Franz Nicolay

Franz Nicolay, keyboard player from Springsteeny buzz-band The Hold Steady, stops by Boylan Heights (!?) to drum up support for his impending solo album Major General, which is slated for release next month.

Franz Nicolay - World/Inferno Vs. The End Of The Evening

Local songwriter Andy Waldeck opens.

Andy Waldeck - Those Days Are Gone
Andy Waldeck - Ordinary Men
Andy Waldeck - Diggin Me
Andy Waldeck - Healing


Andy Waldeck will play an opening acoustic set at 9pm. Franz will follow Andy around 10pm.

The very notion that the ability of government, to trample over the rights of a landowner, right here in the very county whose native son embellished the very notion of liberty, is tragic. It is the quintessential example of a government reigning with excessive power and tyrannical methods.
John and Amy Harris are not only owed an apology by the county, they are rightfully owed monetary considerations as well. They filed and obtained permits. They purchased land with the intent of building a home. Just how does one place a monetary value on all that this story entails? John and Amy also seem as if they are being dealt unexpected obstacles, simply because they may be building a precedent setting home. So what? It is after all, (1) Their land, (2) Their home, and (3) THEIR MONEY! This is supposed to be America after all.
Let all of those individuals, who claim that they are so concerned about the preservation of the rural areas, PURCHASE THEM! If they are unable or unwilling to, then let them be silent! America's very foundation was predicated upon the notion of the rights of the land owner. Were these unnecessary ordinances in place during Mr. Jeffersons time, Monticello would not even have been allowed to have been built.
It seems that the Harris's have had the unfortunate luck of having purchased land surrounded by envious busy bodies, whose district is represented by an individual failing to both recognize and understand the historical and philopsophical origins of our society.
As citizens, we can only hope that the protection and conservation of the created is fine, but should not occur at the expense of the rights granted unto each of us by the Creator. When citizens are as engaged with their government with as much passion as they show towards athletics and entertaimnent, we may see a return to common sense government. So long as we continue to see displayed the overall sense of apathy and general ignorance that we have heretofore witnessed, then there is little hope.
I hope that John and Amy can obtain some margin of justice in this matter, and ultimately be granted the rights that landowners have held for so long.

H. Lee Martin,

Are you forgetting the fact that the land was being cleared illegally? Ignore for a moment the irresponsibility of building a 19,000-sq-ft home in this day of energy crisis and wars fought over oil, or even the absurdity of considering a million-dollar home without a stove an "out building". The Harris family was violating what was supposed to be a lifetime conservation easement. That the hubris involved in making such decisions should be attributed to two UVA alums is all that much more disturbing. That the County stepped up in support of one of the oldest such conservation agreements in the county is commendable.

Would the County had had enough spine to make similar decisions when they approved Faulconer Construction Company's use of a vacant lot in the Ivy "Industrial" Park without protecting an existing agricultural buffer in place since the boondogle "Park" was approved over thirty years ago. Though the removal of the buffer was undeniably caused by a mistake by the county staff and compounded by failure of the county to notify adjacent property owners of subsequent rezoning, state code protected the county from such a "mistake" and deception (one of many in the history of this "Park") simply on the basis of time-passed.

I for one am happy to see any "mistakes" on the part of the county in approving this most recent rape of our countryside, abuse of the approval system by the wealthy, or simple disregard for the property rights of adjacent property owners to the property in question come into question before too much time has passed to correct it. When a C.W. Hurt employee almost directly across the road from Turner Mountain tried to fudge his foundation footprint on an arguably un-buildable lot formerly owned by his employer, the county also stopped work, eventually allowing construction after adjusting the footings on a lot that still couldn't possibly support the required back-up septic system within stream setbacks. But at least they enforced something. The history in this county of developers and wealthy land-owners simply doing whatever they please without regard for zoning, ordinances, and laws in general is ugly at best. Conservation easements are generally a joke, available only to the wealthy, benefiting the county only in the short term until the tax advantage over the preceding decade is reimbursed to the county and the perfunctory process of applying for zoning variance to overbuild gains approval for the scions of developers and concrete monopolies. Let's applaud the county for showing its spine to this upper-class abuse of the public and hope it's not the last time we see it.

