September Forum Watch

The Free Enterprise Forum has release their September Forum Watch. It’s chock-a-block full of great information from around the entire region. As soon as it’s linked, I’ll post the link.


(SORRY FOR THE FORMATTING) – JD

August 29, 2006
Inside this issue

* Editorial
* Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to Vote on Expedited
Engineering Review Process
* Vacancies Announced for Albemarle Conservation Easements and
Housing Committees
* Woodward Appointed as Louisa County Planning Commissioner
* Citizens Comment on Proposed Phasing and Clustering Ordinances
in Albemarle County
* Greene County Residents Comment on Proposed Time-Release of
Development Rights
* Public Comments Heard on the Proposed Mountain Overlay District
* Charlottesville and Albemarle to Construct a Regional Transit
Authority
* Retreat for Louisa County Board of Supervisors to Discuss
Controversial A-2 zoning and Proffers
* Places 29 Meets Fresh Opposition in North 29 Neighborhoods in
Anticipation of Release of the Preferred Alternative
* Rural Preservation Policies May be Voted on in Tandem
* Nelson County Board of Supervisors to Grapple with Zoning Change
this Fall
* Charlottesville to Reconfigure Neighborhood Allocations
* Rivanna in the Process of Permitting the Ragged Mountain
Pipeline
* Louisa County Comprehensive Plan Inches Forward
* Louisa County Board of Supervisors Approve Meals Tax Referendum
* Fluvanna Holding Citizen Discussion Sessions on Comprehensive
Plan
* Useful Links
* Important Upcoming Dates

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Editorial

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

By Neil Williamson

The recent debate regarding time based land division (Phasing) reminds
me of a Robert Frost poem, Mending Wall.  In the oft quoted poem, the
neighbor repeats “Good fences make good neighbors”.

Last month, the phasing debate has featured two very emotional public
hearings in Albemarle and Greene counties. The testimony in each of
these hearings was moving.  Each of these hearings was also marred by
aggressive inappropriate personal attacks on both sides of this spirited
issue.

Many of those who spoke in favor of the proposal (and some who spoke
against) had already placed their land into conservation easements.
These speakers had already voluntarily chosen to extinguish their
development rights usually in exchange for favorable tax treatment.

Now some in our community wish to reach far beyond property lines to
extinguish rights that they do not own.

If you wish to control a piece of property – buy it.

This is where the fence comes in.  Just as one property owner has
voluntarily placed their land into conservation easement another has
chosen not to.  Owners of conservation easements should not reach across
the fence to try to extinguish those property rights that are on the
other side of the fence.

Political clarity is a rare commodity in today’s world.  Regardless of
the mathematical calculations to determine how many property rights are
restricted for how long — the Free Enterprise Forum believes:
=B7        property rights are the cornerstone of our freedom

=B7        time based division is wrong
=B7        time based division rights is theft of property rights

=B7        time based division is illegal in the state of Virginia.

Frost writes somewhat longingly that that “something there is that
doesn’t love a wall” Yet each “spring mending time” he annually returns
to restack the rock wall alongside his neighbor.  To this reader, his
actions portray a respect for both his property and his neighbor’s
wishes despite his own misgivings about the wall.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors to Vote on Expedited Engineering
Review Process

Albemarle County staff has proposed an expedited engineering
review program for some projects. The Development Review Committee
unanimously agreed to forward this proposal to the Board. The program
could cut down on the time needed to complete engineering review for
some projects. The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will hear public
comment on the program at their September 13th meeting.

Vacancies Announced for Albemarle Conservation Easements and Housing
Committees

The Conservation Easements Committee is advertising one
vacancy. The committee reviews the ranking of recommended applications
and forwards its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding
which land should be placed under conservation easement.

The Housing Committee also has one vacancy. The committee advises the
Board of Supervisors on housing issues in the County. The committee
focuses specifically on affordable housing policy.

