New BOS in town: Enviros ready to make 4-2 hay

Ann Mallek's November election to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors signaled a shift in a governing body that's often been at a 3-3 impasse. How quickly that shift occurred has left the now-minority members stunned– and crying foul.

At last week's January 16 meeting, Supervisor Sally Thomas requested that three rural protection ordinances– controversial topics at an October 10 public hearing– be put on the agenda for this week's January 23 meeting.

Board Chair Ken Boyd– whose votes often seem to fall on the side of property rights, along with those of Lindsay Dorrier and ousted supe David Wyant– was out of town, and the board voted 5-0 in his absence to discuss the proposed stream buffer, family subdivision, and critical slope ordinances tomorrow– and presumably vote on them.

"I was really quite surprised because they're such controversial issues in the community," says Boyd. "Sally knew I was going to be out of town weeks ago. I'm surprised they're going to discuss and vote on it at an afternoon meeting when many people can't come."

Most changed is the critical slopes ordinance, which caused consternation in October with its limits on construction of driveways with a 25 percent or greater slope. That's been pretty much ditched, and the revised ordinance calls for driveway access for emergency vehicles.

The family subdivision ordinance originally required property owners to own land for 15 years before subdividing and then hold it another 15 years. That's has been revised to four years before and after subdivision.

Least changed of the three ordinances is the 100-foot stream buffer, which restricts construction near streams– even near intermittent streams.

"There's been so much modification," says Boyd. "How are people going to get information with the county office building closed Friday and Monday?" (Buildings were closed for the Lee-Jackson and Martin Luther King holidays.)

According to Boyd, if there had been a public hearing for a rezoning and if there had been such "drastic changes," the board would insist on another public hearing. And he notes that the January 23 agenda is already full. "Maybe it's already a done deal, but I hope not," he says.

"They've got the votes," he acknowledges, but he adds, "To cut the public out is what really bothers me."

Boyd also slams the Planning Commission, of which Marcia Joseph, his opponent in the November election, is a member. "I'm really discouraged how the Planning Commission handled it," he says. "They didn't do due diligence. It's become politicized. They're supposed to be a deliberative group, not set policy. They've become an advocacy group. I've heard of members stomping out of meetings."

Dorrier, the Scottsville rep, was at the January 16 meeting and originally favored adding the ordinances to the January 23 agenda. But he now says, "I thought about it and said, 'Wait a minute, something's wrong here– the public hasn't been included.'"

Adding the ordinances to the agenda "is not normal procedure," he says, and they should go back to the Planning Commission before returning to the BOS.

"We're not doing what's right by the public," Dorrier insists. "And it's not anything urgent," especially if "we're going to take away rights from property owners."

Dorrier says he'd rather have more public involvement than less. "I wouldn't call it a coup d'etat, but I would call it an end-run around the Planning Commission and the public," he says.

Sally Thomas disagrees. She says she asked for the changes in the ordinances at a public meeting in December. "I certainly would not characterize this as anything back door since the public hearing and all the work on this has been done in the public," she says. "It would have been more impolite to ask staff to put it on the agenda without that conversation."

She says she called Boyd to let him know she was putting the ordinances on the agenda, but he had already left town. "It would have been behind his back if we voted on it while he was away," she says.

The changes to the ordinances are all in the direction the public hearing indicated; another public hearing would be appropriate only if the changes had been "more stringent," she says. Thomas contends the board is being "responsive" and "respectful" to the public by moving toward a vote instead of "keeping the issue dangling."

Jay Willer is executive vice president with the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association. His concern: "At the moment they've rewritten all three ordinances, and we have a new board member who was not an official member in October" at the public hearing.

The changes to the critical slopes and family subdivisions are "probably improvements," he concedes, but he figures the stream buffer will place under county purview an amount of land 50 percent larger than the city of Charlottesville. "No matter what you think of the buffer, this is not an inconsequential control of land," he says.

He's also critical of taking the vote on January 23 because of the change in the ordinances' impacts since October and because Mallek wasn't on the board then. "It may be legal, but it's bad government," he declares.

Mallek was at the October 10 public hearing. "I was quite well informed," she says. "I listened and took notes for the entire six hours." And she feels comfortable participating in the discussion as a board member.

"I was very upfront on my views," she says, calling them "very transparent," adding that they should come as no surprise.