You have only to look at County tax records to see what a sham conservation tax credits and assessments are in such cases. The property in question here sold for nearly twice one recent assessment within a year of that assessment, and was reassessed at almost half the Harris' purchase price within months of the purchase. County taxpayers, like myself, who have lived in their homes for over twenty years and have seen 40% increases in their property tax assessments in the last two years should be outraged. We can't keep up with school construction in Albemarle because of the cost of growth, and yet the wealthy aren't even being assessed at what the County adjusters tell me is a state requirement of "market value". When I made this argument to the County a year ago when a house next door to mine in Ivy was assessed months after a sale at well below the sale price the reply was, "They paid too much." What is "market value"? Why aren't Mr. and Mrs. Harris being ask to pay taxes base on their purchase price? Why does H. Lee Martin want to give the absurdly wealthy yet another pass at abusing the system under the guise of protecting the rights of property owners? What about the rights of the rest of us to assume "lifetime" easements stay that way and that everyone, regardless of wealth or connections, pay their fare share to support the county they wish to call home?

Conservation easements are a total waste of taxpayer we see here.

Tragically, they also counter efforts at creating affordable housing.

When the intent (if not the letter) of the conservation easement law is obeyed, you are basically spending money with the end result being a reduction in the amount of buildable land (ie reduction in supply). Supply is reduced and price goes up. At the same time, money is spent on affordable housing. Its a tug of war, with the taxpayer on both sides.

What a waste, what if that money spent by the county on the 1992 conservation easement would have been deposited into a fund, how much would it be today? How many affordable homes could be bought? How mant teachers, cops, E.M.T.'s, of firfighters could be hired?

This mansion is a good thing. It finally will force people to think and see the terrible conservation easement program for what it redistributed to pay people to conserve land who would have done so anyway. Its a handout to those who simply don't need it. And it works against affordable housing by restricting the supply of buildable land.

Yes Virginia, housing prices, like all prices, are controlled by supply and demand.

Old Ivy Resident,
If the state of ignorance is bliss, then you must be euphoric. I have rarely seen someone so proudly demonstrate both their arrogance, and lack of knowledge simultaneously. Mr. Martin is quite correct, and if you were to take the time to learn your history, you would understand where his point of view stems from.
You assert that the land was being cleared illegally. Did you not read the report. Mr. and Mrs.Harris received a favorable nod from the county, PRIOR to their purchase of the land. They explained up front, what their intentions were. The county APPROVED this. They purchased the land, and commenced the operations that had already been approved.
You assert that the construction of this home is irresponsible. Who are you to make such a judgement upon someone elses property? I could visit your home, and no doubt find something that I could consider as equally irresponsible. Shall I take it upon myself, or through the bullying tactics of local government, to effect changes to YOUR PROPERTY. Old Ivy, you are not the land owner, and you do not pay the bills, nor will this house have any impact upon you. Please then, hold your tongue. Its not any of your business.
You cite the companies of C.W. Hurt, and Faulconer Construction. Do they not pay taxes? Do they not, through their labors, contribute to the coffers of the community? Should they not be allowed to make decisions for THEIR PROPERTY AND THEIR BUSNIESSES? Should John and Amy Harris, after having worked for their educations at U. VA, and then having worked for the last quarter of a century, be deprived the fruits of their labors? Are you in favor of communisim? In Romania, the former communist leadership, under the auspices of "conserving and protecting" the local environment, removed all of its citizens from the rural areas. They were forced to live in the city, in high rise apartments. Your proposal is much akin to that.
You can attempt to divert the point as much as you want, but Lee has it nailed. The issue is rights. We can strip the rich of theirs now, but one day, your will be gone as well. Then, who will be able to stand. No one.
The county made the mistake. If they had been told upfront, I am quite certain that Mr. and Mrs. Harris more than liklely would not have bought the land. So, 2.1 million dollars later, are we just supposed to go "opps, we goffed, To bad, to sad?" I say no. Either let them build, or pay them back for ALL of their troubles. Then, get the blazes out of the way, and go govern something that needs to be micro managed. Leave the rights of the landowners alone.
Your attitude is both arrogant and un-American. Again I ask you, what if it were you? Would you want me, or anyone else dictating what you can do. Property ownership is as fundamental to the American way of life, as the air and water required for the body to live. I would bet that if it were you, you would be crying foul as well.
Individuals with your attitude are so adept at controlling others, at no cost to yourself. Perhaps a one way ticket to China would cure your ills. Tend your own backyard, theone that you paid for, and let everyone else tend theirs, and this would be such a FAR BETTER COUNTRY!

