New Political Tactic: Deny Growth

Jeremy Borden notes a curious new political tactic among some Albemarle sprawl supporters: deny that growth is taking place in Albemarle. Rivanna Supervisor Ken Boyd says that the annual addition of ~1,000 new residents is so little as to be irrelevant, while Albemarle Republican Party vice chair Christian Schoenewald (you remember him for his proposal to remove all growth restrictions in order to preserve the rural character of Albemarle) echoes the sentiments, saying that our growth simply isn’t preventing a problem. CAAR CEO David Phillips picked up on this same theme a few days ago, fretting that we’re not growing fast enough. Did a memo go out?

For several years now there’s been an honest discussion taking place: growth opponents argue that quality of life and infrastructure problems trump some private property rights, while growth supporters argue the opposite. This new message from these candidates is, apparently, that we’re all just hallucinating. Remember when we ran out of water in 2002? Didn’t happen. You know how rough it is to drive up Emmett between 5pm-6pm? It’s not. Did you think that our rescue squad is the busiest in the nation? Myth. Though we needed $19M to expand the sewer capacity along 29? Think again.

We’ve had some really productive, informative discussions about growth here on cvillenews.com in the past few years. We’ve even had one today. I’m glad we can stick to an honest dialog, even if our candidates can’t.

80 Responses to “New Political Tactic: Deny Growth”


  • Plausible deniablilty — a campaign ploy used in national elections now being employed in Albemarle County. Will wonders never cease.

    Just remember folks, when those 15,000 APPROVED units are built and we can’t drive up or down 29 north, there’s no water coming out of your spigot and your property taxes are through the roof, you have BOYD, DORRIER and WYANT to thank for the traffic and congestion, etc.

    They can DENY anything they want. We have the Podcasts to prove otherwise.

  • If you were born in this county and wanna bitch and moan about how it’s getting too crowded, then that’s OK with me. It’s the folks who just got off the highway from Fairfax or Hackensack in the last 10-15 years and think it’s their perogative to close the gate behind them who have little influence with me in this debate. Piss off.

    WRT to growth, there are only 3 possibilities: Grow, stagnate, or decline. Would you rather have the problem of managing growth or managing decline? For those choosing the latter option, I recommend relocating to Cleveland.

  • Falstaff’s position of telling residents who want to maintain the quality of life in their community and neighborhoods to “Piss Off” is insulting, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from his posts.
    I’ve seen somewhere in the past a statistic that about 44% of the population of Albemarle County are transplants, but I suppect it’s probably higher. If the view of the Boyd, Wyant and Dorrier supporters is for us transplants to “Piss Off”, I’m sure we’ll react appropriately.

  • It seems to me that there are certain factors that are outside the control of individuals and it seems to be both civilized and morally correct not to discriminate against folks because of those factors. Things like race and sex come readily to mind. But, certainly, place of birth ought to be included with those other factors. Surely, none of us had any control over the physical place where our mothers resided at the time of our birth.

    What would seem to be important, in the context of this discussion, is committment to place. And, can’t we grant that a mature adult can make a decision to put down roots in a place and raise a family there and accept responsibility for sharing in decision making about what that community looks like, that is every bit as valued as the responsibility assumed by birthright?

    I find that I resent folks who move to Albemarle County and want to change it to be more like the place that they left behind, build their big houses, fail to acquaint themselves with local practices and social institutions and, then, several years later, move on to greener pastures. But, that practice is one involving people’s actions, not their place of birth.

  • FALSTAFF: “WRT to growth, there are only 3 possibilities: Grow, stagnate, or decline”

    Oh.

  • Quite Frankly I find both sides of this argument as represented by CR and Falstaff unappealing. They both seemed fixed to ridged reactionary view points. This is pretty typical for CR, “seen somewhere in the past a statistic that about 44% of the population of Albemarle County are transplants, but I suspect it’s probably higher.”

    Just making up stuff to fit the preconceived notions, much like his and others fixation on Land Use Taxation. Or how about others fixation on family divisions, you know “developers must be using family divisions as a loop hole” . . . well actually no.

    Falstaff on the other hand seems to view this issue exclusively through the left is bad and the right is good framework, and in every sense of the word, a nativist world view. But, you cant have it both ways, you cant argue for unbridled growth, and complain when the folks who are attracted by that growth want a seat at the table. But of course Harry makes some great points in his post.

    But more to the point of Waldo’s blog, I assume that they are very smart about this new rhetorical push. I think that they are probably finding that the “new” people break down into a couple different groups: those that came 15-25 years ago, the last 10 years and the last 5 years. Those who came in the latter groups will not really know the difference, yes things are slightly more congested than when they got here, but it is damn sight better than from where they came from.

  • FYI, I’m one of the most vocal people about issues of unsustainable growth and I did grow up here. I attended Murray elementary School, Henley Middle School and Western Albemarle. That said, I’m not sure I’d tell the transplants to “piss off”. I would ask them to take a look around though and learn a little bit about the place and its culture and values before offering to “improve it” by adding a new Wal-Mart or by replacing the Great Value with a Harris Teeter. To old timers who are sick of farming and just want to cash out and leave, I’d remind them that they aren’t the last generation that might wish to farm here.

    As to Falstaff’s, “there are only 3 possibilities: Grow, stagnate, or decline”, once again he’s mixing and matching economic theories to fit his agenda. Economic growth is good and can result in a grow in population, but a decrease or increase in population doesn’t cause economic growth or decline. Show me the town that has implemented managed growth strategies and turned into a ghost town because of it. Towns depopulate because of loss of industry or busnesses, not because of lack of housing.

  • Waldo, why do you continue to misrepresent? The candidates aren’t denying growth. The are simply stating the fact according to UVa. If they number were the other way you’d be using them here. The talk about water and other things.
    Growth numbers have been dropping,regulations have made a difference.
    There are real problems but there has also been a lot of “crying wolf”.
    There is a 50 year water plan now and infrastructure needs are being talked about. They way you folks are talking anyone who speaks of a lower growth rate is the equivalent of holocaust denial.

  • Lonnie,

    When did you graduate from WAHS?

    Also, you make a good point about growth and economies, Europe for example, they have booming economy now, and actually have shrinking native populations . . . though of course they also have a ton of immigration, so I don’t know how to understand all that.

    Also, I bet you towns that have implemented managed growth strategies are still growing.

    I guess (tell me if I am wrong) that when compared to 95% of the country we probably are already pretty damn good as far as our managed growth strategies are concerned.

  • Josh,

    Do you have any realtor friends? Are you naive, I have been told over and over and over again, by numerous realtors, friends with houses on the market, friends with rental units, family with rental units,”WE ARE IN THE WOREST REAL-ESTATE MARKET FOR THE AREA IN THE LAST 15 YEARS!”

    I agree the regulations are working, but they are controlling where most of the growth goes, they are not slowing it. The market is doing that.

  • I graduated in ’92.

    Yes, compared to many areas, I actually think we do quite well. When we had that #1 rating, they cited the preservation of our countryside as one of the reasons we were so great. (There’s definitely some irony in there…)

    That said, there are also plenty of areas that do better too. In some cases, I think there are rather minor changes that could greatly increase our environment and quality of life and are well-tested by other communities. I don’t think we need to build a wall, but we do need to consider what we as a community really value and feel is worth protecting as we grow. The real danger is not getting to big, but rather losing our sense of place.

  • JS
    Find a statement that I made against family subdivisions, you won’t because I never made any. I firmly support the request for property rights for rural land owners. I just don’t want to subsidize them anymore with land use taxation, when the alternative program ACE has been shown to be very effective. On the other hand the County has no data to show the 13 million in tax breaks have any effect on rural preservation. Try and get your facts right.

  • GADSPlausible deniablilty …They can DENY anything they want.
    Once again no facts just venom. The denial is yours; growth isn’t the Godzilla you all made it out to be. The growth numbers aren’t lies, that what you call facts you can’t explain away. The new housing units are a concern but they won’t be built over night. Infrastructure needs are not being ignored. The fact, in this blog, that Albemarle Place might be cancelled shows the huge difference between approved and built.

    If the candidates were saying that infrastructure wasn’t important or the 50 year water plan should not be approved you might have a point. Boyd and Wyant have talk about a bond issue to address the infrastructure needs.

