Developers Planning 14-Neighborhood Complex

Two developers are planning a 14-neighborhood, 1,400-unit housing complex just south of town in Albemarle. Developers Percy Montague IV and Gaylon Beights will submit an application for the development in May. It’s described as a Columbia- or Reston-styled planned community, with a “village center,” man-made lake, and a shopping area. Kate Andrews has the story in today’s Progress.

70 Responses to “Developers Planning 14-Neighborhood Complex”


  • I cannot properly present my disgust at this proposition, though I think that’s primarily due to the late hour. Suburbia violates so many basic principals of architecture, urban planning, sociology, economics…

    Ugh.

  • Thank you Professor Waldo. The deep wisdom of your insight is overpowering! Please expand on your statement and enlighten us as to how suburbia “violates so many basic principles of architecture, urban planning, sociology, economics…” I am sure that we can count on you for an objective analysis.

  • I am sure that we can count on you for an objective analysis.

    And you for yours, mister Anonymous?

  • I most certainly agree with Waldo. Disgusting. There is no end to devastating the land with more and more housing.

    MJ

  • I lived in Columbia, MD for 10 years. “Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky”. If you haven’t been there, believe me, it’s an architectural nightmare.

    At least Columbia had a vision for creating an economic community that would provide businesses and industry, such that residents would live, shop and work there. That hasn’t really worked out, as it’s turned into a bedroom community for people to commute to D.C. and Baltimore.

    There was initially a mix of housing for folks of varying incomes, all in the same neighborhoods. That fell apart when developers found out that people with money didn’t want to live next to poor people and look at their broken-down cars in the parking lot.

    These planned communities take farmland and turn it into developments that are auto-centric. They burden taxpayers with providing for the education of thousands of new residents, who return little in the way of taxes.

    Columbia is horribly undemocratic in governance. Voting is largely based upon property ownership. If you don’t own property, you don’t get to vote for local leaders. If you own 10 houses, you get 10 votes. If a husband and wife jointly own a house, they get a single vote between them.

    The proponents of this development are not public visionaries like James Rouse (who was the founder of Columbia). They’re businessmen whose primary interest is profit. Not a bad motive, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy what they’re selling.

    We live in paradise here. Don’t permit these guys to destroy it.

    Harry Landers

  • Let me just ask this question (although I’m pretty sure I know the answer already): Is there anything that the people of the greater Charlottesville area are in favor of?

  • We live in paradise here.

    You should have been here in fifteen or more years ago: paradise (now) lost.

    I’ll say that this development idea is a terrible one. It’ll just bring more traffic congestion, higher taxes (think of how many schools will have to be built! roads to be maintained!), and environmental damage.

  • You bet. There’s plenty that we’re in favor of. Clean air. Beautiful scenery. Good education. A strong urban center with affordable housing. A rural economy that permits farming and other open space to remain in productive use. Open government. Harmonious human relations.

    This can go on for a long time. I find it interesting that people who want to make a buck always want to disparage those who would be obstacles to their profits as “anti”-something.

    We’re not buying that label. We’re “pro” plenty of things. Disruption of a way a life and calling it “progress” in the name of profit is dishonest use of the language.

    Harry Landers

  • Disruption of a way a life and calling it “progress” in the name of profit is dishonest use of the language.

    Personal (or company/corporate) profit, that is. The rest of us (and then our kids . . . ) get stuck with the bill!

  • Thank you Professor Waldo. The deep wisdom of your insight is overpowering!

    Don’t be an ass. I made it clear that I was tired, it was 1:09am, and I wanted to provide a kernel of opinion for conversation to start around.

    How about you write a 500-word essay giving us your opinion?

  • Seems to me they are in favor of things staying exactly the way they were when they moved here. Certainly none of these posters were the evil suburbanites when they moved here…oh, no. No, things were perfect when they got here, and now if they could just keep everything exactly the way it was then, all would be well in the world. Somehow, they seem to think that they had every right to move here and buy a nice house because it’s a nice place to live, but nobody else has a right to want to move here or buy a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Hypocrites.

  • Yes indeed. Homes for families are disgusting and should not be permitted, at least as long as you have one.

  • Way to go Waldo. You won’t answer the question so instead you call the questioner names and make excuses. You would have been a perfect Democratic candidate for Charlottesville’s City Council. You’re statement was very stupid and cannot be excused just because you were tired. If it wasn’t stupid then defend it.

