Tag Archives: proffers

Albemarle’s Persistently Procrastinating Proffer Policy Process

By. Neil Williamson, President

peanuts-lucy-charlie-brown-football-2One item on tomorrow’s (10/5) Albemarle County Board of Supervisors agenda caught my eye,  Residential Development Impact Work Group Charter. This group is being charged with a very specific task regarding the calculation of cash proffers in light of the new (7/1/16) state code.

The Residential Development Impact Work Group is formed by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to understand recent State Code amendments regarding proffers and to develop and analyze alternative means for determining and addressing the fiscal impact of residential development allowed either by-right or subsequent to a rezoning.

The Work Group will also provide a recommendation on how to proceed with addressing fiscal impacts of residential development.

Wait a minute, didn’t we just go through a laborious 18 month process similar to this with the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee?

That group provided a report to the Planning Commission who chose to pass it up to the Board of Supervisors who decided not discuss it because their process had taken so long that the state code was changing again.  This collective inaction led to this year’s Groundhog Day post.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so darn typical.  While Albemarle continues to ponder and process “an understanding of recent State Code amendments”, other localities have read the state code as a directive and taken action.  Such action may boost economic activity.

Markus Schmidt of The Richmond Times Dispatch reports on last week’s action in Chesterfield County:

In a move expected to boost revitalization in several areas of the county, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved a policy that lowers a fee developers pay when building homes.

These so-called cash proffers are per-home fees imposed by the county to offset public infrastructure demands that additional families create when developments are built.

The new policy cuts the proffer amount, a maximum of $18,966 per dwelling unit — the highest in the region — roughly in half to a $9,400 maximum.

The board’s decision marks the first time the amount has been lowered since the county adopted its cash proffer policy in 1989.

Board Chairman Steve A. Elswick of the Matoaca District said the policy change will not affect the county’s tax rate.

“There will be no tax rate increase, and this policy will not allow for bad zoning to move forward,” he said.

Why is it that in Albemarle, a county often recognized for its expansive, veteran Community Development staff, state law can’t be followed?

This is far from the first time the Free Enterprise Forum has raised this issue.

Albemarle PC Chooses to Ignore State Law, Again

WarGames and Albemarle’s Proffer Paradox

Albemarle Planning Commission Tells Supervisors To Violate State Law

Albemarle’s Persistent Proffer Procrastination

Albemarle’s Mad Hatter Paradoxical Proffer Policy

lucyandcharliebrownandthefootballConsidering Albemarle’s well staffed legal department, I guess it is a given that they continue to find “legal” ways to ignore state code.  Absent a willing “aggrieved party” to test their tenuous position in court, I anticipate they will continue to hold meetings staff task forces and do nothing to encourage development in the development areas.

Why did I expect anything different?

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson

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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 Credits: Charles Schultz

WarGames and Albemarle’s Proffer Paradox

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL  (adapted from Comments to the Albemarle County Planning Commission May 24)

By. Neil Williamson, President

war-games1Tonight, you will be hearing from newly appointed County Attorney Greg Kamptner regarding the Virginia State Code changes and how this will impact your ability to calculate, collect and legally defend the use of so called “voluntary” proffers in the future.

The entire exercise reminds me  of the penultimate scene in the 1983 move WarGames (more on that later).

To be clear, despite being on your agenda, the Free Enterprise Forum does not believe this issue is within your areas of expertise and we believe you are being used by the Board of Supervisors for political cover.

The Free Enterprise Forum has long contended that cash proffers are nothing more than a “Welcome  Stranger Tax” that provides an unreliable and relatively insignificant revenue source for infrastructure capacity improvement.  While we actively supported the new legislation, we continue to believe the elimination of cash proffers is good public policy and good fiscal policy.

Katherine Hafner of The Virginian-Pilot has a good wrap up of the new legislation which goes into effect July 1st.

Introduced by Sens. Mark Obenshain, R- Harrisonburg, and Richard Saslaw, D- Fairfax County, the legislation prohibits localities from asking for proffers deemed “unreasonable” or not directly related to the impacts of a development itself.

The state proffer system, enacted in the mid-1970s, started with modest goals, allowing landowners to chip in for road improvements and the like when new homes appeared likely to strain city services.

