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?