Tag Archives: business

Greene Repair Shop Seeks Revision to SUP

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In October, 2014 Ronald Snoddy got approval from the Greene County Board of Supervisors for a Special Use Permit to expand his vehicle restoration business at his home on Matthew Mills Road . His plan was to construct a new building of 6,000 SF – but it never happened.

Snoddy has since revised his expansion plan and decided to expand his business but not by constructing a new structure, he is requesting to add on to the existing building on the property. However, the expansion puts the addition to the back of his property – a different location than the new building previously approved.

The real issue seems to be the paint booth and the concern with noise and fumes that it may generate.  Snoddy indicated that he operates the booth from 10am to 4pm but he would like to expand the operation to 7am to 4 pm.

Three people addressed the commission during the public hearing. The first speaker indicated that he is an expert in the paint booth equipment and is available to answer any questions about the process. He indicated that the equipment is inside and the air is filtered several times before it is released outside. It is possible that the process could be modified to lower the noise to the outside.

The other two speakers were Snoddy’s neighbors and spoke in opposition to the Special Use Permit (SUP16-002) . Skip Forbes lives behind Snoddy and he can smell the fumes from the paint process. He has measured the noise from Snoddy’s business and said it registers 69 DB. He can also hear grinding and pounding when he is outside of his home. Finally, he is concerned about the impact the business will have on his property value. Michael Dubell pointed out that Snoddy did not do what the original Special Use Permit was for so how can he amend the Special Use Permit?

The commissioners then discussed the request. Commissioner John McCloskey asked about the expansion site.  Snoddy stated he put the mechanicals inside to cut down the noise and his wife can barely hear his equipment in her beauty salon which is located in their home.   McCloskey asked how the paint fumes are handled and Snoddy explained that the fumes pass through multiple air filters before being released to the air.

Chairman Jay Willer stated that Snoddy is not in compliance with the Special Use Permit from 2014 and this new request would have to be approved to be in compliance.  Snoddy said he had no intent to build 60 x 100 ft. building which was approved in 2014 but may do a 20 x 40 ft. addition.

Commissioner Vic Schaff made a motion to recommend denial of the request since the original Special Use Permit was not followed and the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny the Special Use Permit with Commissioner Frank Morris voting in favor. As in all cases, the action will go to the Board of Supervisors for their review and final action. 

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 www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Greene BOS Approves Fitness Club Permit

 By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

        The Gateway Market Center, LLC received the approval of the Board of Supervisors at their February 11th meeting for a Special Use Permit (SUP) to allow a fitness facility in the development across from Walmart.

Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director, presented the SUP request to the BOS.  There were no concerns expressed by the agencies that review SUPs.  As the use that is planned for the site fits the comprehensive plan, the staff recommended approval.

There were no comments from the public and the Board were all in agreement that this request fits the property well for the existing zoning.  Svoboda noted that the developer of the property would only use a portion of the structure for the health club and that other tenants must conform their use to what is defined in the B3 zoning.

This property is at a key location of the Gateway Center as it has access from Route 33 and US 29.  The majority of the traffic entering the development will pass this parcel whether they are headed to to the northern anchor (Lowes) or the southern anchor (Walmart).

Snap Fitness is the operation that will locate in this space.  This national franchise business model operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week with key access for its members.  An internet review found comments from other franchise owners to be very favorable and member reviews to be mixed.

This 24/7 business model is very similar to Anytime Fitness that has an existing franchise location just south of Ruckersville on US29 near the Best Western Hotel.

The BOS unanimously approved the SUP and all agreed that this is the type of business that the county is looking for.  Svoboda explained that the need for the SUP was due to the 24 hour access.  This location is in a heavily traveled, well lit area and he had little concern about the security of the facility.

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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.

Greene BOS Considers US29 Business Uses

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Tuesday, October 8th the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard a request to rezone from B-2 to B-3 for 3 acres just north of Food Lion on the southbound side of US29 – expand the options for business to more intense uses. Many see  US29 as the business corridor into Ruckersville.  The intersection with Carpenter Mills Road includes Sheetz on the north East Corner, Food Lion on the northwest corner, an undeveloped PUD on the southwest corner, and the partially developed Fried property on the southeast corner.  The proposal to increase the number of uses on a parcel just north of the Food Lion made good sense to some. But not to the residents of Deer Lake that sit behind the 3 acres with a lovely lake in between.

This application first came forward, per Greene’s procedure, to the Greene County Planning Commission on August 21st  and the Commission unanimously denied the request.  Procedure dictates, all requests, regardless whether they are approved or disapproved, move to the BOS for final review. 

