County Eyes NGIC Expansion Plans

The National Ground Intelligence Center is planning on expanding substantially, and Albemarle County is trying to figure out how to handle it, Jeremy Borden writes in today’s Progress. The Army intelligence organization (made famous for their faulty Iraq intelligence) currently employees 1,200 people at their facility on 29 North, but they intend to expand to 2,000 employees come 2011. It’s a part of a push on the part of the federal government to decentralize federal services so that an attack on Washington D.C. would not leave the nation defenseless.

All of those 820 jobs will be filled by people moving here from D.C. and around the nation, and many of those people will bring families, all of which requires more schools, homes, emergency services, roads, etc., etc. The county is trying to figure out how to handle the growth, which would be sudden and difficult to control. The feds have no obligation to coordinate with the county at all — or even tell Albemarle what they’re up to — which makes the task all the more challenging. All of this will translate to higher tax bills for all of us in Albemarle, because more money will be required in order to fund the expansions necessary to accommodate the thousands of new residents that will arrive nearly simultaneously.

56 Responses to “County Eyes NGIC Expansion Plans”


  • I know, let’s put it to a vote. Raise your hand if you want to pay higher real estate taxes in order to subsidize a major spike in the population. Go ahead and keep your hand down if you think that those new residents should pay the taxes necessary to provide the services that they require.

  • Do you feel the same when the University expands or is it just because it’s military? When the University uses property it goes off the tax rolls as well.

    While the feds don’t have to coordinate that doesn’t mean they won’t. I doubt the county will not have some input because of roads or traffic lights

  • Do you feel the same when the University expands or is it just because it’s military? When the University uses property it goes off the tax rolls as well.

    And I’ve complained long and loud about that.

  • How many people are we talking about here? If all of these people have families of about 3 we are talking about maybe 2500 new people? That doesn’t jump out to me as a huge amount considering the county groes by a similar amount every year anyway. Wouldn’t this also mean more contracting projects for small businesses and add a much needed boost to salary figures around here? Also, eventhough the land the fed uses will go off the tax rolls wont many of these people be purchasing homes, adding to local tax revenues (in addition to the new money in sales taxes)? Also, eventhough those jobs will be filled with people from outside the area shouldn’t their high incomes have a net positive impact on the community if they demand higher end services which call for higher skilled and thus higher waged employees?

    I am not making any arguments here. These are just a few questions I have about their impact (outside of traffic and school crowding).

  • If all of these people have families of about 3 we are talking about maybe 2500 new people? That doesn’t jump out to me as a huge amount considering the county groes by a similar amount every year anyway.

    Assuming that, in fact, a 2,500/year increase is normal, then now we’re looking at a 5,000 person increase in one year, or 200% of what we’re already having trouble absorbing.

    It’s important to remember that, by the county’s own math, new residents are a net financial loss for Albemarle. Every new resident requires that either per-capita spending decrease or that taxes increase.

  • It’s important to remember that, by the county’s own math, new residents are a net financial loss for Albemarle. Every new resident requires that either per-capita spending decrease or that taxes increase.

    Then the county should either increase taxes or decrease services in order to attain parity. We know that the population of the area will increase either by birth or relocation so this seems only sensible. That said, I tend to think of the NGIC expansion as one of the more fiscally absorbable changes in our future.

  • Albemarle County’s current population is about 91,000 (90,806, Weldon Cooper report from January 2007 using 7/1/06 data). Albemarle has grown by 706 people from 2005-06 (.8% growth rate). It grew by 800 people from 2004-05 (.89% growth rate). Average annual growth since last census (2000) is 1,059 (or 7.9% since 2000). Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow.

    P.S. Waldo – I don’t think the logout function is working. I tried to switch profiles and I seem to be stuck.

  • Then the county should either increase taxes or decrease services in order to attain parity. We know that the population of the area will increase either by birth or relocation so this seems only sensible.

    The United States population is zero growth by reproduction — our only growth comes from immigration. Whether or not that’s true for Albemarle, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s not far off.

    Seems to me that the solution is (as Rich Collins campaigned on in ’05) to reassess only when property is sold.

  • Again, I’ll cite the recent Weldon Cooper data. They document an additional 6,620 residents in Albemarle since the 2000 census. Natural increase (births) was estimated to be 2,468 or 37%. Migration of new residents into Albemarle was estimated to be 4,152 or 63%. Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow

  • Thanks for that, Brian. Seems Albemarle is far off from the national trend.

  • Okay I checked the census thing and I do think 2500 is a bit more than average for the county. Still, a one time increase of 2500 plus the additional 800 doesn’t come off as a huge number considering what’s going on in other counties. I personally just don’t get this whole anti all growth thing especially when it comes to creating jobs. I am sure there are several counties across Southside that would love to have the “problem” of 800 new high paying jobs moving to the area even if those jobs would be filled by others. Why? They bring more money into the community and hopefully have a cascading effect on businesses as they demand more services. At some point someone in your family had to migrate to this area. It strikes me as extremely ironic and hypocritical for so many people around here to say “OK I am here now so stop the growth” and this is coming from someone who can trace their heritage back to Virginia slaves, early Europeans, and Native Americans. I I think the best way to get a balanced gauge of whether this is a good thing or not would be to ask the county how much it will cost in taxes and then ask businesses whether they stand to gain or lose from the addition of 800 new high paying incomes coming into the area.

  • I guess hiring locally for all those new jobs would be out of the question.

  • I personally just don’t get this whole anti all growth thing especially when it comes to creating jobs.

    We are routinely cited in national news stories as having one of the lowest employment rates in the nation. Why do we need to create jobs? Plus, this particular expansion will do nothing to create jobs for folks from here. They’re going to be pulling in employees from D.C. who already have the expertise and the security clearance.

    I am sure there are several counties across Southside that would love to have the “problem” of 800 new high paying jobs moving to the area even if those jobs would be filled by others

    Absolutely! That’s what’s so crazy about creating 800 new jobs in an area of the state where it’s just gilding the lily. You don’t need to drive more than an hour in any direction to find populations that would love to have those jobs.

