Monthly Archive for January, 2007

City Property Assessments Increase 14%

The city’s annual property assessments are up 14.3% this year, Charlottesville reports in a press release, with residential properties increasing by 15% and commercial property increasing by 11%. Last year they increased by 18.8%, so at least things have cooled down a bit, but not much. Hopefully somebody smarter than me will provide the internals on this — what the largest increase was, how different neighborhoods faired, etc.

Aren’t residential and commercial properties taxed at the same rate? If so, couldn’t we split those off and tax the two at different rates? That might allow the city to shift some of the burden off of homeowners and onto business owners, since the latter at least enjoys some income as a result of their structure, and since the assessment increases always seem to be less for businesses than for residences. I wonder if this has been done elsewhere and how well it’s worked.

City Schools’ Survey

Charlottesville City Schools are conducting a web-based survey of community members about their perception of the school system. It’s open to residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. There are fifty questions, and it takes about ten minutes.

Madison-Greene Bar Gives Nod to Downer

Judge Robert Downer has been endorsed for Circuit Court Paul Peatross’ seat by the Madison-Greene Bar Association, The Hook reports. Downer was endorsed by the Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association earlier this month. There is widespread speculation that Reps. Rob Bell and Bill Janis intend to nominate Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos for partisan reasons, despite that four municipalities’ bar associations have now given him a vote of no confidence.

C-Ville’s Development Map

C-Ville Weekly has set up a totally rad feature on their site: an interactive map of where development is taking place in Albemarle County. I’m always glad to see media outlets using the technology available on the web to its full capacity, rather than just dumping their print content on there and calling it a day. (Via Jim Duncan)

Misc. Development News

Via Bill Emory, there are a pair of interesting articles on the topic of growth.

First is Jeremy Borden’s article in today’s Daily Progress, about developers who believe that development shouldn’t be regulated. (There’s a shocker.) Wendell Wood thinks that planning within growth areas “smacks of socialism” while an attorney for area developers says she “feels very strongly that it’s not needed.”

The flip side of that coin comes in today’s Washington Post editorial that summarizes the pair of fascinating articles by Michael Laris and David S. Fallis in last week’s Post [1, 2] about corruption in Loudoun County after pro-development forces took over the Board of Supervisors. Loudoun developers, complaining about growth restrictions, managed to get all of those restrictions removed and make themselves and their friends on the BoS extremely wealthy in the process. Prosecutors launched an investigation into the case mere days after the story was published.

There is no more powerful political force in Albemarle County than developers. They are debatably the most powerful political force in the state. Their motive is profit (and rightly so), not the interests of Charlottesville and Albemarle County; the two overlap, but only slightly. The notion that we should abandon planning to them is frightening. Bill Emory suggests a simple test to consider the intentions of a real estate developer: Does s/he live in the area that will be developed, and will s/he continue to live there after it’s developed?

Finally, from Jim Duncan comes word of SB988, which would permit the county to regulate construction in order to protect viewsheds for the purpose of tourism. (Such as the view from Monticello, presumably.) The bill specifically states that decisions would be made by county staff, without a public hearing, though appeals may be made to the planning commission. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Creigh Deeds, tells Jim that he introduced the bill at the request of the Board of Supervisors.

01/30 Update: Jeremy Borden writes in today’s Progress that Biscuit Run will require widening 20 South, a $17M project, but developers have only offered $5.5M to the county in total. That doesn’t even include the many, many additional improvements needed to handle the increased population: four new traffic signals, eight new intersection improvements and, of course, schools, police, fire, rescue, jail capacity, water, etc. So the $5.5M is to, what, put the thing on layaway?



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