    The decline of the growth rate over the last four years can not be ignored. This all happen during a national housing boom. The focus on growth in the growth area must have had something to do with it. The market place isn’t the soul reason for the decline. Let’s have a debate over the quality of growth but let’s also admit that the problem of growth is not currently back up by fact. Again, who here wants 0% growth? Stand up and be counted

  • Didn’t say you said anything about family divisions, I said “others” who are also upset about land use often obsess about family divisions.

    And no, you get your facts right . . . for the county to be losing money on land use rural land would have to be costing them more than land that is not in land use, this is simply not true; again from PEC’s own web site:

    “The American Farmland Trust, which studied more than 100 communities throughout the United States, found that, on average, working and natural lands require only 36 cents for every dollar of taxes paid, while residential land requires $1.15 for every dollar of taxes.”

    “This two tier system makes sense for farmers and other rural landowners, since they make few demands for tax-funded services. It also makes sense for all taxpayers, because if high taxes pressure the people who work the land to sell off lots or develop their property, everyone will have to pay more.”

    Here is the ULR:

    http://www.pecva.org/anx/index.cfm/1,113,419,0,html/Controlling-the-Costs-of-Growth

  • JS,

    What you are missing is that when people (like the Biscuit Run) decide to leave the program then they can suddenly cause massive development all at once. We currently have no requirements that development be phased. That means that suddenly there’s this instant need for more road, schools, water, etc. and next thing you know the existing residents have to pay up in taxes for massive infrastructure improvements. Plus these improvements are done at a higher cost than if development happen naturally over time in smaller pieces.

    You see land use taxation encourages buying on speculation, and allows people to hold onto land until the market hits its peak then they sell all at once. I’m not sure that leaves us better off in the end. At the very least, we should petition to have the number of years of back taxes increased to be more reflective of associated infrastructure costs. In short, if 100 homes are going to be built over ten years, then it costs society more if they are built on the tenth year then if they are done gradually. In addition, we still end up with the same level of growth either way so nothing is really “preserved” by land-use taxation.

  • Lonnie,

    You have absolutely no proof for that assumption. Investors buy property and sit on it until market peaks all over the place, no matter what the tax rate. But, hey I am not an economist, and will not pretend to be one.

    And as far as Biscuit Run, would we rather have had that property develop out with 2-5 acre lots over the last 30 years or will it be better to to see it develop with density over the next 10-30 years, or whatever their build out plan is .. . Again Sally Thomas was very convincing in her argument for her vote.

    Also, are you suggesting phasing in the growth areas? That is interesting, any one else talking about that?

    Again and again, land use is nothing but an acknowledgment of the different costs associated with different types of zoning, and it is only meant to be an incentive for rural preservation, again from PEC’s web site:

    “This two tier system makes sense for farmers and other rural landowners, since they make few demands for tax-funded services. It also makes sense for all taxpayers, because if high taxes pressure the people who work the land to sell off lots or develop their property, everyone will have to pay more. This is because, on average, residential properties cost localities more than they pay in taxes, while farms, forests, and open space cost less than they pay in taxes.”

  • Yes, I do I believe some degree of phasing for larger projects is also needed in the growth area. We also need to start demanding more in proffers (which is beginning to happen).

    I understand why Sally Thomas was eventually persuaded, but that was mainly because of major concessions by the developer. We may not get those concessions from the next guy, and not having clear policies means that developers need to guess what we are actually looking for. Wouldn’t it have been better for all involved if the developer could have just come to the table knowing what the county wanted, meet with community leaders, and get approval? Now I might argue on the specifics of the concessions in the biscuit run deal and whether they were actually sufficient; however, like yourself, I can understand Sally’s vote.

    I also think the extremely critical part of that deal is making sure that the developer lives up to their promises. Way too often this is where the county fails to follow through. Holymeade Town Center is a case in point. In no way, shape, or form does that bear any resemblance to the neighborhood model. Likewise, let’s just say that massive mud slides covering 29 were less than ideal…

  • Josh,

    Where did your declining growth statistics come from? Eveything I have seen out of the census bureau indicates that we are growing by the same amount (about 1400 a year) that have in the past. I think it’s also important that we distinguish between population growth in terms of pure numbers and population growth as a rate. Fluvanna and Greene are both growing at rates much higher than Albemarle. However, when it comes to raw numbers Albemarle is growing faster than Greene and about the same, if not faster than, as Fluvanna. We must remember that rates don’t always capture the shear number of residents moving in. A 10 percent growth rate in Albemarle equals an increase of over 9,0000. That same rate translate to a growth of 2,500 new people in Fluvanna. For the record, I know this is not the case (in terms of growth rate) it is just an illustration of how focus on percentage growth can distort the true number of people moving in.

  • JS
    If your point is that rural land costs less then residential land, then we agree. So the question then becomes what is the best way to maximize the amount of rural land and I submit that since land use is nothing more then a rental scheme, which doesn’t protect the land from development, ACE is the way to go. The point is, if you look at ACE they’ve been averaging about 1,000 acres of land protected per 1 million dollars spent. Up until last year the total amount of money spent for land use was approximately 120 million dollars. Had it been put into ACE that would be approximately 120,000 acres protected. Under land use how many acres have been protected? Answer ZERO!
    But there is a compromise. Let the county decide the total amount of money it wants to invest into rural protection, which would be the calculated cost of land use and ACE. Then first, fully fund all those who want to put their land into ACE, instead of funding only the 1 million allocated and then and only then use the remainder of the money for land use. This way the county first meets it goal under the comprehensive plan to preserve the rural character of the land and takes of those land owners whose priority is to protect the land and then take care of the rest.

  • CrozetResident,

    First of all, I agree with the intent of most of the things you generally say and I appreciate your comments.

    Regarding ACE, what to you think we should do about the fact that ACE Doesn’t currently protect quality. Someone can have a McMansion and a large parcel that’s nothing but mown fescue and still qualify; however, a small lot with endangered species doesn’t. Lot at the acreage of lots that have gotten ACE. They are all hundreds of aces. How can we increase the quality of the open space we protect, and also address smaller parcels not covered by ACE?

    Secondly, I like your proposal, but I think it’d have to be lobbied for at the state level since my understanding is that land-use is a state program. Because of that, it may be technically unworkable to set a budget in the way you suggest. That said, I’m all in favor of fully funding ACE and other conservation incentives.

    The other option would be to place additional requirements on Land Use and then make it cumulative with other benefits. I think it’d be great if landowners could be able to get both land-use and easement credit. I also wonder if we could allow people to “opt out” of rural protections (like the ones we just tried to pass), but then have a policy that anyone opting out would then be ineligible for Land-Use tax credits. That way, no one could claim it was a property rights issue.

  • The American Farmland Trust is an advocacy/lobbying group “Working to stop the loss of productive farmland and promote healthier farming practices in the US.” at http://www.farmland.org/

  • Lonnie,
    You have to remember that unlike land use, which has only minimum oversight, there is an ACE committee that evaluates each submission. In addition they have developed a scoring system that grades each submission which gives additional credibility to the process. I believe this would keep the properties you described out of ACE, while insuring the tax payer is getting their monies worth.
    As for setting a budget, I spoke with Bruce Woozell, who is the head of the Assessment Department at the County and while they use established formulas to determine what each type of land in land use is valued, it was my impression that the County has control over the the total dollar amount of the tax break. Therefore it would appear that the County could in fact target their total allocation of funds to land use, while still using the same land type formulas.
    As for placing additional restrictions on land use, this is where you come up against the state and the people who want to keep land use as is. There have been multiple attempts to extend the pay back provision all beat down by the vested interest groups.

  • Let me get at what CR is saying

    Because again, getting rid of land use to pay for easements is robbing Peter to pay Paul. It would be an effective tax increase. In theory (as far as I understand them) real-estate taxes are like gas taxes, its a service tax (gas taxes=roads, supposedly, but I guess not anymore).

    Well the folks in the rural areas get less services, so they pay less taxes. Evidently this is well established now, where before we argued back and forth about it.