    It strikes me as extremely ironic and hypocritical for so many people around here to say “OK I am here now so stop the growth”

    I like to use the family planning analogy. Thanks to birth control and common sense, it’s the norm in developed nations for families to determine how many children that they can afford to have, and limit their reproduction to that rate. There is no logic that it’s unfair to unborn children not to birth more of them. That’s because it’s far more unfair to one’s own children give birth to more without the resources to provide for one’s existing children. Likewise, I think we have a duty to address our residents’ needs before we address the needs of hypothetical new residents.

    I also think that we should distribute taxation as fairly as possible, and that includes the concept of a contract between citizens and government. When I purchase a house for $200,000 at a taxation rate of $0.74 per $100 of assessed value, a significant part of the calculation of how much house that I can afford is my annual property tax payments. (Since I’m about to build a house, I have a Mac OS X mortgage widget to create quick mortgage estimates. It uses just four input fields to calculate monthly payments: loan amount, mortgage years, interest rate, and annual tax.) When that taxation level, in real dollars, is left to float with the market, it becomes impossible to plan how much house I can really afford, as my salary is unlikely to rise on the same tide that brings up house values. So let’s reassess only at the time of property transfer. Folks buying houses will know what they’re getting into, and folks who already own houses don’t have to worry about being forced to sell due to levels of taxation that they can’t afford. Thus new residents will pay more than those of us who already live here, helping to pay the real costs that come of providing the services that they require.

  • This would probably add 800 or more kids very suddenly to Albemarle County schools. Do we have the capacity for that? Because if we have to build a new elemantary school then that’s at least 10 million dollars right there. It would be nice if the federal government would compensate us for essentially providing employee benefits to a bunch of their people from DC.

  • It would be nice if the federal government would compensate us for essentially providing employee benefits to a bunch of their people from DC.

    That’s a particularly good point. The idea behind the existence of D.C. is that it’s a federal city, funded by the federal government to provide a place for federal employees to live and work. While moving those federal employees to Albemarle County, they ought to move the associated federal funding that was going to D.C.

  • “We are routinely cited in national news stories as having one of the lowest employment rates in the nation. Why do we need to create jobs? Plus, this particular expansion will do nothing to create jobs for folks from here. They’re going to be pulling in employees from D.C. who already have the expertise and the security clearance.”

    Yeah and Charlottesville is also routinely cited as a city with a high poverty rate and astronomical cost of living. Our city has a poverty rate of about 18 percent, almost twice the state’s rate. I kind of get annoyed when people keep citing our unemployment rate as if that tells the whole story. When you compare our cost of living to other counties with similar situations our median income pales in comparision. Stafford, Spotsylania, Prince William, Fauquier, Chesterfield, Goochland, James City, and Chesapeake are just a few jurisdictions where the median household incomes is above Albemarle County. Notice how many of these places where the cost of living isn’t as high. In Stafford, Fauquier, and Spotsylvania the median incomes are 65k or higher. In Albemarle, its about 53,000. Now are you really going to tell everyone that the cost of living in Albemarle is 12,000-22,000 dollars cheaper a year than those counties?

    Also, do you mean to tell me that once those 800 people fill these jobs that they always will? Are we to believe that none of these people will ever retire, quit, get fired, or be promoted? Are we also to believe that when any of these positions open up no one, locally, will be eligible to fill them? Are we to believe that these high-income earners won’t spend their money locally and create more jobs?

    “Absolutely! That’s what’s so crazy about creating 800 new jobs in an area of the state where it’s just gilding the lily. You don’t need to drive more than an hour in any direction to find populations that would love to have those jobs.”

    That’s the spirit! Let’s drive within an hour of the area, cut down a few acres, and add a couple of thousand of people to a rural county like Nelson, Amherst, or Buckingham rather than the already developed 29 North. That is a great way to combat sprawl. And again, I think you will come across several individuals who don’t feel the employment situation around here is “lily.”

    “Likewise, I think we have a duty to address our residents’ needs before we address the needs of hypothetical new residents.”

    Yes and I doubt when you ask the average county citizen about this they won’t mind the move here. Like the Parkway situation, I think this is another case of a very vocal and loud minority drowning out the silent majority.

  • median household income is*

  • One more thing. Albemarle as the highest median income in the metro area. Here is a list of median incomes in descending order.

    Albemarle 52,967
    Greene 49,925
    Fluvanna 49, 225
    Nelson 38,638
    Charlottesville 31,206

    Stafford 75,456
    Fauqueir 67,990
    Spotsylvania 65,381
    James City 62,271
    Chesterfield 61,807

    State Median 50,028

    Again, does our unemployment rate tell the whole story? Our per capita income is higher than many of the cited counties but that suggest to me that our area’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.
    The state median is 50,028

  • Yeah and Charlottesville is also routinely cited as a city with a high poverty rate and astronomical cost of living. Our city has a poverty rate of about 18 percent, almost twice the state’s rate.

    And these jobs will do nothing for them. Our problem of poverty is certainly not a simple one, but to toss a simple answer at it, the kind of employer that will serve as a drop-in solution to that problem went south post-NAFTA and, these days, is mostly found in southwest Asia.

    Also, do you mean to tell me that once those 800 people fill these jobs that they always will? Are we to believe that none of these people will ever retire, quit, get fired, or be promoted?

    This is precisely what Martinsville went through with MZM. (Before MZM went belly-up, they had a parasitic relationship with NGIC. Many NGIC employees were, in fact, MZM employees, working side by side with federal government employees. It was a bad situation.) What Martinsville officials concluded was that, no, locals would not be hired for those jobs — that MZM recruits nationally, and has no interest in hiring locally. I have several friends who work for NGIC and for federal intelligence organizations who echo this. They’re interested in the best intelligence people in the nation; anybody hired locally is sheer happenstance.

    That’s the spirit! Let’s drive within an hour of the area, cut down a few acres, and add a couple of thousand of people to a rural county like Nelson, Amherst, or Buckingham rather than the already developed 29 North.

