This month’s Forum Watch

This month’s Forum Watch is out – thanks to the Free Enterprise Forum. The full text is below.

Apr 26 Albemarle County Planning Commission work session North 29 Master Plan 7:00 pm ACOB

Apr 27 Louisa County Developers Roundtable 11:00 am Louisa County Building RSVP 967-4583

Apr 27 Nelson County Town meeting Subdivision Ordinance Faber Rescue Squad 7:00 pm

Apr 28 Greene County Public Hearing Budget William Monroe High School 7:30 pm

Apr 28 Nelson County BOS Budget workshop 7:00 pm NCC

May 4 Nelson County Town Meeting Subdivision Ordinance Rockfish Community Center 7:00 pm

May 14 Fluvanna County Community Planning Event Lake Monticello

May 20 Fluvanna County Community Planning Event Fork Union

ACOB – Albemarle County Office Building

ACOB-5th – Albemarle County Office Building Fifth Street

CCH- Charlottesville City Hall

FCB – Fluvanna County Building

GCAB – Greene County Administration Building

NCC – Nelson County Courthouse

NMS – Nelson Middle School Complex

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Transportation Policy

Meadowcreek Parkway – A significant effort is underway to generate federal transportation dollars to fund the construction of an interchange at McIntire and 250. At press time the success of this effort was uncertain. The City Council has dedicated $1.5 million dollars to the design phase of the parkway interchange. Even with all this activity, the Free Enterprise Forum is not convinced the road will be ever be built.

North 29 Study – Last week you may have noticed traffic counters on the northern reaches of 29 in Albemarle County. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District and Albemarle County are working together on a new study of the North 29 region regarding transportation needs and land use planning. This $900,000+ project is being run by Albemarle County. Details will be discussed at tonight’s planning commission meeting.

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Zoning Issues

Albemarle County Subdivision Text Amendment – On Wednesday evening, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors passed a new subdivision Text Amendment. The Board did remove a section relating to grading issues for further refinement. They also extended the implementation phase for the ordinance but retained a section mandating certain roads be built to the property line in an effort to encourage interconnectivity between adjacent parcels. The grading issue will come before the Planning Commission and Board in July. The STA as passed also mandates curb, gutter, street trees in Albemarle’s Development areas.

This STA is moving through with deliberate speed. The Blue Ridge Home Builders Association has identified twelve issues with the STA that needed to be addressed. To review their concerns and staff reply please see http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/Forms_Center/Departments/Board_of_Supervisors/Forms/Agenda/2005Files/20050112/Subdivision.htm

The Blue Ridge Home Builders are working with other advocacy groups to develop a workable ordinance that allows development to occur in the development area. The Free Enterprise Forum remains concerned that as written the STA will drive development into Albemarle’s pristine rural areas or surrounding counties.

Albemarle County Neighborhood Model Zoning Text Amendment – The previous iteration of the ZTA is now available online at http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=planning&relpage=5236 Albemarle County staff held a focused discussion on March 31st 2004 to discuss the changes to the zoning with members of the development, building, real estate and community at large. Based on this meeting, staff has indicated significant changes have been made.

Almost a year has past since the focused discussion with industry and The Fee Enterprise Forum is not clear when the Planning Commission is likely to receive this Amendment.

The Free Enterprise Forum strongly encourages all with an interest in community development in Albemarle County to read the proposed language and provide your comments to the County Staff. Written comments may be directed to Elaine Echols, Senior Planner in Albemarle County. Ms. Echols e-mail is eechols@albemarle.org

Nelson County Zoning – Nelson County Board of Supervisors are making slow progress with the revised subdivision ordinance. They will be holding town meetings to discuss the ordinance (see dates above). Details at http://www.nelsoncounty.com/planning/proposedzoningordinance

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Water Issues

Community Water Supply – In early April, Fluvanna County indicated a willingness to pursue a meeting with Albemarle County for a joint water supply solution that would include the James River Option. According to Albemarle County, an “informational” meeting was “requested by Fluvanna, will be held on Thursday and is NOT open to the public”. Participants in the meeting include representatives from Louisa County Board of Supervisors, Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, Charlottesville City Council, Albemarle County Service Authority, Rivanna Water and SewerAuthority. The Free Enterprise Forum believes the meeting should be public as such sunshine is critical to this issue.

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority have held seven public meetings regarding the future of the Community Water Supply. Four options are currently being considered: Dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, Increasing the Bladder on the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir, Piping water from The James River, and Expanding the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. Presentations on each of these options and the public comment is available at www.rivanna.org

In a April 18th meeting with consultants and most if not all of the regulatory bodies that have the opportunity to approve any solution, the regulators would not rule out the Buck Mountain Reservoir option. Conventional thinking (and consultant advise) has been that such a project could never be permitted. The regulators refused to make such a statement.