    Also if we had someone who wanted to crunch the numbers we might even find that even under Land Use, the rural areas might be the only region that breaks even, maybe we are even subsidizing the growth areas . . . because where is that extra 15 cents of services the growth area person gets for their dollar coming from . . . the state, the fed? Well, we all pay those taxes.

  • “There have been multiple attempts to extend the pay back provision all beat down by the vested interest groups.”

    ummmmm, you mean like other citizens, who like you exercize their right to patition their government?

    Are the only people who are not “vested interest groups”, people you agree with?

  • whoops another spelling mistake:

    “There have been multiple attempts to extend the pay back provision all beat down by the vested interest groups.”

    ummmmm, you mean like other citizens, who like you exercise their right to petition their government?

    And regardless of all these disagreements, lets focus on those who are being dishonest at this very moment, those who are claiming their oppenent is going to raise taxes and those who are (ironically) claiming credit for a down turn in the house market and those who are claiming credit for raising teachers salaries when they in fact voted against them.

  • Waldo, why do you continue to misrepresent? The candidates aren’t denying growth. The are simply stating the fact according to UVa.

    They are very much misrepresenting. They’re preying on the fact that people have no concept of what growth rates is low, what’s healthy, and what’s high. It would be like your banker telling you that it’s totally reasonable to have a credit card with 29% APR or to spend 40% of your gross income on your mortgage. Both of these rates are terrible but most people have no sense of scale, so how would they know?

    1,400 new residents in Albemarle annually is a lot, but you won’t hear these candidates tossing around that number, because it’s a whole lot more revealing than “2%.” Given that every singly new resident is a net loss for us — we spend more on every new resident than we take in in taxes — any new resident is one too many until we sort out that P&L problem.

    Economic growth is good — essential, in fact — but it doesn’t require population growth.

  • JS
    I’m sorry, but what services do you not get that growth area residents get? Last time I looked you got the same police, fire and county services I get. As a matter of fact, on a per household basis it costs more to deliver services to homes in the rural area since one of he biggest expense comes in the fuel to deliver the services to you.
    As for land use, it would not be a tax increase. The county would still be spending the exact same amount on protecting the rural area as it is now. The only difference is the allocation of the dollars. The county would actually be putting the money into a proven program that meets the goals of comprehensive plan.
    The recent Cville survey showed that 40% of those polled were against the land use tax and the actual percentage would have been higher, but they did not exclude those who are currently getting the tax break.
    There’s been a lot of talk about taxes, but if land use were eliminated the tax rate could have been lowered by 11 cents. That’s a lot of money for a program that has no proven worth in Albemarle County.

  • i>They are very much misrepresenting. They’re preying on the fact that people have no concept of what growth rates is low, what’s healthy, and what’s high.

    Are you now saying that is people aren’t as smart as you? That the numbers are made up? That Weldon Cooper is pawn of the Supervisors?

    Enlighten us on what would be a healthy rate; it looks to me like your advocating 0%. You view growth as a tumor on the corpus Albemarle, is that blame best directed to the supervisors? You work for the University, why not advocate that they stop growing first.

    If UVa stops growing then Albemarle would have a much better chance of slowing its rate of growth. Also be sure that the research parks don’t get any bigger.

  • CrozetResident,

    “The American Farmland Trust, which studied more than 100 communities throughout the United States, found that, on average, working and natural lands require only 36 cents for every dollar of taxes paid, while residential land requires $1.15 for every dollar of taxes.”

    “This two tier system makes sense for farmers and other rural landowners, since they make few demands for tax-funded services.”

    Where is the study to prove your assumptions. As far as I can tell according to a credible study cited by the PEC you are in fact getting more services than I am and in fact getting more services than you pay for . . . maybe the PEC is wrong and you are right. Who knows? This is a stupid argument to have with you in particular.

    The growth areas are becoming city like, you will soon (or already) need a tax rate similar to Charlottesville to service them.

    Waldo, one thing that confuses me and causes me to come to the conclusion that if “we spend more on every new resident than we take in in taxes” how can this not be true for all of us, even the ones already here, especially considering the American Farmland Trust study? What am I missing?

  • Also a note of interest if CR’s assumptions were true, that it costs more to provide educational and police services to rural areas than it seems that we should see that play out in a comparison between the city’s budgets and the county’s budgets . . . the county should be paying a lot more for its educational program (that is per capita) and the county should be paying a lot more for its police department.

    Of course this is a bit of apples and oranges but it should be rough guide. The county does spend more on its schools, but is this for bus fuel?

    But the county spends quite bit less on public safety . . . looks like the city spends twice as much per capita than the county.

  • JS
    As long as your going to quote the PEC you should know that they have called for changes in the land use tax as far back as the 1980’s.
    However, you still didn’t tell me what services growth area residents get that you don’t. As for the cost of education, look at the school budget. What you’ll see, aside form the cost for teacher salaries, the next highest operational cost is gasoline. With gas now heading for $3.00 a gallon you do the math on what it costs to transport a student from Crozet to Crozet Elementary, Henley or Western and what it costs to transport fewer student from White Hall.
    The facts are these. Rural residents on two occasions, first on phasing and development and second on the mountain top protection plan has stated that what is most important to them is their property rights and their potential to develop their land. Fine, I believe in property rights, but I don’t think you’re can have it both ways, development and tax breaks for too much longer. At least this year the issue of land use was part of the election debate and Cville tomorrow included the question in their survey. Rural residents having staked out their position are going to find it harder and harder to convince the majority of the citizens of Albemarle County who now reside in our growth areas to continue to subsidize a costly plan without proof it is accomplishing it mandate to preserve the rural area. It’s going to be even more difficult when confronted by the fact that ACE is working so well to actually meet that goal.
    In his report on Land Use, Robert Tucker stated the following “The cost of land use is not a hidden fact, since it is implicit in the concept of land use taxation that the tax burden is shifted to other taxpayers”. Land use has been plus for developers who used the program for places like Biscuit Run to make million at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the “other taxpayers”. Sooner or later, and I hope sooner, growth area residents will wake up and make sure land use in its present form is only a bitter memory.

  • CR,

    You contradict yourself constantly (“If your point is that rural land costs less then residential land, then we agree.”–Crozet Resident)

    Now you are claiming that I in the rural areas spend as much of the county’s money as you do? Note that I was born here so there is no new cost associated with me being here. And over and above that you get your facts wrong.

    Transportation comes in as the forth largest expenditure of the School budget, clocking in at 6%, behind Admin, Attendance, Health at 7% Building Services at 9% and Instruction at 75% (by they way the percentage for transportation has not grown since at least ’05 . . . of course the overall budget has grown, but it seems like to me if your dire rhetoric about how you were getting ripped off by rural citizens proved true we should see transportation eating a larger and larger share of the over all budget.)

    So, lets run this out . . . if we go with a population of 91,000, roughly school transportation is costing each citizen 88 dollars a year

    For a comparison the City of Charlottesville spends 4% of their budget on transportation, which if you go with a population of 40,000 (relevant for the thread about the rescue squad, Cville’s population has only grow .6% in the last 7 years) so that comes out to roughly $66 spent on school transportation for each Cville citizen.

    But here is the kicker; with half the population Cville spends more on public safety, as does the county! Urban areas require MORE public safety funds. Urban areas require more infrastructure funds.

    Simply put the area of the county you live in is absorbing way more of these funds than the area that I live in are, there is no argument about this.

    Robert Tucker’s conclusion is his interpretation of the facts, his interpretation has a base line is in opposition to how I have always understood service taxes to operate, you buy in at the level you consume: again, rural areas consume 36 cents in services for every tax dollar put in the bucket, residential where you live, consume $1.15.

    Can I give you line-by-line itemization, no, I do not have time, but basic economics makes my case for me.

    What we agree on is obviously the more growth the more expensive it gets to live in the county for all of us. What we disagree on is the right here and right now of how we fairly solve this problem . . .

    The strategy that the county embarked on years ago is a smart one (we are spoiled that we even have rural and growth areas) but we can not escape the reality the as the growth areas become more dense there is a positive feed back loop that increases their expenses. The benefit of course is we minimize the fragmentation of the rural areas, protecting water, and so on.

  • Are you now saying that is people aren’t as smart as you? That the numbers are made up? That Weldon Cooper is pawn of the Supervisors?