The system has evolved into a form of taxation on the industry and new homeowners, said Mike Toalson, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Virginia.

“The bill was brought forward to rebalance it back to a system that would make it more fair,” said Toalson, who worked with legislators.

The law stipulates that developers should offer money or improvements only for impacts “specifically attributable” to their projects.

The proffers are also now restricted to core public facilities such as schools or sewer systems. Toalson said his association saw some cities extract money from developers for unrelated, offsite enterprises such as retirement homes.

“We’re not going to be the bank anymore for whatever you might want within your capital improvements program,” he said.

As you can see from your Capital Improvement Plan Public Hearing this evening,  Albemarle County has failed to maintain the concurrence of infrastructure needed to support its existing population.  This failure is not the result of newly rezoned property but is in fact due to a lack of a political will to spend the money required to enact the vision stated in your much vaunted Comprehensive Plan.

Despite having no budgetary control, this Planning Commission has often raised concerns regarding the amount of work being placed on limited staff resources.  Mr. Lafferty, in particular, has raised this issue in many of your discussions.

Reading the new proffer legislation, we believe it would be irresponsible for Albemarle staff to move forward without a determination of the total staff cost associated with the calculation, collection and defense of the cash proffer policy for each and every rezoning.  The Proffer Paradox is that the likely revenue generated from a standard size rezoning in Albemarle County will be exceeded by the staff costs associated with obtaining the proffer.

WarGames-are we still playingThis is where WarGames comes in.

In the climactic scene, where a rouge computer is running all the models for thermonuclear war, as it is quickly decoding the numbers needed to launch the missiles – it determines that the only way to win is not to play – will Albemarle be smart enough to see this as the solution to their cash proffer policy? Or will the potentially empty proffer piggy bank be too alluring to refuse?

Stay Tuned.

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: MGM

Albemarle PC Chooses to Ignore State Law, Again

By. Neil Williamson, President

go-to-jail-photo-credit-myanimelist.net_.jpgIn tonight’s (4/26) Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting the commissioners again voted that their opinion on Cash Proffers was more important than state law (and the staff opinion).  And this wasn’t even the first time this year that they made such a vote (Albemarle Planning Commission Tells Supervisors To Violate State Law)

Add to this “fun house of mirrors” that this very same Planning Commission voted 5 – 0 on a Resolution of Intent to consider amending the Comprehensive Plan by repealing the Cash Proffer Policy.  This issue will come to the Planning Commission as a public hearing on May 10th.

I’d like to be able to explain all of this — but I am at a loss.

As a reminder what is at stake is a reduction of cash proffer of ~$15,000 per single family home in rezoned residential housing.

Here is the justification the Planning Commission made to support their first arrogant state code violating vote in February:

By a vote of 7:0, the Planning Commission recommends denial of ZMA-2015-09 Spring Hill Village Proffer Amendment for the following reasons:

1. Some reduction in cash proffer amounts may be in order based on looking at the school enrollments and capacities; but, the Commission at this point does not know what the reduced amount would be.
2. The recommendation of the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee (FIAC) of this reduced amount has not yet been fully analyzed by the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors; and, the additional information is still needed that was requested a number of weeks ago.
3. A full analysis should be conducted of the actual costs to the county of going forward with this development, and
4. The Board of Supervisors should set a new proffer policy, not use this project to set a precedent, and possibly consider repealing the current cash proffer policy while that is undertaken.

#2 is perhaps the most outlandish of these.  The proffer change was driven by a 2013 change in state code.  A full three years late Albemarle still has not obtained “the additional information still needed that was requested a number of weeks ago”?????  Based on this logic, the applicant is being punished because Albemarle County did not do their job.

In the meeting, the commissioners discussion started with school impacts and Commissioner Mac Lafferty again stated his belief that the action should go directly to the Board rather than the Planning Commission.  The Free Enterprise Forum agrees with Lafferty’s position.

Commissioner Bruce Dotson suggested the applicant, who is selling product at $600,000+, can afford the proffer.  The applicant indicated they can afford it but told the commission the previous proffer amount is now in violation of State law. The Free Enterprise Forum believes the fact that a project can afford it is not germane to the argument.

Tonight’s vote was unanimous 7-0 to recommend denial of the cash proffer amendment.

The repetitive arrogance of the Albemarle County Planning Commission to determine they are above the Code of Virginia is astounding.