    Why rural? There are lots of developed areas within a short drive of here that are hungry for jobs. Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Danville, Martinsville, and Lynchburg all come to mind immediately. They want jobs — they need jobs — and they would benefit from major employers far more than we would.

    Yes and I doubt when you ask the average county citizen about this they won’t mind the move here.

    Actually, they’ve been asked — they do mind.

    Our per capita income is higher than many of the cited counties but that suggest to me that our area’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.

    And, again, NGIC will do nothing to change that. A couple of thousand middle class people are going to move to Albemarle, wallets fat with relocation stipends, driving up that per capita income and our real estate prices while they’re at it.

  • “This is precisely what Martinsville went through with MZM. (Before MZM went belly-up, they had a parasitic relationship with NGIC. Many NGIC employees were, in fact, MZM employees, working side by side with federal government employees. It was a bad situation.) What Martinsville officials concluded was that, no, locals would not be hired for those jobs — that MZM recruits nationally, and has no interest in hiring locally. I have several friends who work for NGIC and for federal intelligence organizations who echo this. They’re interested in the best intelligence people in the nation; anybody hired locally is sheer happenstance.”

    Waldo let’s be serious here. With all due respect to the fine citizens of Martinsville our demographics are completely different. Over 40 percent of the residents in Albemarle and Charlottesville have college degrees. We are home to one of the nation’s top universities and thus the source of several well trained and educated individuals who enter the workforce. Also, there has still been no mention of the effect it will have on other local businesses. We are talking about 800 new high paying incomes coming to the area. This isnt another retail store adding 7$ and hour jobs.

    “Actually, they’ve been asked — they do mind.”

    A very general poll. This poll doesn’t ask specifically if you support NGIC moving to Albemarle. The word “growth” has a negative connotation to it around here and I think everyone would expect the first response of anyone would be to slow it down. However, if you make the question more specific like “do you support a Target opening locally” or “Do you approve, dissaprove, or have no opinion of x shopping center being built on 29” I am sure you will get different responses. You can’t take a general poll question about the pace of growth and strictly apply it to something that is case-specific.

    “And, again, NGIC will do nothing to change that. A couple of thousand middle class people are going to move to Albemarle, wallets fat with relocation stipends, driving up that per capita income and our real estate prices while they’re at it.”

    And exactly where are they going to spend those relocation stipends and middle class incomes? Also, the tone of this statment seems to downplay the significance of “couple of thousand middle class people” but earlier you would think that these 2,000 people
    would cause 24 hour gridlock, schools bursting at the seems, and property taxes that will drive all the locals out. How is it not significant in one sense but is in another?

    That same question applies to me I suppose. I just really dont mind it. I am not in support of it but certainly don’t oppose the relocation.

    “Why rural? There are lots of developed areas within a short drive of here that are hungry for jobs. Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Danville, Martinsville, and Lynchburg all come to mind immediately. They want jobs — they need jobs — and they would benefit from major employers far more than we would.”

    This again seems to contradict your other statements. Why is this going to have so much of an impact on those areas but not on ours?

  • And BTW if you don’t think this will benefit locals ask a few real estate agents, local resteraunt owners, a few business owners on the downtown mall, some plumbers, electricians, and auto workers whether they stand to lose from the addition of 800 new high paying jobs to the area.

  • With all due respect to the fine citizens of Martinsville our demographics are completely different. Over 40 percent of the residents in Albemarle and Charlottesville have college degrees.

    Again — and I can’t state this any more clearly — they’re not going to be hiring from here. They want the best intelligence people in the world. If some of them happen to be local, that’s coincidence.

    A very general poll. This poll doesn’t ask specifically if you support NGIC moving to Albemarle.

    My interest isn’t case-specific. I don’t care about NGIC expanding any more than any other business or organization getting thousands of new people moving here simultaneously. The fact is that Albemarle citizens have stated clearly their desire to slow down growth. More than doubling our rate of growth in a single year is precisely the opposite of their stated wishes.

    Also, the tone of this statment seems to downplay the significance of “couple of thousand middle class people” but earlier you would think that these 2,000 people would cause 24 hour gridlock, schools bursting at the seems, and property taxes that will drive all the locals out. How is it not significant in one sense but is in another?

    There was nothing stated or implied to downplay that significance. I didn’t say a word about 24 hour gridlock, schools bursting at their seams, or property taxes driving all the locals out.

    This again seems to contradict your other statements. Why is this going to have so much of an impact on those areas but not on ours?

    There is no contradiction. It’s a difference of scale. Moving 800 people to Martinsville — a city that is fairly pleading for new employers — will satisfy a desperate economic need. Moving 800 people to Charlottesville will satisfy no need.

    Giving me $100 will make little difference in my life. Giving $100 to a working-poor mother of three could be the high point of her family’s year.

    If you don’t think this will benefit locals ask a few real estate agents, local resteraunt owners, a few business owners on the downtown mall, some plumbers, electricians, and auto workers whether they stand to lose from the addition of 800 new high paying jobs to the area.

    Let’s also ask them how much more that they’re prepared to pay in taxes in order to provide the infrastructure for a couple of thousand new residents. And let’s also consider what economic impact is greater — the money flowing into the private sector from this new population, or the public expenditures necessary in order to support them. According to the county’s own economic analysis, it’s always a money-losing proposition. We lose money on new residents. So unless you have access to some economic data that Albemarle County doesn’t have, I suspect that we’ll need to go with the county’s own research on this matter.

    Given that we know that a) Albemarle residents want to slow down growth b) that new residents are a financial loser for us and c) that neighboring cities in Virginia are desperate for growth , I cannot see that there’s any question that it is in our best interest to discourage rapid expansion of this nature.

  • Well what exactly do you suggest the county do to improve the lives of its citizens? I have never seen a positive thing about any growth on this site. My family did not have the luxory of being middle class so when people say things are just fine around here I cant help but take offense to that.

    Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t you move to the city from the county (supposedly straining their resources) and then move out to rural Albemarle? Again, I can’t help but take note of the hypocrisy and irony.

