Biscuit Run headed to Planners

The gigantic development headed for the farm best known as "Biscuit Run" is headed to the Albemarle Planning Commission on March 7. The work session will explore whether developer Hunter Craig– who recently paid $46.2 million for the 1,365-acre tract on Old Lynchburg Road south ofof the Charlottesville City limits can build what he wants.
Craig seeks approval for a residential and commercial development on approximately 920 of those acres. Currently on the table, according to County staff, is a maximum of 4970 dwelling units in single-family detached homes, townhouses, and apartments– as well as retail commercial and office uses. Also proposed: a new public school and a park.

While local artists David and Elizabeth Breeden have been the local face of the lands, also known as Forest Lodge Trust, they're among nearly 30 heirs who will divvy up the proceeds. The development would be called "Fox Ridge."
Controversy has already erupted over the fact that parts of the land has been paying farm-level taxes (i.e. a tiny fraction of developable value) since as far back as 1975.
The County meeting happens at 6pm on Room A of the County Office Building. Additional Work Sessions are tentatively scheduled for March 21, April 18, and May 9 in Room 241.

27 comments

These folks paid property taxes on this property and since they didn't send any of the deer or turkey to public schools or libraries then it is only fair that they didn't pay huge taxes. The other side is if the county had made them pay full taxes this land would have been developed twenty years ago. Only an idiot would put up with outrageous taxes on raw land when developers call every week wanting to buy you out.

The people are coming, Charlottesville is growing, it is better to have this development done now when you can contol it's evolution.

Other peoples land is not yours to enjoy. They can do with it what they want. So long as they contribute a fair share to the infrastructure then it's all good.

To Bill Marshall:
Plenty of people think that they shouldn't have to pay for the public schools because they don't have kids going to them. I pay taxes that go to support the schools but my two school age children don't go to the public schools. Do you think that only those with children in school should pay for the schools? If someone shouldn't have to pay taxes because their deer didn't go to public school why should I, since my kids didn't either? Much of the revenue that goes to the schools comes from businesses. They don't send kids to school either, why should they pay? The last time I checked I think it cost around 8 thousand dollars a year per student to send a kid to school in Albemarle County. I doubt that most residents with kids in public schools could afford what it cost to send their kids to public schools.

The issue isn't the taxes but whether this community needs to have nearly 5,000 houses approved at once. There are somewhere around 8,000 other houses in the county pipeline already. Why so much so fast? No doubt this part of the county's growth area is the right place for growth, but 5,000 houses? The only way for this project to work is for it to be approved in phases of 300-400 houses or fewer over 10 to 20 year.

The problem I foresee is the developer getting his rezoning and then selling out to some national scale homebuilder who could bang out thousands of houses overnight- essentially a poorly designed and constructed vynil-sided-ville south of town. I guess the question is....Does the County and its citizens (who should speak up for the sake of their community...) trust the Biscuit Run investors. And do the current Biscuit Run investors have the benefit of the community in mind more than their wallets.....we shall see.

This is a great place to build houses. Easy access to the interstate and close to the existing infrastructure. Much better than building out in Fluvanna and other places which cause more sprawl.

As to the taxes, the lawmakers made those laws decades ago and preservationists liked the laws then. It didn't mean the land was never to be developed, it just held it off. That may not have been the right way to do it since it added to sprawl when close in suitable land was not develped, but that was and is the rules and they are following them.

I agree that it's a much better place than Fluvanna or Greene to build homes for people who work in Charlottesville. It's in the growth area and it probably should have been developed years ago. There'd be less rural sprawl and traffic on rural roads.

I will disagree about the supposed intent of the state law that gives local governments the authority to tax land on the basis of the value of its use. The law specifically says that the intent is "preservation". It doesn't say conservation but preservation which is permanent.

Also, there are different ways that localities can manage use-value taxation. Albemarles supervisors have selected the most generous and least effective land preservation management scheme. Other counties do a better job and taxes are more equitably distributed and land is more realistically preserved. Much of the land in Albemarle that gets the enormous tax breaks is owned by developers and speculators. Every large development that has been built in the past twenty years has been on land that received huge tax breaks in order to be preserved.

