BoS Ignores Slutzky Growth Plan

Albemarle Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) has spent months developing a detailed and intricate plan to create a market-based solution for keeping rural areas rural and encouraging dense development within the urban ring. The idea is that those of us who live in the rural areas can sell our rights to build more houses on our land to people in the urban ring, who can then develop more densely.

Last night he formally proposed it to his fellow Board of Supervisors members. As Jeremy Borden explains in today’s Daily Progress, the BoS really wasn’t interested. They weren’t so much opposed as they just didn’t care. Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) just thought it was too darned complicated. (If this is too complicated for him, it might be time he left office. This is pretty basic stuff.) So there was no vote, no counterproposals, no plan to move forward. Just nothing.

Here’s the podcast of the discussion.

The phrase “fiddling while Rome burns” comes to mind.

25 Responses to “BoS Ignores Slutzky Growth Plan”


  • I’ll give them this – it is a complicated plan. But – Those who choose not to think creatively about our growth are doing every single person in the region a disservice. TDR’s may not be the “silver bullet” but the conversation is one worth having. Look at what happened to the water supply – we didn’t have a great solution until the discussion was opened to the public.

    What harm can come from discussing this proposal? Where is the harm in listening? I’m not even saying that I support it (yet), but I am interested in learning more.

    Cville Tomorrow has a bit more.

  • JIM DUNCAN SAID “What harm can come from discussing this proposal? ”

    Right on, Jim. Closed minds finish last – and squander the ideas that may lie beneath the surface of any proposal, if reasonable, developmental discussion were to occur.

    The book devoted to “We never did this before” especially the chapter devoted to “this is new to me”should be shelved.

  • I am just curious. How long have the other members on the BOS been serving? I know Slutzky is new (from my district) but I am not sure about everyone else.

  • Go easy on Lindsay. The Progress article called it complicated, too.

  • I live in Lindsay’s district and I would like to see him go. Lindsay is an Atty. surely he must be able to comphrend complicated matters. Isn’t that part of an atty’s job? Take complicated matters and resolve them?

  • I’ll give them this — it is a complicated plan.

    Within the realm of all things that one must deal with in life, yes, I think that’s fair. But within the realm of what we must expect our BoS to deal with, any member who can’t handle this might want to rethink holding that office.

    Lindsay is an Atty. surely he must be able to comphrend complicated matters. Isn’t that part of an atty’s job? Take complicated matters and resolve them?

    Excellent point.

  • having listened to this proposal I really think it is a great idea that has no framework for sucess. The entire question of supply and demand is probably the single biggest reason that it will fail. This isn’t like pollution credits that deal with an ongoing problem.

    Market forces make sense if the market works. I don’t see how it can. I believe there will be alot of rights for sale and not many buyers. This will make everyone will unsold rights furious. Until the mechanics of the market are fixed this will be something to be debated not implemented.

    UVA08- David Wyatt, Lindsay Barnes and Ken Boyd are up for re-election.

  • I meant Lindsay Dorrier

  • Lindsay Dorrier is a nice enough guy, but I’m not certain that he really has the stuff to be a good supervisor any more. All politics aside. It would be nice if he would retire on a good note rather than keep running for term after term when he’s no longer able to keep up with what has become a far more complicated county to govern.

  • Well, yeah, I mean he (Dorrier) spent most of his life in public service and was an Army officer and all. And, yeah, his institutional memory and knowledge of the county are, like, second-to-none. But, ya know, he’s, like, a thorn in our side when it comes to telling landowners what to do with their own property. So if he could just like, ya know, quit running for office, then it would be, like, better and stuff.

  • JS, the man has confessed that he finds some proposals before the BoS so confusing that he cannot even consider their merits. If the man can’t do his job, he should stop.

    I don’t anything about him telling landowners what to do with their own property — this proposal takes away absolutely no rights for any landowners under any definition of the term. Libertarians should be thrilled with this proposal. If Lindsay Dorrier is a supporter of property rights, he should be all over this proposal. But he’s not. Because it confuses him.

  • You’re taking one comment he made and advocating putting the guy out to pasture. For what? So we can get some guy fresh in from Hackensack on the BoS. No thanks.

  • No, this is part of a pattern on the part of Lindsay Dorrier. I just don’t think he’s cut out for this anymore.

  • Well, yeah, I mean he (Dorrier) spent most of his life in public service and was an Army officer and all. And, yeah, his institutional memory and knowledge of the county are, like, second-to-none. But, ya know, he’s, like, a thorn in our side when it comes to telling landowners what to do with their own property. So if he could just like, ya know, quit running for office, then it would be, like, better and stuff.

