. Wow. That’s on tape.

O’Brien: Yeah, your idea is that people don’t appreciate recognition. That they should just do their damn job, to use your words.

Ullenbruch: I’m just saying it causes divisiveness.

At this point Ullenbruch stands up to leaves. The two began talking over each other but O’Brien responds to Ullenbruch’s comments with, “I mean, that’s what you sound like. I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Ullenbruch talks from the doorway. O’Brien responds, “I don’t think calling someone a communist is necessarily insulting them, Bob.” He turns back to the board, “That’s a first. Sorry. Apologies.”

Yes, the Free Enterprise Forum will look back on 2015 as the Year of Shaking My Head.

Perhaps 2016 will be different.

I know which way I am betting.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil 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:   Charlottesville Tomorrow, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Virginia Department of Transportation,

Lessons from Snoopy

By. Neil Williamson, President

This holiday season, perhaps more than most, I am reminded how lucky we are to live in this particular place at this particular time.  Thanks to the generous support of the community the Free Enterprise Forum is celebrating twelve years of making a difference in Central Virginia.

Regular readers of this space are well aware of the many meetings the Free Enterprise Forum covers, often as one of the only members of the public in the room.

This year there were several meetings that were standing room only as Albemarle County considered an expansion of their development area for a brewery prospect.  In this meeting, there were many speakers including Former Albemarle Supervisor Sally Thomas who suggested the Planning Commission was being “bullied” into accepting this economic development prospect.  Our friend, Jeff Werner from Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), also spoke questioning the due diligence of the County.

Route 29 Solutions logoThis year we also saw the start of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) construction of the subtlety named “Route 29 Solutions” projects including the one of the newer words in the local lexicon “Rio GSI” for the grade separated intersection being constructed at Rio Road and U.S. 29.  The issues surrounding these projects have provided significant activity over the last forty months.

Last night (12/21) the Charlottesville City Council opted to table the Down Zoning of West Main Street – We have argued in opposition to this affront to property rights while our friends at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) have, somewhat counter intuitively, jumped on the reduced density in the neighborhood. Another friend John Cruickshank of the Piedmont Chapter of the Sierra Club provided comments in favor of lowering the heights thus reducing the environmental impacts.

Yes, there are important issues and emotions that can divide the community.  With limited exception,  the Central Virginia community has a great deal of respect for those who disagree with them.  This is not true across the Commonwealth.

While the Free Enterprise Forum has, and will continue to, question the logic, strategies and tactics of those opposed to regulatory reform and economic development, we do not question their motivations.  We believe they are working toward their vision of a better community.  We welcome their involvement and, lest anyone think I have been hitting the egg nog, we will still often adamantly disagree.

However this holiday, thinking of the spirited alphabet soup of Free Enterprise Forum opponents (ASAP, PEC, SELC, VDOT,  Etc.)  I am reminded of the 1967 hit from The Royal GuardsmanSnoopy Christmas – Snoopy vs. the Red Baron”.  The Free Enterprise Forum wishes all of Central Virginia, especially those who disagree with us, a blessed holiday season.

 

The news had come out in the First World War
The bloody Red Baron was flying once more
The Allied command ignored all of its men
And called on Snoopy to do it again.

Twas the night before Christmas, 40 below
When Snoopy went up in search of his foe
He spied the Red Baron, fiercely they fought
With ice on his wings Snoopy knew he was caught.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ring out from the land
Asking peace of all the world
And good will to man

The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights
He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight
Why he didn’t shoot, well, we’ll never know
Or was it the bells from the village below.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine
And forced him to land behind the enemy lines
Snoopy was certain that this was the end
When the Baron cried out, “Merry Christmas, my friend”

The Baron then offered a holiday toast
And Snoopy, our hero, saluted his host
And then with a roar they were both on their way
Each knowing they’d meet on some other day.

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

Christmas bells those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil 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:  Charles Shultz,  Charlottesville Tomorrow

C-ville’s ‘Stagnant Status Quo’ — using History as a Growth Control Tool

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

1997 BMWIn my garage sits a 1997 car with well over 200 thousand miles on the odometer.  It has long ago started to show its age with the telltale drooping headliner and magical mystery electrical short or two.  While the passenger side widow does not go up; the windshield wipers work (they just don’t turn off).

