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?
30 thoughts on “Misc. Development News”
Waldo, thanks for collecting these stories in one place. I plan to bring this posting up on WINA today during my weekly segment on growth and development with Coy Barefoot. I hope some bloggers can share comments on the air too. Show is 5-6 PM on WINA AM 1070. The studio phone number is 977-1070. Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow
So who, besides pro growth developers, are trying to get regulations removed? This is a stalking horse for the Anti-growth forces. How hard is it to get Wendell Wood to say something stupid. Yet there is zero chance he would ever run for office or if he did get elected.
No supervisor currently on the board had proposed relaxing any major restrictions. Pro growth forces (wanting to remove restrictions) could never get a canidate elected. And to imply that people who allow for growth might be corrupt because they area pro growth is a cheap ploy.
Waldo you are wrong about developers being the most powerful force in this area. The fact do not bear you out. The largest indivuals giving in the last two local county elections came form anti-growth people not pro. I wonder why it’s OK for a Rich Anti growth liberal to give a local canidate $5000 for a campgain and not one word is uttered but a builder gives a $1000 and that canidate is in their pocket. A classic double standard to be sure.
Brian Wheeler’s Charlottesville Tommorrow is living testament to the monied gentry interest to anti-growth. It mission is clear and it funds come rich local democrats who own large farms and look to protect their land and much as they wish to stop growth.
It would be. If I done so. But I didn’t so, luckily, we don’t have to worry about it.
Who the largest individual donors have been is interesting, but not particularly valuable. If Joe Richman gave $5,000 to a candidate in a local race — making him the largest single donor — and 100 people in the sprawl industry gave $1,000 each, which is more powerful — Joe’s $5,000, or the developers’ $100,000?
Joe’s $5,000, or the developers’ $100,000?
The point is that you don’t know that. If there were just one Joe Richman then you might have a point, there are dozens and dozens. You ignore why Richman money is different from Joe Builder’s. And you don’t have the evidence to show that Richman vs. Builders contest comes to advantage Builders.
Anti-growth supervsiors are very well funded and it is disingenuous to imply otherwise. The is no lack of funding for either side.
Because there’s less. Much, much less.
Other than local races that I’ve worked on, the local race that I ran, the House of Delegates races that I’ve worked on, the fact that there’s a strong pro-growth majority on the BoS and the fact that the Virginia Political Access Project ranks “Real Estate/Construction” as the #2 contributing industry in the entire state (and guess what doesn’t rank as #1)? No, I’m afraid that’s the extent of my evidence. :)
It would be enormously helpful if local campaign finance filings were available online but, sadly, they’re not. A trip to Richmond is required to get the data.
This discussion is about Albemarle because Charlottesville is very pro-growth and that is never argued. The growth in the city is never thought to be bad. Best Buy, all the new apartments and office buildings contribute to growth but are ignored by most.
Albemarle last two BOS elections are proof of the financial muscle of Antigrowth. Thomas and Rooker had no meaningful challengers and Rio with Slutsky/Grant had no pro-growth candidate.
Waldo, how do you have a pro growth majority on the BOS? Are you calling Slutsky a tool of the developers?
Because if you aren’t then I count a tie at best. In the BOS election before last Strucko and Hallock were very well funded, perhaps even better than then the winners. And Scottsville had a well funded independent who had very little chance to take out the incumbent.
The facts don’t bear out your assertion.
You can’t pull financial data from the local office? That seems hard to believe and very stupid (on the state’s part) if true.
If you can, it’s certainly news to me. I don’t believe that the registrar has copies of such filings, since that’s in the realm of the campaign finance division of the state board of elections, far from anything that the registrar is involved with.
As a local governement insider, I can vouch for the fact that Albemarle is pro-development. Any county staffer will tell you that if you get them to the side. Development proposals and advocates control almost every iniative. What could give the impression that this was not so? Has there been a development proposal that was not approved in the end? Maybe two?
Waldo…you’re dead on….the forces of development are formidable.
While Albemarle’s situation is vastly different than Loudoun’s, development interests stretch far beyond a handful of BOS members. The Chamber of Commerce, the Free Enterprise Forum, the Piedmont Technology Council, the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, & The Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development are all part of the effort to turn Charlottesville into more houses, more traffic, more strip malls, more roads, more everything that will make Charlottesville a less affordable and less aappealing place to live. And they’re all “nonproffits”… there’s more than meets the eye. I appreciate your efforts to shine a light on the the small group of folks proffiting at the staggering expense to most of this community.