Of the most controversial ordinance, the one concerning stream buffers, she points out that the White Hall District has had 100-foot buffers for the past 30 years. "It was a surprise to people who say I've ruined their lives," says Mallek.

The ordinance puts the 100-foot buffers into effect east of U.S. 29.

And while critics see the rural ordinance vote as rushed, supporters wonder what's taken the board so long to act. "We've all gotten requests from constituents to finish it," says Mallek.
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35 comments

Cville Eye, I agree with you on both these points. They should put out an information sheet, especially given the history of misinformation around many of these issues (aka like all the people who wrongly thought that the buffer would apply to agriculture). Ironically, I'm in full support of Boyd's idea for the board to create a FAQ for the public prior to the meeting. Of course there is a limit, and to some degree it is the citizen's reponsibility to go to attend information sessions about laws that affect them. In fifteen years, any reasonable person could have gotten all their questions answered with a minimum of effort.

Also, I agree about the property rights issue as well. I think there is only a percieved conflict which is many been encouraged by local developemtn interests. The truth is that any county wide reduction in number of houses one can build will increase property value. That means those people who are afraid of losing money on their land investments really have little to fear. In addition, while I do think it is time for the county to wield the stick against the most egregious of development practices, and those thwarting the intent of the rural area, I also feel very strongly that we need to be twice, as generous in the "carrots" we offer to reward those already being good stewards and following responsible building practices. In fact, the last mountain protection ordinance that I supported was bundled with a significant number of incentives. It's worth noting that when the BOS unwisely killed it, they killed all the incentives, as well. The only thing we are left with now are the handful of ordinances in front of you, with no matching set of incentives. That's a shame, but we really have CAAR and the Farm Bureau to thank for that.

Even so, at this point, I'm not willing to hold out any longer for a more comprehensive set of policies. If rural protection has to be passed piecemeal then so be it. It's almost a point of principle to enact these last fragments so that we can finally close that chapter and start in a new direction.

How about getting the BOS and zoning board to enforce the zoning regulations already on the books? Instead they make exceptions for big developers that promise them huge proffers. THAT is the "real" problem.

It's pretty much obvious to me that people who are against these ordinances are basically just against any kind of zoning or rural protection whatsoever. Attempts to compromise with them over many years have gone absolutely nowhere. Never once do these "concerned farmers" suggest reasonable ordinances that would protect the rural character and the environment that they'd actually support. Even when the county assembled a panel containing a diverse segment of the population involving business interests, developers, environmentalists and citizens, to come up with a reasonable compromise ordinance the "property rights" folks and so-called "farmers" came out to shoot it down. Frankly, over the fifteen years this has gone on, I've lost most sympathy I had for these folks.

bebopaloobop, you're unfortunately just another sad example of that. You quote things you've heard without even bothering to read real research or think about this issue from the other perspective. For example, have you considered that the same chemical that makes your grass green near the septic system is also what makes algae choke local ponds and streams? People buy "poop" from farmers because it contains natural fertilizers. Nitrates and Phosphates, while they increase growth of things like lawn grass and corn, also are leaching into streams and killing the bay. This buffer ordinance that you detest, was passed in the 1980's by the Virgina State Senate which gave localities the right to enact these buffers for the sake of the Bay. IF there is so "little science" as you suggest that these buffers are worthwhile then why have they been around uncontested for 30 years?

For that matter, I'm required to have those same buffers on my property already by the county. If you think they are such a terrible idea then I certainly hope you'll also be fighting to remove that restriction from my property as well. Keep in mind, it was Ken Boyd that suggested that if they were a good idea for half the county then they should be applied county wide. I suppose after getting all those massive contributions from developers to his campaign that he's now changed his tune...

Cville Eye, good to hear from you again...

Over the fifteen years there have been over seventy public meetings and worksessions on these topics. So, yes, there's been plenty of oppotunities for every single property rights activist and Faux Farmer in the county to come and contribute to the process. It's exceedingly obvious that they'd rather not be part of the process and just blast any proposed ordinance that offers even a sliver of protection.

As to your second point, I do think it is a legitimate question, but I've had no trouble at all getting in touch with the BOS to answer such things. I'm also really confident that they aren't actually proposing that you have to have space for a helopad, or a firetruck to turn around so that wasn't really enough to persuade me that a vote should be suspended over that one question. What we're really seeing here from Boyd and Dorrier is the local equivelent of the Fillibuster. Their intent is to public comment any rural preservation attempts to death. At some point, you have to stop talking and act. After fifteen years, it is really about time for a vote. That said, I don't see any significant harm in them moving it to the 6th or having public comment at that meeting as long as there is actually a real vote at the end of it.