  • Homes for families are disgusting and should not be permitted..

    Get real!

    Are you having trouble finding houses with ‘for-sale’ signs pitched before the them? Here’s some ELEVEN HUNDRED area homes for sale.

  • Kinda makes you wish their was an IGNORE button on cvillenews.com!

  • Seems to me they are in favor of things staying exactly the way they were when they moved here . . . No, things were perfect when they got here, and now if they could just keep everything exactly the way it was then, all would be well in the world.

    The problem is that the change you’re supporting (i.e., development)invariably leads to higher taxes. That’s a sort of “change” I’ll accept only reluctantly . . . and when I’m sure I am not just subsidizing the enrichment of a developer.

    Find a way to develop the land without rasing my taxes, and I’ll contemplate supporting this sort of “change” (=re-rezone the land in question).

  • Yes, and very few of the houses on the list your link goes to are in Charlottesville or Albemarle County. They are mostly in the “outlying” counties. The fact is that if housing for Charlottesville’s growing work force is not built close to Charlottesville it will be built further out and more people will drive more cars from further out to come to work in Downtown Charlottesville and UVa.

  • It seems you’re more interested in attacking Waldo than in getting an answer to the question of “how does suburbanization violate basic principles of urban planning, architecture, etc”?

    The reason I say so is that there are a couple of other posts on this topic (Harry Landers has two informative ones) that do explain some of the problems suburbanization creates. But that doesn’t seem to interest or satisfy you–instead, you’d rather hammer away at Waldo. So that tells me you aren’t really interested in an answer to the question.

  • Cecil, there’s more than one person posting here. Besides, they asked Waldo to explain his remarks.

  • The development Charlottesville and the surrounding area are seeing is a response to population growth generated by the growth of UVa and the local economy. Development of new housing and other infrastructure is not the reason for population growth, it’s the response.

  • If you search for Cville and Albemarle County homes on the CAAR website, you’ll find about 450 homes currently for sale. (That link may not work because it links to a page that I called up using the search engine).

    Of course, I don’t know if the CAAR website is absolutely comprehensive–there may be a few more houses for sale by owner, etc.

    What’s this “growing work force” that you speak of? I’m not aware of new industries popping up here that are attracting hordes of new workers. My sense is that our population growth has more to do with people liking the setting, the schools, the vibe of the town rather than coming here for the amazing job opportunities. Which is ironic, because it’s exactly that population growth which will, if not carefully managed, destroy the characteristics that are attracting people in the first place. Which is what Waldo’s original post was all about, I think…

  • Well, if I mistake one Anonymous for another Anonymous, part of the blame for that mistake lies with the, um, brave souls? who post anonymously (and if one simply doesn’t want to log in on one’s work computer to avoid getting in trouble at the office, one can always get around the anonymity problem by typing one’s name at the bottom of the post, a la Harry Landers).

    And I do understand that they asked Waldo to explain his remarks–my point is that if they merely wanted information, the information was being provided by other posters–what does it matter if Waldo provides the information they seek or if someone else does? But they did not merely want information–they wanted “waldo to explain himself,” which is another way of saying they wanted to challenge Waldo, which is another way of saying they weren’t actually interested in the information–they wanted to call Waldo onto the carpet (amply illustrated by the Anonymous who crowed about what a good Democratic city councilor he would make and how stupid his post was).

  • There’s a silver lining in this cloud. As soon as the new development is built it will be full of people like you demanding that that the new development next door be stopped in order to preserve the environment. You’ll have more allies!

  • Cecil, there’s more than one person posting here. Besides, they asked Waldo to explain his remarks.

    How do you know? — ooops, you’ve shown your (singular) hand!

  • Firstly, who said anything about surbanites being evil? It can be a very pleasant way for some folks to live. I don’t choose it, but I make no value judgement on those who do.

    That said, does everything have to be suburbia? Can’t there be places where there’s room for other ways of life? Does this place have to be just like everyplace else?

    As for the issue of hypocrisy, I don’t think that’s a fair label. We’re not talking about “rights” to move; we’re talking about members of a community deciding what we want our futures to look like. I don’t mind saying that Albemarle County was better off before I moved here ten years ago and the folks who lived here then would have been better off had they not permitted me to build my house. That said, here we are. Let’s deal with what we’ve got. Just because we’ve permitted something to occur in the past, that doesn’t prohibit us from saying “enough”.

