Tag Archives: zoning

Ruckersville’s Zoning Evolution

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

In the not so distant past, the Ruckersville corner (US 29 intersection with Route 33) of Greene County was best known for a cluster of small antique shops, restaurants, and a couple of gas stations.  The 2010 opening of The Gateway Center, the success of several mom and pop businesses, and infrastructure investment in water and sewer have fundamentally changed the potential economic opportunity of the area.

Many of the existing zoning designations reflect the intersection’s former self.  This zoning disconnect was the issue before the July Planning Commission meeting.

Applicant John Silke, who owns several Ruckersville properties, requested to rezone (RZ#17-002clip_image002) a 1.59 acre parcel on Route 29 South, north of Route 33 – roughly midway between Wal-mart and Lowes. The parcel (60-(A)-20A) was zoned from A-1 to B-2 with some proffers nearly 20 years ago when water and sewer was not available. With those services now available, there is no need to exclude those items via proffers.

Cattails Creek  was the most recent commercial tenant for the property. That business has now vacated the property and Silke is looking to rezone to B-3 to allow for more tenant business options.

Planning Director Bart Svoboda reviewed the request pointing out that all the surrounding parcels, including those on the northbound US 29, are zoned B-3. There is currently an intersection of US 29 and Enterprise Drive with only a right hand turn in and out. There is a crossover to Route 29 northbound at Stoneridge Drive, just south of Silke’s property.

Svoboda also pointed out that the county’s Comprehensive Plan supports economic development in this section of the county.

Staff recommended approval of the rezone but he pointed out that the proffers currently in effect would no longer be in effect with the rezone to B-3.

Chairman Jay Willer asked Svoboda about roadways near the property. Svoboda said “Interconnectivity to the parcel located to the north will be required during the site development plan review. Staff will work with the applicant, the adjacent property owner, and project engineers to ensure the interconnectivity access is planned to provide the optimal ingress/egress for all individuals.”

Commissioner Bill Saunders asked about the proffers back in 1999. Svoboda indicated that in 1999 the property was solely used as a private residence and, therefore, some of the proffers restricted uses that a private residence wouldn’t need. But now this property has a rental unit upstairs and the lower level has had other commercial entities and the B-3 classification is logical.

Commissioner John McCloskey encouraged Silke to find a new business for the first floor. The commission unanimously recommended approval of the SUP request and will forward this request to the Board of Supervisors.

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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Charlottesville’s Engagement Problem

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

Man-proposing-ring-woman-e1434128981263One person can’t get engaged – it takes two.

Engagement, like all communication, requires all parties to fully participate; listening and responding.  This was not the case in last night’s (6/27) Charlottesville planning commission meeting – where the banner of public engagement is waved proudly; but despite the efforts of two special interest groups, their zoning code concerns were not addressed in the discussion.

Please let me explain.

In last night’s Planning Commission code audit work session, Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson related to the Commission that she had several conversations with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and received a copy of the letter written by the Charlottesville Area Development Roundtable (CADRe).

Rather than taking the bull by the horns and including these organizations’ concerns in the presentation, Robertson said that CADRe’s letter was written to the Planning Commission and City Council and was not staff’s position to reply.  Robertson said she thought the comments of both groups might inform discussion of the panel but not once in the two hour work session did she raise a specific concern from either of the organizations.  Considering the level of technical detail in the CADRe letter, one would have anticipated planning staff providing some context to the legal discussion – there was none.

The Free Enterprise Forum has reviewed CADRe’s 16 page letter, sent to the Planning Commission in advance of their first work session (5/29).  The respectful tone and constructive criticism was well drafted and encouraged public discussion of the various points.  Those questions went unanswered.

In his reporting for Charlottesville Tomorrow, Sean Tubbs included the CADRe concerns as a part of his coverage of the meeting in this morning’s Daily Progress. If it was important enough to be in the article, shouldn’t it be part of the Planning Commission discussion?

The goal of the Planning Commission work sessions was to vet the proposed zoning changes and the impacts they might have on property owners.  CADRe which works with several prominent property owners raised many significant concerns regarding building heights.  Staff failed to mention (let alone address) these concerns in their presentation; therefore the discussion was significantly less robust than it could have been.

Late in the meeting Planning Commission Chair Kurt Keeseker suggested the commission should be made aware understand the types of comments that are coming in and the citizens should receive a response.  He related the manner in which the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is answering inquiries and the reporting back to the Hydraulic Advisory Panel.  This less than perfect engagement concept was brought forward in good faith, but it was dismissed.

This process is being done under the auspices of a ‘legal review’ and thus the Deputy City Attorney is the lead staff.  As mentioned above, one would anticipate that the planning staff who work with the zoning code day in and day out would have a great deal to offer regarding the code revisions.  Silently sitting a row behind the Deputy City Attorney, Alex Ikefuna Charlottesville’s Director of Planning spoke not one word during the 2 hour+ meeting.  His silence spoke volumes.

When the four Planning Commissioners present pushed back on staff asking for more engagement with  SELC,  CADRe, and other interested citizens, staff indicated that could not be accomplished under the stated work plan that City Council adopted.

In summary, at least two special interest groups provided substantial information to the staff and staff choose not to include the concerns in the presentation because the letter was addressed to the Planning Commission and the City Council. When the Commission pushed for more community engagement, they folded under staff’s threat of jeopardizing City Council’s calendar.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the zoning code rewrite process is being railroaded.

We believe in true engagement.  Failing to directly address the concerns of the SELC and CADRe at the Planning Commission work session level will lead to increase delay in zoning code implementation and a lack of respect for the entire “engagement” process.  These issues will not “go away” they will return at the public hearings.

Simply putting documents on a website “for all to see” is not engagement – engagement is involved, engagement can be messy, engagement requires significant work and engagement takes time.  It seems the City is placing their calendar over their citizens.

Charlottesville deserves better.