Property rights advocates, keep this in mind. If this fails, I fully expect the next action may be downzoning of the entire rural area. In other words, you may want to pick your battles.

First of all, the issue with taxation is also a red herring. I'd strongly encourage anyone who has any amount of money to have a financial plan. Waiting for you kids to deal with it, and then sort out the taxes is irresponsible. Also, it's my understanding that, within reason, the inheritance of land is tax free. It is the selling of land that is a capital gain.

Also, in either of those senarios, you could use the traditional route to subdivision instead of the Family Subdivision. In other words, you wouldn't be stopped from subdividing by this ordinance for the situations you mention. As I said, not the end of the world.

Regarding stream buffers, those have been in place elsewhere for thirty years in the county. Why should you have special priveledges to build there if I can't? Also, our founding fathers knew full well our rights were not without limits. What if you decided to dam up a stream and flood a neighbors property upsteam? Would that be a property right? What if you decided to dump used motor oil into your stream? Your property, right?

By discounting buffers, what you are saying is that it is perfectly acceptable to allow your sewage and sediment to be dumped in the ground right next to a stream where it'll end up our rivers and eventually the bay. I find that unacceptable. Besides, in many places there are serious safty concerns with building that close to a stream. Remove the areas where it'd simply be unsafe to build anyway, and you are looking at a much smaller piece of land.

That Bos is a class act. City Council could take some lessons on good government practices.

"Even when the county assembled a panel containing a diverse segment of the population involving business interests, developers, environmentalists and citizens, to come up with a reasonable compromise ordinance the "property rights" folks and so-called "farmers" came out to shoot it down. Frankly, over the fifteen years this has gone on, I've lost most sympathy I had for these folks." Obviously, that panel wasn't diverse enough. I do not understand the rancor displayed about people who were not included in a process protesting the results of the process. The "property rights folks" and "farmers" are the property owners and should have a say and not just submit to dictation. It seems in fifteen years Lonnie has lost patience with fundamentals of democracy.
"I'm a bit confused about some of that too, and those would be good questions to ask at the meeting." The very meeting you were adamantly opposed to? Are you acknowledging there may still be some important questions that have gone unanswered? It is very hard for me to see any connection between the drive way issue and "protect the rural character and the environment" unless it is viewed as another impediment any development. I have never seen any emergency vehicle avoid Beck's Hill so a steep incline inhibits safety is a pretty weak argument coming from the endorsers of that particular ordinance.

"it's my understanding that, within reason, the inheritance of land is tax free."
like so much of your socialist leanings this is dead wrong. Property most be valued like any other asset- there is only a tax exemption for a surviving spouse. If you exceed estate tax limits you must pay. In 2012 the estate tax will resume in full effect and then this could really become a problem.

Yesterday at the hearing staff admit that the family exemption HAD NOT been abused in the pass. There is zero reasons to pass a law in this case. You are adding more regulations for no good purpose, that cannot be good governance.

I would like Greene County to follow suit with the same ordinances.

Lonnie you miss the point completely...any developement has to be approved by the zoning board anyway. You already can't put in business developements or large housing developements without their appoval NOW. Why do we need "preemptive" laws that tackle a non-existant problem. And of which there is already a solution to if there is one. All this ordinance is going to do is cause a lot of headaches for citizens that aren't doing anything wrong. Can you name ONE instance that someone has sold their rural land to a big developer and that land was actually developed without the zoning board's or BOS or other government approval first. NOPE NEVER HAPPENED!

We should all want to protect the earth's resources, but lets put the blame on those that are allowing the abuses that are already happening not the people who haven't done anything wrong.
Also consider this we have the inallienable "right" not the given "priveledge" of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And if that happiness comes from selling the land you own or building homes for your children so be it!

By the way, what's wrong with making money. I didn't know making a profit was evil. I guess we should all quit our jobs and be homeless and hungry.

"And if that happiness comes from selling the land you own or building homes for your children so be it!" (Emphasis mine)
...and you prove my point. This isn't about subdividing for families at all. This is about selling properties for profit. That's not why the family subdivision ordinance exists. In fact, there is another pathway to subdivision for that purpose which has a bit more oversight. Subverting the intent of the Family Subdivision to avoid oversight is indeed something to be concerned about, whether it is done by an individual or by a big developer. Other surrounding counties already have a similar ordinance and the world didn't end.