    “There is no contradiction. It’s a difference of scale. Moving 800 people to Martinsville — a city that is fairly pleading for new employers — will satisfy a desperate economic need. Moving 800 people to Charlottesville will satisfy no need.”

    Weren’t you just saying how little of an impact such a move had on Martinsville before? As a matter of fact you stated that it was a “bad situation.” Again, I am not seeing consistency.

    “Let’s also ask them how much more that they’re prepared to pay in taxes in order to provide the infrastructure for a couple of thousand new residents. And let’s also consider what economic impact is greater — the money flowing into the private sector from this new population, or the public expenditures necessary in order to support them. According to the county’s own economic analysis, it’s always a money-losing proposition. We lose money on new residents. So unless you have access to some economic data that Albemarle County doesn’t have, I suspect that we’ll need to go with the county’s own research on this matter.”

    How much can the average county citizen expect to pay with the addition of these people? I am really curious.

  • Desperately trying to change the argument, here’s my favorite line in the story:

    It’s a part of a push on the part of the federal government to decentralize federal services so that an attack on Washington D.C. would not leave the nation defenseless.

    Yes, that’s what I want. Another terrorist target in the area (and I’m not referring to the retail giant)…!

  • Spinoff development from the expansion of NGIC will create new jobs whether the expansion is in Martinsville or Albemarle county. The new construction, school expansion and assorted service sector jobs will bring opportunities to plenty of people. The impact on taxes is sure to be less than the slanted studies that are designed to provide ammunition for the anti-growth advocates. Most of the new residents will own expensive homes and have few kids, some of which will attend private schools. The ratio of taxes paid to cost of services for these residents will not be the same as lower income local residents.

    Waldo, in spite of the noise from the PEC, ASAP and the county survey many county residents look forward to additional growth because of the opportunities to expand their businesses and hire more local residents to make money from Albemarle’s growing population. You can’t speak for all of the citizens of the county and yet you claim that, “Albemarle residents want to slow down growth.” Can’t you try to be fair and at least qualify that statement with the word “some”? Can you tell me what percentage of the residents of the county want to slow down growth? Of course you can’t. You don’t know what everyone wants. Can you accept the possibility that many county residents may not want what you want?

  • Kevin,
    Can’t agree with you on this one. You are certainly correct that some will benefit from the new growth, but the data shows that the majoity would rather see growth slowed down. As for the impact on taxes, I can only point you to Long Island, where I grew up and heard the same rhetoric back in the 70’s when the developers were destroying the area. If your proposition was correct taxes on Long Island would be low, since they followed the growth at any rate that we are doing now. Not only are their taxes among the highest in the county, their roads are more like parking lots and the quality of life has certainly decreased.
    As for ASAP, their position is one that states there is a point of diminishing returns on growth and we shouldn’t tip over that point and they’re trying to at least identify a set of parameters to measure the effects of growth. That said, I don’t see a single set population number for ever, but we should make sure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of other area such as Long Island.
    On the population question, Brian Wheeler reported on Cville tomorrow that the 29 north master plan would result in a population increase of upwards of 70,000 people, which if added to the projected population for Crozet of 24,000 adds up to big numbers. This is not to mention that we haven’t even talked about the other growth areas like Pantops. Is anybody asking the residents when is enough enough? Is anyone trying to get a handle on how much the projected growth will cost the current residents and if they want to foot the bill?
    With regard to your question on slowing growth, I would point out that in the 2006 County Citizen survey 63% supported slower growth, while only 3.4% support faster growth. This is not to mention that only 55% think the county is doing a good job with growth management.
    No, we can grow, but we shouldn’t be shooting ourselves in the foot while doing it.

    Regards,
    Tom

  • Tom,
    How many people actually responded to the survey? What percentage of the population of Albemarle County? It was voluntary and many who are not interested in responding to government surveys are also not interested in government involvment in social engineering efforts. I will not respond to the the surveys from the City of Charlottesville/Center for Survey Research. The questions are loaded and I believe that they are structured to support an agenda.

    Thoughtful planning is one thing and manipulating the social structure and demographics of the community is another. Attempts at manipulating the demographics of the population in Albemarle have been masked as planning for years. The result has been the exacerbation of the natural differences in price between rural land and suburban land. Many people who should be living close to Charlottesville have seen the dramatic differences in prices of land and housing and have chosen to move into the surrounding counties. The result is more traffic and rural development that shouldn’t have and wouldn’t happened if Albemarle County had not so aggressively pursued a hidden agenda of exclusion that goes back many years. It has been an effective strategy. If all of my Albemarle High School classmates who now live in surrounding counties and commute to their jobs in the City and Albemarle lived closer to town, taxes in Albemarle would be higher. The county has kept taxes down by limiting the availability (not stopping it) of land and keeping the cost of building higher than it should be.

    The impact of residential growth on taxes varies dramatically depending on the nature of that growth. The studies that show that residential growth always costs more than it generates lump all residential growth together. The studies are too broad to be used as an accurate planning tool.

    All of this doesn’t really matter though, because the people who are most adversely impacted by the county’s social engineering efforts are also the most cynical, apathetic and uninvolved.

    Cordially,
    Kevin Cox

  • ” Brian Wheeler reported on Cville tomorrow that the 29 north master plan would result in a population increase of upwards of 70,000 people, which if added to the projected population for Crozet of 24,000 adds up to big numbers. This is not to mention that we haven’t even talked about the other growth areas like Pantops.”

    I am wondering what the timeline is on this projected growth. I have heard a lot of dooms day scenarios but I have a feeling that we all will be long gone before the population ever reaches that amount or the US population will be so high that it wouldnt be practical for us to seal our area off in a buble and not allow people in. I like to deal with reality and I am having a hard time believing that when we are growing at a rate of 800-1200 a year we will be seeing 100K new people anytime soon.

    “Is anybody asking the residents when is enough enough? Is anyone trying to get a handle on how much the projected growth will cost the current residents and if they want to foot the bill?””