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: Hiphealthy.com

Ruckersville Rezoning

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Virginia Code requires, absent a proactive rezoning by a locality, property owners must ask for permission (and pay an application fee) to have their property’s zoning changed to match the community vetted Comprehensive Plan.  Last night (4/19) such a request came before the Greene County Planning Commission for a public hearing and recommendation.  After the planning commission recommendation the application then must go to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final zoning determination.

ARA Properties owns two adjoining parcels, each about ¾ of an acre nearclip_image002 Ruckersville behind CVS on Moore Road.

One is currently zones B-2, Business while the other is zoned R-1, Residential (60-(10)-2 – three parcels north of Route 33 east of Ruckersville.

A representative of ARA Properties addressed the Planning Commission at their April meeting and explained that they are requesting the rezoning clip_image004to have both parcels zoned the same – B-2, Business so that they can are more apt to be used for commercial uses.

Chairman Jay Willer opened the hearing to the public but there were no speakers signed up for the hearing. Planning Director Bart Svoboda  advised Willer that no comments were received from the adjoining land owners. In addition, Svoboda went on to explain that the parcel is in a growth area of Greene County which is designated to encourage a mix of commercial, office and residential uses.

Willer stated that he felt this is an appropriate use given the Comprehensive Plan of Greene County and the goal is to have commercial activity in that part of the county. Commissioner John McCloskey added that he was glad to see that the owner came forward to request the rezoning.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning and it will now be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for their public hearing and final zoning decision.

The April Planning Commission meeting was the first meeting for Commissioner Steven Kruskamp, Jr., taking the place of former Commissioner Vic Schaff.

C-ville UDO – Merging (Not Fixing) Ordinances

By. Neil Williamson, President

measure twice cut onceOn Tuesday evening, Charlottesville’s Planning Commission is being asked to endorse a new “concept” that would seek to merge the development regulations and subdivision ordinances and refer to the consolidated requirements as a “Unified Development Ordinance” (UDO).

This staff driven concept is allegedly being prompted by a change in state code that no longer allows localities to mandate a preliminary AND final submission.  Therefore, staff desires City Code clearly delineate all requirements for subdivision and zoning final plans in one ordinance.

Originally presented as “housekeeping items”, the Planning Commission balked and questioned the breadth of the significant changes.  The Blue Ridge Home Builders Association (BRHBA) also weighed in with two pages of concerns.

After meeting with BRHBA representatives, Chief Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson dismissed their concerns suggesting now was not the time to discuss “substantive” provisions of the two ordinances being merged.  In addition she wrote that the concerns

relate to existing provisions of the City’s zoning ordinance (“Z.O.)” or subdivision ordinance (“S.O.”) and are not new within the draft UDO:

For those not following the ordinance merry-go-round already in motion – Charlottesville has initiated a “Code Audit” that will likely result in significant ordinance changes beyond (and perhaps in conflict with) the changes contemplated under this UDA “concept”.  If they move forward with the UDA this will result in two confusing massive overhauls in City Code.  Why not wait until the audit is completed before going forward with the UDA concept?

With all due respect to the Chief Deputy County Attorney, if the UDO “concept” has significant problems, it is important to raise those concerns prior to endorsing the concept.  It may be that the entire ordinance structure needs to be “substantively reviewed” prior to the Planning Commission providing their proof of concept.

Further complicating matters is the imminent departure of Jim Tolbert who has served as the Director of Neighborhood Development Services (NDS) since its inception.  While we have not always agreed with Tolbert, we know him to be a pragmatic professional and will miss his wit and wisdom.  We fully anticipate a lengthy national search for Tolbert’s replacement and have heard rumors of a potential reorganization of the entire City Planning/Zoning Department.  In the interim, the departments will likely run shorthanded.

design charetteIf the Planning Commission decides now is the best time to push forward an UDO, the Free Enterprise Forum anticipates this will be yet another outside consultant exercise where local understanding of the regulations and policies regarding development operations may become lost in the mirage of charettes and renderings of other localities.

It is rather sad that rather than dealing with the substantive issues raised by the very people impacted by the ordinances, the Chief Deputy City Attorney was dismissive of their concerns.

Could the staff concerns regarding the elimination of preapplication plans be solved without a massive consolidated UDA?

Of course it could.

Will Charlottesville’s Planning Commission challenge staff to deal directly with the issues raised, choose to wait for their own Code Audit to complete prior to overhauling the City Code  or will they chose to follow staff’s direction and put off the important substantive problems with the existing (and proposed) ordinances and push forward with the UDA concept?

I know which way I am betting.

Stay tuned.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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

Photo Credit: Free Enterprise Forum, aggieworkshop.com, arbroath.blogspot.com

“Snob Zoning” Request Returns to Charlottesville City Council?

By. Neil Williamson, President

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

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

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

Well, she is at it again.

Last week, Smith  strong armed the panel into considering a proactive downzoning in opposition to the wishes of the property owners.

Despite a majority of Councilors indicating their opposition to the rezoning, they were bullied into a public hearing process that will likely result in significant staff work, unrealistic citizen expectations as well as potential legal liability.

In The Daily Progress article written by Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs, Jim Tolbert, Director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services is quoted:

“Essentially, they are asking for the properties on Stribling, Crestmont and Shamrock to be downzoned,”

The reality is this is not a new issue.  The neighborhood association has been attempting to get these properties rezoned since at least 1999.

DEDE_portrait_200Perhaps most troubling was Councilor Smith’s dismissive attitude regarding the property owners wishes (and their property rights).  According to the Daily Progress:

Tolbert said the rezoning is opposed by 16 out of 23 residents of Crestmont Avenue.

Councilor Dede Smith, a Fry’s Spring resident, said that half of those owners do not live in Charlottesville. [Emphasis added-NW]

Property rights are NOT dependent on the owner occupying the property NOR their domicile.

The Free Enterprise Forum tends to agree with the opinion of City Attorney Craig Brown in describing this action as a downzoning.  He indicated that to initiate such an action there would be a need for the Council to have a finding of some change (since 2003) that

“materially affects  health, safety and welfare to justify that downzoning.”