Here's another thing I don't really understand at all... There seems to be this attitude that if you sell your property to a irresponsible developer and they do all kinds of irresponsible things then somehow it isn't your responsibility. In fact, some landowners are even violently against puting limits on what the large developers can do (like building within the stream buffer) because then they can't sell their property for as much. Even so, somehow they still don't feel that they are "responsible".

Being a responsible steward of the land doesn't stop the moment you're ready to hire a real estate agent and put the property on the market. It doesn't really matter in the larger scheme of things if you've mantained a pristine wilderness on your property for years if you turn around and sell it to Wendell Wood who clearcuts it, fills all the wetlands, and culverts the streams.

A good moral compass should always be "What if everyone did it?" Ask yourself what would happen in this county if everyone fully utilized their development rights, built on steep slopes and within the stream buffers. Ordinances serve to protect the public good, and in my experience having lived here my whole life, developers have been destroying the history, environment, culture, infrastructure and aesthetic of this county for decades. At some point representatives have to step in and represent the public good through legislation.

WHO IS DOING THIS? No one. It's an imaginary problem. Like I said before there are already ordinances that won't allow for this unless the zoning board approves it. Why do you want to make people suffer because you and other people live in fear? "There is no fear but fear itself" Be hopeful not fearful. You act like these land owners are children and need to be treated like that. How about a little trust? They've been responsible so far. Man, you are really paranoid.

Let's reverse your logic. If no one is doing it, then the legislation won't harm anyone, and so why are you so opposed to it? As I said before, some people "doth protest too much". I challenge YOU to specifically cite how this would harm an individual landowner intending to subdivide property for their children.

Also, to be clear, the powerpoint that was shown didn't definitively prove that no one was subverting the ordinance and flipping properties. It also didn't show the number of subdivisions that resulted when it happened. With a few exceptions, property subdivided is pretty much subdivided forever. Currently we have no realistic incentives or mechnisms to fuse properties once they've been broken up. Because subdivision is something that will affect at least seven generations then it is indeed something we should be very cautious about. Therefore, if the ordinance is being subverted by anyone, then it is a problem.

I agree that they should hold folks like Wood to the zoning, and not move his properties into the growth area just because he essentially bribes the city thorugh proffers. That said, two wrongs doesn't make a right. Some people get away with murder, but the solution isn't to legalize it.

SARA makes some interesting points. Why is the County concentrating on land in the rural areas that is not zoned for development instead of the land in the urban ring? Why doesn't the BoS just say that it is not going to move the 95% of the county that's in rural designation to urban ring designation? Who cares if a family builds two or three houses on twenty acres?

Sara, your "scientific evidence" comes from the Department of Forestry, which as Sally Thomas accurately said is hardly an unbiased source. Perhaps you weren't aware but there was even a high profile case of them trying to use congress to suppress scientific reseach in a major scientific publication that cast their policies in an unfavorable light... that's hardly what I'd consider a reliable source for making decisions about sustainability.

Actually, I have complained about some of my concerns with development in the growth area too, and even questioned the whole notion of it. Nonetheless, the public approved that model and either we should use it or revoke it. What you're asking for is to allow developers to have free reign in both the rural and the growth area, and that defeats the entire intention of the thing in the first place.

Also, rural is as rural does,. I know it is an outrageous and controversial opinion, but I believe a farmer is someone who farms. Nothing in these ordinances affects farming in the least. When a farmer plans to give up farming, and subdivides his property for the intent of selling it for real estate then they're effectively acting no differently than a real estate developer. The only difference is that they themsleves aren't building the houses. Maybe you support farmers retiring and going into real estate, but please do real farmers the service of not confusing it with "farming" or the resulting subdivisions as "rural".

Also, the family subdivision doesn't remove a single development right. If your intention really is to subdivide it for your kids, then it you will still be able to do this under the current ordinance. What you won't be able to do is give it to your kids if imediately plan to turn around and sell the subdivided parcels. That's not the intent of the Family subdivision, but there is another path to subdivision that can be used for that instead. Regarding whether it is really necessary, i think the most ironic proof is in the people protesting it. We pass ordinances all the time that are ineffectual, and no one protests. People only protest when they are afraid it'll impact their financial interests, thus obviously there are people out there which really do plan to subdivide for economic gain. That said, there'll be public comment, so ask the staff about their stats and whether it is justified. If they've done their job, then they should have that data now that they've had plenty of time to research it.