When use-value land is developed the owners must pay the previous five years in forgiven taxes as a penalty. This is a pittance when compared to what they make from developing the land. When George Allen was in the House of Delegates he tried to get the "rollback" extended to ten years. This was defeated by one vote after intese lobbying by the Farm Bureau. They want to be able to sell their land at the highest profit, which is natural, and they don't want any restrictions that may reduce that profit.

This story troubled me alot. I know the Breedens, and for the most part they've always seemed to me like fairly enlightened people who cared about the aethetic of our area. I understand too that much of this was out of their hands and set in motion many years ago. Even so, this is a beautiful forested area with a large diversity of plants and animals. Even if they follow the town center model, I remember what happened with the Hollymeade Town center... after violating wetland laws, stripping all the trees, and causing a massive mudslide and sink hole, this development hardly qualified as sustainable. I suspect this one will make that one seem downright eco-friendly in comparison. People will be speaking of the festoring scar of sprawl in the south, just as we witnessed the martian landscape on 29 North. When is enough?

I agree that the Rolback period should be extended 10 years, and more money put into the easement program. I also feel the easement program should look at protections for smaller parcels too. I live next to a piece of land for sale with two surviving American Chestnuts over 75 feet tall, and at least one occurance of a rare plant, but because it is only nine acres I can't find any agency willing to accept an easement even if it were DONATED let alone offer to buy the four develoment rights. Also, we need to both hold developers to tougher standards, and put measure in place to reward responsible development. Unfortunately, we also need to come to terms with the fact that there is a natural limit to development in terms of available water and resources, and at some point we need to find a way to slow or stop growth. After all, all these houses are not for people who grew up here but for outsiders. Since when it our responsibility to house all of Northern Virginia?

Lonnie, you just summed up the NIMBY attitude perfectly. "Outsiders" have as much right to live here as people who grew up here.

You also jump to the conclusion that this will be somehow worse than the mess near the airport. No reason given.

I am in favor of better regulation. However Bicuit Run is near perfect in regards to location as its close to excellent transportation and the city. It's strange that so little growth has occurred along the southern side of the interstate. The county needs to make sure that land is set aside for schools and roads, but this is a much better development location than the ones in Fluvanna, Crozet and Greene.

It could be said that ultimately we are all "outsiders" and it could also be said that we are all members of the same "community". It could be the community of United States citizens or it could be the community of humans on the planet. Growth is happening everywhere and we are part of the whole. Albemarle is not a seperate country, though I think some people, like ASAP would like to see it have the power to issue resident IDs and close the borders.

One reality is that any American has the right to live anywhere in this country that they want to. Some local governments do try to restrict that right with their power over land use but it is actually a constitutional right that allows all Americans to live anywhere in this country that they can afford to. Local governments can and do try to make it more expensive to live in their jurisdictions as a way to control growth and the type of people who live in their jurisdictions. Cash to pay a pricey mortgage is the new passport to live in the Republic of Albemarle.

I think Albemarles restrictive land use policies have actually done a lot of harm by causing more sprawl in rural areas outside of Albemarle and further away from the regions urban core.

Restricting growth is a tough issue, and I agree that ASAP can take it too far sometimes. Should we wall our anyone without a birth certificate proving that they were born in the area? Ignoring constitutional issues, absolutely not. Nonetheless, I do believe any county, city, or country should have the right to self determine its own values and identity. No, we can't say, "you can't live here because you're from NOVA", but we should be able to say "here in Charlottesville we don't strip off every tree and replace them with cookie-cutter houses". The problem here is that people move in from outside then complain that they have to drive a whole 20 minutes to get to Wall-Mart, or that we don't have a Target, and gradually we turn into a big strip mall with no identity.

Also, there is a speed of growth which is unsustainable. If residents move here faster than the infrastructure and environment can support them, then we will all suffer. Remember the last drought? The next one will be far worse. We may say to our friends and neighbors, "We'd love to have you over for dinner sometime" but if they all show up at once then we have to come to terms with there just not being enough seats at the table. Look at what is happening in Crozet. There is no way that area can survive the projected growth, and maintain anything even closely resembling local culture. The sad thing is that the new residents will have no idea what they were missing when the Crozet Barber Shop turns into a McDonalds, or a big box shopping outlet.