Remembering the Planning Commission is merely advisory to the Board of Supervisors, the true question is will the current Board of Supervisors also choose to willfully violate state law?

Only time will tell.

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.

Albemarle PC – “I Got You Babe”

By. Neil Williamson, President

Groundhog Day PosterWhile being nowhere near as funny (or good looking) as Actor Bill Murray, I must say that thanks to cash proffer inaction by  Albemarle County, I can closely identify with one of his more famous roles.

Please let me explain.

In the seminal 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s weatherman character, Phil Connors, wakes up every day in the same small Pennsylvania hotel to the same song by Sonny and Cher – “I Got You Babe”.

Regardless of what occurs the day that follow – literally no matter what he does,  every morning is the same — Murray is magically transported back to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and the alarm clock’s warning on Groundhog Day.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

In January 2013, the Free Enterprise Forum commissioned the Contradictory Consequences study that showed how cash proffers were causing residential projects to move forward by right rather than rezoning along the lines of the Comprehensive Plan.  The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors asked us to present the paper to the Board in May.  Nothing happened.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

In 2014, the Virginia passed a law that restricted localities to only murray groundhoginclude infrastructure projects that increased capacity in their cash proffer calculations.  Surely this will prompt significant action in Albemarle.  In September, the Supervisors sent the issue to the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee (FIAC) for their review. Nothing happened.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

A full year, and 18 meetings, later (September 2015) the Committee forwarded their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. Over the Fall and early winter, the Free Enterprise Forum spoke in six different public meetings in the following three months admonishing Albemarle to make the changes demanded by state code.

For months, there was no action.  But then in November, a glimmer of light, the Chair of the BOS told me it would be on their December agenda.

It was on the December BOS agenda, as an information item that the FIAC report was being sent to the Planning Commission for their review. Nothing happened.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

Last week, the Planning Commission (with several new members) took up the issue and decided [despite having a subcommittee study it for 18 meetings] they did not have enough information to make a decision and that since the General Assembly is considering additional proffer reform this session, maybe they should just wait.  In the meantime, let’s work on our Fantasy Island CIP. Nothing happened.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

So tonight, just as Phil Connors gave his forecast every morning,  the Free Enterprise Forum will again ask Albemarle County to follow state law and reform their “voluntary cash proffer policy”.  I am pretty sure I know what their redundant response will be.groundhog day 1993

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of the same old song out of Albemarle.

But just like Phil Connors, I don’t know when it will possibly get better.

[HER:] They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
[HIM:] Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
[HIM:] Babe
[BOTH:] I got you babe I got you babe

[HER:] They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
[HIM:] I guess that’s so, we don’t have a pot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got

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, Columbia Pictures

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

Adapted from Comments to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors regarding Housing Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan September 9, 2014.

My name is Neil Williamson and I serve as the President of the Free Enterprise Forum  a privately funded public policy organization covering local government in Charlottesville and the surrounding localities.

Tonight you might be discussing the Housing Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. Internal to this chapter is one of the most baffling policies of Albemarle County – the affordable housing proffer. I have passed out a recent Richmond Times Dispatch article questioning the rationale and nexus of cash proffers Are Proffers on Shaky Ground?.

For all residential rezonings, Albemarle currently requires 15% of the new units be affordable. This is on top of the $20,000+ per Single Family Unit Cash Proffer.

The affordable housing proffer ultimately results in 85% of all new units to be less affordable. By making the majority of the new houses more expensive, you have harmed overall housing affordability. Only in Albemarle do you make things more affordable by making them more expensive.

According to the Draft Chapter:

Albemarle County’s Affordable Housing is defined as houses affordable to households not exceeding 80% of the area median income.  At present an “affordable” sales price for a home is $211,250 for a family of four paying 30% of their income for housing costs.  Approximately 40% of the households in Albemarle have incomes at 80% of the median or lower.

Those buyers who acquire the “affordable” units are effectively lottery winners. Their neighbors have subsidized their purchase and when they choose to sell, there is nothing that keeps that home affordable and the buyers gain the windfall. As noted on Page 9.13 “If Albemarle County is to have affordable housing stock, it must find a way to make sure the affordable units stay affordable.

Why does it fall on new home buyers to “solve” the affordable housing inventory issue?

