Engaging with Albemarle County

An easy way to learn about and engage with Albemarle County – Engage Albemarle.

Here’s an interesting topic:

The Comprehensive Plan is Albemarle County’s most important document regarding growth, development and change. It establishes government policy to help guide public and private activities as they relate to land use and resource utilization. What general thoughts would you like to share about the Comprehensive Plan as it is being reviewed by the Board of Supervisors this summer and fall?

Better to express your opinion now in the hopes the Comp Plan can be altered than complain about the decisions that have already been made.

What would be helpful would be if the County would identify which specific parts of the Comp Plan are, or are likely to be, up for debate/discussion – in the Housing section, for example (pdf).

Fry’s Springs Downzoning Proposed Again

City of Charlottesville Zoning Map Re-adopted 2009_9_17_2013.

The perils of zoning rear their heads in Fry’s Springs.

The Charlottesville City Council has agreed to consider a request from the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association to study rezoning of three streets.

“Essentially, they are asking for the properties on Stribling, Crestmont and Shamrock to be downzoned,” said Jim Tolbert, director of the city’s Neighborhood Development Services.

Specifically, the neighborhood association has been asking for the city to change the zoning on all properties classified as R-2 to R-1S. Properties in R-2 can have up to two families, whereas R-1S allows only one. Accessory apartments could still exist, but only if the property owner lives on site.

In all, there are 213 properties in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood with R-2 zoning.

This is an interesting development, so to speak. On one hand, what’s the harm in having the conversation about downzoning (besides staff time and resources)? The harm is that by contemplating downzoning, the City is discussing changing the property rights of owners.

R-2 and R-1S zoning presumably provide affordable housing options, and by eliminating this zoning the City would presumably be eliminating some affordable housing options … but with all the apartments coming to West Main Street, maybe the City is ok with this.

Curious – do off-site owners have lesser rights than owner-occupants?

“Councilor Dede Smith, a Fry’s Spring resident, said that half of those owners do not live in Charlottesville.”

If you’re curious to see the City of Charlottesville’s zoning map, start here (the West Main study that’s there is interesting, too).

Changing the Proffer System in Albemarle County

I can’t argue with any of this.

I’d say that there has to be a balance between new homes paying their way and existing homes paying their way.

“I think the presumption of the policy is that the county needs an additional means of collecting dollars to pay for capital improvements, which presumes that the existing tools that you have are not adequate,” said Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners.

Stoner was among those who suggested that an increase in real estate property taxes would be a fairer way to raise funds. Last month, Albemarle County adopted a tax rate of 79.9 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value, a 3.3-cent increase over the previous rate of 76.6 cents.

“A 1 cent tax increase gives you almost double the revenue that you have received through the proffer policy,” Stoner said, “and at least it’s equitable and it’s an existing tool that you have.”

I’ve written about this before.

My answer to the question (what are the negatives about living in Charlottesville and Albemarle): Perhaps the single greatest negative with living in CharlAlbemarle is the collective inability of the City and County to implement plans – specifically for infrastructure. Their constant bickering, planning, fighting, planning, discussing, planning and then planning some more is remarkably irresponsible.

Is removing cash proffers an option? (from May 2013):

And … keep in mind that the City of Charlottesville is much better funded than the County of Albemarle with respect to infrastructure.

A Stark Look at Urban Planning in Charlottesville and Albemarle

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What do most people think about when they think about “Charlottesville”?

The Downtown Mall? It’s in the City. Monticello? That’s in the County. So’s the Rotunda. And John Paul Jones Arena.

Know what doesn’t get shared effectively or efficiently? Planning how to get from Darden Business School to the Downtown Mall. Absurd, right?

Ever wonder about the differences in urban planning in Charlottesville and Albemarle?

I’ve often likened the relationship between City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle as that of estranged parents who get along just well enough to feed their kids. Most of the time.

Hmmmm ….

Sean Tubbs at Charlottesville Tomorrow writes a must-read piece this weekOne community, two approaches to urban planning in which he delves into the disparities between the City and County in population (the County has a lot more people), funding (the City has a lot more to work with) and ability to plan and implement said plans (the County is at a significant disadvantage to the City).

To guide that growth, the county has adopted four master plans that cover the U.S. 29 corridor, Pantops, Crozet and the Village of Rivanna.

However, the county’s proposed capital budget identifies no new funding to implement projects called for in those plans. For instance, one item that will be deferred is a long-awaited small area plan for the intersection of Rio Road and U.S. 29.

On the other hand, the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the City Council last year calls for small area plans, two of which are currently underway.

They are the “strategic investment area” in central Charlottesville completed by the firm Cunningham and Quill and the $340,000 streetscape of West Main Street.

The city’s proposed capital budget also includes $2.1 million in the next year to begin implementation of those plans.

“That’s money for design for whichever projects we decide to move forward,” said Jim Tolbert, the city’s director of Neighborhood Development Services, at the council work session. He said this could include street improvements or work to begin daylighting Pollocks Branch, a creek running underground near Friendship Court and the Ix warehouse complex.

The localities have a symbiotic relationship. The City of Charlottesville has the Downtown Mall and the “hustle and bustle” of a City. The County has Monticello. And a whole lot of UVA (think Boar’s Head, Klockner Stadium, office buildings along Emmett Street, too). Route 29 runs through the City and County for goodness sakes. One would think that the City and County would agree on how its citizens traveled. The City of Charlottesville is not an island. (found via Statchatva.org )

Courtesy Cooper Weldon Center for Demographics