We also concur with Councilor Szakos who indicated her belief that the holding of these hearing will create a false expectation of the citizens that the Council is prepared to downzone these properties.

We are also concerned that one councilor suggested the research phase of this process “may uncover a legal reason why the rezoning could be permissible”.

The ultimate motivation for this move, which was approved 4-1 (Szakos opposed)  may however also be an activist litmus test to expose the reluctance of some members of Council to reach beyond their legal authority and downzone the properties. 

There are some politically active community members that have suggested this is the first salvo in the next city council election (AKA Democratic primary).  To those fully engaged in these issues, it is not hard to see how supporting illegal “Snob Zoning” may win votes in an at-large City Council primary campaign.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

 

 

Greene Planning Commission Struggles with Zoning for Recycling Center

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County Planning Commission heard two related issues on Wednesday, April, 16th. Larry and Barbara Hall of APEX, LLC  have found a business opportunity – recycling concrete and blacktop – to locate on their property between Lowes and Luck Stone in Ruckersville.

The property is currently zoned A-1 which does not permit the recycling center. So the request was made to revise A-1 Agricultural and M-1 Industrial to permit the recycling center by special use permit.

Planning Commissioner John McCloskey asked for a clarification on the size of the recycling center and Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Bart Svoboda said that 10 acres or less could be allowed, if over 10 acres then it would have to be located in an industrial zone. A-1 won’t fit in all cases, but where the roadway is large enough to permit truck traffic it would be an option.

Only two speakers from the public addressed the Planning Commission and they both brought up concerns about pollution from the recycling center. Commissioner Vic Schaff questioned why a recycling center would not be included under B-3 zoning instead of A-1? This lead to a discussion whether B-3 could be added to the ordinance revision. Svoboda stated that the request before the Planning Commission could not have an addition but they could delete and place restrictions on the request. If the Planning Commission wanted to act on B-3 zoning it would have to be heard as a separate action and the meeting would have to be advertised.

Chairman Jay Willer addressed Mr. Hall to clarify his desire. Mr. Hall stated he preferred the A-1 zoning but would be willing to work with whatever zoning the Planning Commission decided upon. If the Planning Commission decided to pursue the B-3 zoning Bart Svoboda explained that APEX would need to request a rezoning of their property to B-3 and then request the SUP. At that point, Commissioner Schaff made a motion to approve the ordinance revision, remove A-1 from the zoning and to define recycling by excluding junk yards and hazardous materials. The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Eva Young voting against it.

The second item of the evening was the special use permit request of APEX, LLC/Larry and Barbara Hall for 5 acres of the 23 acre tract they own at the location noted above currently zoned A-1. Since the actions of the Planning Commission are recommendations to the BOS the exclusion of A-1 has not technically occurred. So the Planning Commission took a mulligan and went ahead with the SUP in case the Board of Supervisors allows recycling centers in A-1 zones. Of particular interest during Bart Svoboda’s presentation was the state requirement of 25% recycling  that this center would help the county in attaining. Svoboda also outlined the requirements of building up a berm and planting six foot evergreens near the north end of Lowes to block the view. Finally, the hours of operation would be restricted the same as Luck Stone, from 7 am to 9 pm.

Mr. Hall outlined the process that they want to start up in Greene. This recycling operation reclaims 100% of the materials taken in. Currently Virginia does not use this material, but VDOT is working on getting such recycled materials approved for use. He also stated that the volume he has of 38,000 tons when recycled would meet the 25% goal by itself. He also stated that they have closed the entrance off US 29 and would be using the entrance near Lowes that has a stop light.

The same two environmental concerns that were raised by the public in the ordinance proposal were repeated in the SUP hearing.   Dave Holtzman with the Piedmont Environmental Council felt that the location for the recycling center was appropriate especially next to the Luck Stone quarry. He raised the question if all of the materials coming into the recycling center originated in Greene and therefore would the county get credit for recycling toward the 25% requirement and what volume of truck traffic would be at the light near Lowes.

Commissioner McCloskey asked Mr. Hall how much material would be on site when in operation. Mr. Hall stated 5-6,000 tons which is much less than is stored currently (materials before recycling).

Chairman Willer asked if the business is currently registered with Greene County and Mr. Hall indicated that after the zoning issues were resolved, he would then register the business.

This lead to a rather complicated motion of denying the request in A-1 unless the Board of Supervisors allowed the recycling center in A-1, then the PC would approve the request. This was approved 5-0 and it will be passed on to the BOS as will the request for the ordinance revision.

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

Is the Lorax Guilty of Snob Zoning?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Let me open with a disclaimer – I love beach reading. 

I was t"Snob Zones" by Liza Prevost was released Tuesday, May 7 and covers Darien and other New England towns' zoning regs.hrilled to be able to take a few days off with the family for a beach trip late last month.  While some might have preferred the new Dan Brown novel, my  primary book this trip was  Lisa Prevost’s Snob Zoning.

Prevost is an award winning journalist who has written extensively about real estate for the New York Times.  Her articles have also appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Globe Magazine, More, Ladies’ Home Journal , and other publications.

In this rather well researched, short tome, Prevost outlines specific New England instances where existing residents use restrictive local zoning to eliminate the potential of “undesirable” affordable housing.  

Every reader will examine this book with their own perspective but many passages reminded me of the Charlottesville region, or where some would like it to be.

“As the wealthiest town in Litchfield County, Roxbury (CT) can financially afford its pull-up-the-drawbridge mentality.  The wealthy weekenders pay far more in taxes than they demand in services, thereby making up for the town’s nearly nonexistent commercial base.  the top ten taxpayers on the town’s grand list are, in fact, homeowners. ‘That’s our industry,’ says Gary Steinman, a biomedical engineer who operates a consulting practice out of his Roxbury home. ‘If we lose our rurality, we would lose that industry.’  But by refusing to make room for any higher density housing, Roxbury is contributing to a regional affordable housing shortage that affects most of the northwest corner.”