    I’m telling you, the developers will never say “enough”. They’re never done.

    Harry Landers

  • Read Belle’s post more carefully. He/she (honestly, I don’t know!) isn’t saying, as you imply, that population growth is caused by development, but that development will “just bring more traffic congestion, higher taxes (think of how many schools will have to be built! roads to be maintained!), and environmental damage.”

    And I find it hard to argue with Belle on this point. Whatever the reason for population growth (is the local economy booming? is UVA on massive hiring spree? frankly, I thought a lot of our pop growth had to do with retirees!), I don’t see how you can dispute Belle’s point that development will bring more traffic congestion, higher taxes to pay for the schools and roads, and environmental damage.

  • Please note: I mean the following question as a sincere request for information, not as a question-disguised-as-an-attack that so many folks use as an argumentative tactic.

    How will a development like this one lead to higher taxes for a Charlottesville city resident? And how do those taxes enrich the developers? Are we talking about future taxation to support new schools/road maintenance, or are we talking about taxes that would somehow enable the developers to finish their project?

    And while we’re on a topic that I don’t know enough about, what is the relationship between city and county taxes? As a city resident, I know that I’m taxed more heavily than county residents (at least I think that I know that). When if ever do our taxes mingle, i.e., city taxes benefit someone in the county, vice versa, etc.

  • I haven’t answered the question because I’m at work and don’t have time right now. I called the questioner an ass because he was behaving like an ass. If he’d disagreed with me on the basis of some sort of rational perspective, then I wouldn’t have bothered. A response consisting of mere condescension is what I call behaving like an ass.

    Speaking of behaving like an ass, your subject line is ridiculous. I never claimed to be an expert on anything. I’m not an expert on cooking, but I know that I hate escargot. I’m not an expert on cars, but I know that these new shortbed pickups are ugly. I’m not an expert on the environment, but I know that CO2 is bad for it.

    Really, if you have something useful to say in response to the discussion about sprawl, do so. Short of that, merely attacking me for not providing an instant pop-up response because I’ve got work to do at the moment outside of cvillenews.com is just silly.

  • Your logic just baffles me–you seem to be saying that critique is _never_ okay. There’s never a point at which a person can look around his community and say “we have to stop doing this or start doing this”. All area residents must sit quietly and accept whatever a developer wants to do for his own personal profit; area residents may not criticize or oppose those plans, no matter what. And why? By your logic, because area residents themselves moved to the area and bought homes.

    Yes, I see, that makes perfect sense–I bought a house, therefore I must now shut up and surrender to any and all ruinous plans for the area.

    Your exciting “no-opposition-allowed” position will delight developers and dictators everywhere.

  • I think I can offer some response to the question regarding the relationship between city and county taxes. Albemarle County pays money to Charlotttesville every year. Somebody more knowledgeable can provide the amount, but it’s substantial. It’s part of a contractual agreement in which Charlottesville agrees not to expand its borders in exchange for money from Albemarle.

    As respects the differences in tax rates, I think you need to consider what you get for your money. For example, in Charlottesville, you get trash picked up at your curb for the price of a sticker (about $1.20, isn’t it?), whereas in the county, I have to engage a private contractor at a cost of some $400 a year.

    In the city, the level of fire protection is far better than in the rural areas of the county. City residents pay for this in the form of taxes, but rural residents pay in the form of increased premiums for their homeowners insurance.

    I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, but I just make the point that (assuming equal levels of government efficiency) you pretty much get what you pay for. If you don’t have to pay it, in the form of taxes, you’ll probably have to pay for it in some other way.

  • How will a development like this one lead to higher taxes for a Charlottesville city resident?

    Probably won’t, in the short term. The development — and therefore the cost — will be borne by Albemarle taxpayers. Perhaps someday the City might annex this area (it is rather close) and then you would probably see your tax rates increase — but there hasn’t been a whole lot of expansion of the city recently. So, you’re probably safe.

    And how do those taxes enrich the developers? Are we talking about future taxation to support new schools/road maintenance, or are we talking about taxes that would somehow enable the developers to finish their project?

    Taxpayers’ subsidize developers by picking up the tab for expenses incurred by development. So: school construction, hiring of teachers and other civil service folks (cops, code inspectors . . . weed-eater dudes), maintaining the roads after the developers lay down the first layer of asphalt, building new roads and erecting new stoplights to by-pass the new developed areas, maintaining the watershed and pollution runoff, maintaining dump-sites for construction debris (which is both toxic and bulky), and on, and on, and on — and all of these costs are to be paid in perpetuity.

