Tag Archives: TJPDC

Greene Supervisors Hears Five Year Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

It makes good common sense to hope for the best but plan for the worst.  For Virginia localities it is more than common sense, it is mandated by state law.clip_image002

In response to this requirement, Billie Campbell, Senior Program Manager, and Wood Hudson, Planning Manager, of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission  addressed the Greene County Board of Supervisors at their first meeting of October (10/10). They presented a draft of the 2017 Update of the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan . The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 set out requirements for State and local governments to update their plans every five (5) years.

clip_image005The purpose of plan is prepare for natural disasters before they occur and it covers all jurisdictions in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District – Albemarle County,  the City of Charlottesville, Greene County, Louisa CountyFluvanna County, Nelson County, and the towns of Scottsville, Stanardsville, Louisa and Mineral. The first plan was approved in 2006, then in 2012 and it is now due to be updated by December 17, 2017.

In August a draft of Regional HMP was submitted to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) who will then forward it to FEMA for their review and comments and once they have approved it, each jurisdiction must adopt the plan.

According to the draft plan:

Natural hazards tend to be low-probability, high-impact events. One year could be mild with natural
events scarcely interrupting communities, while the next could be literally disastrous. The purpose of hazard mitigation is to make an effort to minimize the damage and loss of life caused by disasters when they do occur. Hazard mitigation is one component, along with emergency response and post-disaster recovery, to the larger strategy of dealing with the human impacts of natural hazard

With more people living in areas susceptible to natural hazards, the costs associated with such hazards have been steadily increasing over time. The localities of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District (the Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, and Nelson, the City of Charlottesville, and the Towns of Scottsville, Columbia, Stanardsville, Louisa, and Mineral) are impacted by variety of different hazards. In order to lessen the growing cost of disaster recovery on the localities and minimize the disruption of business during a disaster, there is a growing need to mitigate the impact of known hazards. Through proper planning and the implementation of policies and projects identified in this Hazard Mitigation Plan, the region and the localities can reduce the likelihood that these events will result in costly disasters.

The Hazard Identification and Analysis section of the plan describes natural hazards which pose the greatest threat to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District. Hazards are profiled in terms of prevalence, intensity, and geographical scope. The section includes a description of the hazard as well as analysis based upon historical and scientific data.

The specific areas of the plan are:

        1. flooding and dam failure
        2. winter weather
        3. wildfire
        4. temperature extremes, drought and landslides, and
        5. tornado and earthquakes.

The plan calculates a risk factor for each event within the TJPDC study area.

Hazard-Mitigation_full_doc

Within each category are specific actions recommended to be taken that include describing the hazard, potential mitigation, lead responsible entity, estimated cost, funding method and the time period of the issue.

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Campbell asked that the Board consider making the resolution supporting the plan. All of the supervisors supported the plan but wanted to wait until the second board meeting of the month to allow time for them to review the proposal. The request was deferred until the October 24, 2017 meeting and it is hoped that the Supervisors will approve the resolution at that time.

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

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VDOT’s SmartScale Funding Deadline Accelerates Local Land Use Planning

By. Neil Williamson, President

“Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.” – English Poet Samuel Johnson

Perhaps in the case of the Route29 Solutions Hydraulic Plan the last word in that phrase should be changed to ‘transportation funding’.  Both The City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County are preparing to receive, hold public hearings and endorse the Hydraulic Small Area Plan, a forty to fifty year land use plan, over the course of 40 to 50 days.

Why? It’s all about the money.

Please let me explain.

SMART SCALE - Funding the Right Transportation ProjectsWhen the Commonwealth of Virginia changed over to the transportation funding program now known as Smart Scale it was touted as taking the politics out of transportation funding decisions [interestingly, Route29 Solutions was one of the last projects funded under the old system].

From their website:

Virginia’s SMART SCALE (§33.2-214.1) is about picking the right transportation projects for funding and ensuring the best use of limited tax dollars.  It is the method of scoring planned projects included in VTrans that are funded by HB 1887. Transportation projects are scored based on an objective, outcome-based process that is transparent to the public and allows decision-makers to be held accountable to taxpayers. Once projects are scored and prioritized, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has the best information possible to select the right projects for funding.

An important part of the funding decision rests on the position of local government on the project and how the project relates to the municipality’s Comprehensive Plan.  In the case of Hydraulic, this involves two governments and two different Comprehensive Plans.