Slower growth provides for culture to catch up with development. It allows for new residents to learn what it means to be a Charlottesville or Albemarle county resident and to value our traditions and culture, and then teach that themselves to others in turn. Kevin is right that we are all "outsiders" unless you happen to be Monican, but hopefully we will choose to learn form the people who were here before us, not just overwhelm them by sheer force. After all, I'm sure the Monicans might have some choice words about what we've done to Charlottesville too, and maybe they are right.

If growth is inevitable (it is not!), and that alone justifies 5,000 units at Biscuit Run, then why bother with a comprehensive plan at all if its only use is to control development density by granting up-zoning to five times the planning level whenever anyone asks for it? Planning in Albemarle doesn't protect and preserve our county for our children, rather it protects and preserves large tracts of land until developers get their local shills to buy them up and immediately ask for the up-zoning that seems never to be denied. Let's see how those same developers would feel if all available land around Farmington Country Club was bought up and converted to The Neighborhood Model with multiple townhouses per acre. Would anyone battle that up-zoning? You bet. Probably the same folks who are championing this one. What we have is really a thinly veiled class warfare, being fought by bulldozers.

Speedy:
Given the legal limits on local governments ability to limit growth, the power, money and ifluence of businesses, the growth and expansion of UVa and the continued influx of retirees and others why do you say that growth isn't inevitable? What do you think can happen that will stop growth?

I don't like traffic and a lot of the other negative impacts of growth but I think that an effective approach to planning for growth that minimizes negative impacts includes an acceptance of the very high probablility of continued growth. Shouting, "Growth is not inevitable!" strikes me as meaningless rhetoric that won't really accomplish anything... except maybe make the shouter feel good.

I am not trying to offend you but this is how I feel. I am very interested in hearing how you think it is possible for growth to be stopped.

Kevin Cox

Hi Kevin!!

I certainly can't answer for Speedy, but as for myself I hear what you are saying. We can't pretend growth isn't going to happen, and we need to plan for it. We know growth isn't going to plan for itself! (29 North being a good example of that). I do, however suspect that we differ about how much regulation we should apply and the tools we should use to manage growth. Throwing supply and demand into the equation also gives us some tough questions to answer in terms of affordable housing (even though unresrticted growth isn't necessarily going to provide for affordable housing either).

On the state level there is a growing movement, supported by our new Governor, to give localities more power to manage growth. I support this whole heartedly. It means we could finally put teeth into our zoning. Also as an advocate of both the carrot and the stick, I believe in incentive programs like the easements, or tax deferments. With reasonable planning and sticking to our guns about our community values, I think we can discourage the most irresponsible developments. Even with the really bad developments which are inevitable (like this Buscuit Run deal) I think appropriate pressure from local govermenment and citizens can mitigate much of the damage. I'll even bet that in the long run, the developers benefit from good rules and incentives, (just as hybrid manufacturers are now reaping the rewards of being forced to make them...)

All this said, I hear too what Speedy is perhaps saying too. There is a difference between planning and aspiration. We need to plan for the fact that there will be growth, but I also admire some of the ASAP people who are wiliing to aspire to a different model of growth altogether (which is inclusive of culture, environment, history, quality of life, etc.) Every society needs idealists, or there can never be change.

It seems everyone�developers' lawyers included�throw up their hands and say "Growth is Inevitable; if not here, where?" What they are trying to have us swallow is the illusion that if we approve their requests for higher density development we are in some manner "controlling" our growth. In fact the BOS in the county has shown they will NEVER turn down an up-zoning proposal and one supe' recently used that excuse for voting for Wickham Pond up-zoning to the "neighborhood model". Since they'd already fallen all over themselves to approve mega-developers under the same model, they felt they had no choice but to approve every request that comes their way asking to ignore the comprehensive plan and existing zoning levels.

I'll begrudgingly admit that some growth is inevitable, by-right, but why is it that Albemarle's comprehensive plan is routinely side-stepped to approve up-zoning beyond that which is "planned"? I accept ASAP's limit approach as a necessary over-reaction to balance chamber-of-commerce thinking that all growth is good for our community. It is not, and the sad part is that even proponents of growth will eventually realize just how bad it really is for our community�but by then it will be too late.