And here in a nutshell is the heart of a good many of the conflicts in our country. The land rich cry property rights. The rest cry foul.

This is not 200 years ago. We all should have learned better.

This land belongs to god, the world, the human race, the american nation, the state of virginia, the county of albemarle, and then to the individual. When, through the use of your property, you deceive, abuse, or otherwise infringe upon the others, do not insult them further by crying of property rights.

The property in question had restrictions on it when approval for the new home was given. It was, indeed, a mistake on the part of county staff to grant approval for the new building. Just as was the Ivy Industrial Park approval back in 1971 when Bill Dettor made promises he never kept to a primarily poorer black neighborhood. And again with the subsequent comprehensive-zoning map mis-coloring of the Dettor agricultural buffer by one Jan Sprinkle of the County staff a decade later (it's in the record). At least in the case of Faulconer Construction they understood the mistake and had the county approve their plan to ignore the buffer prior to buying the property. It's not clear from the article if the Harris family made their building permit inquiry before buying the property from the Cones or not. You, Patriot, assume they did. I'll wager you're incorrect. The Cones, previous owners of the property who constructed the original home there, knew they were restricted to the terms of the conservation easement. Others with homes in the vicinity knew about it, too. That's in part what made this spot in Turner Mountain so attractive. The conservation easement is fine when it restricts density and takes land out of more intense use, and only if it stays that way. What you seem to be against is the conservation tax credit for simply keeping twenty acres surrounding a one-acre building site in trees, which is not a conservation easement. But when property restrictions are entered into willingly by the property owner with the understanding that they will stand in perpetuity, then that isn't violating anyone's rights.

The County made a mistake approving any clearing that would cumulatively surpass the easement's restrictions. Approved or not, it is still illegal. The County is, hopefully, taking careful steps to make sure their mistake doesn't trample on the rights of those adjacent property owners who knew about and were attracted by the conservation easement in their neighborhood. As I said before, I only wish the County had owned-up to their mistake on the Faulconer/Dettor property before it was too late. Faulconer did nothing illegal. That they took advantage of a County mistake to purchase un-buildable land at a bargain price might be suspect if done in collusion with County staff though. Upholding the laws and ordinances is not un-American unless only those who can afford to manipulate the laws or buy their way around them have property rights in my country. Did I miss that constitutional amendment? Never mind the reality!

What? No comment about the County under-assessing the property by 50% even after the sale? Of the absurdity of being able to claim a million-dollar home an outbuilding by removing the stove to avoid zoning restrictions? Instead you attack me as a socialist? I take pride in your indignant response. Thanks, and consider this a bump for discussion.

2 + .7 = 2.00 is the zoning department's new math. Even Catlin couldn't get the numbers right when she states the new structure wil1 be a "19,000-square-foot house". What is a an extra 500 sq ft. anyway?
The question I'd like to hang my hat on is after the 19,500 sq ft house is built, what prevents a person from sliding a stove and fridge out of the closet and back into the kitchen? Seems like a second home or rental to me.

Perhaps the landowner's rights folks should read up on the term Conservation Easment prior to posting nonsense.

I first heard about conservation easements a few years ago and spent quite a bit of time to learn exactly how the process works. I felt like I had figured out what appears to be a tax break for the wealthy is really a good thing overall because the end result of these easements is beneficial in many ways - slowing down growth, creating animal habitats, enhancing the beauty of our area, etc.

This particular story makes me return to my originally skeptical viewpoint. People are going to do what they want - especially if they have a ton of money and don't give a rat's ass about the environment or their neighbors.

T.S. Wilson,

You're argument putting rural preservation against affordable housing is quite mistaken. When you reference supply and demand, you are forgetting that while the supply may be local the demand is national. Thus, there's no possible way for us to locally create enough supply to decrease demand. The only thing that can do that is the housing market.

If you want proof of this, then do an informal survey of the people living in any of these new developments. They aren't people from the area, but rather from Northern Virginia and further away. We simply can't house everyone in NOVa and any policy that attempts to try will be a disaster. The other proof of this is that creation of the growth areas has not made housing any more affordable.