In determining the timing for the Hydraulic Small Area Plan, it was determined that the land use plan should inform the transportation plan, rather than the other way around (which was done at Rio/29).

Due to the number of projects submitted and the intensity of the objective review, VDOT  determined that the Smart Scale process will only open every other year and then only for about 90 days.  Here is where the timing issue arises.

Diagram 1

When, at the request of the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne advanced the funding for the panel to develop the land use plan AND the transportation plan, it was done to explicitly facilitate the Smart Scale intake dates.

From the January 2017 Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) media release:

The study schedule anticipates having the small area land use plan complete and any recommendations for transportation improvements finalized in the summer of 2018. That timetable will allow the localities to prepare applications for the next round of Smart Scale project scoring in September 2018.

So here we are.  Charlottesville City Council and Planning Commission will hold 5 joint public hearings the evening of October 10th.  Which one is last?  You guessed it The Hydraulic Small Area Plan.

Conceptual Land Use Map Oct 2017 P71

Albemarle County will hold their Planning Commission Public Hearing on October 17th.

In an interesting piece of bicameral political theater, both the Planning Commissions [as well as City Council and Board of Supervisors] will be pushed to approve the Small Area Plan without making significant changes for fear the funding schedule will be lost.

It is hard to believe that many folks [perhaps even planning commissioners] will have taken the time to read the entire document.  But never fear, the decisions are not being made from the top.  Again from the January VDOT media release:

“It is important to emphasize,” Secretary Layne continued, “that Aubrey-Layne-photo-credit-VDOT.jpgthe land use decisions will be made by the city, county and the MPO. There are no preconceived solutions or presumptions here. We are kicking off a process at the MPO’s request; the outcome of that process remains to be seen.”

How involved with the Planning Commissions and elected officials get with this small area plan knowing VDOT is building the transportation plan based upon these assumptions?

Is 120 days a good measure for reviewing a 50 plan?

Is creating a sense of urgency a bad thing in these planning exercises?

Will the public be fully engaged?

Will the elected officials?

Once again we have more questions than answers.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and  Nelson County.

Photo Credit: Route29Solutions.com

Greene Discusses Legislative Priorities

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

As a part of their mission, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) has a Legislative Liaison who represents the interests and positions of the region’s localities before the state legislature and other state policymakers. Much of this effort occurs at the General Assembly during January-March of each year as well as, during the off season, attending legislative study committee meetings and other meetings of interest to local governments.

david-blount-photo-credit-charlottesville-tommorow

David Blount

David Blount serves as the TJPDC Legislative Liaison (serving Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and the City of Charlottesville).  In this role, he annually prepares and presents the TJPDC legislative agenda proposal to local elected officials and requests their input and in time their endorsement.   Tuesday night it was Greene County Board of Supervisors opportunity for review.

Surveys have been collected from all the counties and Charlottesville to help develop the legislative priorities for 2017.  Blount plans on getting information in real time as opposed to reporting at the end of the process. He also wanted to review the 2016 legislative plan since there are two new Supervisors on the board since he last met with the Greene Board of Supervisors.

The Top Priorities of the 2016 TJPDC Legislative Plan were:

1) public education funding

2) equalized revenue authority

3) state mandate and funding obligations

Related to public education funding, Blount commented that the General Assembly had raised funding back to 2009 levels and he hoped the state would protect that investment. The main issue for the 3rd item was that the state should not impose unfunded mandates and shift costs to localities.

Blount will present each of the member localities an updated draft program in October and requested that they respond to him by November.

He addressed several issues that will impact next year such as the state revenue gap of $1.2 billion. His understanding is that the budgeted 2% pay raises will be delayed along with dipping into the “rainy day fund” to help close the shortfall. clip_image002

In addition, Blount addressed the Airbnb bill , wireless infrastructure (cell towers), standard of qualities in education and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The VRS rate of return the past year (of 7%) is actually above the past two years rates. Chairman Bill Martin agreed with the three priorities and committed to working with Blount’s schedule.

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

TJPDC Discusses Transportation With Greene PC

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Unlike urban areas in Virginia, rural localities do not have federally mandated Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) instead their long range transportation planning is doTJPDCne via the state’s planning districts working directly with planning commissions and staff.