Applications for these committees are to be postmarked no later than
September 27th. Applications are available on-line at
www.albemarle.org/bos. For questions about these committees contact
Albemarle County at 434-296-5843

Woodward Appointed as Louisa County Planning Commissioner

Manning Woodward III was named as the replacement for George
Marshall, who declined reappointment, when his term ended in June.
Woodward would like to see Courthouse Road between the Louisa United
Methodist Church and the Louisa County Courthouse be permanently closed
to traffic to create additional parking on the road. Woodward is an
insurance agent by trade. He serves on the board of directors for the
Bank of Louisa.

Citizens Comment on Proposed Phasing and Clustering Ordinances in
Albemarle County

In attempt to reduce development of the rural areas, Albemarle
County is considering implementing two strategies in tandem. The first,
clustering, involves concentrating development onto one area of a
parcel, such that more open space is preserved. The second, phasing,
would restrict the rate at which land owners can develop their land. The
current proposal would allow two division rights every ten years, such
that a landowner with ten division rights would have to wait fifty years
to maximize his/her property rights.

More than 100 people attended the public hearing on phasing and
clustering held on August 3rd at Burley Middle School to comment on
these critical land use proposals. Most of the comments focused on the
phasing aspect. The comments reflected the tension between those
supporting personal property rights and those advocating for the
restriction of rural land, citing the larger public good. Property
rights advocates suggested that such an ordinance would infringe on
their constitutional property rights by limiting the use of their land.
Those who spoke in favor of the ordinance regarded phasing as a tool for
preserving the rural area and limiting the environmental impacts of
development.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes that clustering could be an effective
strategy for preserving open space and is worthy of further study.
However, the Forum stands with the Albemarle County Farm Bureau,
believing that phasing is the theft of property rights.  Albemarle
County staff has been unable to come up with a viable example of phasing
and clustering ordinances working in tandem. The Free Enterprise Forum
urges the County to separate the phasing and clustering proposals, as
they present unique land use issues.  Furthermore, the Free Enterprise
Forum believes that in the face of such adamant opposition, that a new
alternative to rural protection must be explored.

To read the statement issued to the Board of Supervisors by the Free
Enterprise Forum at the August 3rd meeting, click here
.

Greene County Residents Comment on Proposed Time-Release of Development
Rights

Greene County Planning Commission held a heated public hearing
on the proposed phasing policy. The policy would limit development
rights plus five percent of the total available division rights every
ten years. The tensions in Greene are much the same as in Albemarle
County, with many property owners concerned about the possibility of
diminished land values and proponents of the policy advocating for a
phasing policy as a path to rural preservation. The proposal will be
forwarded to the Board of Supervisors no earlier than September 22nd.

Public Comments Heard on the Proposed Mountain Overlay District

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Planning
Commission held a special joint public hearing on August 1st for
citizens of Albemarle County to comment on the proposed Mountain Overlay
District. Many landowners expressed concerns about how the new ordinance
could affect use of their property, objecting to special restrictions in
the mountains. Many argued that Albemarle County’s rural mountain
landscape has been preserved because of mountain landowners’ good
stewardship. Supporters of the ordinance sited the importance of
mountain land to the community in its entirety, arguing that it is in
citizens’ best interest for Albemarle County to exercise control over
this land.  To read comments submitted by the Free Enterprise Forum
click here
.

Although the Free Enterprise Forum is appreciative of the significant
time and commitment by all committee members, we are concerned with the
ordinance development and implementation stage of this process. The Free
Enterprise Forum has specific concerns that the requirement for
administrative waivers.  In cases where critical slopes would prevent
road construction to the only building site on a property, the waiver
process may preclude or extinguish uses on the land that the committee
did not intend. As we have seen with the Development Initiatives
Steering Committee (DISC), the straw proposal may be very different than
the eventual ordinance and enforcement of said ordinance.

In addition, the original straw proposal had three legs.  To date, only
the regulatory leg has seen significant exposure. The Free Enterprise
Forum will only be able to support such an ordinance with all three legs
of the proposal intact.

