No excuses

Albemarle County has been doing a good job publicizing and communicating the upcoming decisions on clustering, phasing and mountaintop protection. Go to their website. Educate yourself. Save the dates (1 August and 3 August). Inform yourself and make your voice heard.

If you don’t take the time now, don’t complain when you don’t like the outcome. If you do and you still don’t like the outcome, please complain in a constructive manner. 🙂

Update 31 July: Having received Action Alerts from the Piedmont Environmental Council, Charlottesville Tomorrow and the Free Enterprise Forum, make no mistake: this is a big deal.

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  2. cvl July 28, 2006 at 11:11

    Albemarle residents should make a real effort to show up and endorse these ordinances, which represent concrete steps toward protecting the county’s rural areas from further suburbanization. Without approval of the phasing, clustering and the MOD ordinances, the County’s Comprehensive Plan goal of protecting Albemarle’s rural landscape will not be accomplished.

  3. TrvlnMn July 28, 2006 at 21:49

    You mean with the mountaintop protection stuff.. does that mean if I own mountaintop real estate, I won’t be able to put a house there? Or is it just geared more toward preventing a developer from coming in with one of those clifftop neighborhoods you see when you look at mountian’s in L.A.

  4. cvl July 30, 2006 at 21:10

    My reading of the MOD ordinance….it would do little to the owner of a mountaintop parcel of land who wants to build their “dream house.”…but it’s a step in the right direction. More important though are the phasing and clustering ordinances, which could slow the current rate of rural area fragmentation….

    The Farm Bureau’s ad in the Sunday paper was fairly predictable…to them it’s all about “property rights.” At this point, they speak for a small, very small minority of rural land owners. What about “community rights?” Phasing and clustering are the only tangible steps toward slowing the loss of farm land in Albemarle County. You’d think the Farm Bureau would be in favor of that….

  5. Jim Duncan July 30, 2006 at 21:22

    I am torn between the positions taken by both sides – 100% protection of private property rights versus the “greater good.” When faced with the choice between the individual right and that of the community, I would (in a utopian world) like to think that that of the greater good would win out. The greatest problem however, in my opinion is that I simply do not trust the government. At all.

    as I said, I want this community to remain the beautiful place that it is – for my family, my kids’ families and my business. How to get there – I’m not so sure. This public discourse is the right step.

  6. Waldo Jaquith July 31, 2006 at 16:39

    I own a mountaintop. I’m preparing to build a house on said mountain. And I’m all for this mountaintop protection program.


  7. TrvlnMn August 1, 2006 at 00:10

    The Farm Bureau’s ad in the Sunday paper was fairly predictable…to them it’s all about “property rights.” At this point, they speak for a small, very small minority of rural land owners. What about “community rights?”

    I would be interested in hearing the concerns of that small minority of rural land owners. I’d bet that most of them weren’t waiting to sell their land to a developer, and in fact would probably keep their property undeveloped in keeping with the character of the region. I’d think they probably have other reasons for opposing these new regulations. Of course I’m just guessing here.

    I agree with Jim when he says he’s “torn between the positions taken by both sides.” Although I’ll put a little bit of a different spin on it. I think we’re pretty much screwed either way.

    I like the idea of conservation to maintian the area’s natural beauty. However I don’t like the sound of “Community Rights.”

    To me “Community rights” sounds like a bunch of rich transplants who moved to the area long enough ago that they no longer consider themselves transplants, and now have decided it’s okay to go protectionist so that their slice of the area doesn’t change. All the while they’re forgetting that they ruined it for the people who were here before them by when they “discovered” the area and decided it was a great place to relocate to.

    Phasing is probably a bad idea. It will only really guarantee over-inflated property values by severely limiting development and will make the idea of “affordable housing” even more of a crackpipe halucination unless you’re working in one of the protected professions- teachers, police, or Firemen. The fact is that Phasing just proves that the idea of “Affordable Housing” is just lip service and neither local governments are serious about addressing it.