    Is there anyone asking what impact this will have on the thousands of long time residents here in the area that can trace their heritage back generations but can’t afford to purchase homes where they grew up? What do you think setting a limit on supply is going to do to home prices? Am I saying let them build where they please? No. I am simply saying people seem to forget about those at the bottom who are trying to work their way into a home but are faced with extremely high real estate prices and job salaries that make it all but impossible to get a piece of the area where they grew up.

    There is yet one more question that has to be asked. You asked if county residents want to foot the bill for future residents well I want to know if people will be willing to pay more in taxes to establish a trust fund so that current lower and middle income residents can afford to buy houses in the area? If you place some artificial cap on home building you will see higher home prices. This will lead to higher property taxes and drive all but the very wealthy out of the area. Isn’t this what we were trying to avoid?

    I believe in smart sensible growth. I am not extreme on either end. I dont think developers should be going out to places like rural Nelson and throwing up 3,000 homes but at the sametime I think a steady and healthy pace of growth is both obtainable (unlike completely stopping it) and a good thing overall for everyone involved, not just those who already own their homes.

  • I will not respond to the the surveys from the City of Charlottesville/Center for Survey Research. The questions are loaded and I believe that they are structured to support an agenda.

    As I imagine you know, Kevin, that’s a pretty serious charge, particularly to level against the university’s Center for Survey Research. Like all polling organizations, their reputation is wholly dependent on their ability to produce polls numbers that are internally and externally valid, which means that they need to work very hard to avoid having loaded questions and to avoid supporting an agenda. So your accusation cuts to the very core of their existence.

    I have just finished reviewing all of the questions and available responses in the survey (see Appendix A) and I’m unable to determine any way in which the questions are loaded. Granted, my knowledge of survey research is limited (I’ve only taken a single statistics course and a single political survey research course), but I’d like to think that I could pick out a loaded survey.

    Since you say that you know for a fact that the Center for Survey Research’s surveys are “loaded” and “structured to support an agenda,” perhaps you could point out the portion of this survey that demonstrates that? Or, at least, I’m sure you could point out the portion of some Center for Survey Research poll that demonstrates that. Right?

  • Waldo,
    I should have qualified my remarks. I BELIEVE the the surveys are unreliable because they are produced for and paid for be a group with an agenda and so the questions and answer selections are structured to produce the answers that the funding body desires. That is what I believe. I have had plenty of experience with the deceit and hidden agendas of local government and so I don’t trust them. Like me, you are free to go ahead and believe whatever you want to.

  • UVA08
    The way the county is going you have two choices. You can either price people out of the county or you can tax them out of the county. It’s apparent with double digit tax increases both in back of us and in from of us that we’re going down the latter route. You seem much more concerned that there be housing for the next generation of “long term” residents then you do about allowing the current generation of “long term” residents to afford to stay here. So when it comes to those at the bottom is it more important to allow those who currently live in their homes to be able to afford to stay there or to provide more housing? There are now well over 10,000 homes approved and raising daily. Have you seen any reduction in the price of housing, because according to you with all this development we should be awash with affordable housing?
    My question was however, “is anyone asking the residents of the county what they want and is anyone telling them the costs for growth so they can make an informed decision”? I can tell you that in Crozet over 1,000 residents both new and old alike sent a message in a petition to the BOS that we did not want to grow to be half the size of cville.

  • I’ll have more faith in Tom’s petiton than I’ll ever put in a survey that the Albemarle BOS commissions. Even so, 1000 people is too few.

    Is anyone telling people about the cost of “growth management”, i.e. the lost opportunities, higher housing cost, longer commutes and more air pollution etc.?

    The fact that there are a lot of houses getting built and approved but prices are still high indicates just how intense the growth really is. If the supply is sufficient, even in the face of strong demand, then prices will return to a saner level and there will be an increase in the supply of moderately priced housing. Right now though, UVa is growing like mushrooms in a wet cow pasture. There are buildings popping up everywhere and they’ll all be filled with people from outside the community who will want to buy homes.

    The county’s growth areas are too small to meet the demand for residential land without distorting the market. Tom, I know you don’t believe that and I do and that’s that. Right?

  • I’ll have more faith in Tom’s petiton than I’ll ever put in a survey that the Albemarle BOS commissions. Even so, 1000 people is too few.

    Crozet has 995 households, 757 families, and 2,058 people aged 18 or above (from Wikipedia). One thousand survey signers sounds extremely high to me.

  • Waldo wrote:

    Before MZM went belly-up, they had a parasitic relationship with NGIC. Many NGIC employees were, in fact, MZM employees, working side by side with federal government employees.

    My understanding from having spoken with someone who worked at NGIC was that the situation you cite (quoted above) is the rule not the exception out there. Most private contractors who work with the government on various projects have people who work out at NGIC. Networking opportunities for more profitable employment situations after a stint at NGIC was cited by the person I spoke with- as one of the advantages of employment with NGIC.

  • Kevin,
    Actually your not correct in your assumption that I feel our growth areas are too large or too small. The benefit of doing the Master Plan in Crozet was two fold. One it let the people in the community, both old and new to get involved and two it gave us some estimate of what growth would cost. To that extent the Master Plan was a success. That said we failed in several aspects. One, we trusted county government, which was a fatal error. With regard to the population in the Master Plan, I have no doubt that county staff lied and the BOS swore to that lie. Second, we didn’t ask, as part of the master plan, for an better estimate of the operating cost of growth. We only asked for the hard infrastructure i.e. roads, schools, bridges etc. The plan was specific enough to know what the buildout population would be, what the potential mix of housing types would be and how much commercial would be allowed to offset the cost of the residential development. Once you have the data and have the cost then you can manipulate the plan to get an outcome that will allow for new development and at the same time not bankrupt the current residents. This is why we should be doing all of the master plans at one time with an eye toward not just the hard infrastructure, but what the ongoing operating cost will be.
    So kevin, if you don’t believe in the county survey, then should should the residents, once given the necessary information about the potential amount of growth and its cost, be given the option of changing the pattern/rate of growth?