History:

After two years, the Mountain

Overlay District Steering Committee
recommended guidelines for the development of a mountain

overlay
district ordinance to the Board of Supervisors. At the May 10th work
session, the Board decided that comments would be heard from the public
prior to any action.  More details on the Mountain Overlay District
Committee are available here
.

Charlottesville and Albemarle to Construct a Regional Transit Authority

The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is advancing its intent to
organize a regional transit authority. The draft resolution proposed by
the MPO was approved by the Charlottesville City Council and the
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. The Metropolitan Planning
Organization has urged the participation of the University of Virginia
in planning a regional transit authority. Becca White, the director of
parking and transportation at UVA, will serve as the representative of
the University in talks about a regional transit authority.

The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the efforts of the MPO to work
toward regional cooperation. The Free Enterprise Forum encourages the
MPO to engage the surrounding counties to include them in the
discussions about a regional transit authority. According to the Bureau
of Economic Analysis, over 15,000 residents from Nelson, Louisa, Greene,
and Fluvanna commute to work in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Region.

Retreat for Louisa County Board of Supervisors to Discuss Controversial
A-2 zoning and Proffers

In March of 2005, Louisa County redesigned its subdivision
ordinance to allow owners of property zoned A-2 to realize 18 divisions
by right. The eleven extra lots allowed in the new ordinance were an
attempt to offset increased development costs, but Louisa County
Supervisors are rethinking that move, saying that they never intended to
allow large subdivisions. However, the county attorney and director of
community development have cautioned the board about their dubious legal
authority to deny proposals taking advantage of the March 2005 ordinance
change.

Supervisors have argued that the ordinance allows “discretionary
authority” to deny by right proposals based on the need for the Board of
Supervisors to approve road access.  However the ordinance language is
not specific in establishing terms of denial.  The Free Enterprise Forum
believes that discretionary authority in by right subdivisions is an
oxymoron.  If the proposal is allowed by right and is in compliance with
all the applicable ordinances, the Board does not have the legal
authority to deny the proposal.  If Louisa County wants to reduce the
number of lots allowable by right, the county should downzone the A-2
district, as Darren Coffey, director of community development has
suggested. Otherwise, the county has no choice but to approve
subdivisions which are in compliance with the ordinance.

Proffers will also be addressed at the September retreat. The long range
planning work group has endorsed a $4,362 proffer per unit at its July
meeting, according to the Central Virginian. 

Places 29 Meets Fresh Opposition in North 29 Neighborhoods in
Anticipation of Release of the Preferred Alternative

Residents of Forest Lakes and Hollymead attended a neighborhood
meeting July 25th at which many members of the neighborhood vocally
opposed interconnections through their neighborhood. Attendees also
expressed their concern and cynicism about infrastructure and how it
relates to the most recent iteration of the Places 29 Preferred
Alternative.
The Places 29 consultants are currently working to prepare a release a
draft of the Preferred Alternative to the public.  The Preferred
Alternative will be a “hybrid” of the second and third alternatives
presented at the May meetings. According to Judy Weigand, the draft will
be available on the Albemarle County website within the few months. The
consultants have been waiting on the completion of the transportation
modeling in order to include a proposed road network in the draft.
Weigand said that the modeling was taking longer than anticipated
because of the significant complexities of current and projected traffic
patterns. Both staff and the consultants are working to formulate a
format for presenting the transportation data at the next public
meeting. Staff hopes that the public meeting will be held before
Thanksgiving or in January of next year.

While the Free Enterprise Forum wishes for the Places 29 project to be
evaluated objectively, we are very disappointed that the project
designed to project the traffic patterns twenty years into the future
did not adequately project the time need for this project.

Background:

To view the three alternative maps click here
.

At the February 14th Albemarle Planning Commission meeting, The Free
Enterprise Forum again raised the concern about the importance of US 29
as a critical part of Virginia’s transportation network and the need for
transparency of public input. For more information click here.