The car is old, and in need of some repair,  but is it historic?

Should the government have the right to tell me I can’t replace it for a more reliable machine?

If not, why should the government have that ability to limit my property rights with historic designations?

Please let me explain.

According to Charlottesville Tomorrow’s article by Sean Tubbs:

The Charlottesville Board of Architectural Review indicated Tuesday (1117) it will protect two buildings from demolition on West Main Street, including one that houses the Blue Moon Diner.

“Every house that we demolish on this street lessens our argument for keeping any of them,” said BAR member Carl Schwarz.

Developer Jeff Levien sought permission to take down buildings at 512 and 600 W. Main St. to make way for a new mixed-use building. Both were built in the late 19th century.
He is proposing a new four-story building with ground floor retail and with rental apartments on the higher levels. That height would be consistent with the proposed West Main rezoning changes pending before the Planning Commission and the City Council.

“Although these buildings are old and no one is going to dispute the age of these buildings, they are no longer part of the character of West Main Street,” Levien said Tuesday. “They are ripe for demolition and on an underutilized site and they no longer have any function for the tenants that are there.”

Under Levien’s proposal, the portion of 512 W. Main St. that makes up the front room of the Blue Moon Diner would be retained and incorporated into the new building. The owners of the diner supported the idea of demolition.

The city’s historic resources planner said she could not recommend demolition.

The Free Enterprise Forum does not have a position on this specific request but we believe this situation shines light on a policy question regarding whether historic preservation should be used as a growth control tool?

While some argue historic preservation overlay districts (and similar tools designed to limit property rights) increase property values, we see them as yet one more expansion of government and stripping of property rights.  We are not surprised many of the cities most often cited have separate, distinct historic preservation commissions with dedicated city staff to support the work of the commission.

Architectural Critic Ada Louise Huxtable of the The Wall Street Journal asked a most appropriate question in her 2004 review of the so called “Lollipop Building” proposed demolition:

The most basic preservation question is not being asked at all. What will be lost, and what will be gained?

The proposal being rejected out of hand is a promising solution by a talented young American practitioner that will reclaim an abandoned building of debatable merit for a desirable cultural facility…

There is a great deal more at stake than this one building. When preservation distorts history and reality in a campaign of surprising savagery, it signals an absence of standards and an abdication of judgment and responsibility. It has lost its meaning when we prefer a stagnant status quo. [emphasis added-nw]

In the West Main case study Huxtable’s question “What will be lost and what will be gained?” certainly rings true.

In a city dedicated to affordable housing, how does restricting housing unit supply impact the price of already existing units?

So the question remains, what difference can we discern between old and historic?

Cities if they grow and thrive will continually remake themselves over and over again.  Adaptive reuse can play a part in historic preservation but should be done at the will of the owner, not the demand of the government.

Blind devotion to historic preservation will perpetuate Huxtable’s “stagnant status quo” and restrict economic development as well as individual economic advancement.

Perhaps if as every historical protection overlay is initiated, all property owners were provided immediate local property tax abatement, cities would be less eager to engage in growth control via historic preservation’s restriction of property rights.

If the City of Charlottesville deems a structure to be of such significant historic value that they want to control the property use, they should buy it.

Otherwise, the city should allow property owners to invest in the city, meet city building and zoning code and use his or her property to the highest and best use.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

20070731williamson

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: Neil Williamson, Docstock.com

Finding Four Leaf Clovers

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

At the suggestion of an Albemarle County Supervisor, my new year’s resolution was to be happier and more positive. Recently, I have found good reason to do just that as there have been several important directional decisions by local elected officials. These decisions, some of which are not yet finalized, may not completely agree with the Free Enterprise Forum positions but they are clearly positive for the community.

The four-leaf clover is the best known lucky symbol around the world and across many different cultures. It is the most common yet the rarest to find.

Albemarle County  Cash Proffer Reform – in the Spring of 2013 The Free Enterprise Forum issued its Contradictory Consequences Cash Proffers White Paper.  This paper outlined the problems with cash proffers and how development was occurring by right rather than through rezoning.  The paper called for the abolition of cash proffers.  In addition, changes to State law impacted the proffer calculations.

