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February 28, 2007

Places29 master plan framework goes public

20070227pc2 On February 27, 2007, the Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session to receive an update on the Places29 master planning project.  When complete, the Places29 master plan will provide a twenty-year vision for the Route 29 North corridor detailing the development, transportation, and public facilities desired by the community.  The commissioners received the recently completed draft plan which has been under development since the first public workshops were held in May 2005.  The Places29 Master Plan is scheduled to be adopted by the Board of Supervisors in late 2007.

The County wants your feedback on the Places29 draft framework.  There are community meetings on March 5th and March 8th.  See Charlottesville Tomorrow's calendar for details.

New media options: Video or Audio w/PowerPoint slides

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Here are some of the points in the presentation I found most interesting:

  • 20070227pc3 The Places29 study area can handle an immense amount of housing growth.  The area has 14,200 homes today.  The consultants told the Planning Commission they expected growth of 6,800 additional homes during the twenty year plan (2,800 of those homes have already been approved by the County, e.g. North Pointe, Albemarle Place, Hollymead Town Center).  While they did not reference population figures in their report, this housing could handle population growth of another 17,000 people over twenty years [2.5 people per dwelling unit]. 
  • 20070227pc4Under the master plan’s proposed land uses, the Places29 area could one day accommodate a theoretical ultimate buildout of 71,400 homes.  That is a maximum number for some time way beyond this twenty-year master plan.  However, they don’t expect the density of homes to be achieved in all places and thus they estimated a more likely upper limit of around 50,000 homes [that would be an additional 35,800 homes and a total population in the Places29 area alone of about 125,000].
  • The Places29 area has 15,900 jobs or employment opportunities today.  The consultants told the Planning Commission they expected growth of 23,900 additional jobs during the twenty year plan (14,100 of those new jobs have already been “approved” at commercial developments in the County, e.g. North Pointe, Albemarle Place, Hollymead Town Center).
  • Under the master plan’s proposed land uses, the Places29 area could one day accommodate a theoretical ultimate employment potential of 107,500 jobs.  That is a maximum number for some time way beyond this twenty-year master plan.  However, they don’t expect the density of commercial development to be achieved in all places and thus they estimated a more likely upper limit of around 68,500 jobs.
  • The transportation proposals include construction of six bridges, interchanges or overpasses along Route 29 with a cost approaching $185 million (not including right-of-way acquisition).  These grade-separated approaches would eliminate traffic signals for vehicles on Route 29 at Hydraulic Rd., Rio Rd., Hilton Heights, Ashwood Blvd., Timberwood Blvd., Airport Rd.  These six improvements are part of the twenty-year plan.  Greenbrier Drive is expected to have a grade-separated interchange sometime after 2025.
  • Outside of the improvements on Route 29, there is a strong emphasis on parallel road networks (e.g. extending Berkmar Drive across the Rivanna River to Hollymead Town Center).  There is also a strong emphasis on making new development transit ready so that over time improved public transit options can be integrated with an ultimate goal of a bus rapid transit system.

Brian Wheeler

February 27, 2007

UVA's growth in students and facilities

Local Democrats have a new blog and they have referenced a couple of stories recently reported by Charlottesville Tomorrow.  One of their posts references the February 15, 2007 meeting of the Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) which has representation from the University of Virginia, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, and Charlottesville City Council.  Here I can provide some additional information from that meeting that will provide a more complete picture of UVA's projections for student growth, and their view as to where those students should be living in the community.  The comments below were made by David Neuman, Architect of the University of Virginia.

“The first thing I like to start off any of these discussions about [the University’s major projects] is [by raising the question], ‘Why does the University continue to grow?’”

“I think it is critical to understand that most of this growth is not population driven, it is space deficiency driven… it is also program improvements.  Basically, the sort of research we are doing, is not the same research as twenty years ago.  It is not even what it was five years ago.  And it requires more and more sophisticated capabilities for the scientists to have, for the engineers to have, and so forth.”

“The state [negotiated with the University the arrangement] by which we are taking approximately 1,500 new students over the next decade. So that is about 150 students a year, roughly 100 undergraduates and 50 graduate students.  That’s a requirement.  The state would have liked us to take more.”

