October Forum Watch

The Free Enterprise Forum’s October Newsletter has been released. As usual, there is a lot of pertinent information. Full text is below.

October 2005
Forum Watch
October  2005


Important Dates
Zoning Issues  
Master Planning
Water Supply
Transportation Policy
Other Land Use

Important Dates
October 3rd – Greene County Board of Supervisors Candidate Forum – 7:00 pm William Monroe Middle School
October 8th – Charlottesville Neighborhood Design Day 9:00 – 3:00 pm Various locations see article in Master Planning
October 10th – TJPDC MPO Transportation Improvement Program Public Hearing – 5:00 pm 401 E. Water Street
October 10th – Albemarle County Jack Jouett Supervisor Candidate Forum – 7:00 pm Jack Jouett Middle School
October 17th – Albemarle County Rio District Supervisor Candidate Forum – 7:00 pm Woodbrook Elementary School
October 27th – Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Water Supply Community Outreach meeting – 6:30 Monticello HS
October 31st – Halloween
October 31 – November 4 Places 29 Charrette #2 details to follow soon ACOB
ACOB – Albemarle County Office Building
CCH- Charlottesville City Hall
GCAB – Greene County Administration Building
FCGC – Fluvanna County Government Center

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Transportation Policy

Meadowcreek Parkway – The Free Enterprise Forum released a report indicating the Meadowcreek Parkway Project could be completed prior to the separate federally funded US 250/McIntire Meadowcreek Parkway interchange project.  The full report can be found at http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/ViewPage/page_id/51?CFID=309539&CFTOKEN=63058528&    Despite this important report, the parkways future is not yet certain.  At least one City Councilor still has concerns regarding parkland issues.  This issue may or may not be resolved in the next few months.   

Charlottesville Downtown Mall Crossing – More than 100 Downtown businesses submitted a petition to City Council asking for a replacement traffic crossing on the west end of the downtown mall.  The petition was supported by the Downtown Business Alliance to assist west end businesses that would benefit from increased exposure and access. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the concept. Others support the change as it will increase the number of ways drivers can cross the mall.  The downtown advisory Committee will see the plans on October 12th and the issue will go to a Planning Commission public hearing on November 8th.

FY06 Transportation Improvement Program –   The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is seeking public comment on the draft Fiscal Year 2006 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  The TIP lists federally funded road, transit, bicycle, pedestrian and related transportation projects to be undertaken in the next three years.  The first public hearing on Monday October 10th at 5:00 pm is the first step in a six month process to determine these key transportation projects.  Comments may also be submitted via e-mail to info@tjpdc.org
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Zoning Issues

Albemarle County Neighborhood Model Zoning Text Amendment – With somewhat remarkable speed the NMD Zoning text amendment was considered by the planning commission earlier this month.  The commission did not act on the amendment as they felt the scope (only focusing on the front yard setbacks) was too limited.  The Free Enterprise Forum raised a number of concerns to the commission, which were well received. 
Staff has not yet provided a work plan and date determined when the Zoning Text Amendment will come back before the commission.  The Free Enterprise Forum hopes that the next time around the community will have more than 14 days to review the draft document.  Stay Tuned.

Nelson County Zoning – Nelson County Board of Supervisors continue to make slow progress with the revised subdivision ordinance.  Details at http://www.nelsoncounty.com/planning/proposedzoningordinance     
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Water Issues

Community Water Supply – The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority will have a public outreach meeting on October 27th at 6:30 to discuss the progress of the Community Water Supply project.  The latest report on the water supply project can be found here http://www.rivanna.org/documents/agenda_jul25_2005_doc5d.pdf
Mr. Frederick hopes to have the proposed alternative to the Rivanna Board in January and to the Regulators in February 2006.  To see the deadlines and the costs of this project please see the report at http://www.rivanna.org/documents/agenda_jul25_2005_doc6b.pdf
The Free Enterprise Forum does not have a preferred option but appreciates that each of the options under consideration is designed to meet the projected 50 year need for water in the community.  If the community come up with a workable solution to the 9.9 million gallon a day projected need and then permit and build it, future generations will be served by this good stewardship.
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Master Planning

Charlottesville Neighborhood Design Day – October 8th, 9:00 – 3:00 pm The City of Charlottesville will be hosting a number of neighborhood design meetings throughout the city.  This is the major public participation event in the citys 2006 Comprehensive Planning process.  Details and locations of the meeting can be found at http://www.charlottesville.org/content/files/2CCD2AF7-2578-49B6-9DA3-C82AB79DD19E.pdf

Fluvanna County  In what may be one of the most overreaching decisions to date, the Free Enterprise Forum has learned that Fluvanna County is requiring Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality approvals on yield plans (A yield plan is a fictitious development that indicates how many units could be built on a particular parcel by right) submitted to determine density of their required cluster subdivision.    The Free Enterprise Forum believes this is an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars at a time these professionals need to be focused on our hurricane damaged Gulf Coast.