To date as a result of rezonings,  approximately 1,200 affordable units have been “voluntarily” proffered (100 have been built).  In addition, approximately $1.6 Million Dollars have been “voluntarily” proffered as cash-in-lieu of units.

If this is a community issue, why isn’t the community equally invested?

The reality is due to the myriad of regulations, codes of development, $20,000 per single family home cash proffers, mandated sidewalks, street trees, water and sewer hookup fees – new housing stock is perhaps the worst place to try and create (and maintain) affordable housing.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes adaptive reuse and refurbishment of existing housing stock would be a much more cost effective method to increase affordable housing. Further study should be done regarding financial vehicles that allow the property to remain at market value and the loan to be modified – such work might go a long way in keeping housing affordable – The Housing Trust model is one such vehicle.

In addition, we do not believe this chapter adequately addresses the significant impact of rental units on the market. Affordable housing does not have to be affordable housing ownership.

We encourage you to pursue code changes to allow more flexibility for accessory units in the development areas and to allow residential dependencies in the rural areas. While the latter may seem to contradict your goal of moving development into the development areas, it is a reality that eliminating the land cost for a second residence on a 21+ acre parcel dramatically impacts the cost of the home.

We applaud the attention paid to reducing or eliminating minimum lot sizes in the development areas.  We encourage the continued review of setbacks to further maximize land in the development area for development.

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not raise issue with Strategy 6d regarding increased staffing. Just as in the other chapters, staffing levels should be an operational decision by the Board of Supervisors and not a line item in a Comprehensive Plan.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment

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

Greene Gets Proffers for Interconnectivity

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At the Greene Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, July 22nd the deal was finalized for new proffers to provide vehicular interconnectivity in front of Deer Lake and behind the Food Lion shopping center.

kinvara-sat-image.jpgKinvara Properties, LLC amended their previously approved proffers proffers from  May 13, 2008. The project is located on  39 acres on the west side of Route 29 from the Food Lion shopping center up to Deer Lake that has requested a PUD (Planned Unit Development) on Cedar Grove Road/Seminole Trail (Route 29)/Buck Drive.

While the total residential density requested did not change from the previous approval, the timing of bringing the units online was slightly altered.   A total of 98 units were requested and a proffer of $9,000 per unit was offered for any units above the 46 units authorized by right – potentially 52 additional units totaling $468,000 in proffers  – for a total of 98 units. The key change in the new proffers was to provide interconnectivity through Buck Drive.

KinvaraStaffReport.pdf

The approved 2007 Master Plan for Deerfield Village

Dick Johnson with Blackwell Engineering  outlined the changes. The main entrance would be at Advance Auto on Deer Field Drive and the need for a stop light will be evaluated. A connecting road from Buck Road to Deer Drive would be constructed triggered either by more residential or 25% commercial construction.

frydlChairman Jim Frydl (Midway District)  asked for clarification about meeting VDOT requirements in the future and was assured that roadways constructed would meet VDOT’s current requirements. Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville District) asked how long the connection between Buck Drive and Deerfield Drive would remain gated and was told it was tied to the commercial development. Attorney Butch Davies and owner Jim Lavin were also present at the meeting.

Frydl explained that this was not a public hearing since one had already been held and this meeting was reviewing changes since that meeting.

Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) clarified that the original proffers were about to expire (after seven years) and new proffers would need to be approved to go forward.

Supervisor Lamb (Ruckersville District) brought up the concern ofdavis_lamb increased traffic turning off Route 29 south into the Advance Auto entrance. Bart Svoboda, Zoning Administrator/Planning Director explained that if volumes grow enough, then the crossover to go northbound could be closed and force traffic to the Route 607 stoplight and require northbound traffic to make a U-turn.

Frydl further stated that the Comprehensive Plan  encourages interconnectivity and the opening of the gate will benefit more people than it might harm.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) mentioned that he a lot of feedback from his constituents to follow the vote of the Planning Commission, which was to deny the request. He clarified that in speaking with members of the Planning Commission the issue was the lack of cash proffers caused the Planning Commission to vote no. With the replacement of the cash proffers, he supports the project.  Frydl again brought when the gate would be opened and Svoboda confirmed that construction would happen on the Advance Auto side and would not be opened until the construction was complete.