    What in the world are you talking about? I neither said nor implied any of those things. Maybe you should wait a few hours and re-read what I wrote when perhaps you’re in a better frame of mind?

  • Well this is a lively discussion. I hope some of you take the time to actually read my blog post called “Is Albemarle Growing Too Slow?” at http://www.davidrphillips.com. I assure you there was no “memo” – just some common sense and a common reaction to overstated election rhetoric. My post list some real facts about growth and does not attack anyone for having an opposing point of view. There are several valid points of view – many expressed in this string – and more than one “right” answer. The funny thing is, we all agree that we want to preserve the rural area and maintain our quality of life. Why does this issue have to be so divisive? “Can’t we all just get along?” – Rodney King

  • As Waldo said originally,

    We’ve had some really productive, informative discussions about growth here on cvillenews.com in the past few years. We’ve even had one today. I’m glad we can stick to an honest dialog, even if our candidates can’t.

    I think it’s great that we are willing to go into this level of detail looking at county policies on growth. I wish all of our citizens and politicians cared this much.

    I think I can pinpoint part of the issue that I think both CrozetResident and JS are missing… When JS Quoted:

    “The American Farmland Trust, which studied more than 100 communities throughout the United States, found that, on average, working and natural lands require only 36 cents for every dollar of taxes paid, while residential land requires $1.15 for every dollar of taxes.”

    What was missed was the concept of residential land versus rural land. Yes, natural lands and farmland DO cost less but only if they stay that way. Once you create a residential subdivision in a rural area far away from schools, fire deparments and other infrastructure then that costs more money than if you just built the same development in the Urban area closer to the services in question.

    Now, if you go back and read what I wrote earlier, I show how, because of inflation, that it’s much worse if the county has to build infrastructure all at once after the land has been held for thirty years, than if it just did so gradually. Either way, you end up with the same number of houses, but the land-use creates an incentive to hold onto property and develop all at once when infrastructure costs to the County would be at their highest. This added cost is then passed along to other taxpayers who end up subsidizing the infrastructure improvements. This is the major flaw behind Land use.

    In other words, both of you are right in a way. JS is right that rural land costs less. And Crozet Resident is right that rural land turned into isolated suburban land costs more at the cost of taxpayers. I think there are certainly adjustments that could be made to land use to fix this issue, and I think Cozet Residents’ idea may actually have some merit.

    If you take the whole budget and fully fund ACE (maybe it’d be nice to know how many applicants there are that don’t currently get funding?) then divide the remainder up for tax use credits. Another option would be to increase the benefit for ACE or allow people to get both land-use AND ACE. I’ve heard the valid criticism that placing an easment can actually increase you property value enough that you’d end up with a higher tax benefit under land-use. If that’s true then we shoul definitely make ACE the larger of the two benefits.

    Also, Crozet Resident, although there is a committee that meets to decide who gets ACE benefits, it doesn’t currently rank biodiversity (although there is a proposal for it to do so). It also doesn’t have any limits on what you can do on the land, so strip mining it or clearcutting it is perfectly acceptable under its “open space” mandate. Likewise, there’s a huge amount of land in Albemarle under a hundred acres, and it provides no protection for those parcels. These are also problems that’d need to be addressed before I’d support a major shift from Land Use to ACE.

    Whatever we do, I feel it is far more important to preserve quality than quantity. Currently the way residential growth tends to happen in this county is like a juggernaut. It controls us, instead of visa versa, and tramples anything worthwhile in its path.

  • “They’re preying on the fact that people have no concept of what growth rates is low, what’s healthy, and what’s high.” I think this is what Perlogik is talking about. You clearly have a problem with the context of the low growth argument.

    You imply that people don’t know what you know. Further that implication is that any growth is bad. If this isn’t correct could you explain it. I’m stumped how you can spin less than 1% growth as bad thing. It’s clearly been trending downward.

    What are your thought’s are Marcia Joseph scare tactic with her ad in the Daily Progress. Based on the bad math and the use of linear regression, this ad uses numbers that aren’t based n historical norms for the area. For example saying 15,000 home (the worst of worst case scenarios) would add 10,000 students. I been told that the schools system has barely grown in the past 5-7 years. Her numbers are to scare not to have an honest conversation.

  • Josh,

    Its called a downturn in the housing market! How many times do I have to beam that into your eyeballs? “Growth” is down everywhere!

    See, but this is interesting, this is like reverse argument you Republicans make in Richmond concerning finding new revenue for transportation.

    “Oh no the economy is always going to be red hot, surpluses surpluses for ever!”

    Regardless, here is an honest airing of the facts:

    Albemarle County has absorbed approximately 13,000 new citizens in the last 7 years.

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51003.html

    And interestingly, it says that the population growth of our county has been 9.3% since 2000, while the whole state has been 8%; while the whole country has been 6.4%

    Thems the facts .gov, everyone can make what they will of it–I promise no scare tactics, unless, perhaps, you consider the truth, ummmm, inconvenient?

  • According to Weldon Cooper at the University of Virginia, Albemarle County 2001 Final to 2005 Provisional Population Estimates,

    2000 84,186 2005 90,400 difference
    6,200 total increase 7.4%/ 1.4% pr year

    While the time span is different the it clearly show that growth rate is much less than JS gets from the census. I have to believe that the Weldon Cooper would have a much better handle then the US census based on proximity alone.

    The Albemarle trend line has been headed down for years not just this year. The housing boom was headed up across the nation when we were headed down in growth rate. With the smaller growing house supply the price of existing homes was affect by the boom. If we get to 0% watch housing prices really soar.

    Waldo after reading what you said about I reread your accusation that growth isn’t happening-that is not what is happening and your headline is false. From the DP “Boyd, for one, believes the growth issue is overblown. ” Overblown is not denying it’s happening. It is simply reasoned that the current growth rate of under 1% is not the problem that many would lead you to believe. No one has said this grwoth doesn’t have cost. The cost of more water and better sewer. Cost that existing residents would be paying even all building were stopped tomorrow.

    Ken Boyd talks on his website for the need for the 50 year water plan the BOS Already has adopted. Not the “Remember when we ran out of water in 2002? Didn’t happen.” from the beginning of your post.

    Even Marica Joseph said“I think we’ve all sort of counted on it being around 2% for a very long time, since I think 1976, 75, it’s been about 2%, and I think that’s what we’ve relied on when we’re looking at our comprehensive plan, and deciding where our designated growth areas are, and where these people are going to go. I think that makes a whole lot of sense. I think that we’re never going to get it lower, and it’s not anything that I want to see go lower.

  • Who wants some carpetbagger like Marcia Joseph coming down here and telling us how to run our affairs? Unless residents of Albemarle want to be governed, ordered around, and told what’s best for us by a bunch of yankees she can go back to New York as far as I’m concerned.

  • JS
    My agreement with you is that since the total amount of homes in our rural areas is less then in the growth area they therefore require less services. This does not mean however that the per household cost when services are received is not higher. So after agreeing that total costs for rural area is less, there a problem. For instance, the PEC, who you reference, has stated there are tens of thousands of development rights in the rural area that can be developed. It would then make sense, if you want continue to keep the number of homes in the rural area as low as possible therefore keeping the cost of services as low as possible, to utilize whatever methods achieve the goal of not seeing those rights of development exercised. Tell why then would it not be more effective to take the total amount of money, both Land Use and ACE and apply them first to ACE, which preserves those development rights and then after all those who want to protect the land use the remainder of the funds for land use? Why shouldn’t those who are willing to put their land into permanent protection be first in line for whatever funding is available?
    what growth area residents have been hearing from rural residents is that they need to sell those rights to pay for retirement, medical expenses, college costs etc, etc, etc. Quite frankly, I’m sure growth area residents have enough problems paying for their own retirement, medical expenses and college cost, without having to pay an additional 11 cents on the tax rate to pay for land use. This is not to say growth area residents won’t support rural protection, I believe they will. I just don’t think there going to support paying for someone to maximize the development potential of their land till their ready to sell.

  • Lonnie,
    Very good points regarding quality vs quantity. That said, at least with ACE there is a local committee that controls the future of ACE and must be responsive to the citizens. With land use control is in Richmond and without data to support how effective the program is, it’s just throwing more good money down the toilet. Getting back to ACE, I would assume that those who sell their development rights to protect the land are probably more apt to take better care of the land they will continue to live on.