Over the last ten years, I have heard countless times that it is the “ruralness” of Albemarle County that makes our part of the world unique.  Preservation of such rural integrity is a priority for the Board of Supervisors even as such rural protection runs in conflict with their housing affordability goals.

This passage was also front of mind this morning as I read Sean Tubbs’ Daily Progress article on development projects in the City of Charlottesville and members of City Council’s concerns over their design and projected populations.

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

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

Reading between the lines, the question seems to be ‘are the right kind of people going to live at City Walk?’.  Isn’t this the very type of exclusionary thinking that could be called ‘Snob Zoning’?

Is this really what the City should determine or should the land owner, who is taking the financial risk seek to provide what the market will bear?

The concept of using zoning to preclude types of developments, or even specific tenants, is not limited to Charlottesville.  Paula Hawthorne of The Central Virginian reports of resident objections with a proposed Family Dollar retail outlet in Mineral. Under the front page banner headline “No welcome mat for Family Dollar”: 

“Residents Debbie and James Glass are against having Family Dollar in their neighborhood.  “I don’t want it in my backyard,” Debbie said.

Prevost reports such NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) clearly fueled the density discussion in Ossipee New Hampshire where the town enacted regulation that was so restrictive the Zoning chairman Mark McConkey said:

“‘I believe the spirit of this ordinance was to deny the opportunity for multifamily housing to go forward in this town.  I believe it is the intent of the ordinance whether it is right or wrong.’

McConkey’s startling admission was as good as a gift, from Viscarello’s perspective.  First thing the next morning, he dispatched a paralegal to Ossipee.  He wanted a copy of the hearing tapes before anything could happen to them.  Two months later, after failed attempts to get the board to reconsider its denial, Great Bridge sued the town in superior court.”

I will not divulge how the court case turned out suffice it to say the twists of the case made for great reading.

Perhaps the most interesting case study in the book focused on Watch Hill, Rhode Island where an area known as Napatree is 90% owned by the Watch Hill Fire District.  The District and another Parcel owner  The Watch Hill Conservancy entered into an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorizing the service to manage the federally protected piping plover population.  According to Prevost:

The fire district and conservancy had taken it upon themselves to hire wardens and put up signs.

This new arrangement was necessary to protect Napatree from overuse.  Conservancy officials pointed to a study’ they’d commissioned that concluded extensive human (and canine) use was harming the dunes, along with the well-being of threatened birds like the plovers…

…If preserving Napatree was a laudable goal, the locals who regularly roamed its shores were not convinced conservation was the sole aim.  “There was a sense that somehow the conservancy and fire district were trying to exclude people,’ says Steven Hartford, Westerly’s town manager.  The warning that “permission may be withdrawn at any time” sounded like some like a threat.  

This is a concern I have often heard voiced in Central Virginia as land owners enter into conservation easements and then find they may not be able to do what they wish with the land due to the restrictive language of the easement.

Often in local public policy, an oversimplification of developer vs. the-lorax-pic09environmentalist is put forth as the story line.  Very rarely are the lines that clear. 

Regularly, the Suessical Lorax imagery is brought forth to cast the development interests in a negative light.  The Rhode Island case was demonstrative of this issue.

“Although he knows that the preservation of eelgrass beds is important for sustaining healthy fisheries populations DeGrooth is openly suspicious of the Watch Hill groups’ push for more control over the anchorage, an area the general public has freely enjoyed access,”They’re using the curtain of environmental protection for a completely different agenda,” he charges. “they are not dumb.  They are very slow, very methodical.””

In many cases, I see folks who feign environmental concern simply to restrict the lawful development of property that they do not own.  Unfortunately, I tend to agree with the author that the NIMBY or CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) have the political upper hand.  

In his book review, John Ross writes on Reason.com:

Prevost sees little hope of changing entrenched attitudes about multi-family housing developments. “This is a world where facts are irrelevant,” says a demographer she spoke to. “I’ve explained over and over again that workforce housing is not Section 8 housing with welfare recipients packed in there.”

Snobs dominate local politics and are unlikely to embrace relaxed zoning codes any time soon. Change may yet come, though, as the demand for single-family homes subsides. The next generation simply isn’t as enamored of low-density living as baby boomers were.

With a subtitle of “Fear, Prejudice, and Real Estate” Lisa Prevost’s Snob Zones should be required reading for all Planning Commissioners, Zoning Boards, Boards of Supervisors and City Councils. 

Beyond just a great beach read, this book has the potential to make a difference.  By spotlighting these overzealous zoning regulations and the fortress mentality of NIMBYism that created them, readers will likely reexamine  land-use drawbridge regulatory impacts (intended and unintended) on the entire community.

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 : Universal Pictures, Beacon Press

Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan–Deep in the Weeds

By. Neil Williamson

An open letter to the Albemarle County Planning Commission:

April 15, 2013

Mr. Calvin Morris, Chairman, Albemarle County Planning Commission

Dear Chairman Morris and members of the Albemarle County Planning Commission,

Thank you for the extended deadline to provide written comments on the Albemarle Comprehensive Plan. Staff should be commended for marshaling this process forward and seeking to limit the size of the plan (which is still too big).

Before we get to our analysis of the plan, the Free Enterprise Forum wishes to highlight the failure of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to meet the deadlines associated with the joint City/County/TJPDC/UVA livability plan. In concept this over 1 million dollar expenditure was to “inform the comprehensive planning in the City and County”, the money has been spent but the work is not yet complete. The plethora of meetings, public input sessions and joint Planning Commission meetings produced a number of benefits but absent the final work product the effort must be deemed a failure. While appreciative of the supplementary benefits, the Free Enterprise Forum remains concerned that this project was mismanaged by the lead agency.

We have reviewed the entire plan and our comments are organized sequentially with the plan.