“One of the things I know the community frequently asks me is, ‘Why don’t we house all the students on grounds?’  The fact is we house all the first years.  The second fact is that they don’t want to be housed on grounds.  The opportunities for housing are there, we actually have vacancies in our current residential facilities, both apartments and dormitories because students chose to live off-grounds.  It’s not likely that the University would impose, beyond the first year, that people would live on grounds… None of the universities do that.  So when I came from a place that housed 97% of the students on grounds, it was because they wanted to live on grounds, and that isn’t the case here, and it’s not the case in most institutions that I know of...”

In his presentation, Mr. Neuman described for the PACC members seven active construction projects (totaling $385 million) and another half-dozen projects in the design phase, including new 5-story student dorms on Observatory Hill. [See Charlottesville Tomorrow's November 2005 summary of UVA's billion dollar construction plan]

Mr. Neuman went to great lengths in his remarks to describe UVA's construction plans as not being in response to the University's need to grow (except for student housing), but rather to improve facilities for existing staff.  When pressed by Supervisor Dennis Rooker to provide employment projections, neither Mr. Neuman nor Colette Sheehy, VP for Management and Budget, could provide an estimate.  They said they were in the middle of developing a 10-year plan that would result in such projections. 

In her remarks, Ms. Sheehy pointed out that affordable housing was a major problem for the University and she indicated that many younger staff could not afford to live in Albemarle County.  Unlike developers in Albemarle County, the University is not subject to proffers for affordable housing when they launch new building projects.

Brian Wheeler

County Republicans ask budget to be built on lowered tax rate

Today's Daily Progress has a front page story on County Republican efforts to get the Board of Supervisors thinking about a lowered tax rate.

"The Republicans’ argument hinges on a Virginia law that requires localities to hold a public hearing if property assessments go up more than 1 percent. If localities do not hold the public hearing, the tax rate cannot be set higher than the rate that would account for the increase in assessments."

"In this case, Albemarle County Republicans say the rate would fall to 58 cents per $100 of assessed value to account for the rise in assessments. That amount would give the county slightly more in real estate revenue than what it had last year - that’s the point of the law, proponents of the Republican’s view say."

In Albemarle County, the current rate is $0.74 per $100.  That is about $2,368 annually in property taxes for homes assessed at the median sales price in Albemarle (4Q 2006).

In a previous post, I prepared a user guide for the tax rate debateThere I detail the arguments of County Republican Chair Keith Drake and Supervisor Dennis Rooker (I-Jack Jouett). 

Timing is an issue here.  The County Executive presented the Board with property assessment projections late last year.  Further, that is when the Board provides direction on how the County Executive should approach the building of the current budget (a document going public this Friday).  To my knowledge, there was no direction from the Supervisors to build the budget on a lowered tax rate at that time, with the exception of some discussion about how to handle the one-time windfall from the switch to annual assessments.  Further, the five-year financial forecast presented by County Executive Bob Tucker to the Board on January 10, 2007 shows a $0.74 tax rate assumption through FY2012.

It appears there is support from a majority of Supervisors to lower that rate in this budget and this discussion certainly helps the public understand there will still be an increase in taxes overall.   In the coming weeks, the Supervisors will have to reconcile the impact of that rate change on their long term financial plans, which include a possible bond referendum in 2008 to borrow funds for capital needs.

By the way, for next January when annual assessments start, Mr. Tucker is projecting an increase of 11.5% in County property values.

Brian Wheeler

February 22, 2007

City-County officials jockey on Biscuit Run proffers

City wants Biscuit Run to pay for roads; Supervisors suggest City's revenue sharing income and economic development dollars could be re-allocated to transportation

20070221mpo1 On February 21, 2007, the Policy Board of the Metropolitan Planning Organization held their monthly meeting. In responses to matters from the public and under other business, the Board held two significant discussions on the proposed Biscuit Run rezoning in Albemarle County.

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City Councilor Kevin Lynch and Dave Norris asked for the County’s consideration of traffic impacts as they review the rezoning application.  Mr. Norris expressed disappointment that the current proffers under review by the County Planning Commission addressed only one of three priorities identified by the City earlier this month: $150,000 to improve traffic signal timing and synchronization (Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS).  “It took that as something of a slap in the face to the City,” said Mr. Norris.  Biscuit Run is expected to add more than 30,000 vehicle trips a day on the area’s road network. 