If we can't stick to the already pro-development comprehensive plan and zoning levels we've got, how can we complain about Dillon Rule limits on municipalities forced on us by state law? What will happen if municipalities are given more control over their destiny when the planning environment and those controlling zoning are already so pro-growth and pro-business? As it is now, developers immediately buy up land surrounding any designated growth area and routinely request for that land to be included within the growth area at those increased density levels. Often it's only the "watershed" that saves us from that perfunctory approval process. Loudoun County was told by the State that they already had all necessary tools at their disposal to control growth and they used re-zoning and a new comprehensive plan to attempt to do just that. They were overturned in record time by a political push from the development community. This is not the will of the people in action. It is Jefferson's worst nightmare for Democracy.

The mantra "growth is inevitable" is being used to lull our community into acquiescence. We can't afford to be duped into thinking growth beyond our wildest dreams, or our inability to control growth at all, is "inevitable", and that's what's really being implied here. Giving ANY credibility to this claim is tantamount to giving-in to the rhetoric. So allow me the hyperbole of countering this obfuscation by saying simply, "growth", in that sense, is not inevitable.

Lonnie wrote: "I'll even bet that in the long run, the developers benefit from good rules and incentives, (just as hybrid manufacturers are now reaping the rewards of being forced to make them”Š)"

Point of fact, no one is forcing anyone to make hyrbrid-drive automobiles or trucks. In fact your government is subsidizing your neighbor's purchase of hybrid SUVs which still get far worse mileage than a mini-van, carry fewer people, and take up more space. If you buy a hybrid SUV you can get up to $3000 (please check my facts for me while you educate yourself, this is my estimate) credit on your taxes from the U.S. government. If you purchase a nice tidy family sedan that even without hybrid drive still gets better mileage than the hybrid SUV, takes up less space, uses less rubber, and, in general, has a kinder "carbon footprint", you get nothing but the honor of knowing your tax dollars are going to those who still use far too much fuel driving one child to school in a hybrid SUV. I know, not the right place of the right topic but your assumption that altruism would triumph with a push from regulation simply chose the wrong analogy. Don't trust your future to regulation. Did you know your government allows Daimler-Chrysler to classify the PT Cruiser as a truck just to help Chrysler offset the poor economy of its other trucks? Did you know there is no requirement for any manufacturer to meet any fuel-economy levels? The only requirement is if they don't they pay a fine which most have been doing willingly year after year in the millions of dollars so they can continue to give the people what they want: big, thirsty cars and trucks. Money is the way around any legislation if it doesn't have teeth and if citizens don't exercise due dilligence over their elected officials.

The county BOS has turned down requests for upzoning. For example,they refused Charles Hurt's request when he wanted to build a Glenmore style development on 1700 acres near Advance Mills and they rejected a change in zoning from light industrial to commercial when Wendell Wood wanted to build a store and shopping center at the intersection of Fifth Street and I-64. I am sure that other requests were never granted and plenty got dropped when the staff made it clear to the property owner that the BOS would not grant the upzoning.

There will certainly be more upzoning though, as the amount of land designated for high density development is insufficient to handle the INEVITABLE population growth. Years ago, during a comprehensive plan update I asked the county's director of community development this question: Given the planning staffs estimate of the amount of population growth over the next 20 years how much land would he recommend be added to the growth area surrounding the city?" His answer: 5,000 acres. The BOS actually added 1,600. One of the consequences of this decision is the topic of another thread on this blog, "51.6% of new houses go rural". The county BOS has said that to preserve the rural areas they want to channel growth into the growth areas and the urban ring around Charlottesville. Well, if they are serious about that policy then they need to make the growth areas large enough to handle the growth. Keeping the growth areas undersized has helped to inflate home values and consequently reduce the supply of moderately priced homes. This is a good thing for many homeowners (who vote more than renters)and for the tax base and for those reasons it is unlikely that the politicians will enlarge the growth areas enough to minimize the distortion of the real estate market and the increase in rural sprawl that a limited supply has created.

I believe that eliminating Dillon's Rule and giving the localities more autonomy is a very bad idea. It would exacerbate land use, tax and other policy differences between counties and promote sprawl and contribute to the lack of moderate priced housing close to urban areas. People already buy in rural areas because they get a much better deal. Giving the counties more power would be sure to increase that trend. More and more people would live in rural counties where they could pay lower taxes and afford a house and then commute to their jobs in urban areas.