Seems to me that there’s a solution to this problem… All of us concerned about the way growth is occuring should put out some money and time time to support candidates who’ll bring new ideas and more balance to BOS about growth issues. We need people with the fortitude to challenge the corruption which has allowed developers to take over local government (and they have). We need to give even more attention to our local races than we do to the national ones. After all, it is the local decisions that are made that most directly affect our quality of life, the environment, and the economy.
I’ll pledge $500.00 right now to any candidates, Democrat, Republican, Green Party or anyone else, who are willing to openly state their policy on specific growth issues (like phasing, TDR, critical slopes, preservation of rural areas, etc.) and challenge the status quo. It may not seem to be much, but for me that’s alot of money. Anyone else care to match that or beat it?
As for Perlogic, my advice for you is the same. If Joe’s $5000, donation bothers you, then raise money for the candidate that you feel will advance the values you care about. If you don’t have money, then donate your time instead. I do think it is lamentable that it often comes down to which side gets the most money, but unfortunately that’s how Democracy seems to work in the U.S.. If we want to be heard, then we’ve got to paticipate long before the elections are even held.
If Joe’s $5000, donation bothers you, then raise money for the candidate that you feel will advance the values you care about
I think you missed my point. I don’t care if Joe gives $5000. My point is that anti-growth forces are well funded and it is dishonest to imply otherwise. Builders give a lot of money, I don’t argue that. As long as it is reported fairly on both sides, let the voters decide.
I do understand how democracy works and it’s important when making policy/law to use fact and not belief to make those judgments. In this thread people have stated things that they believe(which is great) but they aren’t based in fact. People believe that there is a pro-growth majority of the BOS but the facts say it’s a tie.
I ask questions here that go unanswered and I wonder why?
Why is a rich gentleperson farmer’s money in an election more noble than that of a builder who creates homes and jobs?
How can an organization Like Charlottesville Tomorrow say they are nonpartisan when they are funded, largely by antigrowth democrats. They take positions on issues and make recommendations, they have an agenda. Should we ask them to reveal their donor list and totals?
I think comparing this area to Loudon is a JOKE! Look At the latest Cooper Center figures: Loudon county up 100,000 or 59% in the last 6 years; Albemarle 6,600 or 7.9% which is below Virginia state. Trying to connect Loudon problem to Albemarle is little more than wishful thinking on the part of the antigrowth crowd in an election year.
It is? Who said that?
The chair of their board is a Republican. Their board also includes the Republican head of a real estate firm and the head of an alcohol distributor (who gives more to Republicans than Democrats). There’s nothing partisan about being opposed to unchecked growth.
The only comparison made between Albemarle and Loudon here was this:
I don’t expect you disagree with that comparison. :)
By what measure? What you define as “anti-growth” , may be very different from how I’d define that term (For starters, I’d personally avoid that term myself anyway, since I’m for growth just not irresponsible growth). I think the best way to settle this is a policy by policy look at each BOS. How have they voted?
Last time I looked, they not only voted down the phasing and clustering, rural preservation and mountain overlay district (Actually twice on that one) but they pretty much killed these measures altogether. That doesn’t exactly sound like “anti-growth” to me… In addition, they’ve creaved growth areas, vastly expanding the amount of houses that could be built in places like Crozet, without a single reduction in homes built in Rural areas. That doesn’t really seem anti-growth either… I’m actually kind of confused as to what would be pro growth in your book? What else do you suggest? Removing zoning altogether?
Secondly, I think you do compare apples and oranges in terms of campaign donations. I think there is a significant difference between a citizen (like a forester or a builder), giving an individual donation, and a special interest group like CAAR fundraising for a candidate or sending out postcards to influence a policy vote. Corporations and Special Interest groups are not “people”, especially since they are not accountable to the same laws and restrictions that individuals are. Both sides of this issue use organizations to lobby and fundraise on their behalf, but the developers have far more money than “anti-growth” folks ever could. I think the democratic process would be greatly improved if we could eliminate that kind of fundraising altogether from both sides.
If you allow corporations to essentially “vote” with their dollars, then you create a system which disadvantages the individuals of a democracy. The fact that we’ve let corporations and special interests have so much influence into our federal, state, and local governments is the single biggest reason there is so much corruption.
The chair of their board is a Republican.
How could you tell from his bio? He may give to national republican causes but again I’m talking about local politics. If he has ever been involved with a republican in his backyard I’m unaware of it.
Grisham and Vanderwaker are active local dems who give a lot of money to local races and members of the Piedmont Environmental Council . Middleton is the founder of the founder and Executive Director of the Southern Environmental Law Center. Terry Sieg on the board of Southern Environmental Law Center.