Supervisors Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) and David Slutzky (Rio) explained that they needed to let the Planning Commission conduct their review process and that they had not even seen the City’s recent letter formalizing its request for three transportation improvements that could be supported by Biscuit Run’s proffers: improvements on Old Lynchburg Road; traffic light synchronizations (ITS); and the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector road.

20070221mpo2_1In early February, Mr. Lynch said he would give the County “a month” to demonstrate that they were serious about getting the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector built.  When that issue was raised, Mr. Rooker pointed out his preference for that $12.8 million road and bridge to be built by the developers of the Granger property (Coran Capshaw) and by UVA at the Fontaine Research Park.  He expressed reluctance to have Biscuit Run proffers applied to "alleviate" another developer’s responsibility for building roads. There was consensus that the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector was a key road priority for both localities.

Mr. Rooker explained that he did not like this growth in the County and that it was actually the City that benefited directly from residential growth outside their borders in the form of increased contributions from Albemarle as part of the 1982 revenue sharing agreement.  In FY 2008, that agreement is expected to send the City an additional $3 million for a total of about $13.21 million, irregardless of the property tax rate set for Albemarle in 2007. Mr. Rooker said, "The question I would be willing to put on the table is, 'Is the City willing to take the increase in the revenue sharing payment to put into regional transportation?'" Mr. Slutzky suggested the City could also redirect money from economic development to transportation needs. Mr. Rooker said the County might be able to match contributions from the City for some of the many transportation projects on their shared priority list that VDOT is not addressing with state dollars.   

Mr. Lynch responded that it might be beneficial to have a discussion between the City and the County to ensure local government is not subsidizing growth. "I have argued for years to pull out of [the Thomas Jefferson partnership for Economic Development (TJPED)]....I am all for having some discussion as to how we can better manage what we do, as two localities, so we don’t end up subsidizing essentially the development community,” said Lynch.  Supervisor David Slutzky provided a fourth vote on the Board of Supervisors that allowed the County to join TJPED in 2006.  Albemarle County has also recently joined the Chamber of Commerce and created a $250,000 "jobs development opportunity fund," two initiatives that Mr. Slutzky also voted to support. Mr. Rooker voted against all three initiatives and he has voiced his opposition to public funds being spent towards what he sees as efforts to encourage more growth than what is already happening in the community.

Brian Wheeler

Interested in transportation planning? Join the CHART Committee

Sqtraffic255_1 Announcement from the TJPDC:

Interested in becoming involved in transportation planning? Join the CHART Committee!
The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is seeking applications to fill four (4) vacancies on its citizen’s advisory committee, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Transportation (CHART) Committee. The CHART Committee acts in an advisory capacity to the MPO on transportation issues related to the area long-range transportation plan. The Committee meets monthly on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at TJPDC, 401 E. Water Street.  Applications are available online, at the TJPDC office, and area libraries.  Applications should be received by TJPDC on or before Friday, March 16.

Questions?  Contact:

Kellem Agnew Emanuele
Transportation Program Coordinator
Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
401 E. Water Street (P.O. Box 1505)
Charlottesville, VA 22902
kemanuele@tjpdc.org
Phone:  434.979.7310 ext 260

February 20, 2007

Ken Boyd seeks second term on Board of Supervisors

Boyd_ken WINA AM 1070 is reporting that Supervisor Ken Boyd (R-Rivanna) has filed his paperwork and is an official candidate for re-election to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Boyd is in the fourth year of his first term as Supervisor and he is serving as Chairman during 2007.  He previously represented the Rivanna District on the Albemarle County School BoardWINA's website report is as follows:

Ken Boyd will seek re-election in November

"Albemarle Supervisors Chairman Ken Boyd (above) says he will run for another term this fall. Boyd has served on the Board since 2004. He was elected Chairman in January. Boyd is the Rivanna District representative, and he says he has filed the appropriate paperwork for a second term. Boyd says if he wins a second term on November 6th, he wants to focus on tax relief, smart growth and transportation issues."

See Charlottesville Tomorrow's complete 2007 local election coverage.

Brian Wheeler

As Meadowcreek Parkway costs go up, state funding continues decline

Last week, as was reported in the Daily Progress, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved their priorities for the Six Year Secondary Road Plan.  One of their goals was to keep the County's portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway on schedule.  The Daily Progress noted the effort that went into moving past and future secondary road funds, allocated by VDOT to Albemarle, to the Meadowcreek Parkway account.  Most major road projects on the "six year plan" require decades for enough funding to be collected before construction can begin.