I grew up in Ivy, and it's lamentable that Albemarle granted the permit, but it's good that they did the right thing in the end. It seems pretty clear that the Harris Family bought the land knowing that there was an easement, and so it really doesn't seem shocking to me that they should be asked to abide by it. I also think the "outbuilding" loophole is a bit deceptive anyway, unless they county requires the original house to be demolished upon completion of the new home.

Why were our forefathers so outraged by the stamp act? Why did they protest their lack of representation in Parliament? Why did Thomas Jefferson scribe the Declaration of Independence? Why did George Washington lead an underfed, underarmed army through the trial of Valley Forge?
Upon what foundation was America fabricated? What is the Constitution, and what are the Bill of Rights? If you know and can accurately answer these questions, then you can not espouse such stupidity, and defend it.
There seems to be this notion that this is the perfect opportunity to sock it to the rich. Lets remember one important fact. The fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not pesants with pitch forks.They were men of means. Men with property and wealth. If anyone had reason NOT to desire a separation from England, it was these men. They had everything to lose, and they did. Why? Because they were blessed with the divine vision of a nation where everyone had the equal rights of liberty. The lost their property and their finances, to give us the country we now stand upon the threshold of losing.
Lets not forget, The Harris's were apparently more than aware of the conversation easement. This is why they made all of the appropriate inquiries of the county, prior to their purchase of the property. Then, after the purchase, while still following the prescribed rules and regulations, the county approved their plans. You do not obtain building permits without approval from the county. They commence their project.
It was not until envious busy body neighbors found a cowardly method of disrupting things, did politicians pandering to environmental extremists step in, and find a method to deprive honest hard working citiznes of their rights.
Lets be clear. This country wad predicated upon the notion of individual rights. The Harris's worked hard and now have the money to build their dream home. Those of you, who believe this is a wonderful time to sack the wealthy, with your get-even-with-them attitude need to remember the fifty-six signers of the Declaration.
Sure, lets sack the rich. Lets show them a thing or two. Lets deprive them of their rights. After you deprive the wealthy of their rights, which group will be targeted next? Eventually, one day, you will be targeted. By then, who will be arounf to stand in the gap?
It is so simple to support the deprivation of rights when it is not your rights that are in the balance. But like a snowball rolling down a hill, the monster grows. By the time it hits your area of life, it is a juggernaut that stands without opposition, and you will be rolled over.
If politicians, and the likes of the Piedmont Environmental Council, and all the other varied and assorted parties that are so committed to the preservation of the environment are so serious, let them raise the money required to buy up this land. Pay the current owners the fair market value for this land, and by fair market I mean be ready to pay what they could get from ANYONE else interested. Let them purchase the land, let them pay the taxes, and then let the land sit pristine and untouched.
I resent the notion that just because I own land in the rural area, I get to pay the taxes, I get to keep up the land through my blood sweat and tears, but someone else gets to dictate to me what I can and can not do with my land.
On the day that we can be so positively giddy about the deprivation of individual righs, then as a society, we are all like sheep being lead to slaughter. So please, imbribe yourself of the delicious wine of revenge. Drink in the pleasant aroma of evening a score with people you chose to represent all of the rich. When the bottle runs dry, you will find yourself standing alone, with no one left to cry out for the protection of your rights.

I am primarily a conservative who believes in individual rights and capitalism. But I also believe in fairness and following the rules without "loopholes". Rules should be for everyone... rich or poor... or change them for everyone. The county was wrong to be so inconsistent.
I don't believe that protecting our environment has to be in such conflict with individual rights. What you do with your land impacts others. That is so obvious. Water.... air.... it can't be contained.
Most of the other "rich" people (and not rich) in this county want the beauty of the area preserved. These organizations... like the Piedmont Environmental Council ... are protecting not just the environment but also in some ways are protecting that beauty.... and that helps you too.
It is interesting reading the above letters from the writer who seems to be so protective of the Harris' and seems to know things about them that were not in the Hook article. It makes me wonder about their objectivity. The writer also seems to be seeing this as a 'rich' against 'not rich' issue, depite the fact that the neighborhood in question doesn't seem to fit.
What about the rights of the people who put this land into a conservation easement in the first place. What about the rights of all the rich people who put their land in conservation to preserve it the way it is? Don't they have rights too? Aren't there also tax breaks involved here?
I hope that the county does what they truly believe to be fair for all the citizens of Albemarle.