Bart Svoboda, Planning Director/Zoning Administrator, outlined the request (RZ#13-002) of CRBFAB,LLC/EARS I LLC for the parcel on the County Tax Maps as 60E-(A)-6B. The current structures on the property were model homes and there were no red flags by any of the agencies. The Comprehensive Plan defines this area as a mixed used area. The Planning Commission’s report their denial was due to the buffer between this property, the residential area to the west would be impacted and there are many other parcels in the Ruckersville area already zoned B-3 (see page 33 of the Greene County Zoning Ordinance).  Mr. Svoboda mentioned that the request made to the BOS offered a buffer area of cypress trees to be planted to block the view of the lot from the residential area to the west and that several by right uses of B-3 zoning would be excluded – dance hall, hotel/motel, night club and non-accessory structures.

The applicant was represented by Attorney Craig Johnson and manager of EARS and Bill Gentry, realtor for the property. They indicated  only 1 of the 3 acres was usable for development. The property may be sold in the future and the property just south of the lot owned by Kinvara (the Food Lion shopping center) is currently zoned B-3. Across the street from the entrance there is an auto repair shop on another B-3 parcel. A rezoning to B-3 would make this property compliment the Kinvara property and add to the tax base along with employing more residents of Greene County. The increased traffic by Home Paramount Pest Control, the current tenant, would be minimal.

Home Paramount was represented by Dale Trumbly and told the BOS that the business is a clean industry and has existed since 1939.  Small quantities of pesticides are kept on site and they are under lock and key. Vehicles are periodically inspected, the staff is highly trained and they all are subjected to background checks.

Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) opened the hearing to the public and many residents of Deer Lake were in attendance to speak out – just as they had been at the Planning Commission hearing. The issues brought up by the residents included being concerned about the B-3 zoning that would allow different businesses other than Home Paramount, why is this lot needed to be rezoned to B-3 with plenty of B-3 properties already available in the Ruckersville area, and in 2010 the property was requested to be rezoned from B-1 to B-3 and a compromise of rezoning it to B-2 was adopted – why change? Other residents brought up concerns that their property value may decline if some of the B-3 uses were developed on the property , the 6’ trees being offered to be planted would need to be 40’ in order to block the view from Deer Lake and in 2003 a VDOT study said that the intersection into Deer Lake was near capacity – there have been over 2 dozen homes built since then. With the majority of the property draining toward the lake, there is fear of a chemical leak into the lake. One resident of Deer Lake suggested that the owners of the property have their own access off Route 29 instead of using the turn into Deer Lake. The last speaker was David Holtzman of the Piedmont Environmental Council who stated that this area is what drivers see coming south on Route 29 as the gateway to the Corner Store/Food Lion commercial area. He suggested that design guidelines for this area be developed to enhance this commercial area.

After the close of the comments from the public, Mr. Gentry asked to speak to the BOS. He believed that the cypress plantings would grow quickly and in a few years would block most of the views from Deer Lake.  He felt that the owners of the property have tried to address the concerns of the Planning Commission with the proffers they have offered and this rezone would be good for the residents of Greene County.

Vice Chair Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) asked about the specific chemicals being used and was assured that solid chemicals are used on site but that liquid chemicals are not stored locally or used in Ruckersville. Supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville) listed several questions/concerns that he had – there is already an adequate supply of B-3 in the Ruckersville area and what was the basis of the PC’s denial?

Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) thanked the large turnout – “this is democracy in action”. While he said he is normally pro-business he expressed concerns about the topography of the land requesting the rezone. Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) concurred with Mr. Peyton and Mr. Deane. Finally Chairman Frydl’s comment was that the fact that uses within B-3 are being offered to be eliminated usually means that the parcel doesn’t fit the B-3 category. He had concerns about safety issues and would appreciate the applicant addressing them and then noted that the BOS could approve, deny or defer. At this point Attorney Craig Johnson requested that the BOS defer the request and that the issue be brought back to the Planning Commission in order to address all of the issues brought up. The BOS approved the deferral unanimously.

After the meeting, Mr. Gentry and Mr. Johnson explained that they wanted to ensure what the county would require to have the rezoning approved and felt the deferral back to the Planning Commission was the best way to go forward.

It was clear, had the vote been taken, the application would have been denied by the Board of Supervisors.  The application  has valid points by both sides.  the applicant now will further modify the proposal to determine if after they answer the BOS concerns there is still enough value created to justify moving forward with the modified  B-3 rezoning request.