The whole point is that the BOS allows all these developements to go up like Avon, Crozet, etc. Why don't you complain about that? The rural land owners are exactly that "rural" ...I don't see them asking for or planning on doing all this "developement" that you all are afraid "might" happen. Right now there isn't even a problem. And scientific evidence shows there is very little impact increasing from a 50 foot buffer to a 100 foot buffer. But that's taking land from private owners and giving it to the government...which the land owner can't use but still has to pay taxes for. As for the Family Developement...there have been NO abuses of this law and there is already a two year waiting period. Why make a "preemtive war" on land owners that apparently are being good stewards of "their" land? Why did my great-grandfather fight the British to win our freedom if our own government is going to act like they're the crown that owns all the land...and we need their permission to build houses for our children on land that we own. Think about it.

I support restrictions which allow pollutants which encroach (land, noise or water) but am puzzled about the emergency vehicle part??? Is there a standard emergency vehicle we need to conform to? fire, ambulance, police car??? Does Pegasis need a place to land? If a house burns down I think the home owner knows the risk. I've seen plenty of homes with ample driveway space burn to the ground. So what is the point?

Here's the problem. If I were to go out today and buy a piece of rural land...I would have to wait 4 years (there's already a two year waiting period) until I could sub-divide it for my chlidren or my parents to live on. What if I died before the four years were up? My property and my children's rightful inheritance would then be subjected to massive taxes that could in some cases totally devistate their inheritance that I would have woked so hard to give them. Or what if one of my kids started a familiy before that time period was up or needed a place of their own to live? Or my parents retired or were ill and needed a place to live? Or whatever other senarios you can imagine. Now someone who has a lot of money can pay off the government to get around these rules...Remember the recent controversy with the guy that donated his land for conservation then some rich people came in and paid off the government to be allowed to build on it anyway? So in otherwords...if your not rich...they're screwed. So now you think making it harder for these people is a good thing. Where's the "good" in that? As for the stream buffers, would you want to pay for property and then be taxed for property you can't even use? And it's not a little bit 200 feet is over half the size of a football field. That's 100 feet on either side. If you combine all this buffer property it would be larger than the whole city of Charlottesville. What is "good" about that? The 100-foot buffer is not required by the commonwealth because it isn't necessary...otherwise they would have required it like they did for other areas in the state. As for the slope issue, the cost to land owners to build roads at a 16-percent incline in the Piedmont area would be massive or it would just be impossible. Fine if they want to make a rule like that in the city. Again...many of these people aren't wealthy.
Do you even believe in freedom and the Bill of Rights or is that too passe' for you? I guess Thomas Jefferson had it all wrong. With rules like these he would never have been able to build The Lawn or many other structures here in the area. And your thought of the greater good is very subjective. I think if people are made to suffer after working their whole lives to pursue the American Dream and someone like you wants to take that from them. That's not good.

I think they should put signs up in the woods telling all of the animals to stop peeing and pooping within 100 feet of the streams. They should also put them in meters for the canadian geese. Also the fish should have to learn to walk so they don't poop in the water too.

What they really need to do is to tax fertilizers and rebate that tax to people who use natural fertilizers so that it is cheaper to do the right thing for the envrionment. of course we all know they govt would tax it and keep the money)

Also people should stop complaining about developers so much. if they didn't build houses the shortage would mean your housing costs would be higher not lower..

A 100-foot buffer does nothing to protect the streams. Why not hold the landowner for the amelioration of any run-off whether he's a farmer with his cows pooping in the streams or a homeowner with his lawn chemicals seeping? That measure would directly address the problem of our streams and not set one landowner against the other.

...also keep in mind, this ordinance will also keep people from putting their septic systems closer than 100 ft from a stream. I personally think that's the most important part of this ordinance. We don't need sewage going straight into the streams.

Uh, there was a referendum... the last election. The public knew about these ordinances and that a vote would be cast after the election. Mallek was pretty clear about which side she stood for and even spoke up at the meeting about the ordinances. The current balance on the BOS represents the publics feelings on the issue.