As Sean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow reports:

Localities in Virginia have the ability to charge developers a fee for each residential unit that is allowed because of a rezoning. Albemarle adopted a policy in 2007 that currently requires developers to pay $20,987 per single-family dwelling, $14,271 for each townhome and $14,871 for each unit in an apartment complex. . .

…In September, supervisors directed the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee to review the cash proffer policy to determine if it is an effective means of generating revenue to pay for the cost of additional infrastructure required to support population growth.

Over the course of the group’s 18 meetings, county staffers realized that a 2013 law passed by the General Assembly has changed how Albemarle can calculate proffer amounts.

“The change in the statute is that the only thing that can be considered now are projects that expand capacity,” Fritz said. “Building a school or expanding a school expands capacity. Replacing a school’s roof does not necessarily expand capacity.”

Applying the legal mandate to county policy would mean Albemarle could only charge $4,918 for each single-family unit, $3,845 for townhomes and $5,262 for each apartment unit.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes that cash proffers are an improper welcome stranger tax that neither captures the cost of increased density nor supports the comprehensive plan.

THE FOUR LEAF CLOVER:  Albemarle is moving to a lower cash proffer. While we continue our call for repealing the rezoning ransom known as cash proffers, we appreciate this reduction, which is not finalized, as a step in the right direction.

Charlottesville Community Meeting Requirement Revisions – Early this Spring Charlottesville City Planning Commission chose to ignore their planning staff recommendations and throw what Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson called “the kitchen sink” at applicants.

As we described in our “Is Charlottesville Catching the Albemarle https://freeenterpriseforum.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/flu-man-200x300.jpg?w=136&h=204Flu” May Forum Watch Editorial:

We fear the city is moving in the direction of Albemarle County [Also known as the Albemarle Flu] who has made development applications so expensive and time consuming that they have not seen a significant residential rezoning in many years.

The Free Enterprise Forum is very concerned that Charlottesville’s well intentioned desire for increased public engagement results in several significant unintended consequences and may be legally challenged. Further, we believe this new layer of review will significantly reduce the number of applications that come forward and reduce the economic vitality of the development sector. We fear this may be the intended consequence of the proponents of this ordinance change.

Proving our persuasiveness, when the ordinance was voted on by the Planning Commission it passed. But when it first went to City Council concerns were raised about when the Planning Director might choose to waive the community meeting requirement.

THE FOUR LEAF CLOVER: In the first reading of the proposed ordinance last week, City Council limited the community meeting requirement to Special Use Permits and Rezoning applications.  While the Free Enterprise Forum believes no such meetings should be required of applicants, limiting the community meeting requirement to those applications where the citizens can have impact on the application is a clear positive.  As Councilor Dede Smith said, “We shouldn’t give citizens false hope”.

Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) Property Owner Agreement EliminatedFor the last three legislative sessions, owners of rental properties,. REALTORS and others  have worked to eliminate utility lien provisions in State Code regarding tenant non payment.  The concept in its simplest form is that the property owner is not party to the transaction, the utility extends credit  to the tenant not to the property owner.  The authority often requires a security deposit from the tenant. 

Despite success in each legislative session, ACSA was advised by their legal counsel that they still had this authority to require property owner agreements under a separate section of code.

From the ACSA Staff report:

Effective July 1, 2015, the Code of Virginia section, 15.2-5138 – Enforcement of charges, was repealed by Senate Bill 868. The repeal generated concerns, from some of our customers in the property management community and the ACSA’s administration of the Property Owner Agreement. After thoroughly researching the changes in the Code and guidance from the ACSA’s attorney, we believe that we remain in compliance with the Code sections related to “Lien for Charges (15.2-5139)” and “Fees and charges for water and sewer services (15.2-2119).”

THE FOUR LEAF CLOVER: After discussing the issue with the Free Enterprise Forum and reviewing the lien policy with staff,  ACSA Executive Director Gary O’Connell found the lien policy had never been used.  He  recommended the ACSA Board eliminate the Property Owner Agreement.  In their September 17th meeting, the Board approved the elimination of the Property Owner Agreement.

Albemarle County Increases Land Available for Light Industry: After the Planning Commission unanimously voted in opposition to the proposed adjustment to the development area boundary, The Board of Supervisors took up the issue in a special meeting on September 23rd.