    And while we’re on a topic that I don’t know enough about, what is the relationship between city and county taxes? As a city resident, I know that I’m taxed more heavily than county residents (at least I think that I know that). When if ever do our taxes mingle, i.e., city taxes benefit someone in the county, vice versa, etc.

    I believe the city transfers funds to the county for rescue services . . . but perhaps it is vice-versa (I’m sure someone will correct me here), or perhaps the amounts are just so minimal as to not make much difference. This topic was quite prevalent in the “reversion” debates in years gone by, when the City was in an awful money-pinch.

  • There has been a legislated moratorium in Virginia on annexation of county land by cities for many years.

    Many subdivision roads are private and must be maintained by the homeowners association.

  • Thank you–that was really informative. I do appreciate the services that I get as a city resident–I was not at all suggesting that it’s unfair that county property taxes are lower than the city property taxes.

  • There has been a legislated moratorium in Virginia on annexation of county land by cities for many years.

    Really. Thanks for that tidbit, if it is true.

    Many subdivision roads are private and must be maintained by the homeowners association.

    Many?! Most aren’t. In any case, the salient point here would be: will the roads of this new mega-development be maintained at taxpayers’ expense? And there is the school construction, the hiring . . .

  • I’m curious–what _is_ the population growth situation here in Cvlle/Amarle? Are we booming?

    And if so, why? The DP has had stories recently about retirees flocking to the area. Posters on this board have alluded to the “growing economy” and “UVA’s growth.” I guess I’m just out of the loop, because it hasn’t been my perception that the local economy is drawing people here in droves. I see more businesses failing or downsizing (and I see UVA instituting hiring freezes becaues of the budget cuts) than I see opportunities opening up for tons of new people.

    So is it the economy or something else? or is this population growth not actually all that booming? it’s certainly true that developers don’t necessarily respond, like selfless community-minded citizens, to actual community needs for housing…

  • I’m not going to go everything in too much detail because, frankly, I don’t have the time. I’ve read a bunch of books on suburban history and urban planning, but I can’t think of a single one of them at the moment. Well, one: “Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and Decline of the American Dream.” Oh, and another really great one: “The Geography of Nowhere“; I loved that one. I also used to attend Bill McDonough’s lectures at UVa as a kid, so this stuff has been beaten into me pretty thoroughly.

    Architecture

    This is what “Geography of Nowhere” is largely about. The basic premise here is that all of suburbia looks the same. House after house, street after street, city after city. The design of the house pays homage to nothing but cheap McConstruction for McMansions, because it’s the same design as thousands of other houses in the city, state, or country, depending on the model that you choose. Suburbia is bringing about a dark period in architecture, when homes aren’t designed and constructed, they’re merely manufactured without regard to form, use, or planning for the family.

    Urban Planning

    Where to start? How about here?

    “This movement [away from suburban development] stems not only from the realization that sprawl is ecologically and economically unsustainable but also from an awareness of sprawl’s many victims: children, utterly dependent on parental transportation if they wish to escape the cul-de-sac; the elderly, warehoused in institutions once they lose their driver’s licenses; commuters, stuck in traffic for two or more hours each day; the urban poor, isolated in deteriorating cities without access to jobs or services.”

    “The Geography of Nowhere” explained to me that suburbia as a concept and as a reality was quite literally invented by the automobile industry. Living in suburbia requires that you have a car. Ever notice that these neighborhoods never have sidewalks? (More on that below.) They’re always off in the middle of nowhere? (At least, at first.) You have to drive everywhere, which means bigger roads, more sprawl to support people’s desire to drive shorter distance (ie, not to the urban core), more pollution, more parking needs, etc., etc.

    Sociology

    The social effects of suburbia are plain to anybody that’s lived there. There is little to no human interaction unless you work at it. You don’t see people except for your next door neighbors, because you don’t ever walk anywhere, because where would you go? So there are no sidewalks. That’s because then you might get to travelling around your neighborhood and see how boring all of the houses are and how monotonous that the whole affair is. Consequently, people drive to work in their car (without even stepping outside, thanks to their ugly front-facing garage with electric opener to save them the trouble of dirtying their hands on the door) at some lousy office park, walk the 50 feet to their office, and repeat the process in reverse at 5:01pm. Imagine how different these neighborhoods would be if there was a school to walk to, a restaurant on the corner, a bank, stores with apartments over them. People might interact. Imagine that!

