Rural Protections Fail BoS Vote

Predictably, the Board of Supervisors failed to pass a trio of rural protection measures along a 3-3 split, Jeremy Borden reported for the Daily Progress on Friday. Kenneth Boyd, Lindsay Dorrier and David Wyant — the three who are up for reelection this year — voted against prohibiting people from building on steep slopes, barring houses from being built within 100 feet of streams, and lengthening the two year prohibition on subdividing land that’s been split up via a family subdivision. Supervisor Sally Thomas, as a last-ditch effort, proposed that rural landowners simply provide a plan to deal with erosion resulting from building a driveway that would result in significant runoff, but that failed along the same lines. Charlottesville Tomorrow provides the audio of the debate.

Whether or not Boyd, Dorrier and Wyant’s positions are what the county wants will be determined in just a few weeks. All have challengers for their seats, with Boyd and Wyant having particularly vigorous opposition.

15 Responses to “Rural Protections Fail BoS Vote”


  • The three amigos strike again responding to rural residents by the number telling them its all about property rights. Now that rural residents have convinced the board that phasing and clustering and stream and steep slope protection will limit their ability to develop their property, can someone tell why we should continue the land use tax break?
    Growth area residents vote for change in November!

  • You know, I’d be fine with this if they had voted against the Biscuit Run development and similar efforts to increase our taxes to subsidize out-of-town millionaires’ business plans.

    We are getting squeezed by these huge developments that add hundreds of new houses for NoVa ex-pats all at a single go. The problem isn’t the family that wants to parcel off a piece of land so their daughter can live next door instead of moving to Buckingham County. It’s not the guy who can only afford a steep piece of land and wants to build a house for his own family on it. Going after this kind of thing is penny-wise and pound foolish.

    We should be protecting the rights of current residents and of the people who are actually a part of this community. Bring the hammer down on the big developers who basically just waltz into town to screw us all over on our own dime.

  • Waldo you news digest has got it wrong. Please correct your inaccurate statement that Boyd, Dorrier, and Wyant voted against the proposal. Only one vote was taken that night for a subsection of erosion (without explanation) and that vote was immediately rescinded. No one who was there could tell what Sally was talking about, when it was proposed. Listen to the audio of the vote and listen to what she proposed. What Charlottesville Tomorrow doesn’t have is the 4/5 of the crowd who came and spoke against the measure.

    What amuses me is the people who yelled loudest when the Biscuit Run was voted on late one night are saying the opposite because no late night vote was taken on these proposals.

  • Property rights are going to be worth jack shit if this kind of thing keeps happening:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/us/16drought.html

    Of course one guy building a badly engineered driveway up a 25-degree slope is not going to fill in the Rivanna reservoir and destroy Albemarle’s water supply. But unrestricted development plus careless construction in the watershed will make it happen sooner rather than later.

    The basic premise of property rights has always been “I can do what I want with my land, so long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt others.” What folks have to understand is that as population increases and conditions change (for example, if climate change accelerates), things that didn’t hurt others a generation ago do now, if everyone is doing them.

    Our neighbors to the south are getting a serious reality check on the carrying capacity of a watershed.

  • Jackson,

    Here’s an are where I feel the BOS (With some help from the Farm Bureau) really failed the public. Neither of the situations that you speak of would have been significantly limited by the new ordinances. For the most part, these ordinances would have limited subdivisions like those at The Rocks (one of the slides) that irresponsibly carve up our mountain areas for McMansions. (Having explorered that area of Albemarle prior to the subdivision going in, I happen to know that it contained rare species of plants that are probably now extirpated in the county.)

    Also, instead of participating in any of the work sessions on these ordinances, the Farm Bureau took it upon itself to broadcast misleading information to the public and make them think that the county was out to “take away their property rights”. Most of the people that spoke up in that meeting wouldn’t have been affected by the ordinance (That is, if they were telling the truth about their motivation…) Of course, once the Farm Bureau has told everyone that they’re going to loose their property rights, then basically the people that come to these meetings ignore everything that staff has to say.