With no further discussion from the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) proposed that the amended proffers be accepted and the motion passed with a 5-0 vote.

The next item on the agenda was “Matters from the Public” and a resident of Deer Lake stated his disappointment in the decision. He did not want “workforce housing” in his neighborhood.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credits: Greene County

Final Free Enterprise Forum Candidate Question Albemarle’s Proffer Policy

By. Neil Williamson, President

As a part of the Free Enterprise Forum mission to inform the public, we posed five questions to the eight candidates for Albemarle Board of Supervisors.  Other than minor formatting, the candidate answers are reprinted exactly as they responded.  One question will be answered by each of the candidates each day this week. 

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5. Albemarle County has an aggressive cash proffer policy on top of an inclusionary affordable housing mandate that requires 15% of any new development be “affordable”  What is your opinion of these “voluntary” proffers?

Scottsville District

Burket campaignCindi Burket – I think proffers are too high. We should at the very least go back and crunch the numbers that determine the cost of proffers, but should analyze the effect that proffers have on the cost of affordable housing and perhaps the unintended consequences of builders skipping the rezoning process because of the proffer fees. I think we should look at the entire process

dittmar campaignJane Dittmar:   Cash proffers pass through to homeowners or leases of commercial space. When we began using them here in Albemarle County, they were $3,500 per housing unit and now hover around $17,500. For perspective, Fairfax County now charges $35,000. The question that I ask is should all property owners subsidize the cost of growth or should individual projects help defray some of it? We need to study this carefully.

Some have suggested that cash proffers may result in less density than we want in certain projects and others suggest that they may be impacting affordable housing in a negative way. I know of many police, fire, nurses and teachers who can’t afford a home in the County they serve. I will be study this issue if elected to arrive at the most beneficial formula for the county.

Samuel Miller District

Snow campaignDuane Snow: I would hardly call them voluntary. The more proffers required, has the adverse effect of making the house less affordable. However, I do understand the necessity of those that are doing the development and those that are moving here to share in the responsibility to fund the infrastructure that is required.

I believe that we should review the proffer requirements periodically with public input.

Palmer campaignLiz Palmer:  I’m certainly open to suggestions for changes to the proffer policies and system.  However, my history at the Service Authority shows that I favor having “growth pay for growth.”  The fiscal impact analysis is easier to do on additions to a water and sewer system than on the entire spectrum of county responsibilities, I realize.  But a similar policy of shared responsibility for the fiscal impact of new development should direct the proffer system.

Generally, I favor tax or fee systems that are fair and that are uniformly applied so that every developer, for example, knows the rules about affordable housing before he/she considers a development and is certain that every other developer faces the same requirement.  Requirements should be clear and predictable.

Rio District

Sheffield campaignBrad Sheffield: The requirement of affordability has been constantly debated nationally at all levels of court. I am not sure how effective the County’s requirement has been, so I would want to first assess the impacts. Given the down turn of home construction in 2008 and the shift in types of desired developments, I believe we need to take a short term look at the impacts and possibly revise our policy on those findings.

As for “cash proffers,” I can understand both sides of the discussion. I do believe we need to have a serious discussion of proffers. I have worked on many projects related to all types of development fees. There are a lot of other options we could explore. I believe the market for developing homes has shifted significantly. We need to adjust our policies accordingly.Thomas campaign

Rodney Thomas: I personally feel that 15% designated to the affordable housing is fair. By doing this, add more density for the developer.

 

Jack Jouett District

McKeel campaignDiantha McKeel:  Proffers have unintended consequences and I do not believe growth pays entirely for growth, especially in the shorter term. We must support reasonable and smart economic development and take the pressure off property taxes.

We have a need in our community for workforce housing and it is conceivable that creative public private partnerships (proffers) offer a solution. This is an area that is ripe for additional research and study that would include an analysis of best practices in Virginia and around the country. 

This is an important public policy area where a broad diversity of expertise can lead to solutions that solve and not create problems. One approach I strongly favor is to utilize my Common Ground Council, which includes business and community representatives, to discuss how we can best address the need for affordable housing and how public private partnerships can be constructed to meet this vital community need.

seay campaignPhillip Seay: I am still researching this issue. Question if current guidelines define what is equitable or excessive.

Does it adjust to overall economic changes?