One other item of note, the BOS welcomed Alan Yost who recently joined County staff as the Economic Development Coordinator.

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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.

Greene Raises Tax Rate to Counter Property Assessment Decline

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

On Tuesday night, April 23rd,  the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard from only 12 speakers, a fraction of citizens that they heard from a year ago (over 90 speakers), in the public hearing on the property tax rate. With property assessments declining 6.99%, a tax rate increase of $.03/$100 would be required to roughly equalize tax revenue – this is the rate that was published in advance. Chairman Jim Frydl clarified that the meeting was only to take action on the tax rate and that setting the budget will be at the May 14th meeting.

The comments from the public overwhelmingly supported the increase to generate level funding. Andrea Whitmarsh, current assistant superintendent who has been named to be the new superintendent, thanked the BOS for public funding for the schools. She vowed to continue to strive for improved cost control in the school system. She announced to the BOS that after the School Board submitted their budget they have learned that health insurance costs will be reduced by $150,000. These funds will be used to reinstate some of the cuts announced to offset reduced state and federal funding (of over $700,000).

School Board Chairperson, Michelle Flynn, thanked the BOS in advance for level funding and for their time spent coming to the schools – all five have attended some event in the school system. She also echoed the Stanardsville Fire Department  who earlier commented on the private fundraising that they do to help fund the schools.

Several citizens did express concern over a tax rate increase and that once a levy is raised it is hard to lower it and that seniors have a hard time making their tax payments. One citizen asked that the county do a zero based budget. He was willing to go along with an increase of $.015/$100 instead of the $.03/$100 proposed. His fear was that increased taxes would deter new businesses from locating in Greene County.

Several of the citizens spoke in favor of the equalized rate and made the comment that this is not raising taxes, but merely to balance out the decline in assessed property valued to generate the same tax revenue – the bill will be the same amount. One citizen encouraged the BOS to equalize taxes to ensure that the quality of life is maintained in Greene County to attract businesses to the county.

The meeting then turned to a discussion among the supervisors. Supervisor Davis Lamb referred to a study he found on line that indicated that in the past decade funding for schools has increased faster than enrollment. He indicated he was not in favor of increasing the property tax rate as Social Security COLA is increasing only 1.4%  and Medicare Part B has a 9.3% increase. Supervisor Buggs Peyton also did not support the tax rate increase since the schools received their largest increase ever last year. He expressed concern over the funding the past two years of athletic facilities instead of academics. He also expressed concern that it is time to stop bullying and intimidation and promote collaboration within the schools. Lastly, he indicated that to meet all the needs of Greene County the tax rate would need to be at $.85/$100.

Supervisor Eddie Deane, the supervisor who proposed the $.72/$100 tax rate, believes that the increase will help avoid a larger increase in the future. He appreciates the transparency with the school system. When a more detailed budget by line item was requested, it was presented the next day. He does not want more people in the schools to lose their jobs. He also suggested that the county look into citizens being able to pay more than their tax bill and identify what function it should be assigned to.

Supervisor David Cox appreciated the comments from the public and applauded them for being respectful this evening. And also he complimented the School Board for being open during the school year. He also supported the $.72/$100 tax rate to help offset problems down the road.

Chairman Jim Frydl was last to speak and he also thanked the audience for attending. He also stated that the county has underspent by $979,000 to date. He agreed with Supervisors Dean and Cox that the alternative to raising the tax rate is to put our head in the sand. He indicated that the School System is not asking for increased funding, but for level funding. With that being said, they are already having to eliminate 22.5 positions due to reduced state and federal funding. He supports the $.72/$100 equalized tax rate which would charge residents the same amount as last year.

Supervisor Lamb said that some of the positions being eliminated are due to people leaving the school system. Supervisor Dean indicated that the lack of sale of EDU’s has caused the county to bear the full cost of the water and sewer system. Supervisor Frydl agreed stating that any units sold at the $10,000 rate will help offset the $2,000,000 cost which is the worst case.

At that time Chairman Frydl summarized each supervisors position with 3 supporting the $.72 rate and 2 supporting maintaining the $.69 rate. David Cox proposed the motion for the $.72 rate with Eddie Deane seconding the motion. Peyton and Lamb voted no and Frydl, Deane and Cox voted in favor of the equalized rate.

The Free Enterprise Forum commends the citizens of Greene County for their behavior during the meeting, quite a difference from a year ago. The vote to equalize the tax rate will allow Greene County to replenish their Reserve Fund which has proven to allow the county to address major financial issues.