To read The Free Enterprise Forum’s comments submitted to the Albemarle
Planning Commission regarding the Vision Statement, click here

To see the draft master plan click here

To see the fact sheets generated by county staff on the North 29
corridor click here

County staff has also placed an audio recording of the November 3rd
Public Workshop on the Places 29 website.  You can access this recording
here

Rural Preservation Policies May be Voted on in Tandem

Supervisor David Slutzky has said that clustering and phasing,
the mountain overlay ordinance and streamlining of the development
review process in the development areas should all be voted on together.
Believing that these issues are inextricably linked, Slutzky is a
pivotal vote on the Board and the driving force behind this joint voting
concept.

The Free Enterprise Forum respectfully cannot support this joint voting
concept.  Although each of these policies is designed to protect the
rural areas, they are distinct in their applications and their
subsequent impacts. The Free Enterprise Forum believes that Albemarle
County would be better served if the Albemarle Board of Supervisors
considers each of these policies on their own merits and limitations.

Nelson County Board of Supervisors to Grapple with Zoning Change this
Fall

Nelson County is still in the process of developing its zoning
ordinance. At the July 10th meeting, Nelson County Board Members
announced their desire to return to this issue after Supervisor
vacations are over. The Board will also consider if it will allow
residential dwelling units in areas zoned B-1.

At the February 27, 2006 Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board agreed
to the following division rights for parcels of 75 acres or less:
4-5 acres – 2 lots
5-10 acres – 3 lots
10-15 acres – 4 lots
15-20 acres – 5 lots
20-25 acres – 6 lots
25-35 acres – 7 lots
35-45 acres – 8 lots
45-55 acres – 9 lots
55-66 acres – 10 lots
65-75 acres – 11 lots

These division rights and the zoning ordinance are not yet finalized.
Stay tuned. 

Charlottesville to Reconfigure Neighborhood Allocations

The Charlottesville Planning Commission met to discuss the way
in which funds are distributed to neighborhoods. The Planning Commission
has decided to allocate fewer funds to each neighborhood in order to
address priority projects citywide. One commissioner pointed out that
the current system is inequitable, allocating the same amount of funds
to each neighborhood regardless of size or need.  Commissioners believe
that this reallocation will allow larger projects which have stagnated
to move forward. The commission will establish a committee through which
these larger projects will be assessed and filtered.

Rivanna in the Process of Permitting the Ragged Mountain Pipeline

The permit outlining the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s
preferred Community Water Supply option was filed on June 30th. The
preferred option involves expanding the capacity of the Ragged Mountain
Reservoir and the construction of a pipeline between Ragged Mountain and
the Rivanna Reservoir. Tom Fredrick, Executive Director of the Rivanna
Water and Sewer Authority, expects that it will be “several months”
before the Authority will hear back from the regulators.

History:

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority unanimously selected the preferred
Community Water Supply option on April 18th at Monticello High School.
The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority chose the Ragged Mountain Pipeline
as its preferred alternative. Go to the Rivanna website
to view the power point from the public
meeting.  Since that meeting, both Charlottesville City Council and the
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors have endorsed the plan.

The Free Enterprise Forum appreciates the effort of the RWSA to find a
viable alternative each of the options under consideration is designed
to meet the projected 50 year need for water in the community.  If the
community comes up with a workable solution to the 9.9 million gallons a
day projected need and then can permit and build it, future generations
will be served by this good stewardship.

Meanwhile, Fluvanna and Louisa Counties have secured a fifteen-year
permit allowing the Counties to pipe an average of 3 million gallons per
day from the James River. The permit, issued by the Virginia Department
of Environmental Quality, moved the county one step closer to moving
ahead with the $19 million dollar project. Louisa officials have entered
into talks with Fluvanna about splitting the pipeline’s building costs
and water rights.  According to a June 15th article by Greg Dorazio in
the Central Virginian: “Officials in both counties believe that the
water will help manage and direct development in the growing counties,
while increasing their tax bases.”

Louisa County Comprehensive Plan Inches Forward

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors held a Comprehensive
Plan Public Hearing on August 1st.  The Board used the opportunity to
solicit public comment, but did not vote for adoption of the Plan that
evening.