Also, my family have been farmers too for well over a hundred years. Bringing up farming is a red herring. There's not a single one of these provisions that affect agriculture. For example, you can still range your cattle in streams or grow crops well within stream buffers. These ordinances change none of that. If someone told you they did, then they lied and you should ask yourself what their motives are. The only industry this will affect is developers, the same ones that have caused our water problems and the current economic crisis.

That said, I'm all for the County using referendums to decide more issues. Perhaps if a referrendum was held on the original mountain protection ordinance many years ago then we wouldn't still be dealing with these issues now. That said, asking for more public comment or a referendum now after about fifteen years of discussion is really just a stall tactic by those who'd rather see no protection of rural spaces at all.

While I totally agree with you that what we really want is a vegitative buffer; I don't know if there is the political will to pass that. Consider how riled up the "farmers" are already about ordinances that have nothing whatsoever to do with farming? Just imagine what they'd do if we actually required them to keep their cows out of streams? Even though a wise steward of the land would do that anyway, I think it'd be politicla suicide to mandate it.

Another way to do that though is by encouraging greater use of existing financial incentives, and creating new ones. For example, on our farms we use a program called CREP, which actually pays us money for replanting the stream buffers and keeping cows out of wetlands. We've been using it for many years, but apparently lots of people don't even know it exists.

Frankly though, a bigger problem is that developers clear vegitation all the way to the streams and plant non-native grasses requiring lots of fertilizer and pesticides that have to be regularly mown using imported fossil fuels at great political, economic and environmental harm. We actually spend more money per acre in the US on lawn grass than any other "crop". That's a situation and think that supervisors can (and should) deal with.

This is just another example of how certain supervisors will abuse their power to push their agenda down the throats of property owners. I wonder if these proposed changes would be passed by a referendum vote of the folks that they affect most which would be the democratic solution.
I believe that there are ways to make the big developers pay for the needed infrastructure that results from these larger developments without penalizing the farmers and property owners who have sunk their hearts and souls in their land hoping to one day profit from their toll. It has been my impression that these big money developers routinely have their projects approved by the supervisors that purport to be on the side on conservation. My closing comments would be to remind three supervisors that they too will be up for re-election in the near future.

The driveway amendment will have serious consequences for many landowners who want to build a home or sell the land for residential use. This ordnance limits driveways to a maximum 16% grade. For those who may not understand "grade" this is a slope of only nine degrees! It's a mere 16 feet of rise over a 100 foot horizontal run. While big developers and the ultra wealthy can afford the conform by bringing in fill and bulldozing, the average individual land owner may find that his land has just become worthless or he may be forced to build and site his new home in a far less than desirable way. For example, if you own land which has a nice hilltop and you want to put a beautiful house at the top, this ordnance will stop you cold. While common sense would simply run the driveway up the hill with maybe one switchback, the only way you can build is to create a ridiculously long driveway which repeatedly circles your hill or switches back and forth to maintain the small slope (and you may not be allowed to do this because you might disturb some rare toad). While you may want to bring your driveway in from the side of the home, the only acceptable route may be straight up the middle of your front yard. The amendment is wrapped in safety mantra to make it untouchable. Although one could mitigate the supposedly unsafe effect of a steep driveway by using traction enhancing construction (large aggregate, scored surfaces, etc.) there is no provision to even consider alternatives. It would be very interesting to see the driveways of the BOS members. Since they already have homes, this amendment has no effect on them. Given the thousands of existing driveways which exceed 16% grade and the hundreds (at least) of sections of County roads with a steep grade, this amendment will have a trivial effect on safety. I would really like to see the hard data which proves that severe driveway grade restrictions in a hilly area like Albemarle have any significant effect on fire losses or loss of life. I would also like to see the effect of driveway grade on home insurance rates. I expect it is nil and if so this would prove that the amendment is a ruse. I think that taxpayers ("we, the people") are smart enough and have the right to take what WE determine are acceptable risks. A driveway is not a hidden construction element like the design of roof trusses or wiring. These things do need codes to protect present and future owners. A slope of a driveway is obvious and if a potential buyer doesn't like it he can move on. The real reason and intent is to make it more difficult to build a home in Albemarle and to thus limit growth. It's very interesting that the big supporters of these so-called "environmental and safety" laws are generally those who came to the area from somewhere else and now that they are "in" they want to shut the door on everyone else... unless of course you are wealthy enough to get around the rules.