In March a consultant to Rivanna suggested the two South Fork options would not be favorably received by regulators and would likely not be permitted. His opinion seemed to be based on the environmental impacts of the South Fork options when compared with the other options. The regulators also did not wish to comment on this issue.

Despite what you may have read in the press, the Free Enterprise Forum does NOT have a preferred solution for the community water supply. Our position is that it is the mission of Rivanna to provide the water needed to the community. As any of the combinations provided by Rivanna would answer the projected 9.9 million gallon a day deficit projected by Rivanna, the Free Enterprise Forum believes Rivanna should work with the consultants to determine the best option and then provide all the information used to make the decision to the public to generate public support for the decision.

While The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority set a goal decision date of July 2005, the Free Enterprise Forum believes that date will be difficult, if not impossible to meet..

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Master Planning

Fluvanna County 75 people attended the first community planning meeting for Zions Crossroads in March. The formal community plan won’t begin until September 2005, this meeting was a preliminary discussion to provide staff direction. This effort is part of a series of small area plans throughout Fluvanna County. The Fork Union Community Plan addresses economic development, transportation, housing, and recreation issues in the Fork Union area. Residents and business owners in the greater Lake Monticello area are in the process of developing a Lake Monticello Community Plan. The Plan will shape future transportation, housing, and economic development in Lake Monticello and the surrounding areas. Community events are scheduled at Lake Monticello on May 14 and Fork Union on May 21. Community Planning is about to begin in Palmyra. The plans can be found at http://www.tjpdc.org/pdf/rep_comm_forkUnion.pdf and http://tjpdc.org/pdf/commPlan_Lake_Monticello_DRAFT.pdf. For more information, contact Chris Gensic at (434) 979-7310 x260 or cgensic@tjpdc.org. Many thanks to Frank Ballif for covering this Saturday meeting for the Free Enterprise Forum. For more details on Fluvanna Master planning contact Neil Williamson at neil@freeenterpriseforum.org

Albemarle County Pantops Planning Academy –Albemarle County is embarking on a several-month long process that will help guide future growth and development in the Pantops community. Residents have attended a few meetings and the results of these meetings including the draft guiding principles are available on at
www.albemarle.org/pantops or by contacting Susan Thomas (434-296-5823 or sthomas2@albemarle.org) in the Planning Department

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Other Land Use

Albemarle County Rural Areas Comprehensive Plan Chapter – The Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan has been enacted. The Farm Bureau was successful in returning Agriculture and Forestry to the top priority land uses in the rural areas. The next step of this process is to develop the list of priority interest areas for ordinance development. Staff has suggested the most important first ordinance is the phasing of development rights. It is most interesting that staff’s highest priority in a document filled with ideas is the phasing of rural development rights. Stay tuned.

Albemarle County Mountain Overlay Committee – This committee is now working on the third tier of a draft “framework for a Mountain Overlay District (MOD) Ordinance. While this is a work in process the committee seems to have recognized that any ordinance should deal directly with the issue of loss of development rights. In addition, the committee is looking at the clustering guidelines being developed by Albemarle County to see if these can be used to preserve development rights but minimize their impact to the mountains. For additional details on their current deliberations, please contact neil@freeenterpriseforum.org .

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Editorial

Philosophy of the Big Picture

By. Neil Williamson, Executive Director, Free Enterprise Forum

Several local governments are in the process of reworking their ordinances and practices regarding development in their respective growth areas. In Albemarle these discussions have included the mandating of certain aspects of ”The Neighborhood Model“ on all new development whether by right or rezoning. In other localities, new regulations allow for the exacting of voluntary proffers in rezoning or mandates for preservation tracts.

Such additional regulatory creep is rampant across the country. Many of these concepts are well meaning but have the unintended effect of actually making it more difficult to build in the development areas. Anyone involved in the development industries recognizes a strong market demand exists in the region. If local government places additional regulatory hurdles on development in the areas they wish to see development occur, where will the market go?

Local government has a responsibility to see the big picture. People wish to live in our region, #1 in the nation. Builders and developers exist to meet the demand for housing. The Free Enterprise Forum believes local government should work to streamline the approval process not increase the regulatory road blocks that can block projects in the pipeline.

While the need for streamlining regulatory approval is true across a locality, it is particularly true in community designated growth areas. Local government and communities work together to develop comprehensive plans that provide guidance where the community wishes to grow. Why is that when an applicant comes in with such a proposal in the community designated growth area they are often treated as though their project is contrary to community wishes?

Philosophically, planning departments should take on the manner of mortgage brokers to assist applicants through what is a difficult and confusing process. Today, some planners develop almost an adversarial relationship with the applicants. While such a mind shift may not be immediate it is possible, with leadership that recognizes the need.

If local governments fail to make development in their community designated growth areas easier, development pressures on the rural areas and surrounding localities will increase.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

The Free Enterprise Forum

550 Hillsdale Drive

Charlottesville, VA 22901

Phone: (434) 220-0781

Fax: (434) 817-2836

www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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