Where does this work best? Why used for certain projects and not others?

Can we legally defend using for one but not another? Does it prevent needed economic growth?

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Ballot BoxThe Free Enterprise Forum thanks the candidates for taking the time to provide answers to our Free Enterprise Forum Five. 

The candidates have done their work – now it is up to you the voters.  Please vote on November 5th.

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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

Photo Credits : Candidate Websites, Facebook, Newsplex

Fluvanna PC Considers Revamped Development Plan

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — Debate swirls about the proposed Walker’s Ridge development at the old Rivanna Resort, the alternative is to keep what the Rivanna Resort had planned and approved.

At the May 22 Planning Commission meeting, Justin Shimp, representing the developer, did not add many new specifics of the Walker’s Ridge proposal.  In addition, he did not fully answer some of the questions  by the chairman Barry Bibb. Shimp did provide concepts, but no actuals.

The exchange brought a lot of emotion to the second public comment section.

“You are looking for a disaster,” said resident James Gibson.

Gibson wasn’t alone in those feelings. None of the residents in attendance spoke in support of the Walker’s Ridge plan after the informative meeting.

The development is a proposed rezoning of 232 acres from R-3 to Plan Urban Development. The current zoning allows over 230 units. The proposed zoning change would allow 1,180 residential units with 180,000 square feet of commercial space.

The proposed development would use a series of localized central water and sewer systems. The water would come from a well system with storage tanks, similar design to Fork Union Sanitary District. The sewer system would consist of a drip system to filtrate the used water back into the ground water supply.

“What we propose is to take the water out of the ground and put it back into the ground,” said Shimp, who serves as the civil engineer for the project.

The current zoning status was approved in 2009 for the once proposed ‘The Point at The Rivanna Resort’. The proffers included as a part of that rezoning include:

  • traffic improvements to the road as designated in the 2009 study
  • $50,000 for construction of traffic light at the main entrance if required by VDOT within five years of successful site plan approval
  • restriction of the golf course as a public golf course
  • $5,000 cash proffer per residential unit to be used for the new high school or development of the then-proposed Pleasant Grove Community Center
  • $1,000 cash proffer to the Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation for emergency repairs to low income county residents’ houses
  • provision to provide water and sewer connection for the Palmyra Fire Station
  • provision to provide water and sewer connection for expansion of sewer services in the Fluvanna area
  • various exterior architectural guidelines for both residential and commercial buildings

The water and sewer connection provisions are nearly void because the Palmyra water system could only provide enough water for less than 75 more residential units, per a report by the public works director in the Walker’s Ridge planning documents.

Walker’s Ridge will not use the golf course but have building throughout the property. The plans call for fairways and golf cart paths to be used in calculating trail and open space in the PUD.

The PUD proposals divides the land into 47 percent open space, 35 percent residential and just six percent commercial. The proposed commercial space would be 180,000 square feet.

The proposed residential unit break down is 560 multifamily units, 318 townhomes, 205 single family detached homes and 97 single family attached homes. Proposed amenities include ponds, trails, playground, athletic facilities and possible swimming and fitness facilities.

If Walker’s Ridge does not get approval, the current zoning for what was the Point at The Rivanna Resort would still apply.

Walker’s Ridge could have the Planning Commission public hearing at the next meeting, June 26.

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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

Greene PC Denies Proffer Amendment

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Back in 2008, Kinvara Properties, LLC received approval of their Greene County rezoning on the west side of US29 near its intersection with Cedar Grove Road (Route 607).  As a part of the rezoning, a series of voluntary proffers were offered by the developer and accepted by Greene County.   On Wednesday, May 15th Kinerva returned to the Greene County Planning Commission  to request to amendment of the proffers including interconnectivity and removal of the cash proffers 

Attorney Butch Davies spoke on behalf of the request and indicated that Kinvara has a party, Jeana Server, interested in purchasing the property if it included passage from Deer Lake Estates to the Food Lion shopping center and the elimination of cash proffers. Mr. Davies indicated that the buyer would not make the purchase without these conditions.

After hearing from the applicant, the commission opened the public hearing. Chad Womack, a resident in Deer Lake Estates, stated that the residents did not want connectivity to the Food Lion shopping center. Ed Mahoney echoed Mr. Womack’s concern and suggested that a traffic light be installed on Route 29 at the Deer Lake entrance.