Wood Hudson, Senior Environmental Planner of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District (TJPDC), addressed Greene County’s  Planning Commission at their April meeting. His goal was to inform the Planning Commission on the current Rural Long Range Transportation Planning (RLRTP) activities in Greene and to solicit feedback from the planning commission.

Several years ago, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) partnered with 20 Planning District Commissions to review their rural transportation programs. They developed Long Range Transportation Plans for rural areas to compliment plans in urban areas (MPOs). These included:

  • Identify transportation deficiencies and recommendations
  • Assist with comprehensive plan updates and traffic impact studies
  • Evaluate the effects of land use and development on the surrounding network
  • Establish programming of transportation improvements
  • Provide content and guidance for statewide transportation plans

The RLRTP is in the process of their update every five years to help serve as a valuable tool to attract dwindling transportation funds. Feedback from planning commissions is requested to help identify a county’s needs. The rest of the process should take 6-9 months so Greene’s feedback would be useful in the next month.

TJPDC has been working with local planning staff and VDOT to draft a project list. Much of this work is completed through TJPDC’s Rural Transportation Planning Technical (R-Tech) Committee.  The 2016 Chairman of R-Tech is Bart Svoboda – Greene County’s Planning Director.

Hudson provided a map of the county and project list divided into three categories – 1) new projects, 2) existing current projects and 3) existing projects scheduled in the future and asked that the commission provide feedback on the inclusion or exclusion of each project.

Greene Long Range Trans Plan

The existing project list includes work on US 33 to Rockingham County, US 33 from Route 230 to US 33 Bypass, US 29 from Albemarle County line to US 33 and US 29 at VA 616 – Carpenters Mill Road.

Chairman Jay Willer asked if the list of projects had been prioritized and who would determine the priorities VDOT or Greene County?

Hudson indicated that the projects will be ranked in the future after the list is completed. Hudson also said that the prioritization would be VDOT’s decision but the county can influence that decision based on their requirements.

Willer thanked Mr. Hudson for addressing the planning commission and looks forward to seeing projects completed in the next few years.

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 Get TJPDC Legislative Update

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) has been undergoing some major personnel changes this year  . Prior to the naming of a new executive director due to the dismissal of Stephen Williams,  David Blount, the agency’s longtime legislative liaison had been serving as interim director for part of the year.

Annually, Blount meets with the respective localities in the TJPDC and gets their input on a proposed joint legislative agenda.  After the initial meetings, he takes the input back reworks the legislative agenda and returns to get each locality’s blessing prior to pursuing the agenda when the General Assembly is in session.

At the Greene County  Board of Supervisors meeting on August 12th, Blount gave an update on what is happening in Richmond that has an impact on Greene and the surrounding counties (Albemarle, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson and the city of Charlottesville) – both from the 2014 Legislative Program and what is in the proposed program for 2015.

In 2014 the emphasis has been on primarily on public education funding – primarily “without making formula and policy changes that shift the funding burden to localities” and that the unfunded liability for the teacher’s retirement plan that “should be a shared responsibility of state and local government”.

In 2015, a major legislative priority emphasis is on giving the counties more tools to generate tax revenue similar to what powers cities and towns now have. Also, he said that School Boards were going to be invited into their process as their budgets are major component of localities expenditures.

After the overview, Blount opened his presentation to the Board Of Supervisors for their comments and questions. Supervisor Davis Lamb, At Large, commented that in the 1990’s and 2000’s like before the recession the state should provide more funding to counties.  Blount agreed and stated the equal taxation authority to enable counties to tax like cities and towns is a top issue this coming year.

Chairman Jim Frydl, Midway District, commented on the multiple studies cited by Commission that state that taxes other than property taxes need to be developed. Mr. Blount again agreed with the comment.

Bill Martin Greene County Supervisor

Greene County Supervisor Bill Martin – Stanardsville

Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District,  wanted to be clear that Greene County supports other methods of taxing, but is not trying to increase total taxes and wants Richmond to pay their share of the tax burden. Frydl added to the issue that ideally taxes would be assigned by some method based on the cause or driver of the activity as opposed to property taxes as the main source of revenue.

The concluding point that was agreed upon was that while Richmond talks about low taxes and having a reserve fund, this has been accomplished on the backs of counties by pushing unfunded mandates to localities and shifting the cost away from the state with no transfer of any revenue to cover the program.