Stephen McLean is a realtor but sales mostly large, very expensive estates and farms and if he is active in partisan politics I’m unaware. Cathy Train I think is a (D) but again I could be wrong.
Waldo, you know a great deal about local politics, if there is an active local republican on this board (and there very well could be) I don’t know who it would be. The active local (D)’s and enivromentalist are easy to pick out.
There is not one developer on their board or builder that I’m aware of. You could argue that McLean is but again he mostly just does high end existing real estate. The board is dominated by environmentalist, Democrats, and venture capitalist. To be nonpartisan you should have someone who the right can identify as one of their own. I can’t.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with anything they have ever done and welcome their involvement in the process. They are doing good work and seem to be trying to be fair. They, however have an agenda and their claim of nonpartisan seems more contrived then actual. What I’m not saying is I get to decide what nonpartisan is, my point is everything I’ve seen or read leads me to the conclusion that Charlottesville Tomorrow is a well funded, democratically dominated, antigrowth group with an agenda against builders and further development.
Both sides of this issue use organizations to lobby and fundraise on their behalf, but the developers have far more money than “anti-growth” folks ever could.
Tigernach If you were talking about most other areas of the state I would say you are right but in this area your assertion about funding is not accurate. You may believe it to be true but the last two BOS elections don’t back that statement up.
Special Interest groups are not “people”, especially since they are not accountable to the same laws and restrictions that individuals are
Again if this weren’t Virginia you might be right but individuals can give as much money as they want. One rich person can give ten’s of thousand to a canidate without restrictions. For the most part I think you statement is wrong. I think in the commonwealth the playing field is much diffferent than Federal elections.
How could you tell from his bio?
Bio? I don’t need no stinkin’ bio. :) He’s an old family friend.
And…what? Republicans hate the outdoors? The chair of the group’s board is both a strong environmentalist and a strong Republican. The idea that the two are mutually exclusive is both a stereotype and inaccurate.
strong Republican- He may be but I have no way of knowing it from his activities locally. If a group is going to claim bipartisonship as a virtue then it’s reasonable to to verify that claim.
The way Charlottesville Tomorrow claims this bipartisan leads me to believe they have from active card carrying Democrats and some rich eco RINO’s (republicans in name only). That becomes important when you use the word bipartisan to equate “fair and balanced”. Where you able to find any of the board who were active local republicans? We are talking about a local issue and that does matter.
You and I agree that CT is really a enviromental group first and foremost. It portrays itself as something else.
I don’t know what to tell you. You said that the group is funded by wealthy Democrats. I pointed out that it’s not. So you claim that any Republicans that do fund it are RINOs. Listen, if your test for whether or not somebody is a Democrat is if they support Charlottesville Tomorrow, then I’m not sure that we’re going to get anywhere.
If you’re going to ignore issues of finance, and consider only who is active in their respective parties, then I must point out that there’s only one active local Democrat on the board — Brian Wheeler — and he’s on the board because he’s the organization’s only employee.
I know that you really, really want Charlottesville Tomorrow to be a Democratic organization, but it’s just not. Given that the chair of the board is a well-known Republican and, as I’ve demonstrated, several other board members are also Republicans, that would seem to end any question in the matter.
Compared to the homebuilding/development lobby? You have to be kidding me. They’re friggin poor in comparison….
Micheal Bills(the chairman of CT board) is not a republican. According to VPAP.org he has given $70,000 or 88% of all his donations to Democrats. He not even a RINO. Waldo, you should tell me why you think that he is.
I look at most of the Directors and they are heavy democrat givers and none I have found are are anywhere near 50/50. The Grishams have given over $300k to democrats
Charlottesville is a partisan group, actions speak louder than words.
Checking back in on the blog and I see you all have been talking about us! Let me add a few comments. Charlottesville Tomorrow is a non-partisan organization. Our Board would not have come together in the absence of that focus in our mission statement.
There are members of our Board who are Independents, Republicans, and Democrats. Our donors have a similar mix. In fact, at the time of our launch we had top-10 donors to BOTH the Kaine [D] and Kilgore [R] campaigns. I think the Virginia Public Access Project data speaks for itself on that front. These people are motivated by a shared vision for quality growth, not political parties. [Another topic might be what significance does a party label have on local politics anyway, particularly in the County where we have 2 Supervisors of each flavor. Is there a party platform that informs their votes on local land use and transportation issues?].