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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 www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Fluvanna Supervisors Discuss Economic Development in Zion Crossroads

By. Bryan Rothamel

The talk of Fluvanna County since the 1990s has been economic development. Finally, Fluvanna is starting to make concrete steps towards actually seeing the long discussed economic development.

During the April 3 work session, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors heard staff updates on many topics including economic development and a Zion Crossroad update.

open for business“We need economic development because we have to find another way to pay for the services we do need in this county — including schools, education, employees, rescue squad — all those things have to be provided. To put all that burden on the property owners is a pretty heavy burden,” said Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) after the work session.

The director of community planning and development, Bobby Popowicz, told the board of economic projects in the works.

Currently Popowicz is trying to secure and locate a training facility on 750 total acres with 100 usable acres (building footprint, etc.) of the facility. The building would be buffered and hidden by trees.

Also, he is working with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Fluvanna County Cooperative Extension to find Fluvanna grape growers and land suitable for the regional demand of wine grapes.

Part of this work is including Fluvanna in the Monticello American Viticultural Area for local wineries to buy Fluvanna grapes.

Popowicz biggest focus is bringing an employment center or ‘legacy project’ to Fluvanna. A legacy project is the centerpiece of a major development. It provides a development with a strong nucleus for retail and residential to surround.

Popowicz is targeting a medical facility and a federal research company. One federal contractor he has talked with isn’t looking to expand but did offer to recommend Fluvanna for other companies entering the Central Virginia market.

Finally, Popowicz was approached by his Albemarle counterpart about the possibility of a megasite in the Route 250 Corridor. Such a site would involve a revenue sharing program but would allow both counties to add jobs with easy access to Interstate 64.

This past year Popowicz has worked on getting Fluvanna’s recognition amongst state and local economic development leaders. It has started to pay off with such officials. Popowicz hopes to encourage business expanding in the region to move to Zion Crossroad.

“Water to Zion Crossroads, probably the most important thing we can do,” said Popowicz to the board.

Fluvanna BOS Chair Shaun Kenney

Fluvanna BOS Chair Shaun Kenney

Chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) said after the meeting, “There are still a lot of hurdles we have to clear: we have to get water to Zion Crossroads, we have to get broadband to Zion Crossroads, we have to get sewer to Zion Crossroads. Even when you get all that there, what comes after and in what way?”

The planning department is working on that. Allyson Finchum, director of planning, briefed the board on a Zion Crossroad plan following Popowicz’s presentation.

The Zion Crossroad area has had 10 studies or plans mentioning the area in the last 15 years. Now the county needs one plan for the area and the area only. It could be used in conjunction with the Fluvanna Comprehensive Plan, but one dedicated to the area will help Popowicz match businesses to the county’s plans.

The Virginia Employment Commission, the gold standard in population projection in Virginia, projected Fluvanna’s population will increase to 37,433 by 2020 and 47,010 by 2030. In 2010, Fluvanna had 25,691 residents.

The Zion Crossroad urban development area couldzion map have 11,000 to 21,000 new residents over the next 10 to 20 years. The amount of acreage using the rural and suburban density method would require 11,041 to 25,186 acres to accommodate. The traditional neighborhood development method would only require 711 to 1,708 acres.

“[Economic development] means a lot of things. You are going to have to bring in more people but you want to bring in the right businesses to have a sustainable economy,” said Chesser.

By planning to use a traditional neighborhood development, Fluvanna would have to plan for village like developments where employment, retail and residential are in walking distance. It requires legacy projects that Popowicz is actively recruiting.

“There is a quick temptation to building out very quickly which is box stores and townhomes. If you end up doing it that way, sure there is a great short-term benefit, it feels good in the short term.

“But in 15 years, when those box stores go empty and the townhomes degrade, then at what type of condition are you at? This is making sure we do it properly, we do it smart, we do it according to a plan. It is absolutely critical. If we go for the sugar high, we are going to kill ourselves long term. We only have one chance to build out Zion Crossroads right,” said Kenney.

Zion Crossroad actually could set up quite nicely for a traditional neighborhood development. Of the 6,016 total acres in the Route 250 corridor, 3,196 acres are developed. That leaves 2,820 acres undeveloped. There are also pretty well connected areas of undeveloped land.

What comes of it is now for a master plan.

A lot of the discussion around Zion Crossroad is similar to how Short Pump was discussed years ago. That isn’t something Chesser sees as a perfect solution because of the congestion that plagues the area.