I do think the state needs to give all the localities better tools to promote higher density development but these rules should apply equally to all jurisdictions.

Kevin Cox wrote: "I believe that eliminating Dillon's Rule and giving the localities more autonomy is a very bad idea. It would exacerbate land use, tax and other policy differences between counties and promote sprawl and contribute to the lack of moderate priced housing close to urban areas. People already buy in rural areas because they get a much better deal. Giving the counties more power would be sure to increase that trend. More and more people would live in rural counties where they could pay lower taxes and afford a house and then commute to their jobs in urban areas."

Don't trust the people to determine their own fate? Do you find this works this way in states not governed by Dillon? Why are developers so bent on perpetuating Dillon, and counties with growth problems forcing them into bankruptcy so opposed to it?

But more to the point, why do you, Kevin, feel Charlottesville and Albemarle have an obligation to densely pack any part of Albemarle just to accomodate such a population explosion? Why not stick with guidelines as they are in the current comprehensive plan, don't even consider up-zoning, and let the free-market and will of the people prevail? If you think enlarging the growth area is going to keep those who can afford it from building on two-to-five acres in the rural part of the county, I guess you're forgetting what's happening here, and in all neighboring counties. Why not set an ultimate build-out and stick with it? We already have nowhere for our teachers and police officers to live and even Belmont is booming beyond anyone's wildest imagination in terms of inflated values. How many more "neighborhood model" communities will it take to bring us affordable housing? Expanding the growth area to kill the ambience of Albemarle isn't going to buy affordable housing either.

Speedy,
It's not the people who will get more authority over local land use decisions if Dillon's Rule is overturned it's the Board of Supervisors that is elected by a small minority of the population. The BOS that you said never turn down a request for an up zoning. It's the BOS I don't trust. Do you really want them to have more power? They are driven by a desire to keep property values high (more real estate tax)and costs low. Using land use controls to keep middle and low income housing out is one way they try to do it. An upper level bureaucrat with Albemarle told me that years ago the County Executive (NOT Bob Tucker) told him and other staff that they were to do everything in their power they could to stop apartments, low income and "starter" homes from being built in Albemarle as a way to enhance the county's finances. Low and middle income families cost a lot because of school and they don't generate much in the way of taxes. Pointing out the high cost and low return of housing has been a favorite tactic of many anti-growth groups over the years.
Of course it doesnt take a genius to realize that what really matters is the income of the people living in the houses. Cookie cutter McMansions on 21 acre lots may be ugly and take up a lot of land but frequently the occupants send their kids to private schools and pay huge real estate tax bill. Counties want even more power so that they can exclude more people with incomes like the firefighters and teachers you mention. The state legislature needs to step in. Eliminating the real estate tax as the source of local revenue and increasing the state income tax as a replacement would help a lot but that is extremely unlikely to happen.

By the way, the Comprehensive Plan is not the Zoning Ordinance. The Comp Plan is a broad view and the Zoning Ordinance is very specific. Often an area that is designated as a growth area has land in it that is not zoned for the use planned by the Comp Plan and must be re-zoned. It's just a technicality, but updating the Comp Plan is not upzoning.

Just because there is a lot of building going on in the rural areas of central Virginia does not mean that a whole lot of people cannot afford to build or buy what someone else has built. Many people, including teachers and firefighters have been priced out of a market that they could have afforded a few years ago. A lot of this is due to external factors but an insufficient supply of properly zoned land contributes to higher prices and encourages sprawl.
I would like to see state legislators mandate realistic zoning requirements for residential and commercial growth along with better protection for rural areas as a way to effectively direct growth towards urban centers without further distorting the market.

In the case of Charlottesville and Albemarle I believe that the state should help pay for much of the increased infrastructure costs that the growth of UVa is generating. Normally employees work in businesses that pay taxes to the local government. Our largest employer pays a pittance compared to what a private sector business of equal size would pay.