    Economics

    Suburbia is carefully planned to separate people of different classes. Just a couple of weeks ago, I drove around the sprawl up where 29 meets 66, just out of curiousity. I noticed something interesting: each sub-neighborhood in this neighborhood (as it was new, and many houses were still for sale) had a price range at its entrance. “$90,000 – $120,000.” “$120,000 – $150,000.” Etc. And each neighborhood was separated from the other by avoiding cross-streets between the two, putting a drainage ditch bteween them and such. This way, you see, those living in the “$500,000 – $750,000″ neighborhood never have to be exposed to the “< $90,000" ruffians in the split-levels. And, of couse, they'd never encounter them around the neighborhood, because there's no "around" in these neighborhoods.

    Consequently, we have economic inbreeding. Low-income folks with good business ideas never meet the people with money to get the veture capital. Rich people that spruce up their yards never raise the property values of lower-income homes, because they’re too far off to be affected. Mixing housing encourages the mixing of classes, which usually serves to raise up the lower classes over time.

    No, there are no footnotes and references because I’m not writing an essay here. Read the two books I mentioned above. At least one of them is available at the library.

  • There has been a legislated moratorium in Virginia on annexation of county land by cities for many years.

    From HJR 432:

    “In the past, Virginia’s cities have had the ability to annex territory from the surrounding county in order to expand economic development opportunities, capture fringe development, and increase their population base. However, cities are currently prohibited by Section 15.2-3201 of the Code of Virginia from initiating annexation proceedings. The initial moratorium in 1971 applied to cities with a population over 125,000 but was soon expanded to all cities, and the last city annexation took place in the mid-1980s. City annexations fell into disfavor with the General Assembly in part because Virginia’s unique independent city structure led to a highly adversarial win-lose annexation process.

    “The Virginia system of annexation by judicial process traces to the Constitution of 1902. Prior to that time, municipal boundaries were expanded by special act of the legislature. The 1902 Constitution contained a provision prohibiting such special acts and requiring the General Assembly to provide by general law for the alteration of corporate limits. In 1904, the General Assembly adopted legislation to establish the procedure that has been used during most of this century.”

  • Wow – if you’re paying $400, unless you live way far out in the boonies you’re paying too much. Try Dixon Disposal. We live out near Free Union, and pay about $230/yr.

  • Belle,

    I just spoke to a planner with the county who told me that while the ordinance prefers public roads his experience has been that most subdivision roads are being built as private roads and must be maintained by the owners. Please call to verify. The phone number of the planning department is 296-5823. Also, public roads in counties are maintained by VDOT not the local government so it’s state tax money not local dollars.

  • I’ve dealt with Dixon in the past and they really did provide excellent service.

  • Thanks for the tip. I live in Free Union, too. BFI charges something like $90 to $100 (I forget the exact amount) per quarter, which comes out to $360 to $400 annually. Of course, I should point out that I live at the end of a 1/5 mile gravel driveway, so maybe there’s some kind of surcharge.

    I’ll have to check out Dixon Disposal.

  • Does anyone have an example where development LOWERED taxes?

    The developers alway say that their developments will “broaden the tax base”, but fail to mention the extra burden to be shared.

  • Also, public roads in counties are maintained by VDOT not the local government so it’s state tax money not local dollars.

    So . . . not money out of the right pocket, but the left one?

  • The impact of residential development on taxes depends on the nature of the development. Retirees generate very little in the way of costs but plenty in the way of revenue so their impact could result in a reduction of costs for the municipality. A trailer park may generate huge costs, especially for the schools and then generate very little real estate tax revenue. Even when costs go down the pols will just find another way to spend the money.

  • Yeah, it’s still tax dollars but at least they’re not local. If they were it would be a much greater local burden.

  • For Pete’s Sake, let’s have opinions not mud slinging. The development is a HORRIBLE idea.

    MJ

  • The two tedious rants you cite,especially The Geography of Nowhere, provide zero solid support for your dramatic overstatement that “Suburbia violates so many basic principals of architecture, urban planning, sociology, economics… ” They are mostly the biased opinions of the authors with a little bit of the pseudo-science of urban planning thrown in. Duany and Zyderbeck are out to market their vision for their own personal gain and Kunstler is so full of anger that I have to wonder what happened to him.