    Regards,
    Tom

  • Two things bother me in this discussion. One is the apparent belief that majority support is justification for public policy. There have been plenty of instances in human history when the majority supported terrible, sometimes even evil policies. Isn’t one of the advantages of having a representative government the fact that elected representatives will do the right thing even when it goes against public opinion? I’m not saying public opinion isn’t important but it shouldn’t be the sole determinant of public policy.

    Secondly, I don’t think the local governments have any business trying to manipulate the rate of growth. The pattern of growth, yes, that’s appropriate but not the rate. Elected officials constituents often want them to control the rate, that’s true but the results are quite often disastrous for some people. It is a government after all, and not a homeowners association.

    In my opinion, the petition signed by 1000 Crozet residents concerned policies that would impact many more people living in Albemarle, the city and the surrounding counties. So I stand by my statement: 1000 signers is not very many.

  • From Kevin:

    Spinoff development from the expansion of NGIC will create new jobs whether the expansion is in Martinsville or Albemarle county. The new construction, school expansion and assorted service sector jobs will bring opportunities to plenty of people.

    (1) The economic growth provided by new construction will last only a couple of years at best, when the relocation first happens. Then we’re stuck supporting the new residents and their public needs for, at a guess, the 12 years their kids are in our public school system. Oh yeah, that’s a real bargain.

    (2) The current school levels are already having problems receiving adequate funding by the state, in case ya hadn’t noticed, which has thrown the burden back on Albemarle. If Virginia and the US aren’t supporting the public education system now, will they support it any better when we add another 800 students overnight? Don’t think so.

    (3) Most people in service sector jobs cannot afford to live in Albemarle County anyway, unless we’re talking attorneys, doctors, and freelance computer geeks. So we will end up importing even more people who live in the surrounding counties to support the services (teachers, policemen, firemen, bank tellers, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, restaurant and store staff, etc.) required by the influx of residents, which adds an extra burden on the overtaxed road system. A road system which is currently also unfunded by the State.

    This helps our local economics how?

  • 1. The construction jobs may only last while the homes are being built but many of the other spinoff jobs will be permanent. There will be additional positions such as clerical, facilities management etc. created at NGIC that will be filled by local residents. The new residents will also fuel an increase in service sector jobs in retail and other businesses.

    2. The amount of funding from the state and federal governments is defininitely a problem. However, the cost effectiveness of public schools is troubling as well. I BELIEVE that other countries and methods do a much better job with primary education for less money than we do so it’s hard for me to be sympathetic when people complain about school funding. Our public schools could do a much better job with the money they have. This is a seperate topic, I know, but take a look at “The Learning Gap: Why Our Schools Are Failing And What We Can Learn From Japanese And Chinese Education.”

    3. The service sector workers who live in other counties live right where the Albemarle BOS wants them to and where they cost Albemarle a lot less. They are not being “imported”, they’re commuters. If they lived in Albemarle and didn’t clog the country roads commuting, then they’d be using a lot more in the way of Albemarle County funded services and costing Albemarle County a lot more. Genuinely sensible growth patterns that didn’t encourage rural sprawl would create a greater need for more services in Albemarle County and this would almost certainly mean higher taxes.

  • I don’t think the local governments have any business trying to manipulate the rate of growth.

    OK, so local governments don’t get to do that. What about the planning district? Can they? Does the state get to? How about the nation — do we get to control our rate of immigration? At what level is it appropriate for somebody to suggest that we start engaging in family planning, metaphorically speaking, and what is it about that level of government that makes them able to perform this task? That is, what specific thing is it about, say, state government that gives them the knowledge or experience to do this that forms of government closer to the people do not have?

    In my opinion, the petition signed by 1000 Crozet residents concerned policies that would impact many more people living in Albemarle, the city and the surrounding counties. So I stand by my statement: 1000 signers is not very many.

    So you believe that, though an enormous percentage of the residents of Crozet signed a petition about the future of Crozet, it’s “not very many” because residents of, say, Orange didn’t sign the petition about Crozet? What if 100% of the Central Virginia population outside of Crozet signed the petition, but nobody in Crozet did? Would that be “very many”?

  • National regulation of immigration is appropriate. Citizenship confers many rights and one is the right to travel and live where you want to in this country without local governments permission.

    Personally, I don’t care if a gazillion people signed the petition or if they live in Bangladesh or Stony Point.

  • Concerning the right to travel in this country, I’d like to post this excerpt from the web page USConstitution.net:

    “As the Supreme Court notes in Saenz v Roe, 98-97 (1999), the Constitution does not contain the word “travel” in any context, let alone an explicit right to travel (except for members of Congress, who are guaranteed the right to travel to and from Congress). The presumed right to travel, however, is firmly established in U.S. law and precedent. In U.S. v Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966), the Court noted, “It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.” In fact, in Shapiro v Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969), Justice Stewart noted in a concurring opinion that “it is a right broadly assertable against private interference as well as governmental action. Like the right of association, … it is a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.” It is interesting to note that the Articles of Confederation had an explicit right to travel; it is now thought that the right is so fundamental that the Framers may have thought it unnecessary to include it in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.”

    I think that this would include the right to travel AND LIVE where you want to without interference from the government unless there are critical, and I mean really critical public health and safety issues at stake.

  • I think that this would include the right to travel AND LIVE where you want to without interference from the government unless there are critical, and I mean really critical public health and safety issues at stake.

    Does this mean that I can live in your house?

  • With regard to the Crozet petition what it asked was the County honor its agreement with the residents and the master plan that was developed by the community which stated the buildout population would be 12,000. It should also be remembered that the 12,000 population was not selected by the community, but came from a prior consultant study that stated the “ideal maximum population” for Crozet was 12,198.
    As for Kevin, I don’t think any of us are going to change his mind on this subject any more then he will probably change my mind. I just hope the statistics are correct with regard to growth and this election we get new board members who reflect the survey. Certainly Mr. Boyd, Wyant and Dorrier have been the axis of growth on the board and it will be interesting to see how the do this November, if they chose to run.
    The only thing I can say is I’ve seen the results of Kevin’s view of development on Long Island and in fact much of the tri state area and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Unchecked development left in its path everything Kevin seems to dislike the most including higher and higher taxes, no affordable homes and gridlock. I often thought it would be a good idea to fly the board up to New York and let them hold a meeting on a bus on the Long Island Expressway and see what an 8 lane parking lot looks like or put them on Northern Blvd so they can see what a 100 mile plus strip mall and stop lights look like. As they say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
    Good conversation folks.