Blount also expressed frustration that the underfunded Virginia Retirement System  has not been brought up for discussion. The VRS still has an unfunded liability of approximately $20 billion

Lamb along with County Administrator John Barkley both complimented Blount on being very responsive as questions arise throughout the year.

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

Photo Credits: Greene County

Will Albemarle BOS Rubberstamp Comp Plan?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden famously asked, “If you don’t have time to do it John woodenright, when will you  find time to do it over”? 

On Wednesday, August 14, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will receive their first staff report on the State mandated five year update of their Comprehensive Plan.  The question before the Board is how detailed a review do they want? 

While the report correctly indicates the Albemarle  Planning Commission held almost forty meetings on the document, the Free Enterprise Forum was critical that some of those meetings were literally meetings to discuss how how the commission was going to discuss comprehensive plan issues when it was time to discuss them.

Several of these meetings were joint City/County Planning commission meetings funded by the nearly $1,000,000 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “Livibility” planning grant designed to coordinate planning in the City, County and University.  This grant was applied for and administrated by the recently released Stephen Williams formerly of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC).   While these joint meetings did foster a better understanding between the commissions and a recognition of the Rivanna River as a shared under appreciated resource, we fail to see $1,000,000 of benefit.

Regardless of all of the above, Now the Comp Plan goes to the Supervisors for their review. 

How through should the review be?

Since the Planning Commission spent so much time on it, staff asks if a truncated review would be most appropriate.  We disagree with this approach.  The state code is rather clear on the different responsibilities:

§ 15.2-2223. Comprehensive plan to be prepared and adopted; scope and purpose.

A. The local planning commission shall prepare and recommend a comprehensive plan for the physical development of the territory within its jurisdiction and every governing body shall adopt a comprehensive plan for the territory under its jurisdiction.

In the preparation of a comprehensive plan, the commission shall make careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of the existing conditions and trends of growth, and of the probable future requirements of its territory and inhabitants. The comprehensive plan shall be made with the purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the territory which will, in accordance with present and probable future needs and resources, best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare of the inhabitants, including the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The comprehensive plan shall be general in nature, in that it shall designate the general or approximate location, character, and extent of each feature, including any road improvement and any transportation improvement, shown on the plan and shall indicate where existing lands or facilities are proposed to be extended, widened, removed, relocated, vacated, narrowed, abandoned, or changed in use as the case may be. emphasis added – nw

In addition to aligning the potential infrastructure improvements, the comprehensive plan also dictates the limits of the development areas in the County.  Originally set in 1979, the development area lines have only been slightly modified by Comprehensive Plan updates. 

Somewhat surprisingly the acreage of land available for development however, has been dramatically reduced in this time.  Yes, you read that correctly, despite not moving the lines, development area has been reduced.  Critical slopes, stream buffers, increased setbacks and the “Biscuit Run” State Park have all contributed to the 6-15% reduction of  development area acreage.  The Planning Commission elected to ignore those realities and not even deliberate the merits of any of the potential development area expansions.

To be clear, we have been engaged in the Comprehensive Plan process for over two years.  We have written extensively about our concerns with aspects of the Plan. Many of our suggestions have been taken and we are appreapprovedstamp_thumb.jpgciative of the progress that has been made.

However, the Free Enterprise Forum not only believes the Board of Supervisors should review the Comprehensive Plan closely, we hope all candidates for the Board will make this an issue in their campaigns.

This document is designed to guide development in Albemarle County until 2018 shouldn’t it get more than a rubberstamp?

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson  

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.  www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits : Quotecollection.com

Fluvanna Water “Corrections” Leaked

By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — In a week full of leaked documents, another hits the list. This time, possible corrections to the water infrastructure return on investment.  See the leaked document by clicking here.

An email forwarded to Fluco Blog includes possible corrections and errors in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission’s ROI. The email is dated Aug. 2. It was sent by Steve Nichols, county administrator, to the planning commission’s acting executive director, David Blount, and a planner, Will Cockrell. The Board of Supervisors’ email list was carbon copied.

The correction summary sheet is four pages, landscape. It includes where county staff reportedly feels numbers are missing, formulas are incorrect and assumptions are off.

