Tag Archives: Politics
Local elections matter.
There are six seats on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors; at least two will be contested this year. Every race should always be contested, so thanks to those who are volunteering to run for seat that pay $14,542 per year.
Jack Jouett – retiring Dennis Rooker has anointed School Board Rep Diantha McKeel as his successor.
Samuel Miller – Liz Palmer, board member for Albemarle County Service Authority, will be running against incumbent Duane Snow
Rio District – Urban and Environmental planner Brad Sheffield will run again incumbent Rodney Thomas.
To my eye, the announced races seem to be very much managed-growth (challengers) versus not-so-well-managed-growth (incumbents).
Pay attention, folks. Albemarle County is (and has been for years) at a crossroads. Think less of the “Austin or Aspen or Arlington ” debate and more of the “Loudoun County or Albemarle County” debate.
Get ready as well to follow the money at VPAP, the Virginia Public Access Project.
The County of Albemarle (and City of Charlottesville for that matter) seem to have a “planning for traffic” plan in which they approve stuff and then, twenty years later, seem stunned that more houses and shopping brought more people and traffic … and then they (we) have to deal with said traffic and congestion.
U.S. 250 in the Crozet growth area needs to be retrofitted to accommodate the kind of traffic generated there — including pedestrian traffic.
But the issue goes deeper than that — all the way to the growth pattern that created the problem in the first place.
Within two years, two pedestrians have died near the Blue Ridge Shopping Center, on one side of the highway, and Clover Lawn Village, on the other.
These developments — along with nearby subdivisions — were approved to locate along the highway, which made a certain sense at the time by allowing traffic to take advantage of existing infrastructure.
But the growth then altered the highway usage. Traffic increased — especially vehicular traffic, but also pedestrian — and U.S. 250 went from being a through highway to serving as a local road.
The two uses are profoundly incompatible.
Here’s the thing – Albemarle County have encouraged the growth in Western Albemarle, yet they haven’t begun to address how to facilitate the moving of the people who will move there … and 250 West is likely to not be widened as it’s a Scenic Byway, advocated for by Scenic 250, “… a citizens organization dedicated to preserving the rural and scenic character of US Route 250 from Charlottesville to the western boundary of Albemarle County“.
What’s the solution? I honestly don’t yet know, but the status quo is untenable. Continue reading
Land use (for many) is boring and is the task of other people. But … if you live in (or are thinking about living in) the Charlottesville or Albemarle areas, you should be paying at least some attention to the Comprehensive Planning Processes of the County of Albemarle and City of Charlottesville. This stuff matters.
I haven’t reviewed the respective Comprehensive Plans, but the one thing that I think would be a crucial component would be how each locality plans to cooperate and collaborate with the other – particularly on infrastructure. Our locality’s inability to plan effectively and more importantly – implement and execute (at all) – are damaging to the community, real estate values and quality of life. 40 years ago, the Meadowcreek Parkway was a logical road (from what I’ve been told); today, notsomuch. But it’s the best that could be done apparently.
Naturally, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports on both.
After two years of review and more than 60 meetings, the Charlottesville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday on the document that will help shape land use decisions through 2018 and beyond.
The plan also includes an analysis of the city’s ability for future growth. There are currently around 10,000 potential residential units that could be built by-right, though only 800 of those would be in the city’s lower-density neighborhoods.
Haluska also said that the city is running out of vacant land for new residential development, so new homes will likely be built on sites that will have to be redeveloped.
“[In the 2007 version] we had five sections in the Comprehensive Plan and they were kind of unbalanced,” county principal planner Elaine Echols said. “Those sections were created at different times and they each start with the growth management policy.”
“[In the current draft] we’ve pulled these sections together into one single document and moved the growth management policy [to the beginning of the plan],” Echols added, noting that these changes should decrease repetition and increase ease of use.
What would be as good if not better would be would be if a database existed where the public could search for meth lab houses … and then not buy them.
I’ve shown only one house that I thought might have been a meth lab … so far as I know this isn’t a huge problem in the Charlottesville area (although I’ve heard some neighboring regions have had significant issues).