The Free Enterprise Forum has been a proponent for increased inventory of well positioned light industrial land for over ten years. In a July 2008 blog post we wrote:

Once again, Albemarle County is faced with the challenge of defining who it wants to be.  In order to reach their adopted goal of “Providing local business development opportunities”, they may need to adjust their philosophical opposition to altering Development Area boundaries.

If Albemarle County is serious about its dedication to have industry (and the related jobs), it should create strategic enterprise zones outside of the development areas for this growth to occur.  Failing this or a significant expansion of the development areas themselves, as industry grows it will simply move out of Albemarle County.

Perhaps this is the goal?

THE FOUR LEAF CLOVER:  Albemarle’s Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a small (35 acre) development area restoration/adjustment.  While the Free Enterprise Forum, and Albemarle Economic Development staff, encouraged the Board to move forward with a larger restoration.  This  Board did more than “the least they could do”.   They could have done nothing.  While we believe the board was too eager to seek unanimity (and reverse the negative impression the PC vote caused), we will never know if they had the votes for a split decision on a larger restoration/expansion.

In addition, the BOS asked for a full light industrial inventory to determine if there is the need for further restoration/expansion (this work was put on hold by the Planning Commission in their Comprehensive Plan discussions).

It is scientifically debated whether the fourth leaf in a four leaf clover is caused genetically or environmentally. Its relative rarity (1 in 10,000 clovers) suggests a possible recessive gene appearing at a low frequency.  In local public policy, we would suggest the four leaf clovers above were environmentally impacted.  Only through active citizen participation can such advances be made.

Over the years, much has been written about four leaf clovers but the following poem captures the power and the meaning of this common rarity:

I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blooms burst with snow,
And down underneath is the loveliest nook,
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf is for HOPE, and one is for FAITH,
And one is for LOVE, you know,
And GOD put another in for LUCK
If you search, you will find where they grow.

But you must have HOPE, and you must have FAITH,
You must LOVE and be strong — and so —
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.

Author: Ella Higginson

Yes, Virginia there are reasons for optimism.  The Free Enterprise Forum will continue to press for increased opportunity and reduced regulatory burdens; but it is important to recognize these forward steps. However small they may be, each is a four leaf clover and a step in the right direction.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

20070731williamson

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.

Forest Lakes Outlaws

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

outlawThe Brookhill development that is in the early planning stages is located north of Polo Grounds Road and East of US29.  To be clear, the Free Enterprise Forum does not take positions on projects and has no position on the Brookhill proposal.  Our concern is focused on planning policy and how those policies stifle creativity and consumer choice.

This project is located just south of the Forest Lakes South development, that has been well received by the market since its inception over twenty years ago.  Considering Forest Lakes appeal and the location of the project, one might think a thoughtful applicant would attempt to mimic some of Forest Lakes “desirable” characteristics.

But as I was sipping my morning coffee reading Elise Cruz’s Daily Progress/Charlottesville Tomorrow article about the neighborhood meeting concerning Brookhill, I found myself nodding in agreement with the quote from Alan Taylor of Riverbend Development:

“This is the new way that communities are developed,” Taylor said. “If I tried to build a development like Forest Lakes now, … it wouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Taylor’s comments reflect the reality of development in Albemarle County.  Over the last decade, via ordinance changes and policy direction, residential development has been forced into a new urbanist form that includes a higher level of density than the neighbors or the market wants.

The Neighborhood Model, which originally was sold as A model not THE model includes several concepts many of which are not only required in rezoning applications but are mandated by code:

Pedestrian Orientation
Mixture of Uses
Neighborhood Centers
Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability
Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks
Multi-modal Transportation Opportunities
Parks, Recreational Amenities, and Open Space
Buildings and Space of Human Scale
Relegated Parking
Redevelopment
Respecting Terrain and Careful Grading and Re-grading of Terrain
Clear Boundaries with the Rural Area

The reality is that no longer can an applicant put forth the imageneighborhood design that they believe is best, will best sell or best fits the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. 

They are forced into new urbanist designs that prefer mixed use products, density over distance and pocket parks over parkways.

The buyer that is seeking a more traditional design, is left to look to existing housing stock, rural area development or to the surrounding localities with less restrictive design parameters. 

That how Albemarle is forcing the new housing market forward.  