  • CR,

    Dont have time to finish this discussion. But let me say first and foremost, before any issues of how many development rights are in the county, for me land use simply acknowledges that my property costs the county less than your property. That is the base line for me.

    As far as the Weldon Center is concerned we have an interesting situation here. First Perlogik, you make a ridiculous statement by saying that some how the Weldon Center is more accurate than the Census Bureau because of proximity! What do you think they try to count the heads from DC!?

    In fact if you actually track down the report, you find that the Weldon Center says that they are quoting the US Census to get their original 84,000 and change number . . . but the US Census Bureau’s number is still 79,000 on their web site . . . another interesting thing they both have the exact same population numbers for the whole state . . . and a quick look at the of other counties on the US Census’s web site, it seems Albemarle County is the only one that is different, for instance they both have Chesterfields 2000 number at 259,903.

    Someone should call the Weldon Center and find out why they have a different number for Albemarle County than the US Census Bureau, CR,

    Dont have time to finish this discussion. But let me say first and foremost, before any issues of how many development rights are in the county, for me land use simply acknowledges that my property costs the county less than your property. That is the base line for me.

    As far as the Weldon Center is concerned we have an interesting situation here. First Perlogik, you make a ridiculous statement by saying that some how the Weldon Center is more accurate than the Census Bureau because of proximity! What do you think they try to count the heads from DC!?

    In fact if you actually track down the report, you find that the Weldon Center says that they are quoting the US Census to get their original 84,000 and change number . . . but the US Census Bureau’s number is still 79,000 on their web site . . . another interesting thing they both have the exact same population numbers for the whole state . . . and a quick look at the of other counties on the US Census’s web site, it seems Albemarle County is the only one that is different, for instance they both have Chesterfields 2000 number at 259,903.

    Someone should call the Weldon Center and find out why they have a different number for Albemarle County than the US Census Bureau; when all the other counties seem to be the same, because in this one instance their numbers deviate from the standard they are using for the whole study.

  • Whoops cut and paste nightmare:

    CR,

    Dont have time to finish this discussion. But let me say first and foremost, before any issues of how many development rights are in the county, for me land use simply acknowledges that my property costs the county less than your property. That is the base line for me.

    As far as the Weldon Center is concerned we have an interesting situation here. First Perlogik, you make a ridiculous statement by saying that some how the Weldon Center is more accurate than the Census Bureau because of proximity! What do you think they try to count the heads from DC!?

    In fact if you actually track down the report, you find that the Weldon Center says that they are quoting the US Census to get their original 84,000 and change number . . . but the US Census Bureau’s number is still 79,000 on their web site . . . another interesting thing they both have the exact same population numbers for the whole state . . . and a quick look at the of other counties on the US Census’s web site, it seems Albemarle County is the only one that is different, for instance they both have Chesterfields 2000 number at 259,903.

    Someone should call the Weldon Center and find out why they have a different number for Albemarle County than the US Census Bureau, when all the other counties seem to be the same, when all the other counties seem to be the same, because in this one instance their study deviates from the standard they are using for the whole study

  • Who wants some carpetbagger like Marcia Joseph coming down here and telling us how to run our affairs?

    I’m not really sure what you are talking about. Marcia Joseph has been here for decades and I would rather talk issues then place of birth. In a state that voted for George Allen (a native Californian) I really think the term carpetbagger is probably over the top.

  • Perlogik,

    Because of that last comment I now feel bad about implying bad things about you in my last post. keep it to the issues, I like that. its hard sometimes for us keyboard warriors (irony intended).

    Sorry.

  • You imply that people don’t know what you know. Further that implication is that any growth is bad. If this isn’t correct could you explain it. I’m stumped how you can spin less than 1% growth as bad thing. It’s clearly been trending downward.

    I’d bet that less than 1% of the county has the slightest idea of what population growth rates are like in different parts of the country and different parts of the world, what growth rates are generally judged to be healthy, what growth rates are unsustainable, and what growth rates we’ve experienced here recently. I know enough to talk intelligently about maybe 10% of the questions I’ve just raised, making me among the remaining 99%, I imagine.

    To repeat myself, population growth is bad so long as it digs us deeper into a financial hole. As it stands now, every new residents results in my taxes going up. That’s a lousy deal.

    Ignoring that problem (which is crazy to ignore, but whatever): What rate of growth for Albemarle is good? I don’t know. What rate is bad? I don’t know. Is our current rate healthy over the short or long terms? If it’s too high, should we cap it and, if so, how? If it’s too low, how do we raise it? These are the questions that should be asked — and answered — by our elected officials. But to pretend that growth hasn’t been a problem and won’t continue to be a problem is just dumb.

    What are your thought’s are Marcia Joseph scare tactic with her ad in the Daily Progress.

    I know nothing about this, since I only get the Progress online.

  • Who wants some carpetbagger like Marcia Joseph coming down here and telling us how to run our affairs?

    Well, Marcia moved here in 1984. Her opponent, Ken Boyd, moved here in 1981. So does the Carpet Bagger Line rest 24 years in the past, or is it 25? Is that a moving average?

  • Ken Boyd talks on his website for the need for the 50 year water plan the BOS Already has adopted. Not the “Remember when we ran out of water in 2002? Didn’t happen.” from the beginning of your post.

    What’s worse? Somebody ignorant of the impending water crisis who votes for tens of thousands of new housing units? Or somebody who knows full well about the impending water crisis who goes ahead and votes for them anyway?

    To decouple growth from the enormous problems that it presents — and you provide a major example there — is, if anything, worse than denial, because it’s more opaque. It’s like Democrats in Congress decrying war while refusing to vote for a timetable — do they not know that it’s within their power to stop it? These guys are in full denial mode about growth.

  • JS, thanks for your thoughts- I can’t speak to the data difference but I do believe that Weldon Cooper would try to do a better job on Albemarle data. That’s just a feeling.

    Waldo, Boyd and Joseph both voted for Biscuit Run. The only vote they varied on was Rivanna Village. Where is the diverse record?

    No one has decoupled growth from other cost, just quantified it. Who has denied that growth has problems and cost? Everyone is saying that infrastructure must be addressed. I’ve looked at the forums and if you think these things haven’t been addressed then you haven’t listened the podcast or read the transcripts.

    And lastly, take the time to look at the Joseph ad and tell me if you think that is misrepresentation or just a good Halloween scare.

  • Hey, given the complexity of these issues, has anyone ever thought about establishing a Wiki and growth and development in Charlottesville? It’d be fantastic to see alot of the ideas and concepts mentioned here on both sides distilled and put in one place.

  • JS
    Thank you for the discussion on Land Use. I’m sure it’s going to be a subject that we’ll be discussing in the near future.

    Falstaff,
    You got to be kidding “carpetbagger”. If you get some time maybe you could write a letter to The Progress expressing your support for boyd, dorrier and wyant and tell all of us carpetbaggers to piss off.

  • Perlogik,

    The diverse record is that Joseph voted for phasing, clustering and the Mountain Overlay. She also voted for the critical slopes, though I do not know her stance on the family division issue. I personally thought that that particular phasing ordinance was too, ummmm, phased, but I think the basic concept is sound.

    But regardless of these different back and forth, let me address again the Weldon vs Census Bureau numbers (because this is the whole foundation for Boyd’s argument that growth is not that bad)

    Every other number in the two studies are pretty much the same, the 2000 overall Virginia population, the 2006 Virginia population number.

    Why on earth would they decide to change one county’s 2000 population number just because they happened to live in that county (these are supposed to be the official numbers for the state, they would not be that losy goosey with them.)

    Also, basic math being what basic math is that should have thrown the Virginia population number up 4,000, but it didn’t. Further more they have the same 2006/07 numbers. I say that when you have a deviation of this magnitude, its a good chance its a mistake.

    That is much more plausible than them deciding,”oh for shits and giggles lets try to be more accurate for Albemarle County than we were for Nelson, or Green” (by the way the two surveys a synchronized for Nelson and Greene, which has seen a 16% growth rate since 2000.

    It is my belief this whole argument that growth is not so bad is based on a big potential mistake by the Weldon Center. I do not have time but someone can call them and find out. Maybe they have a good explanation.