The most obvious way to assess Charlottesville Tomorrow’s non-partisan approach, I think, would be to examine our voter guides and our coverage of local elections [2006 City Council; 2005 County Supervisors]. I challenge anyone to tell me if they detect any preference for a candidate in those published voter guides or on our website. We can only be successful, and get the cooperation of all candidates, if we are rigorously non-partisan. Please call Republican Rob Schilling and ask him if he thinks he got fair and balanced coverage by Charlottesville Tomorrow. Ask City Republican Chair Bob Hodous if he was happy with the voter guide and our podcast of Rob Schilling’s nomination convention.
There was also a question about getting access to local campaign finance data. Our local registrars in the City and County DO have those paper filings. They are open to the public. Local candidates typically do not file electronically. As a result, Charlottesville Tomorrow is expanding our non-partisan coverage of the 2007 City/County elections by working with VPAP to support their local data initiative. Thus all local campaign contributios will be integrated into the VPAP website during 2007.
Brian Wheeler, Executive Director, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Several people pointed out this to me today, too. That’s great to know, though pawing through paper forms in somebody else’s office is a terrible way to track down who gave to whom, which is what makes your effort to get this in VPAP so admirable.
There are members of our Board who are Independents, Republicans, and Democrats.
Brian, your assertion that Charlottesville Tomorrow is non partisan is not back by any facts . If you’re going to say someone’s a republican it might be nice to prove it. I have already shown that the chairman of CT is not a republican even though Waldo says he is. Even your Chairman’s giving to republican were to those who would support higher sales tax in No. Virginia. You and others here keep saying this and I find that you BoD (according to VPAP.org) has given several $100,000 dollars more to Democrats.
Brian, no one said you voter guide was biased but your agenda in Biscuit Run is. Your comments to the joint meeting weren’t about information but recommendations. There is nothing wrong with that but advocating your position but it makes you partisan. You are not like the League Of Woman voters if you make policy recommendations.
Here is my challenge to Charlottesville Tomorrow go to VPAP.org and list the contributions of all your BoD, not your donors. The Board of Directors sets policy. I’ll wager that 85% of all giving has been to Democrats and their causes. You are about to spent this election cycle tracking the giving to local races. It would be hypocritical to try a claim a moral high ground without a little self examination.
You’re not looking at all of his donations, only those given that to the last two Democratic gubernatorial candidates. As with the majority of the business community, he clearly believed that the Democrats were far, far better candidates than the Republicans. Both Mark Earley and Jerry Kilgore were roundly rejected by fiscal conservatives, which is why each of them lost so soundly. If the test of whether somebody is a Republican is whether they supported the last two Republican candidates for governor in Virginia…well, I like that very much, because it would reclassify many thousands of Virginia Republicans as Democrats.
In the 2005 election cycle, I gave the same amount to Republicans that I did to Democrats. Tell me: Am I still a Democrat?
Waldo, do you know of his republican giving? Since you made the claim he is a republican , I leave it to you to make that case. Or you could admit that he is a conservative democrat ?
If you give $70k to Democrats and 0 to republican statewide candidates in the last 2 cycles then yes, you are now a democrat. You could certainly switch back but for now your money has proven your party
In the 2005 election cycle, I gave the same amount to Republicans that I did to Democrats. Tell me: Am I still a Democrat?
In your case, yes (how much are we talking about and the republicans were probably personal friends). You work for democratic candidates, you views are published and leave little question to your overall loyalties. I can PROVE you’re (what any reasonable person would agree) a democrat. This is not the case with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s BoD. I am simply asking for the same level of scrutiny be applied to Charlottesville Tomorrow that they now insist will be given to local candidates. I only ask because of their claim of non partisanship that CT wears like a badge of honor.
Here is a link to my comments on the Biscuit Run project. I encourage the public’s assessment of these points.
Perlogik suggests: 1) being an advocate for quality developments is somehow partisan; and 2) the League of Women Voters (LWV) would not make policy recommendations.
I disagree with both assertions. Perlogik, it sounds like you have your mind made up on the first point. But let me start by saying my Board certainly doesn’t need me making public statements here about which party label they prefer to wear. Again, most but not all, of our current and former board members and our donors have records in the VPAP database. These board members are leaders in the community motivated to enhance our quality of life.
Your basic question is certainly understandable. However, since we are now a well-known player in this arena, I think actions speak louder than words on this front. I previously provided links to our voter guides and website. More examples… When we launched, a candidate for Supervisor called two board members to figure out what we were all about (sure, as Waldo said, I am a known Democrat so we expected people to ask questions). This candidate spoke to a Democrat and a Republican on my Board and became convinced we were going to treat all the candidates fairly. From that point on the candidate was an active participant in our candidate interview and our 2005 voter guide production.