Yes, when Albemarle County planning officials outlawed Forest Lakes, Forest Lakes became outlaws.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

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

Dr. Strangelove and Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

The Free Enterprise Forum has been a willing and active participant in Albemarle County’s dr strangeloveComprehensive Plan revision for over four years.  We have written extensively regarding our concerns about affordable housing, density, design criteria, social engineering via planning priorities and many other topics.

Now after three years of Planning Commission consideration and another year of Board of Supervisors editing and review, we must stand opposed to the current draft of the document based on its overarching government intervention tone, rural area restrictions and property rights infringements.  We do not take this position lightly and in fact note some of our advocated changes did make it in to the plan – but not enough.

The final scheduled Board of Supervisors public hearing is on Wednesday night (June 10).  After spending four years (and a nearly $1 million dollar HUD planning grant) of engagement, I am fairly certain the staff, the Board and even the special interest group advocates (myself included) are tired of wrestling with this document.

The easy thing would be to say “We did what we could, let’s pass this thing” but that would not be the right thing to do.

Not when the plan gives super property rights to one private entity – Monticello and punishes those land owners who have the gall to own property in that can be seen from “Jefferson’s Little Mountain”.

Not when the plan continues to apologize for economic development efforts that may provide good career ladder jobs in the development area for our kids and grandkids.

Not when the plan uses neighborhood design to increase the cost and complexity of providing housing in the development area in one chapter and then bemoans the lack of affordable housing in the next.

Not when the plan focuses more on getting citizens out of cars rather than improving the transportation network.

Not when the plan promises concurrency of infrastructure and public investment in the development areas and then threatens to deny development applications if the Board fails to find the political backbone to make such investment.

Not when the plan bombastically decries Natural Resource Protection the top priority for local government and calls for more planners less property rights.

Not when the plan threatens to remove some recreational uses and take away economic opportunity from rural land owners in the name of environmental protection and ignoring the current special use permit provisions that already address provide such protections.

No this plan must be vetoed – and it won’t be.

In reading the entire plan for the 14th time over the last month I have been struck by two somewhat allegorical comparisons to  my current predicament.

The first is the 1964 dark comedy movie Dr. Strangelove.  Few people remember that the full title of the movie was “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”.   The inevitability of the Comprehensive Plan passing is only measured by the number of times the Board of Supervisors has used the phrase “it’s only a guide” in their review even as they parsed the language.

alfred_e_neumanThe second allegorical comparison comes from MAD magazine and their cover boy Alfred E. Newman.  Newman’s philosophical position of “What? Me worry” might be the best way to understand the real meaning of this herculean attempt at planning control.

I wish I had a dollar for every time this plan has been referred to as a guide — not an ordinance.  Sure, until your ox is the one being gored, then it is up to who is interpeting the “guide”.     Considering the fact that the current Comprehensive Plan dictates that a small area plan WILL be completed prior to any transportation improvements on US29 at Rio Road and the interchange will be completed before the small area plan is really started – MAD may be the best fit.

pickens_bomb_rider1But in the end, as the Board of Supervisors positions itself to endorse the plan, I think Albemarle citizens might best identify with the Slim Pickens character in Dr. Strangelove as he rode the nuclear bomb into Russia.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

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

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures, MAD magazine

Is Charlottesville Catching the Albemarle Flu?

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

Over the last twenty years or so, the City of Charlottesville has beenflu-man-200x300 politically left leaning but has recognized the import of business contribution not only to the tax revenue but also to the fabric of the community.

As a land locked 10 square miles, the City determined to make it easier to increase density where it wanted such density to occur. By right reduction of parking requirements in certain University zones is just one of the many ordinance revisions the City designed to be more open for development. Today, the Free Enterprise Forum is concerned that recent actions may have the City moving away from this philosophical paradigm.

We fear the city is moving in the direction of Albemarle County [Also known as the Albemarle Flu] who has made development applications so expensive and time consuming that they have not seen a significant residential rezoning in many years.

On Tuesday night, the Charlottesville Planning Commission considered a resolution of intent to require almost all development proposals greater than six units to hold public neighborhood meetings prior to being processed. This includes site plans that are utilizing existing zoning.

The Free Enterprise Forum has significant questions regarding the legality of these provisions especially the site plan review.

Considering the import of hearing from members of the public and development community we found it interesting that the staff report admitted that they moved this public engagement initiative forward absent ANY public engagement:

Community Engagement:
There has been no community engagement prior to preparation of this Resolution for your consideration; however, the purpose of the proposed text amendments is specifically to provide for enhanced community engagement on an ongoing basis.