Times change. That's why the state requires local governments to periodically update their comprehensive plans. An ultimate build out law might actually be an attempt by local governments to keep other Americans from exercising their constitutional right to live anywhere in the country they want to. If there are clear and immediate public health reasons that will stand close scrutiny that's different and I believe that would ultimately be up to the courts to decide.
Cordially,
Kevin

I guess you'd have to believe the health and safety of CURRENT residents is subjugate to the needs and desires of those who profit from future development and subsequent increase in population. State code is written by attorneys influenced by business concerns. Cannot a case be made for deciding what level of population and growth "improves the public health, safety, convenience and welfare of its citizens"? What part of growth beyond a reasonable ultimate build-out serves to ensure that "residential areas be provided with healthy surroundings for family life"?

These quotes are from the State Code of Virginia in reference to the intent of zoning, planning, etc.:

"Title 15.2 - COUNTIES, CITIES AND TOWNS.
Chapter 22 - Planning, Subdivision of Land and Zoning

§ 15.2-2200. Declaration of legislative intent.

This chapter is intended to encourage localities to improve the public health, safety, convenience and welfare of its citizens and to plan for the future development of communities to the end that transportation systems be carefully planned; that new community centers be developed with adequate highway, utility, health, educational, and recreational facilities; that the need for mineral resources and the needs of agriculture, industry and business be recognized in future growth; that residential areas be provided with healthy surroundings for family life; that agricultural and forestal land be preserved; and that the growth of the community be consonant with the efficient and economical use of public funds."

Cordially as well.

I don't subjugate the health and safety of my family, who are current residents of the region to anybody and I did not say or imply that I do. Why don't you quit trying to guess what I mean and stick to adressing the content of my posts.
Kevin Cox

WoW! We went from cordial to testy in a single post! Isn't the Internet great?
You might try not taking my suppositions so personally. There is such a thing as an editorial "you". But I will address what you've said:

If an ultimate build-out population limit abridges someone's right to live here then what does price do? Or simple supply? Can I afford to live in Glenmore, or Farmington? Are my "rights" threatened if I can't? And what if Glenmore or Farmington had no houses for sale? Am I somehow being denied my constitutional rights? If Albemarle kept all zoning exactly where it is now, and every unit that could be built by-right was built and sold�other than the fact that none of us would want to live here anymore�how does the fact that there are no more available housing units deny anyone's constitutional rights? Are we to continually up-zone to add capacity no matter the consequence? Are we obligated to house everyone and anyone even if it means you must share your house with someone who feels it is their right to live in the Woolen Mills? I mean I'm as in favor of communism as the next Virginian, but really!

We have to get over this concept that somehow Albemarle can absorb any and all growth, forever. Then we can deal with maybe sticking to the plan we have now, the one that citizens counted on when they built their homes. It already plans for too much growth, but it's likely to be better than what we'll end up with if we keep considering the rights of anyone to live in Albemarle no matter what the cost.

When the commute from Crozet to UVA takes 45 minutes and we're still opening the doors to our county with the Chamber of Commerce asking the world to "send us your rich, send us your Californians, send us you retired boomers from NYC", maybe then we'll wake up and figure out it is not our responsibility to house EVERYONE who wants to live here. Please note this does not mean we should not assume an obligation to house those who teach our kids and protect our homes. These are vastly different concepts. One seeks to better the community, the other to prostitute it and sacrifice it on the altar of development. I know you and your family don't want that, but why not simply deny any further up-zoning? Stop now, where we are. A moratorium at least, to let the citizens see just how bad it can get on by-right development alone. No one is promised anything more.

I too would question that there is a "constitutional right to live anywhere in the country they want to." The constitution says you have a right to live, but it doesn't specify WHERE. Besides, we certainly legally exclude people from outside our nations borders from living here, under the idea that we can't afford to house the rest of the world. Why should localities be different?

I can't live in a National Forest, on a Reservation, or on my neighbors front yard. It also may or may not be my right to live on a flood plain, but it neither intellegent nor sustainable. Also, developers build then expect the existing residents to pay for the infrastructure needs their development causes. The result on this are entire neighborhoods who basically don't have adequate access to water. The League of Women voters did an excellent study on population growth and water supply. It was clear that our rate of development is exceeding our current supplies of water. So, is it my constitutional right to move to Death Valley and have water piped In? Neither should this be a "right" here either. There are natural limits to growth and what the local culture, environment, and infrastructure can support. The people here seem to feel we should build infrastructure to accomodate them, as if we asked them to move here. When we start talking about piping water in, there are problems.