20070215pacc3_1 I put together the graph here to show the declining allocations from VDOT for secondary roads (red area) and the rising costs of the Meadowcreek Parkway project (blue bars).  As funds are shifted to keep up with the rising costs, other roads fall further behind schedule.  The Daily Progress noted:

"Other projects, however, will suffer. Improvements to Proffit Road, Old Ivy Road and Northern Free State Road will have to wait as funding for those projects was reduced to pay for the escalation in price of the Meadowcreek Parkway, with an estimated cost of around $67 million. The county has fully funded its estimated $25 million portion. Work on Jarmans Gap Road and Georgetown Road - projects that could have been delayed for the parkway - remain fully funded." [See also: past post on Meadowcreek Parkway Funding Challenge]

While there are about 70 projects on Albemarle's Six-Year Secondary Road Plan, only three are moving forward: Meadowcreek Parkway, Jarman's Gap, and Georgetown Road. Albemarle is expecting a total of $3,863,524 from VDOT in FY2008 for all secondary road projects.

The costs to build roads are rising dramatically. At the meeting last week, Supervisor Dennis Rooker shared with his colleagues a recent e-mail from Butch Davies, the area's representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).  On February 13, 2007, Mr. Davies wrote:

"Attached is an email which was forwarded by the Secretary of Transportation and highlights the predicament that we face in Virginia on our road projects.  The cost of construction has accelerated dramatically.  Since 1987, we have seen an 82.8% increase in total construction costs; 28% of this increase has occurred from the end of 2004 to the present."

"I wanted to bring this to your attention because it has had a dramatic impact on projects within the Culpeper District."

"When I originally was appointed to the Commonwealth Transportation Board a little over four years ago there was sufficient funding to complete...the Meadowcreek Parkway utilizing both secondary road funding and urban road funding in Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. What has happened is that the delay in construction has seen an accelerated increase in cost.  One of the dramatic increases which is not addressed in this memorandum is the increase in right of way cost..."

"The Legislature is presently considering transportation legislation.  A review of the existing package does not appear to have a significant impact on projects pending in the Culpeper District.  A dedicated source of revenue that provides significant cash flow over a period of years is necessary in order to address the long term issues."

Virginia's Secretary of Transportation, Pierce Homer, was sharing price trend data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). Interestingly, the day after Mr. Davies sent his message to Dennis Rooker, the FHA updated those figures with data through 2006 Q2. The "Price Trends for Federal-Aid Highway Construction" now show a 140.6% increase in construction costs since 1987 with 86.2% of that increase occurring since the end of 2004 (i.e. during the last 18 months of report).

Brian Wheeler

February 19, 2007

Local leaders discuss transportation needs and funding challenges

20070215pacc1On February 15, 2007, there was a quarterly meeting of the Planning and Coordination Council (PACC) which has representation from the University of Virginia, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, and Charlottesville City Council.  Participants in this meeting included: Supervisors Ken Boyd and Dennis Rooker; Councilors David Brown and Kendra Hamilton; and representing the University of Virginia, Colette Sheehy and David Neuman.

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20070215pacc2The Council received an update on development and transportation issues in what is known as Area B. The September 2004 Southern Urban Area B Study identified road interconnections that could be built to enlarge the grid of streets serving the area around the Fontaine Research Park, the University's Stadium Road area, the Fry's Spring neighborhood in the City, and County developments along Old Lynchburg Road and Sunset Avenue.

The discussion in this portion of the meeting included the following important topics: the development of the Granger Property, the proposed Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector, declining secondary road funding from the state, proffers from Biscuit Run and other developments, and local transportation funding options.