    You may be surprised to learn this Waldo, but many suburbanites are very community oriented and happy and are not lost in Kunstlers bleak landscape.

  • The two tedious rants you cite,especially The Geography of Nowhere, provide zero solid support for your dramatic overstatement that “Suburbia violates so many basic principals of architecture, urban planning, sociology, economics… ” They are mostly the biased opinions of the authors with a little bit of the pseudo-science of urban planning thrown in. Duany and Zyderbeck are out to market their vision for their own personal gain and Kunstler is so full of anger that I have to wonder what happened to him.

    Were you going to rebut the points, or merely deride them as “tedious?”

    You may be surprised to learn this Waldo, but many suburbanites are very community oriented and happy and are not lost in Kunstlers bleak landscape.

    I’m happy when I’m driving a car, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without environmental impact. I think that oil slicks look pretty, but that doesn’t mean that they’re healthy. I like eating Ben & Jerry’s by the pint, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good for me.

  • I’m not sure if this is a pro or con on suburbs but I do remember reading that although the Levittown suburbs (the first ones on Long Island) were identical, later on with additions and other homeowner changes, the houses were not identical.

    I grew up in the suburbs in the late 60’s, 70’s. We all knew our neighbors and helped out. I walked to school. My cousin lives in a burb near Winchester. He knows his neighbors and they have get-togethers. It’s not entirely a sterile lifestyle.

    I may be wrong (and I’m sure someone will jump in and point out what an ignoramus I am) but the area where they are talking about developing already development near it. So perhaps it can be viewed as fill-in development. It’s close by to the city.

    If you want to, check out neighborhoods in C’ville; they are just as ticky-tacky lookalikes in the beginning as well. My own street and neighboring streets (off downtown) started out with the same floor plan but due to renovations and upgrades, etc. there are varieties within.

    LG

  • (Yet another Anonymous Coward…)

    While I disagree with the general knee-jerk liberal reaction in this town towards any new development projects that come along, I do think that there are two meaningful reasons why these developers are building a large housing development such as this:

    1) There is a demand for new housing (as opposed to existing housing).

    2) Living downtown sucks. Overpriced and no parking.

    Until City Council gets its collective head out of its collective ass and builds way more parking, I really can’t agree with any housing projects downtown, which only leaves new areas outside of town. Does it contribute to traffic, commuting, etc.? Yup. Is there anything that can be done? Probably, if it’s thought out more (24-hour mass transit solutions to UVa, the UVA research parks, and downtown directly from these developments, as just one example).

    Either way, you can’t stop it. People want new houses, not the run-down overpriced housing downtown.

    This proposal is at least addressing one part of the growth — building more local retail within the neighborhood, instead of just forcing everyone onto the same 5 mile stretch of 29 North.

    Either way, I don’t think it’s right to simply pull a NIMBY just when you hear that there’s a large development going up outside of town. The demand is there; the only thing that will stop the demand is for businesses to stop growing or leave town.

  • Oh yeah, the demand is DEFINITELY there. Last year, when we were looking for a house in the City OR County, there were 4 that we considered acceptable in the 140,000 – 180,000 price range.

    Four, and that’s a pretty moderate, relatively affordable price range.

    We listed our house, and it was one of three in the 100-140k price range. We sold it in seven hours for $3500 above our asking price.

    Nobody has to convince me that the demand exists. Heck, every imaginable rating puts our area near the top in terms of livability, so nobody should be surprised. People want to live here, and I think that’s a good thing. This is a very desirable area in which to live, and I don’t think our concern ought to be whether or not to let more people reside here. It would be pretty hard to prevent that – politically, it will definitely broaden the tax base, by vastly increasing property values.

    Does the infrastructure exist today to support this? Probably not. Will it? Won’t it have to? It will be virtually on Interstate 64, and close to downtown, so at least it won’t have any bearing on the 29 Bypass or the MCP, which is good. Since it’s concentrated, it would seem an ideal candidate for CTS to provide decent shuttle services to UVA and Downtown, and possibly to the UVA Research Parks. That would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it?