  • JS, again the differences between Weldon Cooper do seem to reflect the very low growth experienced in Albemarle school system but I just consume such data. I have no knowledge of how or why the differences exist. I know the city has had problems with US census projections for decades.

    Again I don’t think that quantifying growth is saying it’s not so bad. It’s simply doing more than saying “growth is bad. I think anyone here would agree to have a complete discussion without referring to the amount of actual growth would be a mistake. Without how can we discuss where we need to go? So far we can’t even get numbers that agree.

    As to environmental regulations I believe they will be passed and having gone though the public process will be better for it. In spite of what has been said here they haven’t been defeated. The public has had real concerns and those need to be addressed before they are passed.

    If the candidates where saying that growth is less than 1% and there is nothing to worry about, then that would be an enormous problem. That isn’t what is happening. Water needs, better sewers, new roads and higher proffers have all been discussed. Albemarle’s debate on growth far more advanced then our neighbors and for that I’m glad.

  • To repeat myself, population growth is bad so long as it digs us deeper into a financial hole. As it stands now, every new residents results in my taxes going up. That’s a lousy deal.

    On the bright side, you’re in a much better situation than Fluvanna County.

  • To follow-up ..

    I know Fluvanna is in the same situation, each new resident costs us more $. I’m wondering how common this is, how many counties in Virginia actually turn a ‘profit’ from new residents coming in.

    I’m guessing it’s very, very few. Don’t know how to search google for the data, not coming up with anything relevant.

  • Just quickly, if in fact the school system is showing low growth it might have something to do with the fact that Albemarle is a well known retirment destination for folks these days.

    With the little time that I have, all I could find is the fact that the mediean age of Albemarle County has been slowly increasing over the last couple years (all of this is US Census Data) The median age in 2000 was just bellow 37, now it is just bellow 38.

    Also the person per house hold has shrunk from the 2000 number of 2.54 to 2.4.

    Interesting

  • I was going to comment on the Retiree situation too, but JS beat me to it. Alot of these new homes are currently being occupied by retired baby-boomers. There is a real potential for them to move out in mass as they get older and be replaced with families. Regardless, at some point a massive amount of Baby-boomers won’t want to maintain these excessively large homes any more, and will all move out at once. What happens then is anyone’s guess, but I’m thinking it won’t be good…

  • Who knows about that . . . could be that it would result in a big drain in our population, the difference of course is that retiree’s don’t need jobs.

  • Too bad Waldo can’t deny access to “tumors on the corpus Albemarle” AKA Internet trolls. The hurling of invectives does get old.
    BTW, estimating population is an artform. Want a few facts “tumor?”

    FACTS ARE:
    15,000 housing units have been approved since 2,000

    Nothing has been DONE (as in the work is “completed”) to expand the public water supply in 35 years — not a drop has been added

    Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority doesn’t know how it’s going to pay for the $140 million, 50-year water supply plan

    The County approved substantial development WITHOUT a Proffer Policy for over seven years, and $17,500 per unit isn’t adequate now

    Substantial development has been approved without Master Plans

    The only completed Master Plan for Crozet is a joke when it comes to the population at build-out

    Ken Boyd set up secret, private, two-by-two, daisy-chain meetings to subvert the open meetings laws

    Ken Boyd denied any connection between Wendell Wood’s property and Clara Belle Wheeler’s. Listen to the Podcast. CAUGHT!

    When “normal” people talk about growth being out of control, they’re talking about what has been approved by the County, not the last 1,400 people to move here. They see what’s coming down the pike and they see no plans, fiscal or otherwise, to accommodate it. They know VDOT isn’t going to step up and take care of the roads. They know the developers haven’t had to pony up. They know the financial burden is going to fall on property owners who DO NOT have Land Use taxation.

    A few more facts for the “tumor” – –

    41,074 parcels in Albemarle County
    31,433 parcels have houses
    4,893 parcels have Land Use taxation treatment
    2,149 Land Use parcels have houses

    BTW, Farm Bureau says there are about 900 farms in Albemarle County.

    Does arithmetic count as facts?

    Land Use parcels comprise 11.9% of all parcels
    2,149 Land Use parcels have houses

    Many Land Use parcels are second homes for Charlottesville/Albemarle residents or are owned by out-of-towners.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume 80% as primary residences, not a bad guess based on a cursory review of mailing addresses– so that’s 1,719 houses x 2.6 occupants = 4,469 people or less than 5% of all people who live in Albemarle County.

    5% seems to be a number that pops up frequently in Albemarle

    5% of property taxpayers get a free ride at the expanse of the other 95%

    5% of the County’s land mass is being sacrificed so the other 95% can remain rural

    Sure hope “tumor” isn’t catching . . .

  • GADS

    I’m with ya to the end there, and then you go off the deep end. Its funny that you some how think it is bad for a parcel in land use to have a house . . . I don’t even want to understand your logic.

    Also interesting, this “fact” is relevant, but not in the way you assume:

    “Many Land Use parcels are second homes for Charlottesville/Albemarle residents or are owned by out-of-towners.”

    So mostly I want to know from you people is who do you think is going to own this rural property!?! I know, I know you all just drive past it, and you have no clue. Who is going to up keep the property, bush hog it, keep the fences standing, you know to preserve your goddamn fascistic “rural character”? You know why so many farms are going under, and more and more its only the rich that own these properties, (or heaven forbid the land holding companies) its because its so goddamn expensive to own them . . . ever heard of land rich, money poor. Now if you want the whole countryside to be one big Keswick, get rid of Land Use. Have at it, we are already getting pushed out, may as well finish it off.

    Also, didnt know I was getting a free ride. Maybe the transient lodging tax (you know the tax that helps fund the ACE program) that my family’s business generates, makes up for something; or maybe the “fact”, that my family’s property costs the county .35 cents for every tax dollar. ummmm, where do you live, because if you live in the growth area you are costing the County more than you pay.

    Again if you live in the growth area you are costing the County more money than you pay in taxes. Do you understand that “fact”?

    “5% of the County’s land mass is being sacrificed so the other 95% can remain rural.” Ummm, so would you rather have sprawl everywhere?

    Oh, and something else to ruin your little fun, most the farms that I know are comprised of 2-7 parcels.

    Whoops.

  • To be called an Internet Troll by GADS is true an irony I will always cherish. That this has risen to the level that they wish me to be banned clearly shows the mindset of intolerance. GADS can be abusive and spit venom but being called on it is a banning offense. After reading the terrible, disrespectful way GADS has talked about some supervisors, I respond to GADS as they have treated others.

    To you point on the use of the term Tumor it was used by Waldo on Coy Barefoot’s show. Waldo compared a 1% growth rate as bad if it was a tumor.

    Ken Boyd denied any connection between Wendell Wood’s property and Clara Belle Wheeler’s. Listen to the Podcast. CAUGHT!
    This is perhaps the biggest non story of 2007. The proof of the no connection is that one deal went forward while Clara Belle Wheeler was taken off the table. Media stop covering the story when they looked and found no wrong doing. GADS has screamed and typed bloody murder and only on the blogs can they keep it alive. The rambling diatribe you’ve just witness is the raving of an embittered GADfly that has once more cried “Wolf”.

  • Waldo, Boyd and Joseph both voted for Biscuit Run. The only vote they varied on was Rivanna Village. Where is the diverse record?

    And that would be one less such development. I also know that a slow-growth majority on the BoS would change the calculus a great deal, changing voting behaviors of people who currently say “eh, why bother to object?”

    FWIW, I wouldn’t doubt the Weldon Cooper Center’s numbers. They schooled the Census Bureau when they underestimated the C’ville population. I know the folks there — I used to do some consulting work over there — and they’re awfully smart.

  • Gosh people, no reason to work yourselves into a tizzy over all this… Perlogic, if it means anything, I actually like having folks like you and Falstaff around as regular commenters. It helps keep the rest of us honest.

    J.S. Let’s leave aside throwing out land-use, besides I hardly think that’s a real possibilty anyway. For better or worse, the Farm Bureau has already shown that it can be a powerful force when it want to be, and it wouldn’t allow that. Can you agree that there can be ways to improve the program to make it more effective at protecting rural land? You can’t possibly believe it is a flawless program that’ll never need adjustment, do you? In that case, pretend that you are a Supervisor, what would you adjust to help address Crozet Residents and my own concerns that land use:

    1) It isn’t very effective at rural protection, which was its original intent.