    Also, although technically Perlogik is right, and there was one one real “Vote”, it was very clear that Dorrier, Wyant and Boyd did everything in their power to force any meaningful vote on these issues until after the next election. In fact, it almost seems as if some, like Boyd, didn’t even read the ordinance or do basic background research before showing up. There’s no way to prove it, but it felt a whole lot like all three knew the way they were going to vote before showing up, so why bother to prepare?

  • The zoning amendments DO “take away property rights.” How one can conclude that extinguishing existing rights is not a dimunition (taking away) of said rights is beyond me. The Farm Bureau, among many others, has it correct.

    Asking property owners to participate in “work sessions” which necessarily lead to proposals that are anethma to them and then complaining when they don’t is ludicrous.

    I’m sorry that such enormous effort on the part of staff and others was wasted, but it was utterly predictable. Perhaps the county’s resources could be more profitably used in the future by addressing problems on which there is consensus. Fixing busted bridges would be a good place to start.

  • Falstaff,

    You claim that the Farm Bureau “has it right”. They claimed that these ordinances would take away the rights of “Farmers”. Could you address specifically which crops would be affected, or how this would otherwise impact farming?

    Secondly, in specific regard to the intent of the ordinances and the evidence given by staff, explain why you feel that say building a road like the one staff shown in the second slide over the reservior is a good idea and doesn’t impact the other taxpayer’s property rights?

    You forget, the county is already paying people in these same areas for rural protection via land use tax credits. As CrozetResident points out, apparently some growth area residents want it both ways. They want free reign to silt up our reserviors, destroy mountain sides, and create infrastructure problems; however they also feel that they are entitled to financial subsidy for the great rural protection they aren’t doing. I can definitely see how the growth area residents would be frustrated for being forced to paying the Rural area residents for protection they apparently feel violates their “property rights”.

  • Oops, I meant to say “…some Rural Area residents…”

  • Insofar as farmers are also landowners, they lose the same rights as others. I concede that the amendments don’t affect crops as such, but the Farm Bureau members I talked to all understood this to be the case. They were worried about their property rights just like other land owners. Your assertion that the Farm Bureau was in error when it alerted others that the amendments would strip them of property rights is simply incorrect and not supported by the plain words of the amendments in question.

    Like others, I was put off by the ugly picture of the road you referenced above, but it was one example. I’m sure there are other examples of landowners building lousy roads on the way to gaudy monstrosities, but I don’t think we need an onerous rule change applying to everyone just b/c a couple of people are irresponsible. It’s just not that big a problem.

    Finally, a word about the county staff: It’s as if the mundane work of fixing bridges and securing the water supply are altogether too dreary and prosaic for these would-be saviors of mountains and streams (which, of course, don’t need saving). I was also kind of irked that of the first 15 or so people who spoke during the public comment, support of the amendments ran 2:1 against opposition to them. Shortly thereafter, opinion tilted dramatically against the amendments – something on the order 4 or 5:1. I’m not a statistician, but I don’t a shift like that can be explained as anything other than an obvious rigging of the process by the staff in the form of alerting their allies to sign up early or, even worse, signing them in themselves. Tell me why I should trust people so blatantly hostile to my point of view.

  • I think supporters of these amendments signed up early because most of them were members of groups like ASAP with lots of experience attending these sorts of meetings. I would have spoken myself, except I didn’t realize that I really needed to sign up much earlier.

    Regarding streams, unless you feel we should just revoke the clean water act, then according to scientific data from Stream Watch The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and other organizations, streams in the county do indeeed “need saving”. Protecting the buffers and the critical slope is an important step towards doing that.

    Yes, there very well indeed could have been better ways inact these ordinances that would be more respectful of land owners; however, those ideas have never been brought up mostly because those same folks rarely attend the work sessions or submit constructive public comments in early stages. You can’t blame staff for being frustrated to be asked repeatedly to develop policies to bring us in line with the County Master Plan and then have the BOS kill the very proposals they asked for.