    The current uproar does seem a little premature – all we know is that a proposal is forthcoming, nothing more. That seems to be enough for certain folks to get all up in arms about it, though. I wonder if they would feel the same way if the development were to be built with recycled materials, with passive solar heating, etc? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t – I just wonder if the initial reaction would be muted.

    There’s an old business axiom that applies often to communities as well: “If you aren’t busy growing, you’re busy dying.” New development, as long as it’s done intelligently, doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Maybe everybody would consider reserving judgment until we know more?

  • Waldo,

    You still haven’t explained how the principles of economics, sociology, architecture etc have been violated by suburbia. All you’ve done is tell us your very negative opinion of a way of living that many people find attractive. BTW, your analogies are meaningless, like most that people use in arguements. The fact is that many people living in the suburbs are good people who are very community oriented, know their neighbors and live socially productive lives.

  • That does it. I’m leaving Charlottesville. Now my first choice might be a villa in the Aolian islands but that may be impractical. So y’all tell me. If you had no family ties and were retired and could live virtually anywhere, where would you go?

  • Costa Rica.

  • There’s an old business axiom that applies often to communities as well: “If you aren’t busy growing, you’re busy dying.”

    I disagree heartily. I can speak from experience only on the front of on-line communities, so take this with a grain of salt. For a community to be successful, healthy and sustainable, there is no need for it to grow in terms of the number of people. There’s no real benefit to growth in terms of strength of community, particularly after a certain point, a point perhaps best defined by looking a trust-metric style system (a la Advogato.org) to determine the true structure and distribution of that community.

  • I agree that there is a great demand for NEW housing. If you buy an older home you’re usually going to end up putting time and money into fixing it up. Most people don’t want to, they want to have a home and get on with their lives.

    I don’t think the lack of parking really has much influence on most peoples decisions about moving downtown. Many have the incorrect perception that the city is just too unsafe to live in, a perception bolstered by the recent attacks and the city governments foolish response. A “teachable moment” indeed! They also want big lots that are uncommon in the city. The quality of county vs. city schools plays a big role in many peoples decision to live outside of the city. I do agree that Downtown desperately needs more parking but I think that need is created by shoppers and workers, not residents. Right now the shoppers and especially the workers, are taking up parking that could be used by residents.

  • You still haven’t explained how the principles of economics, sociology, architecture etc have been violated by suburbia.

    Um…yes I have.

    BTW, your analogies are meaningless, like most that people use in arguements. The fact is that many people living in the suburbs are good people who are very community oriented, know their neighbors and live socially productive lives.

    Apparently you didn’t understand my analogies. I didn’t mean that I’m not a good person because I eat too much ice cream. The point was this: the fact that people find something pleasurable doesn’t mean that it’s for either their own good or the world’s good. My point was not that there’s anything wrong with people who live in the suburbs, but that what suburbs do to people.

    People who drive SUVs, shop exclusively at chains, fail to contribute time or money to local charitable organizations or causes, avoid being a part of the community in any meaningful social or political manner…they’re not bad people. But they are a part of a problem. The same goes for the 1,400 people that will populate this suburban hell. (And if you’ve never been in a 1,400-house neighborhood, then you probably don’t understand why I use the phrase “suburban hell.” Visit Mill Creek / Foxcroft / Lake Renovia / Lakeside and get back to me on that.)

  • With that many people and that much traffic south of town there can no longer be any pretense about what the Meadowcreek Parkway will do. They will have to saw a four or even six lane highway right through the center of Charlottesville. Skate park? Paved under. Albemarle County office building? “So we give up a little lawn and a fountain? So what?” That is exactly what they are thinking right now.

  • Hey great suggestion. Went there a while back. Stable beneficent government, ecologically aware with many parks and forest preserves which they do not intend to pave (unlike here).

    Dewey fresh orange, mango and pineapple for breakfast under the graceful fringes of the palms. Then a romp in the warm Pacific ocean swells rolling up the white sand of the nude beach.

    But after a couple days on the beach, what then?

    No I am thinking of Europe. More for the mind as well as the body. We are such a ridiculously young country. No respect for our past or our land. Any thoughts on Mediterranean islands?

  • There is nothing wrong with high-rise apartment buildings – they are not evil, nor are the people who live in them.

    But, should we start putting up high-rise apartment buildings in, say, Sugar Hollow? Or along Skyline Drive? (I used to think national parks were protected, but these days, you never know!) After all, people need a place to live.

    As I see it, it’s a question of quality of life, and trying to agree, as a community, on where we should draw the line.

