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Redistricting Albemarle’s Schools, APFs and Proffers – Take 2


Redistricting, by its very nature tears families and communities apart. And that sucks. But it is what it is.

There’s quite a conversation happening in Albemarle County right now as many school districts are undergoing redistricting discussions – evaluating current, past and projected enrollment numbers. I’ve been writing about the proposed redistricting a lot in part because schools matter. Better schools = better housing prices. (and better educated kids, too, presumably)

As I’ve told my clients for years:

1 – The only way to be assured that your kid is going to go to that school is if that school is private.

2 – Always. Always. Always. Check your school district – yourself – before you buy a home.

Albemarle is going to grow. There will be more people here. In Albemarle: 115k in 2020, 134k in 2030, 155k in 2040. (see: Weldon Cooper Center) Schools will need to grow. (so will roads, bike lanes, taxes).

We need to accept and deal with the growth, no matter our internal struggles with the ramifications of growth.

Now (really, 10 years ago) is the time to plan for such things.

A few ideas:

Adequate Public Facilities legislation. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, so the localities can’t do anything without the General Assembly’s blessing. Learn who your legislators are. Find out who funds them. Get organized. Understand that getting such legislation is likely going to take longer to enact than your kids are going to be in elementary (and probably middle, maybe high) school.

Proffers. Each new family costs money. Each student (new or old) costs money. I’m somewhat making this number up, but if a student costs $10k to educate at a public school (really, why no vouchers to allow choice?), and the home brings in between $1500 per year for a $200k home to $4500 for a $600k home … these homes are not paying for themselves. The bulk of school funding comes from property taxes.

Special Tax District. I know other areas of the country have school taxes (and fire taxes, etc) – would you consider paying a school tax if you could be assured that the money would be spent wisely and only for schools (not increased bureaucracy or unnecessary administrators)?

Limit population : Now that you’re here, would you want a cap on how many people are permitted to live in Albemarle County? (see: ASAP)

Make no mistake; there are social and economic demographic idiosyncrasies in each of these schools that distinguish each school.

Neighborhoods may be split; the biggest target is Old Trail, but other neighborhoods are likely to face splits … does it have to be this way?

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Growth, roads and APF’s

What happens when the Commonwealth does distribute some of its budget surplus and the County remains firm in their anti-growth strategy?The DP notes that:If state officials allow localities to pass adequate public facilities ordinances, as they’re known, local governments could reject developments based on a lack of supporting infrastructure, such as roads and water sources.  More likely, they could demand that developers pay for the needed improvements.Over at Bacon’s Rebellion, a this comment states:I would hope the debate would go toward asking why localities make zoning decisions that are seemingly not in their self-interest.  Because if you look at their motivation – raising real estate tax revenue – it will lead you back to the General Assembly, and their decisions on how much funding localities should receive for things such as education, public safety, etc., as well as how localities can raise money on their own.Yeah, an honest and fair discussion is a good place to start.

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Land use, APFs and the public good

There is a good discussion over at the Road to Ruin about this article in the DP that highlights the conflict, yet necessary relationship between private developers and the public good/public infrastructure.Note also Bacon’s Rebellion’s discussion about the recent forum held by the State’s new Economic Development Executive Director.I won’t step on their discussion.  If you’re interested, check them out.  The land use issue are ones that will continue to affect us as growth continues.

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APF, Bird Flu

Jim Bacon says:Tim Kaine has gone astray.  He’s taken a populist, NIMBY-like position here.  The problem in Virginia isn’t “out of control” growth, and the solution isn’t giving local governments the power to nix proposed developments that will generate negative traffic impacts.  Kaine’s proposal would simply give local governments power to block projects without enouraging them to make the kinds of positive changes they need to make.APFs are good in a theoretical vacuum; in practice, they simply don’t work.Bird Flu preparations.

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Albemarle County Schools’ Populations Are Growing. Unexpectedly. ?!

Is anyone other than the politicians surprised?

The question is – would you support an Adequate Public Facility ordinance?

Aaron Richardson at the Daily Progress reports:

Some Albemarle County schools could exceed their capacity sooner than expected, thanks to rapid growth.

Supervisor Ken Boyd curiously chooses the word “adequately” when referring to funding*

“We’re committed to providing adequate educational opportunities in this county, but we’re going to have to look at what other capital improvement projects we have going on,” Boyd said. “We’d have to take a more holistic view than, ‘Gee, have we got $46 million more to spend on education?’”

“Curious” because either:

1 – He thinks the County should offer merely “adequate” education rather than “world class”.*

2 – He’s laying the groundwork for a conversation about adequate public facilities (which tend to be opposed by Realtors) , the long-debated ordinance that would essentially prevent new homes’ construction before adequate infrastructure/fire & rescue/school/etc was in place.

Better schools increase house prices.

At some point, the politicians and the people need to understand that our population is growing, and they need to plan accordingly.

What is an adequate public facilities ordinance? I found the following definition in 2005:

An Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) is a law adopted by the local government that allows it to defer the approval of developments based upon a finding by the governing body that public facilities would not be not adequate to support the proposed development at build out.

What are the components of an effective APF ordinance?

• Identifies the types of public facilities to be considered.

• Limits the period of time during which the deferral on development imposed by an APFO can be in force.

• Requires the locality to have in place a capital facilities plan to remedy the infrastructure inadequacy that has been the basis for the development deferral.

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Somerset Farm – It’s What’s Next

Somerset Farm – Neighborhood centers, pedestrian-oriented, close to downtown Charlottesville …

From the Comprehensive Plan Report:

Neighborhoods centers would be developed as focal points for congregating. These central districts could include commercial or civic spaces that provide services, employment opportunities and gathering places for residents, reminiscent of European and pre suburban American villages

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