Also, it isn't as if there aren't enough places to live in the U.S. and we are denying people any place to live. For that matter there are even Counties in Virginia with almost no one in them at all. Sure, they might not have lots of jobs or industries right now, but keep in mind that we are an increasingly a service based economy. If your business is on the internet providing tech support, does it really matter that your employees are in Kansas or West Virginia?

As for affordable housing, we do need people to take out the trash and work in fast food. When they can't afford to live here, then they won't, and then businesses will have to pay them enough to afford housing so they'll work here. The same supply and demand economics that can raise prices can also bring them down (or at least bring wages up).

Okay Lonnie, so you can't live in my front yard or a national forest that's true and neither can any other American citizen, but you still have a right to live in any policitcal jurisdiction in this country that you want to without deliberate efforts by the local or state goverment to keep you out. Localities are different than other countries, significantly so in fact. They are not independent political entities but are actually subsets of the state and federal government. American citizens living in Northern Virginia have just as much right as you or me to live here. Freedom of movement is a genuine constitutional right. I've sat through meetings where the county attorney has had to explain this to people when they ask, "Why can't we have a moratorium on new growth"? Like it or not, Albemarle County is not an independent country and other citizens of this country do have a right to live here without the local governments interference.

From Wilkipedia: "Freedom of movement is a human rights concept which is respected in the constitutions of numerous Western states. It asserts that a citizen of a state, in which that citizen is present, generally has the right to leave that state, travel wherever the citizen is welcome, and, with proper documentation, return to that state at any time; and also (of equal or greater importance) to travel to, reside in, and/or work in, any part of the state the citizen wishes without interference. "

This right is one of the reasons that growth is really and truly inevitable. It doesn't mean you have a right to have the government build a water supply or a new road just that the local government cannot take deliberate steps to keep other Americans from moving in. Local residency permits or local immigration law will never happen. Secession was tried once and it didn't work out. I suppose that a moratorium could happen if there really were a significant threat to the public health and maybe you're right, that talk of piping in water means we're reaching that point but that would have to be decided by the courts and that is years from happening. I am no fan of huge subdivisions but practical planning needs a realistic understanding of the legal framework that local governments must work in.

All right Kevin. Now you're off topic. Nothing you've said requires cities or counties to up-zone to accommodate new housing IF the area has reached build-out. Otherwise you'd see densely-populated areas forced to condemn single-family housing to increase density, or convert public parks to housing. No one here is suggesting boarder patrols or Albemarle passports, but why can't we consider our county instituting a no-more-variances or up-zoning policy? State code only requires municipalities to review their comprehensive plan regularly. It doesn't require them to change it. If the priorities of Albemarle County were to preserve and protect the current mix of rural and urban living, to preserve our natural beauty, and to ensure adequate water supply, open space, and clean air for all it's citizens, then not approving any further up-zoning or variances allowing higher than by-right density levels would be compatible with those priorities and would therefor be defensible in any court. No one's rights are being trod on. Growth would still take place, but within the growth areas as designated and beyond at whatever level is allowed by-right under current zoning. What we, and all the petition signers in Crozet, want is for the BOS to stick with what they've stated as a logical size for our growth area as planned, and to stop taking a nine-unit tract and converting it through perversion of the neighborhood model to 109 units never intended in the growth area.

People are free to move wherever they want as long as they can. They need the money to move and the space to move to. We don't give them the money and we assume they'll go where there is available property. We don't have to play with the map of Albemarle County like so much Silly-Putty.

Thanks Kevin for clarifying the legal question. Sounds to me like a State contitutional issue, not a Federal one, so maybe that explains why I was a little confused. To clarify my position, certainly we can't issue resident cards or outright forbid someone form living here. Think about it like a hotel. If I said, ____ (insert ethnicity of choice) can't rent rooms in this hotel; well, that'd not only be illegal but just wrong; however, if all the rooms are full then that doesn't mean the hotel owner is obligated to make space for them.