    2) It isn’t as good of an investment of taxpayer money as compared with ACE (and other conservation programs).

    3) It overwhelmingly and disproportionately gives a tax benefit to large wealthy landowners. (For example, I have some friends that raise goats. I know they would never own enough land to qualify even though they meet the very definition of “rural farmers”.)

    Certainly, there are compromises that could be made to improve the program? If it was totally in your control, what would you change?

  • Sorry for the tizzy, I was tiered.

    How many acres do your goat owning friends have, you might be surprised. I hate goats by the way, we had a neighbor who had some when I was a kid, they ran free and used to chase me.

    Anyway, where I live the large parcels are now owned about 50-50 between wealthy folks and middle class work a day folks. Of course the wealthy folks have put all their land into easement. Though, my family put property into easement, but then we had to sell that parcel and the house that I grew up in.

    Anyway, there are “small” parcels that have land use, what do you need, 12 for open land, 18 for forested . . . I don’t know, though.

    Also, as I have always contended Land Use ordinal intent was not just land preservation. It is also to compensate for a different level of services and to acknowledge a different set of costs. Real Estate tax is a service tax. Gas tax, we don’t pay a flat fee, we pay for what we use.

    So I think to say that it is in anyway an “investment of taxpayer money” is not accurate. It is a lower rate for lower costs. Raising the rate would result in me paying more than you (if you live in the growth area) for the same x amount of services. How is that fair, also considered that you (in the growth area) already get more than you pay for?

  • Uh… you still haven’t suggested how the program could be improved; You just took issue with my semantics instead. Come on now, if I elected you to office, how would you address my concerns? Certainly there’s got to be some kind of compromise, right?

    As to relating Property taxes to a gas tax, that’s not the way Governement works. (After all, I don’t recall using a laser guided missile recently, but somehow I still have to pay for it…) Likewise, while I personally believe you’ve made a going point about land that is currently rural, that changes once it becomes developed. The moment the Breedens sold Biscuit Run to a developer, it then instantly became an infrastructure burden to the County. That’s why the BOS asked for so many proffers. yes, being able to keep your division rights, while getting a tax break does indeed cost taxpayers quite a bit in the long run when you decide to “cash out”.

    Certainly, there’s got to be some way to improve the program to mitigate the infrastructure costs when landowners cash-out, and also do a better job of protecting rural areas? Or, do yo actually maintain that the program is perfect, and any change would ruin it? You see, I think it’s this total lack of any willingness to compromise that has advocates of sustainable growth so frustrated that they want to do away with land use altogether. Prove me wrong.

  • Lonnie,
    Well put. JS still hasn’t given me an answer to the question: why, if his point about rural land costing less for services is correct, then why shouldn’t ACE get the lions share of tax payer dollars because ACE preserves rural land while land use does not? One only has to look at the data to see there has been a steady stream of development in the rural area despite land use. This is not to mention that the developers took full use of the loop holes in land use, with Biscuit Run being the poster child for abuse.
    With regard to the reason for land use, the report by Robert Tucker states “use value taxation was adopted by the board of supervisors in 1975 to preserve rural farmland and open space and to promote land use planning and orderly development”. This is how it was sold to the residents. Last year, when the tax rate was 74 cents, according to the county if land use was eliminated the tax rate could have been lowered by 11 cents. As we all know, our tax rate went up by and average 15%. I already mentioned Mr. Tucker’s report stating very clearly that land use shifts the tax burden to other tax payers so the increased tax this year fell harder on those who don’t receive tax breaks, mainly low and middle income home owners in both the growth and rural area.
    JS has never told us what services growth area residents receive that he doesn’t or how those service cost more in the growth area on a per household basis. Given two homes, one in the growth area and one in the rural area, who have children in the school system and assuming that once in school, there is no difference in the cost of teacher per pupil what is the cost difference. The one major cost that is different is transportation. The same would be true for police protection and the cost to patrol all the home concentrated in Crozet vs their patrol route in the rural area. Here again gas becomes a factor.
    JS is right, if my suggestion is accepted it would mean an increase tax rate for some rural land owners because of less money available for land use. On the other hand some rural residents would benefit from the sale of their development rights. Any tax increase would not however be because of a reduction in the total amount of money tax payers are now spending on rural protection. Remember it was rural residents who told us on multiple occasions that development, not protection is what’s most important to them. That being the case they can pay the higher assessment rates.

  • Crozet,

    Yes or no, do we pay property taxes based on the acres we own and what those acres cost the county? Is this not how this particular revenue stream is assessed.

    Now of course there the county has multiple revenue sources, property taxes (part of that being car taxes) accounting for 45% of total revenues.

  • JS,
    Yes you pay taxes on the acres you own and in Albemarle County the amount of taxes you pay is based on assessed amount of the property. The county in the 70’s put land use into practice, which reduces the total amount of taxes you pay on your property. As I mentioned, the report from the County Executive states 1. The purpose of land use is to aid in the protection of the rural character of the County. while it used formulas to lower the assessed amount of land supposedly being use for agriculture purposes, it was never based on the fact that on a per household basis you cost less. 2. Because of land use the tax burden, that is to say the amount of taxes not collected means the tax burden is shifted to those who don’t receive the benefit.
    With regard to land use preserving the rural character of the county, not only is there no evidence to prove land use has been effective in this effort, but just the opposite, with a steady stream of development of acreage in land use, both in our growth areas i.e. biscuit run or in the rural areas. This development has cost the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the 5 year pay back period. It also meant that the county government knowingly or otherwise was using land use to manipulate the supply and demand of land in the county versus letting the market decide the value. Add to this the fact it the owner who requests the rezoning who pays the 5 year rollback and you end up with a situation where it was the developer who paid the roll back and then passed it on to the home buyer, therefore elevating home prices. I have asked the county on repeated occasions to provide some evidence of return on investment for the money lost to land use. to date I have received no data to support the yearly multi million dollar loss due to land use.
    Land Use and ACE for that matter are voluntary programs on the part of the County. There is NO mandate from the state to provide land use tax breaks. I would remind you again it was rural residents who have set the tone for rural preservation by objecting to every measure put forth by the County to do so. One only has to read the recent letters in The Progress supporting wyant, dorrier and boyd, because their votes against the rural protection measures to prove that point. If rural residents what absolute property rights, I have no problem with that. But in this county property rights come with property responsibility and that means they can pay at he same assessment rate as the rest of us.

  • Thats a lot of words to dodge a fact Tom.

    Again, I pay my taxes for what the cost is now, not what it is going to maybe some day.

    And to say that the tax burden is shifted is only to rely on someone’s opinion in the face of a study proving otherwise.

  • JS,
    That someone happens to be the Albemarle County Executive and given the choice between his report and your opinion, I’ll go with Mr. Tucker.

  • JS
    If it’s reports you want regarding land use vs ACE and where our tax dollars should go here is a report from the USDA. Seems the USDA also views ACE programs as more valuable in preserving rural land.

    Development at the Urban Fringe and Beyond: Impacts on Agriculture and Rural
    Land
    By Ralph E. Heimlich and William D. Anderson
    ERS Agricultural Economic Report No. 803. 88 pp, June 2001

    (From page vii pof the Summary)
    The cost of effective land conservation incentives would be large, but if resources were redirected, almost one-third of the cropland with the greatest development potential could be protected—Purchasing the development rights to rural land effectively protects it from being developed, while continuing farm use. We estimate the cost to purchase development rights on cropland most likely subject to urban pressure over the next 30 to 50 years at $87-$130 billion. If tax expenditures currently devoted to use-value assessment were redirected to purchase of development rights, almost one-third of the cropland with greatest potential for development could be protected.

  • Tom, the only taxes that I pay the system based on my future expense to the system are my pay-roll taxes.

    If any number of different revenue streams could be redirected or any-number of new taxes could be levied so we could protect “one-third of the cropland with greatest potential for development.

    My property taxes reflect what my property costs the municipality at this moment.