The vast majority of issues the email raises concerns about are Excel formulas related. The issues are listed from the ‘No Water’ tab of the document but majority are repeated onto the Aqua’s and Department of Corrections’ tabs.

The possible issues with the ‘Pro Formula’ tabs occur in both the Aqua and DOC tabs.

Late Saturday night, supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) apologized on the Focus on Fluvanna’s Future private Facebook group for releasing the ROI too early. In his apology, he notes county staff has found possible errors and the planning district commission was re-examining the ROI.

Last week Chesser released a portable document file of results of the ROI on the FFF Facebook group. Late last week Fluco Blog obtained a full, locked version of the ROI spreadsheet that is questioned in the latest leaked document.

The Board of Supervisors next meet on Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. at the Fluvanna County High School auditorium. There is no 7 p.m. hearing.

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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

Fluvanna Water ROI Report Suprises

By. Brian Rothamel, Field Officer

PALMYRA — Rivanna District supervisor Joe Chesser has released the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) return on investment on an online message board. The ROI was expected to be released early last week. According to multiple sources, there is high internal debate between county staff, Board of Supervisors and the TJPDC.

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Chesser released the ROI on Focus on Fluvanna’s Future Facebook group page. After his initial post he wrote, “Below is the latest ROI that the County staff had developed by the TJPDC. The staff has some issue with this ROI. They feel that the formulas used are inaccurate.  “The County asked TJPDC to recheck their work. TJPDC reviewed and found that there were minor change but did not change the results. Please take a look.”

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View the ROI here

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Multiple sources close to the debate have said the changes county staff have desired result in the Aqua proposal coming out near or even below the Department of Corrections (DOC) proposal. Reportedly, TJPDC has rejected these changes.  The ROI Chesser released, reportedly directly from TJDPC without changes, has the Aqua plan making money annual by year four under ‘expected growth’ projections. It would make money cumulatively by year seven under expected growth. In 20 years, it would cumulatively make $34 million.

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Under a slow growth projection, the Aqua pipeline makes money annually in the sixth year. By the 15th year it would make $2.9 million cumulatively. Overall, slow growth has the county making $6.6 million over 20 years.

Using the released ROI, the DOC only plan makes money annually in years five through eight but then starts losing money again. In year 20, it is making $39,212 a year but overall it has lost $1.785 million. The issue being under the DOC plan, water usage is capped at 75,000 gallons per day of usage requiring another water source for anything over 75,000 gallons.

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The Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on the Aqua public-private partnership agreement on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna County High School auditorium.

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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

Albemarle Comp Plan Far From ‘Pitch Perfect’

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson

On Tuesday July 23rd, Albemarle County’s Planning Commission will take final public comment on the Comprehensive Plan.  After working with the document for over two years, I believe the PC [and staff]would like to vote it ahead regardless of its true readiness for the stage.

The 2012 movie ‘Pitch Perfect’ follows an all-girl college a cappella group,pitch perfect The Barden Bellas, as they compete against another a cappella group from their college to win Nationals.  Along the way the “Bellas” must re-imagine their identity and find their voice by working to harmonize their very different extreme personalities and talents.

The latest rendition of Albemarle County’s Comprehensive plan fails to find this multi faceted harmony and instead sounds more like  an ill prepared middle school choir with several different talented voices but no harmony.

Remembering that this process was a part of the one million dollar planning grant the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) was awarded, one might have thought the document would be better coordinated.

Not singing from the same music 

For well over four years, the Planning Commission has effectively refused to consider most changes proposed  to the development area boundaries that were created in 1979.

Many thought that the state came in and took a significant portion of Albemarle’s planned development area with the ‘Biscuit Run’ state park acquisition was reason enough to reconsider the lines drawn during the Carter Administration.

Since about 2009, the Planning Commission promised applicants that they would consider their concepts “comprehensively” as a part of the Comp Plan process. When the time finally came to discuss potential expansion, the Commission did not weigh the merits of the potential expansion, they did (on a split vote) decide not to consider ANY potential expansion of the Development Area.

Regardless of their eventual decision to changing their tune regarding listening to the proposals was bad policy. 

Lack of balance

While we significantly appreciate the mere existence of an economic development chapter in the Comprehensive Plan, it seems almost apologetic for taking up space in the development area for jobs.