Likewise, if zoning only allows so many houses to be built, and there are no houses available on the market (which is never true) or someone is just priced out of the market, then I can't see that the county is obligated to allow more development. At that point, it is up to the owner to wait until a suitable property becomes available or zoning changes. Certainly there are lots of places in the U.S. I couldn't afford to live, and luckily I've no desire to live in any of them ; ) I do have concerns about affordable housing, but I do think there is some way to deal with that issue responsibly.

It is true that we do still have Dillon to contend with. It is my hope that our new Governor can provide for some return of local control over growth, but until such time, I feel we should set higher standards and force developers to stick to them. The nastiest of the lot will then go somewhere else, while the smaller developers and builders will be able to easily accomodate the new standards. Actually It'd be great if someone could find a way to streamline the process for responsible developers... that'd benefit both sides and provide a significant carrot.

For example, this nasty development in Biscuit Run, they should require them to leave as many trees as is reasonable, and plant additional trees after construction is finished. Houses should reflect the character of the area, or at least not be cookie cutter. They should be forbidden to culvert streams or fill wetlands, and provide adequate mitigation for the runoff created by the development via artificial wetlands, rain gardens, green roofs or any of the other many strategies available. There should be significant greenspace either left, or created. Lastly, they should use the town center model of mixed use and walkable neighborhoods. in short, they should be required to follow the guidelines already suggested by the many policies, including the sustainablity accords and other published policies and community standards.

Of course, that's what i think *should* be done, but I fear what will be done will be more along the lines of the Hollymead disaster.

Lonnie,
Article four of the US constitution.

In your earlier post you wrote, "we certainly legally exclude people from outside our nations borders from living here, under the idea that we can't afford to house the rest of the world. Why should localities be different?" The Federal Government uses "resident cards" to outright forbid someone from living here, right? Now you're saying, "To clarify my position, certainly we can't issue resident cards or outright forbid someone form living here." I'm confused by the apparent change. I think you want the government to somehow or another use it's authority to keep some Americans from moving here. Am I correct? Refusing to issue building permits amounts to an outright refusal to allow someone to live here and I am pretty sure that this is the way it has been seen in courts.

Also, you write that you want houses to "reflect the character of the area"? Why? What significant benefit is gained by having the government determine what houses should look like? How much power do you want the government to have?
I know that some people will build ugly houses but I'd rather have ugly houses and freedom.

Sorry, I've read that and I don't see anything there about the right to live wherever you wish. All is says is that:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

That may apply to commerce, but doesn't say anything about that would apply to something like local zoning. Perhaps you mean that there is a later body of case law derived from this which does give that right. I'm not exactly an expert on LAw, but given that some areas of the country do have laws restricting development, and they haven't been overturned by the court, then I'd still be a little suspicious about this being a federal right.

Also, I think you really misunderstood something I said. When I said we can't issue resident cards, I meant Albemarle County. It was also a bit of a joke, since it was a statement of obvious fact. My original point is that the federal government acknowledges that the US has limited resources and infrastructure that would be overwhelmed with open borders. That, and now security, are the only reasons we restrict citizenship. If even the federal government acknowledges limited infrastructure and resources then surely it makes sense that if all the people in the United States suddenly concentrated themselves in one spot, then the same principles would apply, they'd overwhelm local resources and infrastructure. This isn't a case of breeding gone crazy, but rather mass migration. There's plenty of places to live int he U.S.

In fact, under all the things I've said, anyone would be free to live in Charlottesville, all they'd have to do is wait until existing housing becomes available (which happens daily). Yes, this would could up housing costs, but that is a choice we could make if we so wished. It is also my understanding that Portland, Oregon and other areas HAVE restricted growth (not that we need to model the way they chose to do it).

Lonnie I don't have time for this. The courts have decided that all Americans have a right to live wherever they want to without interference from the local government. If you want to tell them otherwise than that's fine with me but it isn't going to change anything. Localities do push the envelope and they do get away with it all the time because the people most adversely affected, the poor and renters have no voice.

The fact is that the population of this country is growing, Albemarle is part of this country and growth is inevitable. This inevitalility should be appropriately planned for but it is not being planned for. Rather, land use controls are being used to protect and enhance the value of the main capital investment (their homes) of most of the voters who elected the BOS. I recommend that you read some of the articles by Anthony Downs of the Brookings Institute. He has a web page and is a wonderful, readable author.