“Let’s take our county back,” said Patsy Morris, who is running in a special election for the at-large seat left open by Kenneth Lawson, who resigned earlier this year.
She criticized “big contractors” for buying up county land and said they are forcing out low-income residents.
“I’m not the chairman of anything,” she added. “I’m just a poor kid trying to cut my taxes.”
Supervisor Jeri Allen, running to keep her Ruckersville seat, said big companies are “absolutely” buying a great deal of land in Greene.
“But people are selling it to them,” she added. “We can all rail and scream and cry about it, but as long as people can come in and wave money, there’s nothing we as a board can do about it.”
Her board colleague and Stanardsville candidate, Kevin Welch, added that he and other supervisors have voted to place limits but are hamstrung by past inattention to growth.
“Most property in Greene has been subdivided,” Welch said.
Morris’ opponent, Gary Lowe, said supervisors haven’t done enough to curtail residential growth.
If elected, he’d push for ordinances to require developers to pay the county proffers if they wish, for instance, to switch agricultural zones to residential.
Lowe, as Planning Commission chairman, said he’s tired of having to “rubber-stamp subdivisions. I want us to be in control of our destiny.”
Six candidates, every one of them wants to control growth. Development in Greene County has exploded in recent years, particularly as the cost of real estate in Charlottesville and Albemarle has skyrocketed, pushing less-affluent people into the outlying counties. Greene’s population increased 48% between 1990 and 2000 (compare to 14.4% statewide), and another 10.1% from 2000 to 2003 (compare to 4.3% statewide). Morris hits closest to the mark with her comment about just trying to cut taxes — since new residents, on the whole, require more in services than they pay in taxes, growth is a money-losing proposition in our area.
With the Albemarle County BOS elections just getting underway, it’s not yet clear what the major issue will be. But with growth as the topic in Greene and in Charlottesville’s recent House of Delegates race, candidates may be race to see who can oppose growth soonest and the most strongly.