Chapter 2 Growth Management Policy – page 2.2.2 the joint City Count statement “the scale and scope of the impacts of new development on this infrastructure necessitate greater financial participation by new development in addressing this need.” The statement infers that absent new development infrastructure would be adequate – which is not true. A lack of concurrency of infrastructure has been a concern of the Free Enterprise Forum for over ten years. If the answer to this concern is to make Development area projects even more expensive, this will force development into by right status , into the rural areas, or out of Albemarle County entirely.

Page 2.2.3 should recognize that the County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) has not kept up with the community needs.

Page 2.2.4 The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned with the concept of priority areas within the development area. We recognize the limitation of public funds and the need to focus those funds. Where we are concerned is the language: “Land Use decisions should be made consistent with the priority areas established in the Development Area Master Plans. The County may decide not to approve new rezoning or special use permit outside of the designated priority areas as planned facilities are not in place to support the proposed project and the existing neighborhoods. If approved, however, as a part of the land development process, developers will need to provide more significant levels of improvement to ensure adequate infrastructure and services are available to the area.

If, as we contend, the County has failed to properly fund and construct concurrent infrastructure, the cost to provide adequate infrastructure to both new and existing residents is now on the private land owner whose development area parcel happens not to fall in the “Priority Area”. For the same reasons as cited above this will accelerate the kind of By Right development the Comprehensive Plan indicates it wishes to avoid.

As an aside, The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned with the growing power of appointed Community Councils. We are troubled that development proposals are regularly referred to these councils for their blessing prior to going before the Planning Commission.

Chapter 3 Comprehensive Plan and Background – Page 3.2 The 1998 Sustainability Accords these items have appeared in the Comprehensive Plan since their passage. While there has been little discussion of these accords the plan states “Goals for sustainability were most recently adopted in 2007 when the Comprehensive Plan reaffirmed the accords” Has the Planning Commission, or any other body really reviewed the sustainability accords recently? They were written 15 years ago. Should we accept these accords as if they came down from the mountain on stone tablets? Or should they be examined prior to passing the comprehensive plan that would “reaffirm the Accords”

Historic Preservation Page 3.9 (joint City County goals) “To do this the City and County will: Colloborate with the University of Virginia, Ashlawn-Highland, Monticello and other community organizations on historic preservation matters.” The Free Enterprise Forum finds the failure to include property owners in the list of collaborators is an error and speaks to an institutional bias in opposition to property rights.

Chapter 5.1 Natural Resources – Page 5.1.1 This chapter is in need of editing. It speaks to the importance of an issue that the Natural Resources chapter of the comprehensive plan is 30 pages while only 11 pages are dedicated to the economic development chapter.

Page 5.2.4 Mountain Protection – This section correctly identifies the Mountain Protection Ordinance as being rejected by the community in January 2007. IS there a reason for including this text in the plan? The issue has been resolved. This text should be removed.

Page 5.1.10 Stormwater Management – The plan states “Evidence has shown that, once constructed, many facilities are not maintained properly.” While this may be true in some areas, it is clearly not true in other areas. This text is prejudicial and should be reworded.

Page 5.1.13 Objective 1: Retain Biodiversity in the County – “This information should be used to create a database that includes both landscape features such as habitats and critical slopes areas and species occurrences from point observations. The database should then be included in the County’s Geographical Information System so that County staff and the public can use the information for conservation purposes. The information could also be used in reviewing requests for legislative approvals.” [emphasis added]

Is Albemarle County prepared to limit development in their development area based on the number of species established by a biodiversity inventory? What possible project could be approved under such a standard?

Page 5.1.14 Biodiversity Action PlanBuilding on this analysis, the County should develop the action plan based on conserving ecological integrity at the scale of the landscape” Ecological integrity is an undefined buzz word that promotes existing conditions while failing to recognize potential ecological benefits of development (or redevelopment) This entire concept should be removed from the plan

Page 5.1.15 Strategies – In no other chapter does the work of the comprehensive plan fall so directly on one group of unelected individuals. The Natural Heritage Committee is continually mentioned as a resource and an “expert” on Biodiversity. Interestingly this group has lost more than half of its members in the last year and the clerk’s office has not received any interested applicants in the last two months.

Page 5.1.19 Strategy 4d.3 – “Apply a general risk management approach to the public water supply watershed whereby land use management takes priority over design and best management practices (BMPs) to reduce or eliminate risk from land development activities.” Reading between the lines of this dense statement, it suggests regardless of placement in the development areas, any parcel should not be developed if it is within the public water supply watershed. This could be read as a call for no development. This is absurd.

Page 5.1.19 Strategy 4e.1 – The explanation of groundwater is overly verbose and at times nonsensical. The suggestion that “A new well may also draw water from the flow that is going to a different resident’s well” is gently worded enough to be technically correct but contradicts testimony provided to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors from then Water resource Manager David Hirshman.

Chapter 5.2 Historic, Cultural, and Scenic Resources – Page 5.2.3Moreover the number of resources destroyed in recent years suggests that continued reliance on solely voluntary measures would not be adequate to protect those resources. Instead a combination of strategies is necessary, including voluntary techniques, regulation, education and financial incentives.” The Free Enterprise Forum calls for regulation to be removed from the strategies listed. This community has a firm desire for voluntary measures and incentives but Historic Preservation Ordinances are unacceptable.

Page 5.2.8 – No one of the strategies for historic preservation includes the phrase with the consent of the property owner.

Page 5.2.10 Strategy 2b1: “Adopt a historic overlay district ordinance to recognize and protect historic, architectural, and cultural resources, including individual sites and districts at the local level”. We acknowledge that this language exists in the current comprehensive plan but we have not seen significant public support for a new confiscatory historic overlay. The Free Enterprise Forum asks that this language be struck from the Comprehensive Plan.

Page 5.2.10 Strategy 2.b.3: “Expand the authority of the Architectural Review Board (ARB) to include the review required under the recommended historic district overlay ordinance. Revise the make up of the ARB to include members with expertise in historic preservation and revise the name of the group accordingly”. Considering our significant concerns with the existing regulatory over reach of the ARB, the Free Enterprise Forum does not support the creation of the Super ARB and ask that it be struck from the Comprehensive Plan.