Highlights of the discussion:

  • 01:50 -- Call to order by Mayor David Brown
  • 02:30 -- David Benish presents Southern Urban Area B Study update (covers Granger property, Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector)
  • 16:14 -- David Benish describes need for road interconnections including the desired extension of Stadium Road.  He details the fact that Fontaine Avenue currently has a level of service (LOS) for traffic of "E" and it sometimes fails with LOS "F." 
  • 17:22 -- David Benish describes a concern of Albemarle County Planning Commission related to expansion of Fontaine Research Park and development of the Granger Property related to transportation infrastructure.  The Commission intends to approve a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA, a precursor to a rezoning) that requires that the timing and intensity of development to match the capabilities of the planned road network. "This would give the County the latitude to control when and how much development is approved [in future rezonings]," said Mr. Benish.   [Note: This would be one of the few Albemarle County CPA's that I am aware of that intends to require road infrastructure in advance of the new development].
  • 19:39 -- QUESTIONS
  • 19:39 -- Supervisor Ken Boyd asks about time line for the  Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector. Mr. Benish responds that it depends on the timing of the rezoning requests which might proffer all or part of the road.
  • 20070215pacc3

    20:00 -- Supervisor Dennis Rooker details declining contributions from VDOT to fund Albemarle's Secondary Road priorities (see chart at right-larger version).  Albemarle intends for the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector to be a secondary road eligible for this funding.
  • 24:25 -- Mayor Brown asks about proffers that might support Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector.  Mr. Boyd describes County task force working on revised proffer policies that will make recommendations in March 2007.  Mr. Rooker says he expects, as part of rezonings for Granger/Fontaine Research Park, that they will build their portion of road since it will be needed within their development.
  • 26:55 -- County Executive Bob Tucker asks about cost of the bridge over rail road tracks that will be part of Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector.  Mr. Benish responds that the combined cost of the road and bridge are estimated to be $12.8 million.
  • 28:40 -- Mayor Brown asks about impacts from Biscuit Run development on Area B study area.
  • 30:50 -- May Brown asks about proposed Southern Parkway.
  • 35:53 -- Mr. Rooker describes how Albemarle has been requesting for the past nine years of VDOT that the Southern Parkway be considered as a Secondary Road.  It has not yet received that status which would allow use of Secondary Road funds.
  • 40:02 -- Mr. Rooker mentions that Albemarle County is setting aside $2 million annually for road projects.  This is in response to declining funds from the state and something Albemarle had no expenditures for 3-4 years ago.
  • 40:33 -- Kendra Hamilton asks what can be done to get more attention from state for our transportation needs.
  • 42:45 -- Mayor Brown describes Transportation Funding Options Working Group and their recommendation for creation of a Charlottesville-Albemarle transportation district which could receive funding from local taxes and bonds.
  • 44:50 -- Mr. Rooker describes how a transportation service district could be created today and funded by local property taxes.  'If we have an agreement to form such a body, and we have the political will to impose additional property taxes throughout the jurisdictions to fund it, we could do that."
  • 45:20 -- Mr. Boyd asks, "How much more would you expect us to raise property taxes? Thirty percent last year. Its been averaging about fifteen percent a year for the last several [years]. I am not going to be in a position to say I want to raise the property taxes."
  • 45:44 -- Mr. Brown expresses a preference for a tax on people actually using the roads (e.g. a gas tax).

Brian Wheeler

 

February 16, 2007

City Planning Commission considers limiting their communications

Sqphotodowntown In their meeting Thursday evening, the Charlottesville Planning Commission directed staff to prepare written guidelines strongly discouraging any communications between the Commissioners and developers or citizens with a position on a matter before the Commission.  A motion to eliminate those communications entirely was considered then withdrawn.  If approved, the City Planning Commission would adopt a style in sharp contrast to their neighbors in Albemarle County where these informal meetings with concerned citizens and developers are common practice.

In their discussion, the Commissioners described the challenges they have faced handling what they refer to as “ex parte communications” outside of their public meetings—contacts between themselves and developers and activists about development proposals in the City.  With input from Jim Tolbert, Director of Neighborhood Development Services, the Commissioners evaluated legal concerns, potential conflicts of interest, and the role of staff vs. the Commission.  Commissioner Cheri Lewis was not in attendance for this portion of the meeting.

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The issue was raised by one of the newest Commissioners, Jason Pearson.  Mr. Pearson said he had been contacted by several developers in advance of their projects being heard in a public hearing.  He expressed his discomfort about these conversations taking place outside of a public meeting and that was now telling developers he would no longer meet with them privately.  In bringing the matter to the Commission, he asked for a public discussion about the appropriate communications protocol.

Chairman Jon Fink described how, on the two-three occasions in which he had meetings with developers or applicants, that he did so at City Hall with a staff member present.  There was some discussion about the merits of this approach.  Mr. Fink said he was not in favor of Commissioners meeting privately with applicants.

