51.6% of new houses go rural

School board member and bossman of growth-group "Charlottesville Tomorrow" Brian Wheeler reports that a new County study indicates that 51.6% of all new single-family dwellings last year went into the rural areas. As any growth-watcher knows, that is not what the County wants. The County wants to steer growth into the designated growth areas to ease the impact on roads, views, utilities, etc. Some developers have contended that County red tape pushes developments into the rural areas.
Here are the 2005 figures for where single family dwellings went:
• 210 (37.8%) in White Hall
• 122 (21.9%) in Scottsville
• 89 (16%) in Samuel Miller
• 82 (14.7%) in Rivanna
• 43 (7.7%) in Rio
• 10 (1.8%) in Jack Jouett
(These are the County's magisterial districts.)


If the supervisors really want less growth in the rural areas then they need to change the zoning for a LOT of the land close to the urban core from agricultural to growth area. That is extremely unlikely without a court order but if they do enlarge the growth areas, a couple of things will happen: There will be a greater total number of homes built in Albemarle as people who would have only been able to afford a home in the outlying counties discover that they can afford one in the MUCH LARGER growth areas of Albemarle. Then there will be an increase in school costs as enrollment goes up. The last place to feel the impact of larger growth areas will be Albemarle's rural areas so I doubt that the supervisors will increase the growth areas in any significant way. They will very likely try to make it even more difficult to build in Albemarle's rural areas and then even more of the Charlottesville/Albemarle/UVa work force will buy homes in Fluvanna, Greene, Nelson, Buckingham, Orange, Louisa and even Madison. Sprawl is fine with the supervisors as long as it's in another county.

As Albemarle continues to grow houses with commercial farmers (developers) for an increased tax base, is it any
wonder why the comprehensive plan is a failure? I for one would prefer lower density housing than the concentrated urban mess the BOS seem to favor and shove on us. The award winning flop that Crozet has become is a testiment that houses continue to go up in rural zones. Other than allow thousands of new houses where before there would be far fewer the BOS has screwed us. How will Albemarle get off its addiction for growth?
Why was the scenic highway designation quietly allowed to expired on 250 west? Who is accountable for NOT doing their job? Was this planned behind the scenes so Crozet can become a developer's gold mine and a burden for the taxpayer and community?

Isn't "The County" composed of the people? If 51.6% of people buying new homes are buying them in rural areas, how can we say that is not what "The County" wants. Clearly, it is what they want, but the "The County" government hasn't caught on yet. To be be more precise, it is what they want until they get it; then they don't want any more of it. A conservationist is the last guy who got his cabin in the woods.

Kevin points out a major failure, and as far as I'm concerned a point of idiocy in growth planning. The reason large agricultural areas are maintained around the growth areas is to maintain a supposed green belt to contain the growth areas. But growth areas, as Kevin points out need area and growth. Promoting a growth area and then discouraging growth because of school costs and whatever, is just promoting growth NIMBY.

Agricultural areas and growth areas ought to be defined in terms of need. If we compare the prices of agricultural goods vs housing goods, then it is pretty clear that we don't need to promote more agriculture to keep prices low. We can't say the same for housing. On the other hand, if agricultural zoning is a proxy for retaining open space, then we ought to figure out how much open space we need, and where it should be, and then go buy it. Apparently, that is what those 51.6% are doing.