Forcing such approvals on fictitious subdivisions designed in a manner contrary to the county approved cluster plan will only increase prices and further restrict the supply available.  The Current Board of Supervisors does not seem to have great concern regarding housing affordability.  One member recently balked at the potential of regulation increasing housing prices by $10,000 or $15,000 indicating “people will buy it anyway”.

Places 29  – For those watching the process closely, Places 29 is an interesting case study of public participation and how it relates to a planning vision.   An interesting report is posted on the Albemarle County website reflecting the variety of comments that were received at the public input session.  http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/forms_center/departments/community_development/forms/Places29/places29-wkshp1-statistics.pdf .  The Free Enterprise Forum has reviewed this lengthy report and believes it is an accurate representation of the views expresses at the meeting. 

We are very concerned that the public may not have been loud enough as in the draft vision statement and guiding principles Places 29 states “enhance the connectivity between neighborhoods” clearly at the public meeting many of the public comments focused on adesire for no interconnectivity of neighborhoods and a bypass.  Further we find it interesting that the first sentence of the Vision statement discusses “the preservation of open space… and the natural environment.” If the primary vision is to preserve the open space, is this not in conflict with the county plans to focus development in this area???

A map of the study area can be found here http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/Forms_Center/Departments/Board_of_Supervisors/Forms/Agenda/2005Files/20050504/Northerndevelopmentattachb.pdf
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Other Land Use

Albemarle County Mountain Overlay Committee – This committee is now idle waiting for staff to draft proposed language for a Mountain Overlay District (MOD) Ordinance.  The glacial pace of the deliberations is draining many of the members.  Based on the current pace of work, The Free Enterprise Forum does not anticipate a work product from this committee until after the first of the year.  For additional details on their current deliberations, please contact neil@freeenterpriseforum.org .

Albemarle County Lighting Zoning Text Amendment The Free Enterprise Forum was successful in getting Albemarle County to agree to review submitted a zoning text amendment to ask Albemarle County to reconsider its prohibition of spilled light on pedestrian walkways and right of ways.  The ZTA also asks the county to allow zoning inspectors to use average lumens instead of initial lumens in their inspections. Albemarle County is clearly pushing for a more pedestrian oriented form of development.  The Free Enterprise Forum does not understand the hesitancy to allow light to spill greater than ½ foot candle to the pedestrian right of way.  The Planning Commission will hear this ZTA on September 20th.
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Property Rights Matter
By. Neil Williamson, Executive Director, Free Enterprise Forum

Property rights are the fundamental building blocks of Liberty. John Locke, who, arguing from Natural Law, claimed all men had a right to Life, Liberty, Health, and Property.   

Yesterday, the Free Enterprise Forum filed a friend of the court brief in the Collins v. Shoppers World Property Rights case.  The brief, responds to a suit brought by the American Civil Liberty Union of Virginia and The Rutherford Institute, seeks to reaffirm the private property rights of commercial real estate owners.

The initial suit concerns Richard C. Collins unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for Virginia House of Delegates.  On May 7th, Collins was distributing campaign literature outside of the Whole Foods store in the Shoppers World shopping center. After being asked by management several times to cease this activity, the Albemarle County Police Department was contacted. The police also attempted to mediate the situation and asked Collins to leave, he refused.  In the end, Collins was arrested for trespassing. 

The Amicus Curie brief fully supports the right to free speech but contends such a right does not supercede the right of a property owner to control his property.  “The issue in this case is not whether the candidate as the plaintiff has a right to speak out about his candidacy, or the candidacy of others…The issue in this case is not the right to speak, but the location at which he can engage in that speech” according to the brief.
Since the filing, I have heard from many Forum Watch readers on both sides of this issue.  The Free Enterprise Forum stands clearly on the side of property rights.  If we as a community allow the continued erosion of private property rights, we start down a slippery slope away from our ownership society.  Clearly, property owners do not surrender all of their property rights to the public merely because the property is open to the public.
The Free Enterprise Forum has taken a stand on this issue contrary to The ACLU, The Rutherford Institute and (as of yesterday) The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.  We do not take this stand lightly.  We clearly believe this issue is much bigger than the one case that brought it forward. 
Someone had to stand up for property rights; we did.    
Yes, property rights matter.
Respectfully submitted,
Neil Williamson

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The Free Enterprise Forum  
550 Hillsdale Drive  
Charlottesville, VA 22901  
Phone: (434) 220-0781  
Fax: (434) 817-2836  

Copyright Free Enterprise Forum 2005
This publication is a product of the Free Enterprise Forum.
For more information on the items addressed in this issue or on other topics related to local government in the
Central Virginia region, contact Neil Williamson at
Neil@freeenterpriseforum.org or call 434-220-0781.  Those who read the small print are rarely surprised.

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