He does like elements and basic design of Stonefield in Charlottesville. Stonefield incorporates retail and residential while surrounding Sperry Marine – Northrop Grumman.

“If you can put shopping center behind trees but still have viable businesses like, some of these larger consulting companies. You can even have a manufacturing company out there because manufacturing is so much more aggressive and high tech,” said Chesser.

While the idea of making a master plan seems like another study in the process, Kenney insists this is different. During the work session he credited Crozet having a master plan that helped spark development.

“It is not another study to a study. What this is, at this point in time we’ve collected the data, we know we have an opportunity there, how are we going to seize that opportunity? That’s the difference between now and then,” said Kenney.

The supervisors hope to make decisions on water infrastructure and start a master plan in the coming months.

“We can talk about what we want up there and put a picture for people to see. Hopefully, by showing [a plan], by us invest in that area, someone will come and do the right job. There are some great developers out there that have done things across the country,” said Chesser.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

bryan-rothamel

Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at www.Flucoblog.com

Population Growth Report or Manifesto?

By. Neil Williamson, President

This morning’s Daily Progress included an article outlining a report written by Craig Evans considering the fiscal costs and benefits of growth.  This report is underwritten by a local population control advocacy group, Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP).  The Free Enterprise Forum was contacted by the paper and asked to provide comment.  Brian Wheeler quotes us accurately in the well written article.  Below is the entirety of our statement on the issue of this troubled “report”.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the Evans report while seemingly accurate in its limited financial analysis fails to recognize the indirect, but calculable, economic benefits of population expansion. The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned the “Counting the Costs and Benefits of Growth Analysis” report by Craig Evans is flawed in design and unfairly prejudiced in its analysis and conclusions.

Much of the Evans report reads significantly more like a political manifesto rather than an academic thesis. Using such terms as “Race to the Bottom” and describing developers as “Speculative Enterprises” do not add to the academic credibility of the report and fails to recognize developers as the very businesses who take the financial risk to bring the community’s comprehensive plan to life.

Taken at face value, the Evans report indicates that the County and City lose roughly $.25 for every dollar collected in residential tax revenue. In FY2011, the City posted a $3.8 Million dollar surplus. How is that possible?

According to NBC29, “The [FY2011] surplus came from a couple of different places. First, the city saved money during the last fiscal year when expenses came in $2.9 million under budget. On top of that, the city collected $900,000 more revenue than expected in 2012 – largely from a spike in sales, meals and lodging taxes”. Only by recognizing the indirect benefit of and important symbiotic relationship between population and revenue producing commercial activities can you reconcile this anomaly.

The Evans report fails to calculate the considerable value of population to economic vitality. It is established that “Retail follows Rooftops” and revenue follows retail. One need only look to Greene County’s recent increase in retail square footage that followed the residential expansion. In addition the retail sales tax local option has increased exponentially in Greene County since the establishment of the retail centers.

In its most telling omission, the Evans Report fails to recognize that every locality in the state must produce a balanced budget. Property Taxes are set by elected officials after consideration of ALL revenue sources. While the property taxes generated by individual homeowners may not cover Evans cost calculations, these same citizens generate the economic activity [sales tax, commercial tax, machine/tool taxes] that allows the locality to keep property taxes lower because of commercial activity.

One thrust of the Evans report is that growth comes with costs. Taken in isolation this is a true statement but when one considers the economic opportunities and advancements such growth also provides.

The Evans report cites Loudoun County as an example of rampant growth and it is true their government spending has accelerated significantly to meet the needs of their community. At one point Loudoun was building a high school a year to keep up with growth in student population. Late last year, Loudoun County was named by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey as the county with the highest median income per household in the nation. With a median income of more than $119,000, Loudoun households generate almost twice the income than Albemarle households. Yes, there is a cost to growth but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Paraphrasing Aaron Levenstein, “Statistics are like bikinis. While what they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital”.

Respectfully Submitted

Neil Williamson, President

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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.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Albemarle Light Industrial Land Shortage?

The Albemarle County Planing Commission had scheduled a work session on last Tuesday evening (July 23, 2008) to discuss the Comprehensive Plan Economic Policy Update regarding Available, Affordable Light Industrial Land.  This discussion was postponed one week (to July 30) by the commission due to a lack of attendance by Planning Commissioners.

Light Industrial zoning is generally referred to as allowing industrial, office and limited commercial uses (no residential). Light industrial users are varied and include bio-tech companies, defense contractors, food processors, equipment manufacturer, as well as service providers such as kennels, natural gas storage, auto body shop, waste management, contractor storage for excavation equipment, etc.