Page 5.2.10 Strategy 2b.7:To discourage the destruction of important historic resources, seek enabling legislation that would allow the County to impose meaningful civil penalty for inappropriate demolition, razing or moving of any designated historic resource. This enabling legislation should also authorize the County to use civil penalties collected to fund components of the County’s historic preservation program.” The fact that the County can’t work with existing legislative authority and is seeking to develop a civil penalty slush fund to be used for preservation suggests this is not a true priority for the County. If the county wishes to preserve a historic building or landscape – they should buy it.

Page 5.2.12 Strategy 4a:The County should help protect Monticello’s viewshed using these measures:” The Free Enterprise Forum has been very outspoken on this issue. Time and again when we raise the issue we have been told this is a voluntary program. Reading the introductory statement this is not voluntary it is declarative.

While we believe all of strategy 4a should be dropped, we ask that if you consider retaining any language it be improved to recognize that the “protection” Monticello is seeking is at the cost of other tax paying property owners rights. Perhaps change this directive to encourage communication (not cooperation) between Monticello and other private property owners regarding visual impacts (not viewshed).

Page 5.2.12 Strategy 4a.5: “Staff should be aware of the Viewshed area and be especially careful when applying land use regulations to properties in the viewshed.” Again we believe the whole section should be dropped but this is ridiculous is staff NOT to be careful in applying land use regulations elsewhere in the County. This is superfluous and suggests additional special treatment that does not exist in code!

Page 5.2.14 Cultural and Scenic resources (last paragraph): “Existing regulations only go so far in protecting the resources. Greater ability to regulate aesthetics is desired to help preserve these qualities“. Recognizing the balance of this chapter calls for increased regulatory powers and aesthetic controls, the Free Enterprise Forum asks how this balances with the “desire” for economic development. Albemarle County is at a critical tipping point where over regulation, while seeking to maintain the existing condition, may forestall the economic advancement of the community.

Page 5.2.21 Plan for Scenic Resources Objective 1: Support wider enabling legislation for regulating aesthetics in specified areas of importance.” Once again the desires of the property owners will be secondary to the powers of regulations for “areas of importance” This objective and the following strategy should be dropped from the plan.

Page 5.2.21 Strategy 1a: “Support enabling legislation for Albemarle County to provide for a scenic protection and tourist enhancement overlay district”. Based on the Free Enterprise Forum’s opposition to the Monticello viewshed overlay one can imagine we are equally, if not more, concerned with the concept of a tourism enhancement overlay district that would hinder the property rights of Albemarle citizens. We do not believe this is the general direction of the Board of Supervisors at this time and question whether the Planning Commission, utilizing Zero Based Planning, has fully vetted this question. If such a proposal were to go forward, the Free Enterprise Forum promises to fight it at the local and state level.

Page 5.2.22 Strategy 2f: “ Consider additional EC [Entrance Corridor] designations as appropriate, or as road classifications change for roads such as the John W. Warner Parkway, Route 614 (Sugar Hollow Road), Route 692/712 Plank Road, and Route 810 (Brown’s Gap Turnpike)”. Albemarle County today has 19 Entrance Corridors. The Free Enterprise Forum believes this is a gross misuse of the enabling legislation. The Free Enterprise Forum asks that the number of entrance corridors be reduced to ten and that no new road may be added as an entrance corridor unless one is removed.

Page 5.2.23 Strategy 2g:Review the EC guidelines for effectiveness in protecting the integrity of exceptionally scenic EC corridors, such as Route 250 West.” Now the EC guidelines are not enough the concept is to plan for super guidelines for those “exceptional corridors”. If Albemarle County is serious about create protection for the exceptional, the Free Enterprise Forum suggests simply reducing the number of Entrance Corridors and implementing the exceptional strategies on that reduced number.

The natural progression from this concept is recognized in the last line of this section “recommendations for stricter zoning regulations in the ECs may be an outcome of this review”.

Page 5.2.24 Objective 5: Preserve important views as they relate to tourism and recreational assets. This objective and the strategies supporting it suggest a regulatory solution to the organic change of the community. How does this balance with the economic development [or ecological in the case of controlled burns, timber harvesting].

Page 5.2.24 Strategy 5b: Protect the Monticello viewshed as indicated in the historical Resources Section. – see our comments above

Chapter 5.3 Economic Development: While the Free Enterprise Forum is concerned that the Economic Development chapter is the shortest in the Comprehensive Plan, we applaud the inclusion of this important concept.

We are concerned that the length of the Natural Resources chapter is three times that of Economic Development chapter. While both are important, the Free Enterprise Forum believes ample opportunity exists to balance the chapters to better reflect their equal import.

Chapter 5.4 Land use for the Rural areas. The Free Enterprise Forum applauds the inclusion of economic sustainability as a goal for the rural areas. The best way to keep land in agricultural and forestry uses is to allow ancillary uses to help economically support the primary uses.

Chapter 5.5 Land Use for Development Areas, page 5.5.11: Tables for remaining non-constrained land the tables were not updated by the time the document was released to the public for review. We are eager to see the new numbers and anticipate they will consider the land that is now slated to be Biscuit Run State Park to be “constrained”.

Page 5.5.11: “Several studies over the last seven years have indicated that the County has enough rezoned commercial square footage to last more than 20 years. The Studies did not include analysis of already zoned commercial areas or the potential for redevelopment. Because of the amount of work that has already been done on the topic, staff is not going to perform another retail analysis. Instead, attention will be paid to the land designated for industrial and/or employment uses ”. This is a false choice. There is no reason the Planning Commission (or the BOS) should not demand that a retail analysis be conducted for this 5 year update of the comprehensive plan. While the studies are mentioned they are not cited and in just about every case I am aware of these reports were completed with an agenda (both pro and con). Albemarle should insist a proper accounting of commercial space be conducted as a part of this plan.

