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January 12, 2010

New members join Albemarle Planning Commission tonight

Reader comments (1) By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The transition of power in Albemarle County continues this week as the appointees of two newly-elected Supervisors take their seats. New members will join both the Planning Commission and Albemarle County Service Authority at meetings this week. The Planning Commission will welcome two new members, one returning member, and a former member.

The Board of Supervisors chose attorney and Crozet resident Duane Zobrist to be the body’s at-large member. 

Zobrist was first appointed to the Commission in September 2006, but was not re-appointed after former Supervisor David Wyant lost the White Hall seat on the Board of Supervisors to Ann Mallek. During the campaign, he donated $2,500 to the campaign of Supervisor Duane Snow (Samuel Miller), according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Zobrist predicted there would be a return to more development in the county as the economy rebounds.

 “The Planning Commission’s job is to serve the directives and the policies laid down by the Board of Supervisors,” Zobrist said in an interview with Charlottesville Tomorrow. “Since I am going to be the at-large member, my job will be to represent the interests of the entire board, and not any particular district.”

There has been a great deal of turnover in the past two years since Zobrist departed. The only sitting member of the Commission who was present at that time is Cal Morris (Rivanna). Since that time, both Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) and Don Franco (Rio) have joined the Commission.

2007franco Don Franco appearing before the Commission shortly before his appointment in February 2008
Franco, a principal with KG Associates, replaced former Commissioner Jon Cannon last February. Supervisor Rodney Thomas (Rio) re-appointed him to the seat last week.

Franco said he is excited to be coming back, and predicted that the Commission will revisit the Places29 Master Plan at some point this year.

“I’m not sure the new board members feel the same way about Places29 as previous board members,” Franco said. One key issue will be whether Albemarle County’s growth area should be expanded to allow for development along the proposed Berkmar Drive Extended. That road was singled out as a key transportation priority in “action plan” adopted by Supervisors last week. The Board will hold a work session on the master plan this Wednesday.

The Commission will also see two newcomers.

Supervisor Duane Snow appointed Ed Smith of Ivy to serve as the representative for the Samuel Miller District. Smith works for Parham Construction, as its Vice President for Operations, and has over 45 years of experience in the construction industry. He said he was asked by Snow to apply for the position.

“I’m hoping to bring a common sense approach to the issues that come up,” Smith said in an interview.

During the campaign, Smith donated $100 to the campaign of independent John Lowry.

In December, three-term Supervisor Dennis Rooker announced the appointment of Mac Lafferty to represent the Jack Jouett District. Lafferty has been a member of several committees, including the Crozet Community Advisory Council and a local transportation planning body called CHART. He replaces Bill Edgerton, who served two terms under Rooker.

One of the first actions at tonight’s meeting will be the election of a new chairman. Former Chair Eric Strucko was elected to the Albemarle County School Board.

Two new ACSA members

Two new members of the Albemarle County Service Authority Board of Directors will attend their first meeting this week. Snow appointed Marvin Hilton to serve as the Samuel Miller representative and Thomas appointed Dave Thomas to represent Rio.

Thomas, who is no relation to the man who appointed him, is a district chair for the County Republicans. He’s also an attorney with the law firm of Michie Hamlet. In his application, Thomas said he applied for the position because of an interest in the community water supply plan.

“While it is clear that the County needs to explore increasing the supply, it is less clear how it should proceed in the most cost-effective manner,” Thomas wrote.

Hilton is a retired engineer who first moved to the community in 1959, when he attended the University of Virginia. In his application, Hilton said he was encouraged by Snow to apply for the position after learning of his background as a civic engineer..

Both will be on hand as the ACSA Board meets Thursday to review applicants for the open position of executive director. Gary Fern will step down from that post at the end of the February.

Liz Palmer, whose term representing Samuel Miller on the ACSA expired at the end of December, had re-applied for her seat. Snow chose Hilton instead, but thanked Palmer for her service shortly after making the appointment last week.

“She served faithfully, did her homework, and worked extremely hard for the county,” Snow said.

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