On the face of this it seems like increased public engagement would be a good thing, and many property owners already conduct such meetings and find them to be competitive advantages to getting projects approved. When such meetings are mandated – or worse delegated to a super citizen “advisory” panel – this empowers that unelected group of citizens with defacto veto power over the project.

The result of such power can be changes to the project design that benefits the neighborhood but may weaken the projects impact on the region. Over our dozen years of operation, the strongest voices in opposition to projects tend to be opposed to the increased density such a project may bring. At the Planning Commission level, there is an understanding and acceptance that the density of any rezoning should mirror the designation in the community vetted Comprehensive Plan. This is rarely the case at Neighborhood Meetings where the focus tends to be on reducing the density proposed and reducing the impact of such density on the surrounding community.

The Free Enterprise Forum has significant questions regarding the legality of these provisions especially the site plan review.

No application seeking approval of a site plan, preliminary or final, for property that will be used for any commercial or industrial purpose, or that will contain six (6) or more residential dwelling units, shall be accepted for review, unless and until the applicant has participated in a pre-application conference and has held a community meeting in accordance with guidelines established by the director of neighborhood development services in accordance with sec. 34-41(c)(2). Any application that fails to demonstrate compliance with these requirements shall be rejected as incomplete. The director may waive the requirement for a community meeting, if a community meeting was previously held for the same development at the time of city council’s consideration of an application for approval of a special use permit or petition for a zoning map amendment.

Unintended consequence 1- Loss of density and innovative design — If an applicant must complete the neighborhood meeting prior to their application being complete, the Planning Commission will see significantly fewer innovative higher density projects because the neighbors will not approve of the density or the creative design.

Unintended (?) consequence 2 – Increased application time – Virginia state code mandates completed applications must be considered by the Planning Commission and Board within 90 days of submittal. By inserting language that the results of a neighborhood meeting must be a part of a completed application, the staff is able to hit “snooze” on the so called 90 day shot clock until the meeting has been held. In addition, the proposed ordinance contains a not so veiled threat, considering the applicant has a subjective review in from of the Planning Commission/City Council:

The applicant’s consent to a work session is required, if the work session would extend the time for action by the board or commission beyond applicable deadlines established by law.

The proposed ordinance also provides for more favorable treatment of some applications if the Planning Director wants to waive the meeting requirement. While the Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the flexibility such a provision provides, we wonder if the criteria for waiving the meeting is objective enough to meet the Virginia Supreme Court’s Sinclair decision regarding staff determinations:

The director may waive the requirement for a public meeting, upon a determination that the meeting is not likely to achieve the public purposes intended to be served, after consideration of the following: (i) the nature of the approval requested, the acreage affected, the proposed density, the proposed scale, and potential impacts, (ii) any other factors deemed relevant upon applying sound zoning principles, (iii) whether other public work sessions or meetings have already been held regarding the application, so as to make a community meeting unreasonably duplicative.

Unintended consequence 3 – Increase cost and use of “stale” zoning – If adding a mandated neighborhood meeting increases the approval time on a rezoning by 1 month and adds another set of plan revisions, the cost of the project increases due to financial carrying costs and design fees. Dependent on the size of the project this increase in cost could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Rather than subject themselves to such cost and uncertainty, many property owners will calculate the value of developing the land not as it is in the community vetted Comprehensive Plan but as the land is currently zoned and move forward in six unit phases. The result is no neighborhood involvement and reduced density in direct conflict with the Comprehensive Plan.

The Free Enterprise Forum is very concerned that Charlottesville’s well intentioned desire for increased public engagement results in several significant unintended consequences and may be legally challenged. Further, we believe this new layer of review will significantly reduce the number of applications that come forward and reduce the economic vitality of the development sector. We fear this may be the intended consequence of the proponents of this ordinance change.

Tuesday night’s resolution may be the first sneeze of Charlottesville catching the Albemarle Flu, I sure hope not.

Respectfully Submitted,

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

Photo Credit: Donlon Healthmart Pharmacy

The 2014 Free Enterprise Forum Five

By. Neil Williamson, President

Oh what a year it has been!