Page 5.5.15: Objective 1: Achieve high quality development through the application of Neighborhood Model principles. The phraseology of this objective is troublesome. The Free Enterprise Forum believes most if not all applications that come before the Planning Commission have to balance the principles of the neighborhood model to their projects goals and site limitations. We respectfully suggest that the word “flexible” be placed between through and application to better reflect the reality of development [and redevelopment] in Albemarle County.

Page 5.5.19: “A network of streets and convenient routes for pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and other transit, including the potential for light rail in the future allows alternatives to driving”. Back in 2009, we wrote extensively regarding the population required to support the investment of light rail in any community. While we are aware of the highly popular Tide line in the Virginia Beach area, we also recognize they have significantly higher population to support light rail. This twenty year comprehensive plan does not include such population projections; therefore this reference, while fanciful to many in the planning community, should be removed.

Page 5.5.20 Relegated Parking The Free Enterprise Forum believes the parking regulations in Albemarle County are in need of review and revision. The Comprehensive Plan provides an opportunity to suggest such a review. No other principle has received more attention than so called relegated parking. We call on Albemarle County to review the parking regulations with the Albemarle County Police Community Safety through Environmental Design Officer and report back to the BOS prior to moving forward again endorsing relegated parking in the Comprehensive Plan.

Page 5.5.22Review the cash proffer policy to assess what effect it may have on density”. Earlier this year the Free Enterprise Forum provided the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors our white paper “Contradictory Consequences” on cash proffers. We encourage examining our paper, and the examples included, to evaluate the effectiveness of cash proffers on density. We anticipate your findings will be similar to ours that a cash proffer policy encourages by right development at a density and form that is contrary to the County’s approved Comprehensive Plan.

In 2007, Albemarle County looked to Chesterfield County a model for cash proffer legislation. It is interesting that Chesterfield is now contemplating repeal, or at least rolling back, its cash proffer policy. It may be time for Albemarle to take similar action.

Page 5.5.25 Strategy 6b: “Make land use decisions that are consistent with Priority Areas that are established in the Development Area Master Plans. Do not approve proposed rezonings and special use permits outside of the priority areas when planned facilities are not in place to support the project and existing neighborhoods, unless the proposed project will provide significant improvements to ensure adequate infrastructure and services are available to the area[emphasis added].

As stated above [under growth management] If, as we contend, the County has failed to properly fund and construct concurrent infrastructure, the cost to provide adequate infrastructure to both new and existing residents is now on the private land owner whose development area parcel happens not to fall in the “Priority Area”. For the same reasons as cited above this will accelerate the kind of By Right development the Comprehensive Plan indicates it wishes to avoid. The Free Enterprise Forum is opposed to the se of Priority Areas to reject land use applications that would otherwise have been approved.

Page 5.6.11: “Fund programs of the County’s Housing Department to implement housing policies.” Similar to our concerns regarding the Natural Resource Chapter mandating the County “Hire” an environmental planner, the Free Enterprise Forum does not believe the comprehensive plan is the proper place for the housing department to be requesting additional funding.

Page 5.7.3:Dispersed development patterns have helped promote a transportation network that is mostly focused on the automobile. In the past a more abundant supply of cheap land and fuel encouraged development patterns that have become hard to sustain”. This anti automobile philosophy is prevalent throughout academic papers in planning. The reality is the automobile is and for the foreseeable future will be the primary form of transportation for the majority of Albemarle’s population. Given advances in fuel economy, hybrid vehicles and transit opportunities, we must question if the current development patterns are really “hard to sustain”?

The Free Enterprise Forum believes multi modal opportunities should be evaluated and implemented but only after recognizing that people who live, work and play in Albemarle County appreciate and invest in the independent mobility of the automobile.

If you have made it this far, thank you. The Free Enterprise Forum is appreciative of the considerable effort of staff, planning commissioners and the public to engage with this document. In addition, thank you for the extension for written comments, as the 3,000+ words above indicate this is a dense document and required time to digest.

We look forward to being a part of the continuing dialog on this issue.

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

Greene BOS Approves Region Ten Rezoning

By. Brent Wilson

At the January 22nd Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting, Jennifer Hinkle, Director of Greene County’s Region Ten Community Service, requested a rezoning of a 1 acre parcel from R-1 to B-1. The site has had a special use permit for usage of the R-1 class since 1981 and for many years housed a fitness center . The acre plot is situated in a residential area just east of Stanardsville off Route 33 Business on Lambs Lane. B-1 rezoning would allow a professional office to be located on the site. The Greene County Planning Commission had approved this request at its November 15, 2012 meeting .

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Hinkle explained that VDOT estimates fewer vehicle trips per day.

The Comprehensive Plan  supports business growth in the Stanardsville area. Region Ten has been in service to Greene County since 1972. The need to move locations is caused by the lack of space in their current facility which serves approximately 60 students and 40 adults.

Lisa Roberston, Region Ten’s attorney, spoke about Region Ten’s service to Greene. The request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and Region Ten is a long time resident of Greene County showing an ability to coexist beside residential property. The current space for Region Ten has residential on two sides and the new space would meet most of the B-1 requirements in a residential area.

However, the majority of the speakers come out opposed to the B-1 rezoning for Region Ten. Wendell Lamb gave the history of the property, 17 acres, that dates back to his mother’s home. He got the special use permit for the fitness facility and then sold the business. He gave each of his children 2 acres of land around the facility and he still owns part of the property. His argument was – would you want Region Ten in your family plot when there are other places in Greene they could locate?

Several other speakers against the rezoning brought up issues of the B-1 class. There is not enough parking spaces, there is not handicapped parking for both levels and no elevator within the building, there is not enough set back, etc. Many believed this to be spot zoning.

None of the speakers against the rezoning spoke negatively toward the work Region Ten does, they spoke out against the location only. However, several speakers were both supportive of the organization’s work and the new location. In addition, Region Ten in Greene County provides space to the Food Bank  in Greene County.