    You crack me up when you’re dry. (OT: What would be considered “wet humor” anyway?)

    You’re taking one comment he made and advocating putting the guy out to pasture. For what? So we can get some guy fresh in from Hackensack on the BoS. No thanks.

    Waldo’s not normally as reactionary as that. My parents’ homestead was in the Scottsville district from 1980-2001 (they’ve since moved out to Wyant country in White Hall), and I remember a time when I thought Dorrier was a very effective supervisor, even though I’ve always been a lefty and often disagreed with him. But lately it seems that he just doesn’t have the stamina, or the attention span, or the stomach for the in-fighting, or something that he used to.

    I don’t think we should pasture him based on that one comment. I think that one comment might be a public admission on his part of a trend some of us observers have been wondering about for a couple of years based upon a seeming decrease in his vigour, intellectual engagement, and follow-through when attending to Board duties: Is he losing his ability to efficiently and thoughtfully address his constituents’ needs?

    I don’t want him replaced by a NY transplant who came here 5 years ago and knows nothing about our county’s history and character, but if he’s not up to the job, then, yes, I’d like to see him replaced by someone who is willing to wade into this sprawl/growth mess and make the tough decisions.

  • This is Lindsey Dorrier’s quote in the context he made it:

    “Sometimes a simpler solution may be easier to sell and easier to deal with than a more complicated solution. … The 50 Acre zoning I think it’s going to be harder to sell to the public, particularly to the landowners who own 50 acres, and maybe even those who don’t own 50 acres.”

    I don’t think that can be interpreted as “it’s too complicated for him to understand.” He doesn’t think he can sell it to his constituents. Imagine that… a BoS supervisor willing to consider what his constituents might think. What a novelty.

    Even Slutzky admits his proposal doesn’t have the support of many of the groups he consulted with.

    I also wanted to make it clear that none of those groups I’ve mentioned by name has indicated to me or to my knowledge anyone that they endorse or support any aspect much less the whole of this proposal.

    As Judge Smails said, “his institutional memory and knowledge of the county are, like, second-to-none.” and for that and quite a number of other reasons I’m also not willing to trade him in on any transplants.

  • The BOS already has a comp plan, passed by the BOS, that contains many of the tools (phasing, MOD, etc.) necessary to protect the rural area, and if they would simply move ahead with these tools, TDR’s wouldn’t be necessary. In fact, TDR is proving to be more of a distraction than anything. Do we really need a larger growth area with more development…? Are there not already enough housing developments recently approved to satisfy demand for many years to come? In what locality have TDRs been proven to work?…

  • for that and quite a number of other reasons I’m also not willing to trade him in on any transplants.

    I don’t understand where this false dichotomy came from. I’m not willing to trade my 1994 Volvo for an Edsel. Fortunately, that’s not a choice that I actually have to face.

  • So, I haven’t followed what Lindsay Dorrier has had to say for a while, so I can’t say if he should stay or go, but he raises a reasonable point about Slutzky’s plan – it is complicated. Not too complicated to understand, but in all things, particularly policy, the KISS maxim should always take precedence.

  • Slutzky’s plan was a disaster in the making. It added 20 percent more land to the growth area at a time when the BOS can’t manage the growth areas we already have. It was by right development with no need for proffers at a time when the BOS is looking at floating a bond for over 90 million to pay for infrastructure all because they didn’t get adequate proffers for the development they already approved. The discussion by the board did however show they have no real plan for rural development other then picking the pockets of growth area residents to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. It’s time for a change in the board. Dorrier, Wyant and Boyd are up for reelection if they choose to run. These guys have been the axis of development and never met a development they couldn’t vote for. Now they have Slutzky who has already stated he would vote for any growth area development whether or not there was the necessary infrastructure to support it. From a growth area perspective we went from the axis of development to the four horsemen of the apocolypse

  • CrozetResident – The only aspect of your comment that I will disagree with is the “20 percent more” phrase. Yes, it will add “20% more land to the growth area” – but don’t forget that the growth area comprises only 5% of the county, so adding 1% to the existing 5% is true, but sounds much more ominous.

    Mr. Slutzky’s plan would also in effect shut down the rural area as well. Currently, I believe a majority of the growth is being done by-right in the rural areas. By choosing not to have the discussion amongst themselves, the other supervisors – pro- and anti-growth – area choosing the status quo.

    Which is preferred, the direction we are going today, or a more focused, urban-centered development pattern?

