Date Archives May 2013

Tweeting Albemarle Community Advisory Council Meetings

I attended last night’s Crozet Community Advisory Council meeting, tweeted as much as I could and just put together a Storify of the meeting. Albemarle has a few of these Advisory Councils:

Crozet Community Advisory Council, Pantops Community Advisory Council, Places 29 (29 North), Village of Rivanna (east of Pantops) – and there are vacancies on the Pantops, Places 29 and Village of Rivanna Councils.

Here’s the thing – I learned a ton by being at and live-tweeting the meeting, and I noticed that I was getting interaction and questions from other people on Twitter who were unable to attend the meeting. I’ve made no secret of my affinity for Charlottesville Tomorrow; they are invaluable and their recent partnerships with the HooK and C-Ville will prove moreso.

But … having someone in the meeting engaging the community following was super-valuable. I’ve noticed this in Crozet several times as a watcher – one following the meeting from the outside. I’m interested in what’s happening at the meeting, but can’t attend (kids, work, family, etc) and a live-stream wouldn’t be as useful as tweets.

Take a look at the storify from last night’s Crozet meeting – there were a couple things in there that likely wouldn’t have made any story published elsewhere – they’re asides, but valuable asides, and mentions that don’t warrant individual stories. They’re valuable tweet-worthy asides.

What’s the point? The point is this –

If you can, find your way to community meetings – particularly ones that aren’t covered by media – and get involved, tweet the meetings and tell others. A lot of stuff happens and gets discussed in these meetings, and most often, the wider public learns about them after decisions are made.

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Confidence in the (Charlottesville) Lending World

Nate Delesline writes a good piece in today’s Daily Progress about the uphill battle faced in the local real estate economy with respect to the lending environment.

Matt Hodges sums up current thinking:

“I’m bullish on the lending market and the real estate market locally,” said Hodges. “We believe that there’s even going to be a greater demand this year than last.”

“There was a pendulum swing where it was way too easy and then it was way too hard to get a mortgage,” said Hodges, who has worked in Charlottesville for 14 years. “Today, consumers still believe that’s it harder to get a loan than it actually is.”

From my perspective as a buyer’s representative – if you’re qualified, you can get a loan. Getting a loan is a far, far more tedious process than it used to be, but it’s absolutely doable. There are challenges that need to be navigated, including the application process, appraisals, underwriting … but these are all surmountable challenges, particularly if you as a buyer have surrounded yourself with the right team.

Remember: lenders don’t ask for things repeatedly because they are bored – they’re asking more questions because they have to. Unlike the previous market, lenders do have some risk if they make bad loans. And we all benefit from a reasonably more stringent lending world. I’m not saying it’s perfect (and never will be). The knee-jerk responses (see: HVCC) by an ignorant, paid-for Congress are extreme, but I feel that we’re on a path to balance. Hopefully.

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Bundoran Farm’s Second Act

Bundoran Farm, the preservation development near North Garden and Batesville in Southern Albemarle was foreclosed on last year.

Dave McNair at The Hook reports on how they’re moving forward under new ownership. I’ve always loved that development and wish it was viable on a larger scale.

Either way – as Dave reports, they should be able to make a much better run at it; the original price in 2006 was $31 million; the foreclosed sale price was $7.5 million.

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Jim’s May Monthly Note – Coming this Week

If you’re interested in reading what I never publish here, I’ll be publishing my monthly note this week; this note is a bit more personal as it’s to a deliberately limited audience. I write about real estate, ethics, insight I don’t publish here (or anywhere else).

I’m having a lot of fun writing this note, have received some of the most thoughtful replies I’ve ever received, and I’m truly grateful for the growth in readers every month. If you sign up today (or tomorrow) I’ll send you last month’s note.

thankfully powered by TinyLetter

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Remove Cash Proffers in Albemarle?

If not cash proffers, what?

An interesting proposal from the Free Enterprise Forum to remove cash proffers from Albemarle County’s toolbox for managing new growth. I’m curious to know what alternatives exist that would replace proffers. Proffers are not always effective at restricting growth or helping the County achieve the desired revenue stream to support infrastructure development.

Impact fees, adequate public facilities regulations and legislation … what else could be done so that new homeowners don’t bear the full burden of growth? (it’s not merely mean old rich developers who pay the fees … they pass those fees on to new homeowners). This is one bill that failed in the Virginia General Assembly a few years ago – Conditional zoning; replaces cash proffer system with system of impact fees.

The only answer which I can come up with now is that there is no easy answer as to how to pay for the impacts of growth and the lack of sufficient infrastructure, other than we can all agree that both need to be paid for, but we want someone else to pay for it.

I’m curious as to how many developments have gone by-right (not needing a rezoning) because going through the proffer/rezoning process and paying the proffers were cost-prohibitive.

If you’re curious about impact fees (which I believe are traditionally fought by real estate/developers, but I could be wrong), spend a few minutes reading the Virginia Code

A. Any locality that includes within its comprehensive plan a calculation of the capital costs of public facilities necessary to serve residential uses may impose and collect impact fees in amounts consistent with the methodologies used in its comprehensive plan to defray the capital costs of public facilities related to the residential development.

B. Impact fees imposed and collected pursuant to this section shall only be used for public facilities that are impacted by residential development.

C. A locality imposing impact fees as provided in this section shall allow credit against the impact fees for cash proffers collected for the purpose of defraying the capital costs of public facilities related to the residentialdevelopment. A locality imposing impact fees as provided in this section shall also include within its comprehensive plan a methodology for calculating credit for the value of proffered land donations to accommodate public facilities, and for the construction cost of any public facilities or public improvements the construction of which is required by proffer.

D. A locality imposing impact fees under this section may require that such impact fees be paid prior to and as a condition of the issuance of any necessary building permits for residential uses. ¶

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