The very thin (smallest chapter in the plan) economic development chapter has one specific environmental stewardship plank:

Strategy 1c: Encourage all businesses to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices.
Natural resource protection and conservation, including improving water quality, preserving water quantity, and reducing air pollution are established Albemarle County priorities. Encouraging sustainable business practices helps to further these priorities. The County is a sponsor of the Better Business Challenge, a friendly competition among local businesses to integrate sustainable initiatives into day-to-day business. The challenge centers on sustainability goals in the areas of Energy, Transportation, Water, Waste, Purchasing, and Leadership.

If this is appropriate why not have a portion of the Natural Resource Chapter focused on the County’s goals for Economic Development? 

If the County can team up with Better World Betty, shouldn’t equal import be placed on Better Business Betty?

The Natural Resources chapter reads like a environmental evangelism text to the extent of explaining the details and detriment of habitat fragmentation. The level of detail in the Natural Resources text is mind numbing.  While much of this seems like good information, the Free Enterprise Forum questions the need for such text in the Comprehensive Plan:

The next step in planning for biodiversity protection is a landscape-level analysis that incorporates data on the County’s landforms and on the location and quality of habitats, including fragmentation and connectivity, as well as their current level of biodiversity. Aquatic biodiversity should also be addressed through a sub-watershed analysis. The landscape approach focuses on a wide scale (square miles rather than square feet) and on the management of major land features (e.g., forest blocks, watersheds, urbanized areas) to conserve biodiversity.

The squeakiest wheels get solos

In considering this document, the Planning Commission again and again has asked “What does the Neighbnimby1_thumb.jpgorhood Advisory Council think of this?”.  While the advice of the advisory council is important, it is also important to recognize that those who serve as members of the council are “representative”.

Too often the advice of such council is to change nothing.   This Citizens Against Virtually Everything (CAVE) mentality permeates many of the advisory councils and is not representative of the citizenry at large.   Elected to lead, one hopes the Board of Supervisors would put the advisory council opinions to the side and consider the good of the entire county.

Just as ‘Pitch Perfect’ isn’t over after [spoiler alert] the girls finish third in regional competition, the Planning Commission’s July vote isn’t the beginning of the end, it is merely the end of the beginning;  The yet to be scheduled big finale will be with the Board of Supervisors sometime late in 2014 or early 2015.

Beca_3If, however, the Board of Supervisors fails to fix both the lack of harmony and the intellectual inconsistencies, this document may end up like pre-Beca Bellas – All dressed up with nothing meaningful to say.   And that would be — as they say in the movie – “Aca-Tragic”.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson, President

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.  www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits : Universal Pictures

TJPDC Technocrat or Trumpeter Swan?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Steve Williams TJPDC Photo Credit Greene County RecordSean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow reports in this morning’s Daily Progress that Stephen Williams’ contract as Executive Director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) will not be renewed.  While the Free Enterprise Forum has often questioned much of the TJPDC’s work under Mr. Williams, we wish him only the best in his future endeavors.

Where does the TJPDC go from here?

In selecting its next executive, should the TJPDC Board seek out planning professionals who have rich resumes filled with writing, securing and administering grants?

Should the Board focus on the significant transportation component of the job and look to transportation and transit professionals with a litany of studies and reports under their belt?

MN09 trumpeter swan 107_4185Or should this regional planning organization consider seeking out a “Trumpeter Swan” who may or may not have the planning credentials but has a resume filled with assignments that required leadership, consensus building and risk management?

Please let me explain.

The “Trumpeter Swan” moniker is attributed to advertising giant David Ogilvy who in seeking new Creative Directors wrote a space advertisement seeking “Trumpeter Swans who combine personal genius with inspiring leadership – we have an opening for one of these rare birds”.

Such talented individuals tend to be long on world experience and short on academic credentials.  In addition, the most successful trumpeter swans are self aware of their own shortcomings, as such they tend to surround themselves with high level talent without fear of being out shined.  

But the question remains would such a rare bird have an chance of survival in the TJPDC environment?

The safer choice is a technocrat; someone who has worked their way up through the planning ranks perhaps with a smaller region.  Such an individual would know ‘how to play the game’.  This is the lens which was used to select the past two TJPDC leaders.

Which direction will the TJPDC Board go?

Stay tuned.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.  www.freeenterpriseforum.org