Jenna Server, the prospective buyer, said that the $9,000 cash proffer  that was a part of the 2008 rezoning, was not economically feasible given the market study she recently had performed.

Matt Straus, a resident of the Willow Creek subdivision, urged the Planning Commission not to bail out the developer by waiving the cash proffer at the expense of having the residents in Greene County bear this cost. Brian Higgins from the Piedmont Environmental Council asked that the Planning Commission not start a trend of waiving cash proffers. One speaker did speak in favor of the amendment stating it would be good for business in a down economy.

The final speaker was Carl Schmitt, former Greene County supervisor, who helped develop the Cash Proffer policy. He asked the commission not to allow the amendment and to keep the Cash Proffer policy in effect.

The Planning Commission then closed the public hearing and opened their discussion of the request. Vice Chairman Jay Willer indicated he had some concerns about the proffer policy itself, but as for this specific request, he felt there should not be a modification to the proffer policy. Chairman Anthony Herring Joel Snow stated that while he is a businessman and had sympathy with the request he did not support waiving the Cash Proffer. The remaining three commissioners were all in agreement and the vote was unanimous 5 – 0 to deny the rezoning application.

Earlier this Spring, the Free Enterprise Forum issued a white paper ‘Contradictory Consequencesregarding the impacts of cash proffers on development projects. While we do not take a position on any project, the Free Enterprise Forum believes the testimony supports that cash proffers are one (not the only) factor in the market viability of this specific project.

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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

Greene Supervisors Fail to Approve Proffer Changes for Greenecroft Developer

By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer

Despite the Greene County  Planning Commission’s unanimous decision in December to recommend approval of Ted Corp, Inc./Greenecroft LLC’s request to amend proffers for their nearly 24-acre tract Planned Unit Development (PUD), the new Board of Supervisors voted against the amendment at its meeting on February 14. Once again the argument for and against more rooftops in Greene took over at a public hearing, ending with tough news for the developer, who was hoping for greater flexibility in the use and design of a commercial property located on Route 33 West.

The proffers the Board had approved in July 2004 required the development to consist of a maximum of 21, one-acre commercial parcels. Rob Lynch, manager of Ted Corp, Inc./Greenecroft LLC, argued that, because of the amount of commercial space now available, this requirement has created a hindrance by not allowing the market to dictate the size of the parcels. “I would love to do more commercial, but there’s already a lot of unused commercial space in Ruckersville,” Lynch said, as he explained his request for more flexibility in being able to reduce the size of the lots and build townhomes as well while maintaining 30-percent commercial use. Although the planning commissioners had agreed that the mixed-use PUD was a good model for Greene, a majority of supervisors and some residents saw it differently.

Residents who were not in favor of this change expressed concerns about future water shortages, the impact that additional homes would have on the schools and fire and rescue services, and the amount of cash proffers being offered. However, most residents of Greenecroft and the Four Seasons subdivisions spoke very favorably of Ted Corp, Inc., as a conscientious and trustworthy developer. “This developer has been a class act in the three years I’ve been here,” said Greenecroft resident Mark Sanford, who saw this as an “attractive proposal. I believe we can trust what the developer will do.”

Greene business owners like Vic Shaff, who also resides in Greene, spoke in favor of the amendment, noting, “We need these rooftops,” and with townhomes shown to bring in “40 percent fewer kids, changing proffers makes sense.”

Supervisors Jim Frydl (Midway) and Eddie Deane (at-large) agreed and favored the amendment. “The whole point of a PUD is to meet the market,” Frydl said, adding that flexibility is needed in areas that the county’s comprehensive plan has determined to be growth areas. From the standpoint of calculating cash proffers for townhomes, Frydl said the calculation made sense, and noted there is a lack of this type of housing in Greene – an indication that townhomes would be a favorable addition.

But Chairman Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) and new supervisors Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) and David Cox (Monroe) voted against the request for various reasons, including concerns residents had addressed, such as a perceived increased need for sheriff, fire, and rescue services and a potential water shortage. Peyton seemed particularly concerned about changing the amount of cash proffers. “I don’t agree we should reduce proffers under any circumstances,” he told the board. As a result, they denied the developer’s request 3-2.

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Pauline Hovey 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