If the current incarnation of the Comprehensive Plan proposal is
approved, it will substantially increase the mixed-use designation along
the Interstate 64/Route 240 corridor and around Mineral and Louisa.  At
the April 13th and June 8th public hearings, many residents cautioned
the Planning Commission to carefully consider the impact of mixed use
development, questioning the proposed residential densities which would
apex at six units per acre in some areas.  Other residents have objected
to the streamlined review process of this Comprehensive Plan.

The view the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan go to the Louisa
County website  .  The current
comprehensive plan can be found here
. 

Louisa County Board of Supervisors Approve Meals Tax Referendum

Louisa County residents will decide if it is in their county’s
best interest to adopt a meals tax.  At the July 5th meeting of the
Louisa County Board of Supervisors, the Board approved a resolution to
put a meal tax referendum on the November ballot.  Although revenue for
the immediate future is expected to be meager, with continued growth in
Louisa and the projected increase in the number of restaurants, Louisa
County staff expects the tax to generate significant future revenues.

The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned that the specific use of this new
revenue, which will weigh heaviest on the tourism sector, has not yet
been determined.  If such a tax is needed, the proposed use of such
gains should be spelled out. 

Fluvanna Holding Citizen Discussion Sessions on Comprehensive Plan

Fluvanna County plans to “tweak” its comprehensive plan
regarding controversial issues such as economic development,
infrastructure development, density and rural preservation. After
initial talk of limiting public input, the Board of Supervisors voted to
allow the public significant opportunity to comment on the new plan.
Fluvanna County will be conducting a county-wide survey to assess the
County’s to access the citizens’ view County needs.

ics such as economic development, land use and development will be
discussed and a mandatory update will be coordinated by the planning
commission. Planning work sessions are scheduled through December to
allow citizen input on various aspects of the plan. Infrastructure was
discussed on August 9th and land use will be discussed in November and
December.

Useful Links

To go to Albemarle County’s online calendar click here

For the current Albemarle Planning Commission Agenda click here

For the current Albemarle Board of Supervisors Agenda click here
=

For the current Charlottesville City Council Meeting Agenda click here

To access the Charlottesville Planning Commission Agenda click here

For the Greene County Board of Supervisors Agenda click here

For the Greene County Planning Commission Agenda click here

To access the Nelson County Board and Planning Commission agendas click
here

To access the Fluvanna County Board and Planning Commission agendas
click here   

Important Upcoming Dates

September 5th Charlottesville City Council Meeting 7pm CCH

September 5th Albemarle County Planning Commission Meeting 6pm ACOB/Mc

September 6th Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors Meeting 7pm FCC

September 7th Albemarle Development Review Committee Meeting 4pm ACOB/Mc
3rd floor

September 12th Albemarle County Planning Commission Meeting 6pm ACOB/Mc

September 13th Albemarle County Board of Supervisors 6pm ACOB/Mc
(Expedited Engineering Review)

September 13th Charlottesville Planning Commission (Affordable Housing
Zoning Text Amendment, South Lawn Project) 6:30pm, CCH

September 18th Charlottesville City Council Meeting 7pm CCH

September 19th Albemarle County Planning Commission 6pm ACOB/Mc

September 20th Fluvanna Board of Supervisors Meeting 7pm FCC

September 20th Metropolitan Planning Organization 4pm TJPDC

September 21st Development Review Committee Meeting 4pm ACOB/Mc 3rd
Floor

September 25th Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Meeting 2pm RWSA

September 26th Albemarle Planning Commission Meeting 6pm ACOB/Mc

RWSA-Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Moore’s Creek Office
ACOB/Mc – Albemarle County Office Building McIntire Rd
ACOB/5th -Albemarle County Office Building 5th Street
CCH – Charlottesville City Hall
GCAB – Greene County Administration Building
FCCC – Fluvanna County Circuit Court
NCC- Nelson County Courthouse
TJPDC- Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission Office

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Copyright Free Enterprise Forum 2006
This publication is a product of the Free Enterprise Forum. For more
information on the items addressed in this issue or on other

ics
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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