When we did a telephone survey to gauge the number of undecided voters in the Rio district in October 2005… guess what question we didn’t ask? “Who are you going to vote for?” How many groups do telephone polls at election time without asking for a candidate preference?! We didn’t because we didn’t want there to be any appearance whatsoever that we had data that might be shared with one campaign and not another.
So yes, I firmly believe we do share a part of the “high ground” on local elections because our communications are clearly non-partisan, we do not endorse anyone, we do not support the candidates financially or otherwise, and our materials in 2005 and 2006 were based on the verbatim record of the candidates’ statements.
Back to your point on Biscuit Run… It is impossible for me to see how my comments advocating for quality growth can be construed as partisan in any way. I am curious… can you explain to us some partisan patterns you see in the votes of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors? If these issues are so partisan, I am assuming you are seeing trends one way or another in their actions. I think that would be an interesting discussion, as I suggested in my previous post.
On the League of Women Voters (LWV), they are in fact regularly in front of our elected and appointed officials offering ideas on public policy. They have a strong reputation in Charlottesville of being able to offer advice from a non-partisan perspective. They are certainly a model for my work in that respect. Recently, I have seen them speak as an organization at public hearings on the rural area phasing/clustering provisions and they were very involved in assessing and speaking out about the community water supply discussion. According to a recent e-mail from ASAP, the LWV Board has also voted to support ASAP’s initiative to assess the goal of defining an optimal sustainable population size, or range, that can help guide planning.
Charlottesville Tomorrow, by the way, has not taken positions on the specific policy alternatives on any of those three issues. Bottom line… one goal for Charlottesville Tomorrow is to be a non-partisan, objective, information provider while advocating for quality growth and community engagement.
I’ll end with a question… Perlogik will you blog non-anonymously? If not, I’m inclined to leave your future comments alone. I know many people enjoy the give and take of the anonymous blogosphere, but it’s a lot easier to take pot shots when your name isn’t on them. I am paid as a professional to share information with the public out in the open. I have a board and donors looking over my shoulders, and I have a reputation in the community that I have built based on constructive and informative communications. I’ll gladly engage those that share that approach because I think that is part of building a better community.
Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Brian, have I attacked your character or said that Charlotteville Tomorrow weren’t an asset to the community? Here is where I feel is there is a disconnect.
Voter guide: very fair, nonpartisan, and an overall good thing.
Biscuit Run: advocating the Charlottesville’s Tomorrow view of smart growth (which is clearly their mission statement) is where nonpartisanship is in question.
If Waldo feels that I have been out of bounds then he is free to contact me here or privately. It’s his blog and if I have violate the spirt of fair discussion then I will never speak of Charlottesville Tomorrow in this forum again. Waldo?
In fact I ask the residents of this blog to respond if I have been unfair to CT.
I simply think your claim of nonpartisanship in local development matters is wanting and unproven. It is only an issue because Charlottesville Tomorrow claims it as part of their mission. If you don’t want to reponds then don’t. I have heard your claim of nonpartisanship did some research and found that claim to be wanting. You are welcome to disprove my allegation here.
I was told the Chairman of the board was a republican did some research and found the facts did not support the assertion. I stated where I obtained this public information and where it led me. If this simple matter is in question and is unrefuted by fact then it is logical and reasonable that the claim of overall partisanship is as well.
You’ve lost me. So smart growth is a Democratic stance? What’s the Republican position? Can you find any documentation of this in either party’s platform? In an article a year ago, The Washington Times explained that smart growth is one of the few areas on which Virginia Democrats and Republicans can agree. Can you provide any evidence that this is factually inaccurate and that, in fact, smart growth is a Democratic notion?
The trouble here is that, as I’ve told you, the chairman of the board is a family friend who I know personally to be a Republican. So when you say that he’s not a Republican, what you’re really doing is calling both me and said chairman a liar. I understand that’s not your intention, but you’ve put me in an awkward position here, which has got to be nothing compared to the position that you have put Brian Wheeler and Charlottesville Tomorrow into.
I want to apologizes to Brian Wheeler and Charlottesville Tomorrow if any of my comments implied any stain on the character or reputation of any member of CT. I hope they will understand my concerns and not view them as character attacks. I think the rest of the state would be well served to have a group like CT in their community.
Waldo, I take your word for that the Chairman of the Board is a republican. I don’t think you are a liar but his public giving record is all I can judge him by. I hope anyone else here can understand how that conclusion was reached. I have the highest regard for the board of Charlottesville Tomorrow and consider them all assets to the community. We are lucky to have them here and I applaud their service.
Further if Waldo wants to remove any of my posting in this tread that Brian Wheeler or any member of his board finds defaming please consider this post my permission to do so.
Comments are closed.