    As you yourself admit, these ordinances had nothing whatsoever to do with farming. Every single one of them excempted all farming activities, including farm buildings, farm roads, and crops. They even added Additional exclusions for farmers in the new ordinance. The only activities “property rights” that would be impacted is the ability to build houses. Real Estate is not a crop, and I feel treating it as such is frankly an insult to farming.

    I think the Farm Bureau did a big disservice to the community evidenced by how many people spoke about situations that obviously were not impacted by the ordinances. True, the BOS didn’t help matters by being pretty poorly prepared to discuss their own ordinances… I really question whether some of the BOS had even read, the ordinances before the meeting. That’s not the way to inspire public confidence.

  • Well, Lonnie, I think it’s clear you and I disagree largely on philosphical grounds and are thus at an impasse. I will say that I respect your opinions and acknowledge that they’re shared by many residents of Albemarle – just not by me and many others.

  • I have to say I wasn’t at all surprised at the outcome or lack thereof at the meeting on this issue. There are enormous water issues in our region, and related erosion problems all around. And I think we do need to worry about these issues even down to the small land owner. But I can’t help but wonder if the proposal is reducing land owner rights to solve 1% of the problem out there.

    It seems that while we’re talking about reducing rights of small land owners, biscuit run, other large developments, and the new shopping developments change the terrain to their hearts content. Of course the legeslation would effect those just the same, except of course those rich developers will get all the exemptions they want. Maybe I’m cynical.

    I know an area that could use some work that would help the watershed tremendiously. If you drive around any of the rural roads after a big rain (well, if we ever have one again) you’ll notice many areas where water is running across roads from driveways. And not steep driveways either. And when water does finally get off the roads, it often just pools up next to the road and never makes it to creeks or streams. I’d say the management of water along our roads is amazingly poor. Thanks VDOT. I’d say that’s an area that would have a much greater impaact on this issue than restricting the small land owner. Just my $.02.

  • Falstaff,

    Think you’re right, that the our disagreement on this issue may come down to core differences in Philosophies. That said, I appreciate the fact that you take time to make reasoned arguments and participate in these dicussions. Despite appearances sometimes, I actually believe theres often more truth in the dialgue itself than in my own opinions. Perhaps that’s what makes me so frustrated by this latest turn of events. It really seems like there are two groups of people between whom all communication has completely broken down without any hope for common ground. I hope I’m wrong about that though.

  • DandyTiger,

    I keep hearing arguments like this, but there are two major problems with them:

    1) The compare developments in the Growth Area to properties in the Rural Area. It’s not an Apples to Apples comparison, unless you are suggesting that we eliminate the growth area.

    2) They’re non-specific and make hypothetical claims about how only the “small land owners” will be affected. First of all, I’ve no idea what that means (10 acres or less, versus 100 ?). Secondly, there are losts of exclusions in the ordinance for small parcels. It’d be helpful if you gave a more specific example of a real piece of property and how it’d be affected differently than another larger parcel (and the basis for that in the actual ordinance).

    There were way too many cases in the meeting where concerned landowners came up to speak about rights that were being “taken away” that weren’t even addressed in the ordinance at all. (As I said before, I blame the Farm Bureau for that.)

  • As a realtor I often see the runoff and rain pool on our local roads. It’s dangerous, and this doesn’t have anything to do with building. A prime example is 29 South near Hydraulic Road, a very dangerous intersection in the rain.

    I do believe in rights of property owners, but also believe our environment and world are changing. I remember years ago when Motorola wanted to come to C’ville, and we said no. So they went to Richmond. I then relized why we said no, because making microships uses a lot of water… and at that time we didn’t have a water shortage.

    Kudos to our city though for saying no to a company that could affect our environment.

    Karen Kehoe
    http://www.CharlottesvilleHomeBlog.com

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