    I just wonder how, in Albemarle County, the developers will know when they’re done. Will they keep going as long as there is a blade of un-chemlawned grass? As long as there are still trees taller than 10 feet that don’t have to be mulched and anchored?

    Really, I’m wondering. If I were a developer, would the word “restraint” be a part of my vocabulary? Maybe so – I guess it depends upon the particular developer.

    A few years ago, I attended a Citizens for Albemarle meeting so I could hear their guest speaker. This guy was great: His name is Eben Fodor, and he wrote a book titled “Better Not Bigger: How to Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Your Community.” (I’d make that a link to Amazon, if only I knew how…)

    Whether you are for or against the behemoth undertaking in southern Albemarle, I recommend this book.

    Janis Jaquith

  • A few years ago, I attended a Citizens for Albemarle meeting so I could hear their guest speaker. This guy was great: His name is Eben Fodor, and he wrote a book titled “Better Not Bigger: How to Take Control of Urban Growth and Improve Your Community.” (I’d make that a link to Amazon, if only I knew how…)

    Your link, m’am.

  • They’ll know they’re done when the market for their product vanishes.

  • Hey – thanks for the link, Belle!

    Janis

  • I’m not sure it’s reasonable to compare the life of an online community with that of a real one. First, the life span of even the oldest online community is very brief, compared to a real one that a) has a history, b) has very real and substantial infrastrusture, economic, and social needs, and c) has an undeniable mandate to exist for a very long time. The ability to pull the plug when funding dries up doesn’t exist.

    Members of a virtual community don’t need to feed, educate, or care fo one another’s mdeical needs. The need to replace aging workers with young ones doesn’t exist. The need to bring in work force for new enterprises doesn’t exist.

    For a real community to thrive, sustained growth (not necessarily dramatic growth, but continuous growth) is absolutely essential. I challenge you to provide an example of a vibrant, strong, long-lived, economically prosperous, desirable real community that isn’t growing.

    Big Al

  • They’ll know they’re done when the market for their product vanishes.

    That’s the sentiment of coke-dealers, too.

    But communities sometimes make a collective decision to curb the (putative) “free hand” of the market so as to limit socially-determined damages. That’s the case with coke. We have decided, democratically so, that recreational coke consumption and dealing has terrible side effects on even those who don’t partake in it. So we try to suppress recreational use of coke, even though there is a vibrant market for it.

    In other cases, communities make collective decisions interfere with the “free hand” of the market to support private behaviors/endeavors which communitites have deemed to possibly yield benefits beyond the private (e.g., the US import/export bank guarantees for corporations; or FDIC protection for your savings account).

    In short, I wouldn’t worship the “market” or consider it to be a neutral arbitrator, as it has never been “free”. Rather, it has always has been, and always will be, a product of social policies.

  • Today’s Times-Dispatch has an article on Richmond’s “growing pains”:

    U.S. 360: CRISIS OR COMMUNITY?: County debates corridor’s fate

  • I challenge you to provide an example of a vibrant, strong, long-lived, economically prosperous, desirable real community that isn’t growing.

    That’s a great challenge, and I’m afraid that I’m not up to the task. :) I hope that we have some urban-planner types that might be willing to take up your challenge, because that really does seem to tbe the crux of all of this.

    In American history, there have been very few periods in which growth was not occuring in any location in the U.S. The Flint Michigans of the world have had serious enough pockets of recession due to micro-economic fluctuations that they’ve had negative growth. And I don’t doubt that there are areas in the barely-populated portions of this country that experience 0 growth, but I certainly can’t speak to their community strength beyond the occasional 10-page feature in National Geographic.

    Anyhow, nope, I can’t provide an example of a vibrant community without growth; but that more demonstrates my lack of knowledge on urban development trends than the reality of urban development. But I fail the task either way. :)

  • I challenge you to provide an example of a vibrant, strong, long-lived, economically prosperous, desirable real community that isn’t growing.

    The important question would be: what is “growth”? There must all sorts of things that could be measured.

  • This is only the tip of the iceberg!! This same developer also has plans for a 1400 housing unit development and golf course in Crozet. The counties objective is to “urbanize” Crozet. Talk about lack of infrastructure. We will all be paying for widening Rte 250, new schools, expansion of water treatment plants to name a few. Who moves to Crozet to live 3 feet from their next door neighbor?!

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