    I’d also say it pretty much amounts to artificial price supports for developers as well, except for the fact that I don’t think developers (without phasing) would seriously compete amongst themselves so that the price of real estate would be competitive. More likely they’d just get together and participate in price fixing.

    In considering the merits of these plans, I’d also have to ask any individual who might be infavor of them… to draw up a list of all the times, or things, that they have thought local government has really screwed up and then ask again.. are you sure you want to trust this government?

    My answer would probably be no. While I’m not a republican, I no longer think more government is the solution to every problem.

  8. cvl August 1, 2006 at 10:18

    Sounds like you’re saying we all might as well give up and let this place go down the tubes. Regardless of when people moved here, I’d bet few people actually want more rural area lost to suburbs, more traffic, higher taxes, worse air quality, and so on and so on. Without innovative county regulations (such as clustering, phasing, and MOD), how would you propose combatting all of the problems associated with residential growth in the wrong places (i.e. rural areas)?
    It’s all too easy to say you just “don’t trust” the government, but what does that accomplish in terms of the conservation which you say you’re in favor of. What about the County’s regulation granting landowner’s with land in land use taxation significant tax breaks….should county residents who live in the urbanized ring and don’t benefit from land use taxation “trust” that regulation. I submit that we all benefit….but if this place is really going down the tubes as you say, maybe that regulation should be scrapped as well.

  9. Jim Duncan August 2, 2006 at 11:34

    I love this from today’s DP article

    Others, such as Clara Bell Wheeler, pleaded for the right to control their own land and pointed out that they have suffered as their views of valleys show expansive development. “We landowners take care of our land, we support the land, we pay taxes and we vote,” Wheeler said. “We should be allowed to do with the land as we want as long as we’re not hurting anybody else.”

    That is a legitimate argument – why don’t we protect the views of those on the mountains?

    There is no easy solution to this and I don’t think anybody is willing to “let this place go down the tubes,” but I don’t think that government intervention and taking of property rights is necessarily the way to achieve this.

  10. cvl August 3, 2006 at 10:28

    I agree that’s an interesting comment. I feel like I’ve heard/read that a lot from rural landowners, “We love our land. We take care of our land. Now leave us alone.” The problem, which this woman admits herself, is there seem to be just as many rural landowners who are allowing development on their rural land, as there are rural landowners who are opting to protect their land from development through tools such as conservation easements.

    If, as you suggest (and Ms. Wheeler seems to as well), that government intervention is not the answer to protecting Albemarle’s remaining rural lands, what is? Isn’t land a finite resource which the entire community depends on for basic needs such as clean drinking water and air. Helping protect such resources for a community seems like a fairly logical function for any government.

  11. Lonnie August 15, 2006 at 15:00

    I live in the Mountain Overlay district, and this is a good ordinance that people don’t seem to understand very well. It doesn’t tell anyone that they can’t build on their mountains. In fact, most of the ordinance is incentive based.

    The phasing and clustering also doesn’t eliminate the ability to build, just slows it. I also strongly agree with what cvl said; I asked a Farm Bureau guy at the fair about the issue and he shockingly said that farming just wasn’t profitable anymore so he wanted to sell out and buy land some place cheaper like West Virginia (hey, wait… I thought it was the Virginia Farm Bureau…? Since when is it the Virginia Farm Bureau’s mission to negate its own existance?

    Property rights is a red herring. These aren’t a bunch of poor rural folks concerned about their meager investments. This comes down to people like William Yancy, who aren’t really farmers but rather land prospectors and investors. (And, no, I wouldn’t call what he does timber-farming either. It is merely a series of clearcuts.) I think the developers are mobilizing their teams of PR folks to convince rural folks that this is about property rights when it isn’t. As one really observant person already put it, if this is about property right and smaller government then maybe the time has come for Albemarle to remove the “agriculural-use” tax credit, after all, we would want government interfering with the free-market would we?