Annually, the Free Enterprise Forum takes a step back and examines our work over the last twelve months.  Based on this review – we have created the 2014 Free Enterprise Forum Five – our completely biased view of the top five blog posts based on readership and impact.

As we close our twelfth year, I want to take a moment and thank all of you for reading.   I also have to thank our financial supporters – If you find our work valuable please donate today.

Finally, I want to thank those who disagree and comment.  I sincerely appreciate your contributions.

Without any more fanfare – Here are the Free Enterprise Forum Five (click on the headline for the rest of the story):

#5  The Zombie Comp Plan — Return of the “Voluntary” Viewshed Requirements

D_nightofzombiesposterIn classic horror films, zombies are among the best villains as it is so hard to kill the “Walking Dead”.

Just like a zombie the Monticello Viewshed requirements are back and property rights are again under attack in Albemarle County.

But it’s OK because the requirements are voluntary.

#4 “Snob Zoning” Request Returns to Charlottesville City Council?

In a blog post just under a year ago, Is the Lorax Guilty of Snob Zoning?, we raised concerns of so called snob-zones-640-for-web-194x300“Snob Zoning” in Central Virginia.  Included in that post was a quote from Councilor Dede Smith about new residential developments.

[City Councilor Dede] Smith also wanted to know what population was being attracted to Charlottesville based on the nature of the new developments.

“Who is going to live at City Walk?” Smith asked. “Our number of families is declining in the city and it has been stated as a priority that we would like to at least maintain or grow housing for families.”

 

#3  Building Late Night Life Rafts on the Titanic

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

titanic sinking credit redbubbleTomorrow night (6/11) the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will be considering how to best assist businesses negatively impacted by the 2+ years of construction of the Rio/US29 grade separated intersection.

The Free Enterprise Forum is somewhat conflicted regarding “government help”.  We firmly believe in the free enterprise system and that a critical part of that system is business failure to make room for new innovations.  While we believe in the “creative destruction” concept, we prefer it is the market not the government doing the destruction.

#2  VDOT Losing Control on US29 Solutions?

By. Neil Williamson, PresidentUS29 Survey July 16 2014

“It seems how lately, baby
Got a bad case steamroller blues” – James Taylor

As we all are getting accustomed to yellow and orange vests in the impacted areas of US29, the Free Enterprise Forum has learned we will have significantly less control over the US29 projects than we were led to believe at the outset.

Later this week the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will rubber stamp the Shucet  US29 Solution Package.  Interestingly, only now have we learned (via Twitter) the sequencing of these long desired projects is seemingly out of our control.

#1 from April 12, 2014

 Shucet’s Charade – A Public Participation Illusion

us-29-logo_thumb.jpg

The Route 29 Advisory Panel is, perhaps unwittingly, playing a part in a masterfully orchestrated and expertly conducted illusion of public participation where the questions, concerns and opinions of panel members are being denied or actively dismissed. No votes are taken nor consensus measured. All the while the facilitator is complementing the panel for its incredible positive forward momentum.

And the public is none the wiser.

 

Honorable Mentions

Albemarle’s Mad Hatter Paradoxical Proffer Policymad-hatter-1-300x240

Only in Albemarle, Do You Make Housing Affordable by Making It More Expensive

Charlottesville Requires Residents To Tell How Their “Natural” Garden Grows

Fluvanna Budget Proposal Includes Tax Increase

Ruckersville Interconnectivity Goes Forward

failure-to-communicateAlbemarle’s Cool Hand Luke Development Areas Plan

Albemarle’s Manifest Density

Admiral Stockdale and the Albemarle County Planning Commission

Albemarle Knows Best – Comprehensive Plan Mission Creep

Do Jobs Fit in Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan?

Is This The End of The Road?US29 Survey July 16 2014

Misinformation, Compartmentalization and Realization on the US29 “Expressway”

Regulatory Hurdles and Lack of Infrastructure Hinders Fluvanna Economic Development

D 78306-05  Pete Townshend. Obligatory Credit - CAMERA PRESS / Graham Wiltshire. Pete Townshend of British rock band The Who, pictured performing at Leicester Granby Hall in 1975. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>*** USA ONLY ***Albemarle Apologist Economic Development Policy

The Who Has the Answer to New US29 Panel

Who Puts the DL in TMDL?

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded non partisan public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org