The staff report, written by Albemarle County Business Development Facilitator Susan Stimart, quantifies the projected need for Light Industrial (LI) Zoned land by existing Albemarle County businesses over the next twenty years.  The report indicates:

Gathering 2006 employment by NAIC [North American Industrial Classification] codes typically found in LI, staff estimates current space using an average of 500SF [square feet] per employee, or a baseline consumption of between 454 and 672 acres.  Based in growth trends of 3.5% annual growth [business growth not population-nw] and our desire to provide for local business expansion, this employment base is likely to double in the next 20 years, or a projected total consumption of between 908 and 1,345 acres.  Taking out the 694 acres already developed and 333 vacant acres, this would result in a future shortage ranging from 121 to 339 acres.

It is important to note this demand analysis was prepared using data only reflective of existing business growth not new companies moving into Albemarle County.

The report correctly identifies a number of rezonings over the last few years (Hollymead Towncenter, Willoughby/Fifth Street, Albemarle Place) that have reduced the inventory of Industrial Service designated land.  It also mentions the recent plant closings (Badger, Avionic Specialties) have created a “bump” in vacant developed LI property.   

While it is hard to imagine a basic industrial user developing the land that is now Target/Harris Teeter it is easier to imagine a turn key operation moving into the Badger or Avionics plant.  

Beyond the large manufacturer, many Albemarle County home operated small businesses (landscaping, hauling, etc.) are being forced out of their home occupation status as their businesses grow.  In recent years, we have seen more and more of these businesses choosing to pull their equipment (and tax revenue) across the county line into neighboring, more business friendly jurisdictions.    

The Albemarle County Planning Commission accepted public comment prior to deferring the topic on Tuesday evening.  The philosophical question the Free Enterprise Forum posed was “Does Industrial Service belong in your growth area?  and How do you deal with the ever present conflicts between Industrial Service and residential uses?”

The staff report framed the discussion along three options:

1.  As a part of Master Plan process, designate and proactively re-zone additional areas into development areas to LI uses.

2. Modify the Zoning code as regards allowed uses in the LI and other zoning districts

3.  Increase land available for industrial purposes through modification of allowances outside Development Area boundaries or expansion of Development Area boundaries.

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?

Economic Development Role of Government

In the general, most folks are in favor of economic development as a concept.  The idea of increasing business revenues (and thus relieving some of the homeowner tax burden) is very close to apple pie on the political spectrum.  The difficulty comes in when one starts to discuss what economic development looks like.

Should local economic development activities be restricted to business retention?  If we fail to retain even some existing businesses, shouldn’t we have a plan for attracting new “replacement” enterprises? 

Two years ago, there was a thirty minute discussion at the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the proper title for a new position in the county charged with business vitality – especially in the growth areas.  There was significant reluctance on the board to call this position an Economic Development officer, in the end they determined a business facilitator would better suit the duties of the position.

Next week, Susan Stimart, Albemarle County’s business facilitator will start work sessions with the Planning Commission on the Economic Development chapter of their comprehensive plan.  Buried in the text of the 50+ page chapter of the comp plan are significant decisions for the Planning Commission regarding the need for larger tracts of light industrial land the related exodus of small vibrant service companies from Albemarle County.

One question The Free Enterprise Forum routinely asks regards the proper function of government (if any) in a market segment.  At this time when both Greene and Fluvanna are updating their comprehensive plans and Albemarle is working on their Economic Development chapter, it is approriate to look at where government should and should not interceed.

The economic development environment is directly tied to the quality of life of the citizens.  Rather than looking toward a single large employer to woo to your locality, the Free Enterprise Forum believes government should focus on making business/government interaction minimally invasive and highly efficent.  In addition, government should regularly work with business as members of the Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development and other civic activities.  

Business must be a partner in this process as well.  Our region’s businesses have regularly pulled together to improve the quality of life of our residents (who are their employees and customers).  Business must work to have a seat at the table for discussions of local issues and be a strong voice for the importance of economic vitality. 

Perhaps the toughest thing for some government and quasi-government practitioners of economic development to understand is many businesses want to be good citizens and want government to simply  get out of the way.  Too often, localities layer ordinance on top of ordinance without recognizing the increase cost of complexity they are passing on to the businesses charged with complience.  If each locality required a cost/benefit analysis of each new regulation and a clear understanding of who is paying the cost (and the impact on that business), this would go a long way to building the economic vitality of the locality and the region.