    A scientific study shows land use valuation reflects this reality of different costs, no mater what Mr. Tucker who has a vested bureaucratic interest in generating even more revenue, says.

    More over any land that my family owns that is not in land use, is a huge net gain to the county. Not only that, my property generates a huge and growing amount of Transient Lodging Tax for the county.

    The very same study (which PEC uses to prove that rural preservation is critical because there is a net tax gain in rural properties–umm cant have your cake and eat it too) Shows that the area that you live in consumes more services per acre that you pay in property taxes.

    WE ALL pay the federal and state taxes that make up the difference.

    Getting rid of land use to subsidize buying my development rights is simply taking money out of my back pocket and then putting it in my right hand. It would be awful policy, there is no incentive and it would actually create more development.

    There are localities in Northern Virginia that got rid of land use taxation and thats exactly what happened.

    But lets just say that I am going to actively oppose you on this issue, and any moves that you try to make to influence the larger policy making process.

  • JS,

    How come you aways respond to CR but never to me? ;-)

    Seriously though, I think you pointed out part of the issue here. It has to do how you calculate the cost to the county. If you calculate it by acre, then rural land costs less, but if you calculate it by homes then it costs more. So, yes, you are right that the sum of your property uses less tax payer money (currently) however, your home in the rural area incurs a greater infrastructure burden than a home in the growth area. Make sense?

    The real issue here is what happens when you decide to exercise the subdivision rights, or sell it to someone else who then subdivides the property for homes. When that happens, then not only the burden per home will be greater, but also the cost to taxpayers per acre. At that point, it’s like a dam giving way. Sure, the growth would have been “flowing” along without land-use holding it back, but by saving up all the development then releasing it all at once we cause considerable harm. Isn’t there some way to improve that situation? Whatever happened to compromise?

  • Lonnie,

    You generally seem to be more respectfully and dont resort to hand grenade rhetoric, my fault is that I gravitate towards conflict.

    “If you calculate it by acre, then rural land costs less, but if you calculate it by homes then it costs more.”

    We pay our property taxes by the acre and the assessed value of our house (i.e. size).

    That is how this particular tax works. And not only that it is not the only revenue source for the county.

    And I would also contend that you might be wrong that a household in the rural area costs that much more if any.

    It is the simple urbaness of the growth areas that cost so much. If your contention was true, Charlottesville should have a much lower tax rate than we do. The roads, the sidewalks, the drainage, the increase in public services I would not be surprised that the police/fire/rescue ratios go up in areas that are more dense . . . they have to, look at how much more these services cost the city-more than twice as much, per capita!!! The only per capita cost that I could find is that the city spends less on is public transportation for schools.

    As far as future growth, I have outlined how I think we can lessen the growth in the rural areas. I could look at specific proposals to tighten land use, but also I think we all have to be honest that the more we limit growth in the rural areas the more density we are going to have in the growth areas (hello TDRs?). I am not a grow or die person, I find that ridiculous, but I do not see how we can stop this particular economy (UVA) from growing and attracting new folks. Almost all my friends work at UVA at some level or another, and most of their Jobs are new, as in created in the last couple of years. Now what is the cascading affect of that?

    Tom can not have his cake and eat it, there is no way to limit growth in the rural areas and not increase density in the g.a, and drive up the costs for everyone.

    Now of course ASAP has figured this out, but they may as well be standing in front of a tidal wave trying to connivence it to go back home.

    Does this mean we can not try to time some of these costs, I am certainly willing to look at a way to do this in a balanced way. Tom’s way and the way of his opponents certainly have not been balanced. Though I suppose Tom has been usefully in generating focus on the disaster that implementing the Crozet Master Plan has become.

  • Is that per capita cost include renters, homeless and students? If not, then I can see that vastly inflating costs for urban areas. I’d also love to see some hard facts about the cost of homes rural versus urban by an “expert”. I’ve heard staff say several times that homes in the rural area cost more in infrastructure, but never seen any source statistic. It does make sense to me though, especially in terms of schools, transportation and such. (Hmm… Maybe I’ll email a friend in Planning and see what they know about this…)

    As for growth, I’m not so sure it’s all UVa… As was mentioned elsewhere, a huge percentage of all that new growth was retiring baby-boomers. That means that you aren’t seeing the workforce at UVa moving into these new rural area homes in Albemarle (and frankly, I just don’t know many that could afford them except the executives…) Because of that, I do indeed think we could cut growth significantly and not significantly limit the supply for housing for UVa’s workforce (or at least much more than it is already). In fact, with smarter growth, I suspect that could even increase housing UVa employees could afford and decrease the number of McMansions.

    As an unrelated thread, I’d love to see someone start asking what will happen to our area when all these retired Baby-boomers either die or can’t maintain these large homes as they age? Even Nationally, that could precipitate a second disasterous crash of the housing market that I don’t know if anyone is considering just yet.

  • Lonnie,

    You are asking questions that I would love to see answered.

    I hope to the best of my ability that I am a person who does not make decisions about an issue and then goes looking for the selected facts to prove that I am right.

    “and frankly, I just don’t know many that could afford them except the executives”

    You are right about that, and that of course is mitigating growth somewhat in Albemarle, and thats why you are seeing the sky-rocketing growth rates in the surrounding areas-I think Greene was like 16% in the last 7 years . . . So are we just pushing our problem on to other localities . . .

    As far as your last question . . . we discussed that a bit awhile ago . . . but your point about a future housing crash due to the passing of the baby boomers, seems like to me a read an article about that or heard an economist on a radio show saying exactly the same thing.

  • First, let me say I feel in this conversation about land use that I have tried to stick to the facts as I believe the to be and have never attacked anyone on a personal basis. That said, I feel very strongly and believe the facts show that the land use has been abused to the detriment of the citizens of Albemarle County, especially those in the lower and middle income brackets who pick up the tab.

    Js wrote the following:
    “If you calculate it by acre, then rural land costs less, but if you calculate it by homes then it costs more.”

    This being the case logic would tell us that the more rural land that is not developed the better it would be for the tax payers of Albemarle County. Therefore it is incumbent on the board of supervisors to spent tax dollars where they do the most good and it is clear that ACE is far superior at achieving this goal.

    As for having your cake and eating it, it takes chutzpa to go before the board of supervisors and yell about your property rights and how you need those rights for your retirement, medical expenses etc and then “oh by the way please continue to give me a tax break until I’m ready to cash out”

  • Uh, the quote you attributed to J.S. was mine. (He actually disputes whether that’s true of not)

    I did find it interesting that despite the difference in our three opinions, we’re all endorsing the same candidate (Ann Mallek). As the Radical Progressive Moderate that I am, I still hope that we can find some compromise on these issues. I’ve probably used as much rhetic as anyone, but at the end of the day I do understand the concerns of the rural landowners and farmers (After all, I come from a family of both…)

    CR, I totally get where you are coming from and I hear your anger. I felt it too, each time they’ve failed to pass any sort of meaningful protections for the rural area. I know uncontrolled growth is a problem because I’ve grown up here, and I know exactly what we’ve lost and stand to lose. I don’t think we can trust all rural landowners to simply act in the communities best interest, no more than I trust people to stop throwing their beer bottles and other trash out the side of their cars. That said, people need to feel like they have choices…

    I remember back when they declared the Red Cockaded Woodpecker an endangered species. A met a lot of farmers who fully intended to search their property and shoot them, for fear that they’d no longer be able to harvest the timber they’d grown for decades. While it’s hard for me to understand that mentality, it is undeniably part of human nature. When the state learned that there was a significant problem on their hands, they created a “Safe Harbor” program, by which people that created habit and attracted the birds could sell credits to other landowners who needed to cut trees but had woodpeckers. The end result has been very successful, resulting in a large increase in habitat for this endangered species and the rare longleaf pines they depend on. I tell you this story because I think somewhere in it is a moral of sorts about the kind of creative compromise that may be necessary to fix the land-use program and pass meaningful rural protection.

    Remember to vote, but also that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Ultimately, the world doesn’t change unless we are willing to change first. No candidate will solve our problems without a public willing to be that change.

    Lonnie

  • Lonnie,
    I agree there is room for compromise, but before compromise can occur you have to have a position from which to negotiate.
    Again thanks for your words of moderation.

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