    Regards
    Tom

    P.s. made a mistake on the 29 figures. The buildout is 70,000 homes, not people. Sorry

  • Yeah, of course that’s what it means. There’s really no difference between my house and different policitical jurisdictions, right? I guess I was mistaken to assume that readers would automatically understand that distinction. If you really need to you can live in my basement with the dog.

    Albemarle is not an independent country. It is a part of the United States of America and as such any American has a right to live in Albemarle County without interference, like quotas, population caps etc, from the local government.

  • Albemarle is not an independent country. It is a part of the United States of America and as such any American has a right to live in Albemarle County without interference, like quotas, population caps etc, from the local government.

    And thus we’ll continue to put the cart before the horse. Letting 500,000 people live in an area with enough of a water supply for only 400,000 people is foolish at the most fundamental level. The number of building permits that we grant should be a function of our ability to provide essential services to those new residents. The alternative is to forever play catch-up and continue to fail as badly as we are now.

  • But, I don’t think anybody’s suggesting that people shouldn’t be free to live in Albemarle County. There is a suggestion, though, that if too much development goes on, it would be to the detriment of those who are already here. That could mean that if somebody wants to live here, they have to live in dwellings that already exist.

    Is the point that you believe that property owners can do whatever they please with their property, as long as there’s no really critical public health or safety issue at stake? That would seem to challenge most zoning power. Couldn’t it adversely affect your enjoyment of your property if your neighbor built a large industrial plant on his property (even if it didn’t affect your health or safety)? Couldn’t it adversely affect my enjoyment of my property if development continued such that it increased my commuting time by 30 minutes daily?

    Why shouldn’t people who live in a community have something to say about if and how that community changes? Who should make those decisions?

  • When a government sets a limit on population level,someone is not going to be allowed to live in that jurisdiction. It is my perception that ASAP wants the government to determine and set an optimum, they call it sustainable, population level. That sounds like they are at least “suggesting” that people shouldn’t be free to live in Albemarle County. There are people who want to live in the US but they can’t because there are limits set by the government. But once again, Albemarle is not an independent country.

    Using the word “sustainable” is laughable. Albemarle County’s population hasn’t been sustainable since the days of the Monacan indians and it never will be. We are part of a global community and we depend on the rest of the world for many things. The term is misused. It’s a popular catchphrase and is quickly losing any real meaning.

    I never said that people living in the community shouldn’t have a say in the changes in the community. You paint with a very broad brush.

    As for zoning, it frequently is misused. Sure there are times when it’s appropriate to keep incompatible uses apart. It’s another thing to use zoning to keep poor people out or mandate aesthetic standards. I don’t think it’s any of the governments business what color I paint my building or what it looks like. I also think it’s wrong to use zoning to try and keep renters out of a jurisdiction. What I think doesn’t matter though. The aesthetic and zonng busybodies have the power. Also, while the government does have justification to protect the tax base AS A WHOLE, the government is not a real estate investment counselor. Frequently people will try to use zoning to limit development or construction because of the impact it may have on their personal real estate investment. Well that’s too bad. It’s the price we pay for the risks we take that may lead to greater personal wealth. The government is not in the business of protecting individual real estate investments. And no I don’t believe in a totally unregulated real estate market.

  • Waldo,
    You say we are failing badly. What in the world are you talking about! Charlottesville and Albemarle are not failing. Many people want to live here and take part in all that this community has to offer. This is failing?

  • “As for the impact on taxes, I can only point you to Long Island, where I grew up and heard the same rhetoric back in the 70’s when the developers were destroying the area. If your proposition was correct taxes on Long Island would be low, since they followed the growth at any rate that we are doing now. Not only are their taxes among the highest in the county, their roads are more like parking lots and the quality of life has certainly decreased.”

    OK I like using analogies too but I think people need to realize something: Charlottesville-Albemarle’s economy and job market is not equal to that of Manhattan so when you compare our area with Long Island you have to keep this in mind. The same thing is true when people try to compare us to Loudon. First of all our growth rate is no where near theirs and secondly the job market in Charlottesville is not comparable to that of Washington, DC. Fairfax has a population of over a million people. Loudon has over 250K residents and Prince William has over 300K. We are a long way from becoming as populated as the DC suburbs.

    While on the topic of the DC suburbs let’s put our growth rate in some perspective shall we? Since 2000 Loudon has grown by 50%, Prince William by 24%, Stafford by 27.5%, Spotsylvania by 29%, and Culpeper (the new NOVA frontier) has grown by 24%. How fast has Albemarle grown in that same period of time? Not even double digits. We have grown by 7.7%. Our growth is nothing like Northern Virginia.

    “You seem much more concerned that there be housing for the next generation of “long term” residents then you do about allowing the current generation of “long term” residents to afford to stay here. So when it comes to those at the bottom is it more important to allow those who currently live in their homes to be able to afford to stay there or to provide more housing?”

    Wrong. I was actually thinking about several family members and friends who have been stuck in the renting cycle because they can’t afford homes around here. Many people in this town have grown up here and have known no other area but cannot afford to live here. This epidemic is particularly potent in the Black community around town. If you don’t believe me then take a walk around Woolen Mills or go up to some of the subdivisions in the urban ring and ask a few residents.

    “There are now well over 10,000 homes approved and raising daily. Have you seen any reduction in the price of housing, because according to you with all this development we should be awash with affordable housing?”

    Well that assumes that 10,000 homes is what the market is demanding. One could just as easily argue that 10,000 homes aren’t enough and that’s the reason why home prices haven’t fallen or leveled off.

  • It is my perception that ASAP wants the government to determine and set an optimum, they call it sustainable, population level. That sounds like they are at least “suggesting” that people shouldn’t be free to live in Albemarle County.