After the public comment, County Attorney Ray Clarke, reminded the BOS that this was a land issue and not specifically about the building on the site. The site review issues related to the building should not be considered. The question of spot zoning  is valid only if the specific location receives benefit. If there are benefits beyond the specific site, then it is not spot zoning.

The BOS then spoke on the issues. Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville) began the discussion by stating that B-1 zoning would allow a variety of new commercial uses on the property (see page 29 of Greene County Zoning Ordinance ) whereas the SUP was for only the one use. He felt the Comprehensive Plan designated this area primarily for family development.

Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) agreed with Peyton.  Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) stated he appreciates what Region Ten brings to Greene County. If the rezoning is approved then, Region Ten would have to deal with any non-conforming issue at that time, Dean suggested. 

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe)  had similar questions about what Region Ten would have to do to be in compliance. Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) echoed Cox’s zoning questions and Greene County Planning Director Bart Svoboda answered that the current building probably is non-conformance as it stands today for B-1 zoning.

Peyton made a motion to deny the rezoning request which was defeated in a 2-3 (Cox, Dean, Frydl – No) vote.  Cox made a motion to approve the request which passed 3-2 (Peyton, Lamb – No).

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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

Want to Improve Industrial Zoning? Eliminate It!

FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL

By. Neil Williamson, President

The idea of increasing the availability of light industrial land and reducing the level of regulation is really about the development of career ladder jobs.  So regardless of the dense arguments that follow regarding zoning regulatory burdens, one must remember the over arching goal is to locate quality jobs closer to qualified workers.

According to Younger & Associates the  “Hidden Employment Pool” reported in the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development (TJPED) Targeted Industry Report is significant:

When the components of the labor supply pool are combined [recent graduates, unemployed desiring work, underemployed and part time desiring full time work], the total Hidden Potential Labor Supply can be seen. … In the TJPED region, employers have a potential labor pool of over 95,100 workers, many with past work experience and training that can be beneficial to employers in key industry groups.

With this as the demographic and economic backdrop, Tuesday night Albemarle County is considering a fairly comprehensive update of its industrial zoning ordinance.  While the Free Enterprise Forum applauds this update and asks that amendment F be adopted to allow limited industrial uses in commercial zoning, we feel that the entire concept of industrial zoning should be reexamined.

Technology advances significantly faster than regulation [This currentbiotech-eight-bottom-1 Zoning Text Amendment dates back to 2009].  Even the staff report indicates the problem with contemplating all the potential uses “it is virtually impossible to anticipate every industrial use”.  Considering that zoning is enforced on a complaint basis; it seems intuitive that the drafting of any zoning ordinance is similar to fighting the last war.

So why not scrap the entire zoning classification game and work on what really matters – impacts to the neighbors and community.  Why should Albemarle County, or any locality, care if I am making widgets, wallets or wing nuts in my light industrial facility?

It shouldn’t matter.  But since the beginning zoning has focused on what you are doing on a parcel rather than how what you are doing may impact others.

gaschromatographyWhat should matter is the development of reasonable, enforceable performance standards for any and all industrial uses.  Rather than spending months and thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that allows you by special use permit (or special exception) to create jobs and build widgets, that money can be spent building your production facility/studio/flex space to be nimble to market demands and respectful of your neighbors regarding noise, emissions and traffic impacts.

Albemarle County’s proposal goes halfway in this direction as it requires all industrial uses provide a certified engineer’s report (Sec 4.14.5) addressing the control of emissions, discharges and other by-products of the use.  But all of this is under their very specific permitted uses – if the externalities are the same, the actual use should not matter.

This is not an entirely new idea.  Performance Based Zoning has been tested in several localities across the United States with mixed success.

What is Performance Based Zoning?

According to a paper prepared by the Minnesota Department of Administration:

Performance zoning is a land use planning concept that has its roots in building codes that established performance standards as opposed to specification standards. An example of a performance standard would be “that walls, floor and ceiling be so constructed as to contain
an interior fire for one hour”. A specification standard example would be “that walls, floor and ceiling be constructed of 4 inch thick masonry or stone”.

This concept transmuted into a system of industrial zoning by permitting defined industrial activities and locations based on measurable adverse externalities and their effects on adjoining properties. An adverse externality is an economist’s term that is defined as a harmful effect of one economic agent’s actions on another. Examples are pollution from factories (a production externality) and smoke from cigarettes (a consumption externality). Industrial performance zoning permitted the location of specific businesses and activities theoretically anywhere in a community based upon their measurable pollution impacts relative to their surroundings, human and natural, as opposed to being permitted only in established specific areas on the community’s official land use map.

In a paper published in Planning and Markets, Indiana University’s John R. Ottensmann explains the economic rationale for current so called Euclidian Zoning:

The economic justification for zoning is that the regulations prevent the negative external effects associated with the proximity of incompatible land uses (Clawson 1971, Moore 1978). By eliminating these externalities, the argument goes, zoning can produce a pattern of land use that results in greater overall economic efficiency than would occur in the absence of regulation.

By introducing controls on the private use of land, however, zoning necessarily results in land use decisions that are less efficient from the perspectives of the individual landowners. Proponents of zoning argue that these private inefficiencies would be offset by the increases in economic efficiency obtained by the prevention the negative external effects associated with unregulated patterns of land use. But the question arises as to whether the private inefficiencies created are indeed offset by the reduction in externalities (Nelson 1989). Furthermore, even if the net social benefits associated with zoning are positive, the question remains as to whether traditional zoning creates greater private inefficiencies than would be produced by alternative, more flexible forms of land use regulation.

We recognize there would be significant work to move forward with the creation of a performance based industrial zoning ordinance but we believe the economic benefits far outweigh the upfront bureaucratic costs.

A performance based industrial standard would better, and more specifically, protect adjoining landowners and could significantly improve the economic development opportunities, and employment potential, for the locality that embraces the challenge.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

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

Photo Credits- Biotech 8, Richmond, VA; Indiana University