  • Jim,
    There is a simple solution to the rural area dilemma. Let rural residents master plan their own areas just as the growth areas are doing. The truth is from what I heard at the recent meetings at the BOS discussion on rural protection, I’m not sure they want it. Most who spoke wanted to maintain their right to develop their land. The board listened and made no efforts to change the status quo. I believe it’s time for ALL rural area residents to make the decision as to what direction they want to go. Master Planning the rural areas along with the growth areas would give us the best chance of getting a picture of what future growth for the entire county will look like, decide if we like it and then make any adjustments.

  • Fascinating discussion. The original idea that the BoS laid out was to split up the county into the rural area and the development area. Each would have strong controls. The development area was to have design controls encouraging a Neighborhood Model. In exchange for going through the process (up to five years!), builders received extra density. The rural areas would have clustering rules, to make sure that by-right rural development would be relatively land-efficient, and phasing rules, to make massive-scale rural development uneconomical. It was a good plan.
    We didn’t do it.
    In the development areas (Crozet, specifically), far more growth was planned than residents understood. It was expected that the state would pay for the necessary infrastructure. The state will not pay. This means Neighborhood Model projects are expected to pay more for infrastructure, when by-right rural area projects don’t, even though they require more infrastructure per unit. Also, an unanticipated concern about affordable workforce housing led to the encouragement of 15% affordable housing in Neighborhood Model developments. By-right development in the Rural Area don’t have to provide any.
    In the rural areas, landowners became upset that the value of their property would be threatened by phasing. Dorrier, Wyant, and Boyd withdrew their support for the Rural Areas Plan, allowing unrestrained by-right development in the Rural Area.
    So we have a good plan that we won’t implement. We have a growth area where we can’t afford growth, and we have a rural area we’re not willing to protect.
    The TDR plan was an idea to break the political logjam. It lets rural landowners sell their development rights at a fair price, and it lets developers buy development rights at a fair price (this is achieved by making one rural development right equal two urban ring rights).
    I like that this shifts rural development closer in to town without harming the property values of rural land owners. I worry a bit about the theoretical doubling of rural development rights, but I would rather we protect the rural area first, and then worry about it. We could use the ACE program to buy them up, if we’re worried about an oversupply of construction.
    For the moment, I’m not terribly worried, because the housing market has cooled, but that will eventually change.
    I’d love to hear more about the TDR plan, or some other realistic proposal to protect the rural areas.
    The beauty of Albemarle county is a major reason why I love it here. Surely we’ll find a way to protect it if we start working on it.

  • Wow. Interesting post, Lyle. You clearly have a pretty firm grasp on the county’s growth debate, BUT (that was inevitable) I’ve got a couple beefs with what you wrote.

    1. You say: “The rural areas would have clustering rules, to make sure that by-right rural development would be relatively land-efficient, and phasing rules, to make massive-scale rural development uneconomical. It was a good plan. We didn’t do it.”

    Not simply “uneconomical,” but virtually impossible unless one is already a millionaire. How can one finance building a road when you can only sell 2 lots every ten years? You can’t, and I suppose that’s the point. This strikes me as fundamentally unfair.

    2. You say: “In the rural areas, landowners became upset that the value of their property would be threatened by phasing. Dorrier, Wyant, and Boyd withdrew their support for the Rural Areas Plan, allowing unrestrained by-right development in the Rural Area.”

    Well, yeah, rural landowners became upset at the prospect of having (in most cases) the value of their chief asset gutted. Who wouldn’t? DW&B were just responding to their constituents’ concerns. And while you may be technichally correct about “unrestrained by-right development,” it is, by definition, restrained to 5 lots for the first 10 acres and 1-lot for every 21 acre parcel thereafter. That’s hardly Levittown.

    3. “We could use the ACE program to buy them up (development rights), if we’re worried about an oversupply of construction.”

    Unfortunately, the county cannot even afford to sit at the same table with most rural landowners and try negotiate a buyout through the ACE program. Their budget’s like a million bucks a year, and with rural land in Albemarle County going for around $10,000/acre that’s not gonna get ya very far.

    If you happen to be Dave Matthews or John Grisham and want to donate your development rights through ACE, then great. Thanks. Really, I mean it. But don’t expect regular folks who happen to own rural land to settle for a few pennies on the dollar. That dog won’t hunt.

  • I don’t understand where this false dichotomy came from. I’m not willing to trade my 1994 Volvo for an Edsel. Fortunately, that’s not a choice that I actually have to face.

    I don’t think it’s a false dichotomy. I think in future elections for that seat it’s more likely that the candidates will be transplants. However whether you think it’s false or not it’s ancillary to the other points I was making in my post.

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