Another of the new Commissioners, Michael Osteen, described how he had pursued a position on the Commission after his work as a neighborhood activist.  He described regular meetings with developers and residents that had taken place in his home over the past two years.  Mr. Pearson pointed out that he, by contrast, has decided to step back from his leadership role on issues in his neighborhood.

Mr. Tolbert implored the Commissioners to remember the potential for lawsuits and described how in other states where he has worked that ex parte communications with an applicant or citizen activist were absolutely forbidden. 

Mr. Fink encouraged Mr. Osteen to embrace a new role as a Planning Commissioner.  “You need to get altitude on your neighborhood now because you are no longer just a neighborhood member.  You represent the entire community….So you being at these meetings and hosting them at your house—I would recommend that you no longer host them, because its going to look like, you know how people can twist anything in any way, ‘Well he hosted that, he must have been in favor of it.’”  Mike Farruggio added that he purposely avoided his own neighborhood association meetings for that very reason.

Mr. Farruggio asked, “Where do you draw the line? Do you never have a conversation with a developer?  Is that what you would recommend?”  Mr. Tolbert responded, “I would err that way.”  He recommended all contacts go through the appropriate staff member.

When Mr. Farruggio asked if there was support for a policy that would limit communications to taking place at City Hall with staff present and Mr. Tolbert suggested that would not address his concerns. “If you want protection… the issue is you talking to a developer or a neighborhood advocate about a specific project outside the context of a public meeting and all that information not being shared.  That’s the danger.  That you would hear something in that meeting that would color your opinion. And then you would go into that vote and the other side, whichever it may be,  would never hear what had been said and you voted based on something you heard that nobody else was privy to.”

Mr. Pearson made a motion as follows: “We have no ex parte communications.”  It was seconded by Hosea Mitchell.

In the discussion, Mr. Osteen asked if anything was different for City Council.  Mr. Tolbert responded, “They are in the same boat.”  To which Mr. Osteen observed, “Every Councilor I have ever talked [to] in twenty-five years has sat down there and talked to me as long as I wanted to talk.”  Mr. Tolbert agreed that was the current culture of the community.  “Its one of those things where nobody has sued yet.  We haven’t had contentious land use issues where you get into those periods of litigation.”

Mr. Fink told the Commissioners that they could all be sued individually for their actions.  Mr. Tolbert echoed that, “If you take on my role, you lose your protection as a Planning Commissioner and that’s a fine line.”

Mr. Tolbert said staff would never propose language for the bylaws that said “thou shall not have ex parte communications,” even if the motion on the table was approved.  Instead his recommendation would be language that said, “Planning Commissioners should avoid ex parte communication with applicants or opponents of a rezoning.”

In the end, Mr. Pearson withdrew his motion and the Commission directed staff to prepare a new written guideline strongly discouraging any communications between the Commissioners and developers or citizens with a position on a matter before them.

Brian Wheeler

February 13, 2007

Albemarle County commits to green buildings

On February 7, 2007, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors received an update on an initiative to foster environmentally friendly or “green” building approaches and actions that could be taken to better support the sustainability goals in the Comprehensive Plan.  Last December, the County Planning Commission passed a resolution of intent encouraging the Board to consider amending the Comprehensive Plan to improve the community’s commitment to green building and sustainability. 

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Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20070207-BOS-green.mp3

The update from staff touched on: public education efforts on the benefits of green building; opportunities to work with the local development community to promote green building; work within the County’s own operations to improve energy efficiency; and the goal of amending the Comprehensive Plan to support this green building and sustainability.

The Supervisors reached consensus that future County buildings should, pending review of budgetary impacts, be green buildings and pursue a LEED certification.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and represents the efforts of a coalition including the US Green Building Council to establish a nationwide standard for constructing “green” buildings.  The new library in Crozet is expected to be the next County building designed with this approach.

County Executive Bob Tucker told the Board that staff would move forward with their feedback and support.  He noted:

“We’ve heard for the first time… a consensus among all of you that you are ready to move forward… on our buildings… and provide green building initiatives and follow the LEED certification.  That’s something we haven’t heard from the full board.  We’ve heard it anecdotally and from some members, but now I am hearing it from all of you.”

Brian Wheeler