I am sure that the majority of supervisors would be willing to have a public on the new oridnance proposals because they know what good government process is and have an abiding respect for the public. As a City resident, I have been envious of the relationship the county residents have with their Supervisors and how open and above board the BoS deliberations have been. They always seem to gather a lot of background material from staff and get the best out of their Planning Commission. The City's Planning Commission is beginning to function more like the County's and I hope they will continue. In this University town, we should expect the wisest decisions with most questions answered prior to enacting a change. County residents who would like for the BoS to delay an actual vote after tomorrow's discussion should contact them.

Wow - I didn't know the BOS was supposed to suspend operations because Ken Boyd was going to be out of town. Damn - does that mean they shouldn't collect taxes during that time?

Ranger Hal,

With all do respect, perhaps you should stop quoting what you've heard and start actually thinking more about these issues. As to your comment about animals its a matter of quantity. If you put your house right next to a stream then you are going to put a far larger volume of waste into the streams than would occur naturally. Plus, the material contributed by animals is a constant which our action either contribute towards or not. Being sentient reasoning beings (Some of us anyway...) we can make choices for the public good based on reason. That said, the feces contributed by pets really is an issue that I belive should be considered, especially in our parks near streams. We should do more to require owners to clean up after their pets. In addition, the geese problem you mention is also human-caused; some idiot thought it'd be cool to start a strain of geese that didn't migrate.

Lastly, your assertion about housing and economics is wrong. Have you read the papers recently? The housing economy is national (maybe even GLOBAL) and so we can never build enough homes locally to supply any amount of demand or lower prices. All that does is raise property taxes, since each new home is a net loss in tax revenue due to the infrastructure costs.

Didn't the BoS switch the evening meetings a few years ago to be fairer with the public? I for one would die of boredom if forced to attend all those evening meetings of the Cville City Council though. Maybe people are snappier in the daytime.

I think what people have missed here is that these are not new proposals. They've been out there for many, many years and the public has had opportunity to comment on them at countless worksessions, and again most recently at the last meeting whcih lasted until the wee hours of the night. I think Dorrier's and Boyds push for more comments for each seperate section are just a stall tactic to try and kill the ordinances. The truth of the matter is that in previous years financial influences have had undo influence on the counties ability to pass initiatives regarding sustainable growth. Plus, any farmer who had dreams of selling out to a big developer will oppose *any* measure that reduce his ability to do that.

The real public comments were submitted during the last election. After all, Mallek spoke out specifically for these ordinances during her campaign and was elected by a very good margin. What better Democratic process could we hope for? That's why I'm in full support of finally making a decisive vote on these issues, even though I object to how watered down they've become.

1) If you cut down 1/2 acre of woods and put up a three bedroom house with a septic field and a dog way less crap will get into the stream than if you left it woods. It is only common snese that there will be more than one animal living within the 1/2 acre and a septic field three feet underground and a concrete solids tank will NEVER bother the stream

2)If poop is so bad then why do farmers sell it?

3) Why is the grass always greener over the spetic field?

4) Has anybody actually tested the streams in the middle of national parks to see how much poop "naturally" occurs for a baseline?

5) Suppose someone owned 50 acres and wanted to build a house for their parents, why can't they pay an "impact" fee to the county and just do it? It ain't like the parents are going to be going to school or be busting any caps on ridge street.

"Over the fifteen years there have been over seventy public meetings and worksessions on these topics." Why hasn't the staff put together a fact sheet in all of this time? 85,000 people live in Albemarle, it wouldn't be good for them to call the BoS. My poit is, if the measure does not address the issue it's supposed to solve then why spend time on it? The staff should present the ordinance in its recommendations and then clearly explain what the problem is and how this ordinance will solve it. Simply done in 15 years. That way misinformation can be identified and cleared up and everybody will be on the same page. Right now "property rights" vs. "environment." Who says that what's good for property rights can't be good for the environment and what's good for the environment can't be good for property rights and heritage. I think that's one of the fundamentals underlying "green."

I'm a bit confused about some of that too, and those would be good questions to ask at the meeting. I think it was the Rescue Squad who came up with that request and with the specs, but I'm not sure. Certainly, none of us need space for an entire firetruck to turn around, or for pegasus to land. Besides, requiring that much pavement would have a sum negative affect on the environment.

I suspect thought that these are just simple questions the BOS can answer if you email them, or ask them at the meeting.