One of the first posts written here was about redistricting schools in Albemarle County; sadly I hadn’t yet mastered the art of proper out-linking, so the stories to which I pointed are mostly dead. Today’s story by Aaron Richardson in the Daily Progress * succinctly describes the current state of some Albemarle County schools: “School redistricting is a headache for everyone, yet Albemarle County is at it again, considering a shuffle for a second time in as many years.”
High-quality schools are one of the more-cited reasons my buyer clients use when choosing to move to the Charlottesville – Albemarle area. I hope this acclaim is justified and continues to be the case.
In talking to a potential incoming client last week, we naturally discussed Albemarle County schools as part of a wider ranging conversation about whether this is the right place for his family. He’s looking for a rural property preferably, but also wants his kids to go to elementary school … and prefers to have a reasonable-length bus ride. How does one define “reasonable-length” in this context?
There really is not much to add to the Albemarle County Schools redistricting conversation than this:
- Read this from last year – Albemarle County Schools’ Populations Are Growing. Unexpectedly. ?!
- If you want 100% certainty that your kids will go to X school, that school better be private.
- Get involved in the process and the conversation. Schools matter, to our kids’ lives, our lives, our property values …
- Always, always, always check your school district before you buy a home in Albemarle (or anywhere, really)
Some stories reflecting the ongoing uncertainty regarding some schools in Albemarle County:
Parents and neighbors in southern Albemarle County are getting more information about a plan to possibly shut down Yancey Elementary School in Esmont. NBC 29 – August 1 2012
- Scottsville tells its supervisor it feels like ‘the redheaded stepchild‘ – Daily Progress – July 26 2012
One thing is true, the Meriwether Lewis parents are perhaps the best organized and mobilized parents in the community. For those in the Crozet district, I’d love to hear what the School Board representative, Barbara Massie Mouly, thinks about this; I haven’t seen word one from her in the press or any kind of outreach to the public.
* I’m glad to consistency in reporting from the Daily Progress; Aaron Richardson also wrote about redistricting last year. Having consistent knowledge is crucial when knowing about and reporting on local issues.
PS – I’m working on a story about growth areas in Albemarle County and their impact on livability and certainly of lifestyle.
Politically, Will I fit in? Will I like my neighbors? Will they like me? Will we get along? As a Realtor, I can help with some of these, and others I can’t.
When you move into a new area, buy a new home, you’re not just buying the house. You’re buying your neighbors – today, tomorrow, next month …
Driving around neighborhoods observing political signs is one way to help determine whether you might “fit in” in a neighborhood … many, many of my clients are doing that right now. Some might feel more comfortable in a Romney-dominated neighborhood, some in an Obama-heavy neighborhood, others prefer no signs, some a good mix (50-50 is nice in my mind) …
I’m looking forward to after the election so I can update this post from 2011 in which I looked at some of the voting trends in Charlottesville and Albemarle … I wonder what’s changed.
But really, I just want the election to be over. Who isn’t?
(the above is from the Albemarle County site)
“Shall Section 11 of Article I (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (II) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use?”
Property rights. + The Virginia Constitution. + Election Day.
Brings us to Question 1 on the ballot.
Read now so that you know what you’re voting for.
Eminent domain matters. Restricting the government’s ability to take private property for purposes they deem fit is crucial to ensuring individuals’ property rights. That said (and I’m no legal scholar) …
- I’m curious what constitutes “public nuisance”
- “Just compensation” can be a negotiable thing. (the City of Charlottesville nearly used eminent domain recently in Fry’s Spring)
You might have already made up your mind on whom to vote for President, but I’d wager few have heard of Question 1 on the Virginia Ballot this year; I didn’t know until recently. (while you’re reading, find out what else is on the ballot)
Ilya Somin writes at the Volokh Conspiracy (read the whole thing):
Not to be flippant, but if talking about extending the Western Bypass already isn’t an clue that the current project is flawed, I don’t know what is. Much of this discussion sounds like a game – “If we had infinite funds, what would we build”? With less-than-creative answers.
For some real creativity unbiased by politics, I wonder what 12 year olds would answer.
Update – Charlottesville Tomorrow has more information on some of the long-term hopes for transportation improvements. Not to pick on one sentence, but this seems short-sighted … why not build bike lanes from the start?
“It will look similar to some of our newer secondary roads here in Albemarle County,” said Stephen Williams said. “It would have 12-foot lanes and it would have some shoulder that could also be used as a bike lane.”