    That’s an interesting point that merits discussion. Whether we know what the number is or not, isn’t it reasonable to suggest that there is an optimum population level for a community? Just as a basis for discussion, for example, can we agree that 10,000 is probably too low a population for Albemarle? That wouldn’t be high enough to provide the kind of diverse skills to sustain the local economy and support the infrastructure that we now have. What about on the top end? Is 5,000,000 the optimum number? My sense is that 5,000,000 is almost certainly more than we want. That kind of density would mean a shift to an urbanized lifestyle and if residents wanted that, they’d probably be better off moving elsewhere to find it. Is there some number, between 10,000 and 5,000,000 that’s optimum? Probably.

    There are already limits that are set as to where people are able to live and those limits are mostly defined by income. As much as I may want to live on Morven Farm, it’s just not going to happen. I’m not sure that community limitations on growth are any worse of an impingement on freedom to live where one pleases than are economic limitations.

    The problem with only capitalism being allowed to determine the level of growth is that, ultimately, growth will occur to the point where a community is no longer so desirable to live in. Traffic becomes intolerable. Crime becomes rampant. Neighbors no longer know each other. Countryside turns into row upon row of subdivisions. And, those who can afford to will leave, leaving the rest of the community to wallow in the wasteland that remains. Why can’t we, the current stakeholders, be permitted some voice in controlling our joint destiny?

  • There’s a big difference between the government setting limits and the FREE market. The free market is privately owned but we all “own” the government. Unfortunately local governments act more and more like homeowners associations. Renters are becoming sidelined and defacto second class citizens.

    You are using your broad brush again and and simplifying this discussion. I did not say that we should not have a voice in controlling our joint destiny. I believe we do and that we should and I exercise mine regularly. Nor did I say that capitalism should be the sole determinant of the level of growth. Government regulation is necessary and I support some. I am a great admirer of Teddy Roosevelt, that Republican activist that brought us the FDA. I do believe that the government could do a better job regulating growth so that it had fewer negative impacts on the environment and was more equitable for all the citizens.

    I am perplexed at the conundrum of growth in Albemarle, I admit that. After years of watching exculsionary zoning and no-growth policies masquerade as “growth management” I would not trust local governments to do a fair job with any regualtions that permit them to specifically limit population. I don’t know the answer but I do know that the present policies that use available “tools” to try to limit growth have fostered rural sprawl, higher housing prices, a higher cost of living, a higher cost of doing business and reduced opportunities for entrepreuners.

    There are many factors influencing growth in Virginia and the US. Our birth rate is low and things are changing globally quite quickly. Some of the factors are known and predictable, while others are unheard of. Who knows what will happen. Attempts at predicting the impact of population growth have failed miserably in the past. According to Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” most of us should be dead.

  • Waldo: And thus we’ll continue to put the cart before the horse. Letting 500,000 people live in an area with enough of a water supply for only 400,000 people is foolish at the most fundamental level. The number of building permits that we grant should be a function of our ability to provide essential services to those new residents. The alternative is to forever play catch-up and continue to fail as badly as we are now.

    Kevin: You say we are failing badly. What in the world are you talking about! Charlottesville and Albemarle are not failing. Many people want to live here and take part in all that this community has to offer. This is failing?
    . . . .
    I am perplexed at the conundrum of growth in Albemarle, I admit that. After years of watching exculsionary zoning and no-growth policies masquerade as “growth management” I would not trust local governments to do a fair job with any regualtions that permit them to specifically limit population. I don’t know the answer but I do know that the present policies that use available “tools” to try to limit growth have fostered rural sprawl, higher housing prices, a higher cost of living, a higher cost of doing business and reduced opportunities for entrepreuners.
    Albemarle is failing badly when it comes to resource management. Natural resources are finite. Albemarle planning and growth has treated them as infinite.

    Witness Glen Oaks: A subdivision with a groundwater supply so miniscule that it can’t support its development rights. We discussed this on Waldo’s blog last July.

    I don’t care if my opinion is unpopular. Natural resources are communal. One privately-owned 70-foot stretch of the Rivanna or Moore’s Creek directly impacts whomever and whatever lives downstream. A belching smokestack or the exhaust from 1,500 new cars from an imported intelligence service will directly effect everyone’s air quality. These are undebateable facts. The only thing we can debate is what we each consider the fairest, most equitable way to address these facts.

    In a conscientious world, it would be incumbant upon any developer or business–heck, anyone who even builds a personal residence–to check that the local natural resources can actually support the intended foundation and use. That means surveying for groundwater supply and not building where there is insufficient groundwater. That also means not building where there are erosion and sediment issues which will eventually destablilize building foundations as well as natural habitats. That means building only where there is sufficient soil quality, root systems and plant life to absorb the waste generated by the use of the buildings without detrimentally effecting open water sources and native wildlife. That takes forethought and consideration, and an adherence to a set of values not derived from the highest possible bottom-line profit.

    Here’s the important bit: Growth can still occur within that ideal paradigm. However, our planners and our politicians aren’t all that good at sticking to and enforcing the paradigm. Part of that appears to be the State’s fault, because the State allows the localities all the independence in their decision-making of an 8-year-old child. They’ve limited what and how we can zone, they’ve limited what and how we can manage, and they’ve limited our revenue sources both coming and going (unfunded mandates coupled by reductions in financial avenues). So, essentially, the ruling party at the State Legislature level keeps us from making truly effective changes at the local level.

    Therefore, that world doesn’t exist in Virginia today, at least not outside my mind…. or some rural hippy-pagan eco-commune.

  • Our roads are evidence enough that we’re failing badly in accommodating unrestrained growth.

  • I need a copy of your dictionary. Growth in Albemarle is not “unrestrained”. Your hyperbole is unrestrained.

  • The New Jersey Supreme Court recently overturned a trial court by ruling that municipal government do indeed have the eminent domain power to condemn land in order to prevent developers from violating the public will vis-a-vis slowing development.

    Does all of Virginia have to become as overcrowded and polluted as New Jersey before we here in Charlottesville-Albemarle are allowed to enforce our public will?

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