The Albemarle Place shopping center is back on track, Brian McNeill writes in today’s Daily Progress, something like eight years after they first started promoting it. Last year it turned out that the developers never bothered to check if the city’s sewer line has capacity for such a huge development (it doesn’t), and that basically shut ’em down. But a big new sewer line is being built by the county (that’s your tax dollars subsidizing a 2M square foot private development), so now it’s feasible again. They’re still planning the same theater-hotel-grocery-offices thing, and promoting Charlottesville as, chillingly, “the Napa of the East Coast.”
89 thoughts on “Albemarle Place Back from the Dead”
Hey- I am all for making these guys pay the entire freight on the sewer line. But make sure we do not tax them every year for the same thing that they already own…like their buildings to pay the counties bills to maintain and upgrade stuff like….infrastructure.
If you are saying they shouldn’t pay property taxes, because they already helped fund a sewer pipeline they necessitated, then I don’t really get your premise here… Development, especially those including residential elements, has an ongoing associated infrastructure cost. For example, most stores would presumably require roads so that their customers can get there, and those roads require maintenance. The bigger the development the higher the infrastructure costs.
Effectively exempting them from other taxes would put that burden on other taxpayers, since the money for infrastructure does have to come from somewhere eventually. I think many would question the wisdom of putting the infrastructure burden on residents and other businesses that were here prior to the development. It would be not unlike you being forced to pay your neighbor’s water bill who leaves his sprinklers running all the time.
Yes, but development also brings in extra taxes. Taxes that generate for many years. To simply imply that they are getting something for nothing is incorrect. I suspect that the developers will NOT own the pipes, but will have to pay water/sewage bills.
All the houses in our area pay property taxes, a majority of which goes to funding schools, despite the fact that most do not have children. They are paying someone else “bills” by helping to “develope” childrens minds. We are subsidizing their education.
So yelling that we are “subsidizing” private development is unfair as this development will be “subsidizing” a whole lot through their taxes: property, payroll, sales, building etc etc. It is a choice made by local government with tax revenue in their eyes. Do not think for one second that they are doing it to be “good folk.” If the local people would prefer that their local government does not make this type of thing happen, they have the ultimate say…local votes.
Society as a whole benefits when children are educated: so we share that cost. I don’t see the societal benefit in another grocery store, hotel, or theater being built so I don’t see why we should share this cost.
Well, for me, I’m glad to have another place to shop. Heck, what with the price of everything going nowhere but up, the only recourse it to max those cards out! More big box stuff that I just can’t find 20 miles up the interstate, bring it on. Rent’s too high for local stores in big devolpments, so can’t buy local… Argh!
Well, people and housing prices are not exactly flocking to Nelson county. People vote for these things by where they live and the people they ballot for at election time. If this big box place could not make money it would not be built, and it will make money because the people around it will go shopping and enjoy having the shopping there.
I could care less, but my daughters are very excited. And yes, they spend money. Follow the money!!
I think the logic that “As long as people buy it, it must be good for the community” was effectively disproven by the crash of the housing market.
Even if you are a die hard free-market kind of person, the logic still doesn’t work. For a free market to be successful you have to eliminate subsidies and let prices reflect the true value of things. When taxpayers subsidize a development to the tune of 2M through their income taxes, then they never see the real cost.
It’s pretty easy these days for Big Box stores to make us think they are “saving” us money when really they are essentially removing money from the local economy. Therefore, you can’t judge the social value of the company based upon people’s willingness to buy the products, since the actually cost is not evident to consumers.
Nonetheless, big box or not, taxes are how we fund the services that the community demands, and which businesses require (no education = no employees). It is true that businesses tend to be a net gain for the county in taxes and residential developments a net loss. So, some of the tax money from commercial development is used to keep residental taxes lower. You can certainly make the case that it would be more fair for residents to pay higher property taxes but I doubt you’ll find many many supporters on that front.
I don’t follow how these new stores are bringing more money into the county coffers. Will a new grocery store cause me to buy more groceries? Or aren’t we just moving a certain percentage of business from Kroger, Giant, etc. to this new place, thus providing 0 net gain to county income?
I still dont see how that much residential space can succeed. The market is currently awash in property and much more will hit the market well before any of this stuff gets through the planning process.
>>touted to be an elegant mix of main street retail, residential living, Class A officd and upscale hotel……..
I know elegant and that ain`t it.
Stupid people making money off this city…that is my name and I am sticking to it…
My wife and daughters often roll out to Short Pump to do their shopping. Piss poor selection of stores for their needs. Bring in an H & M or DSW and they spend their money here, and the 1% kickback from the ST10s come to us instead of Richmond.
And Kroger across the street is Cville, the new joint is Albemarle. You think the only comp for your bucks is between Kroger and Harris Teeter?
Lonnie- who said it was good for community? I just said people would shop there, spend money and get more in the coffers.
I know that I fight an uphill batttle in these parts being a conservative republican….but I better out myself before someone else does.
Remember: I never said I agreed with everything, but that it is unfair to imply that the developers get everything and will give nothing in return to the Counties taxes.
Van- is this the Night Sky Van?
I think these parts can use some more conservative Republicans like you, basing this opinion of mine solely on your posts today. You sound like a nice, respectful, sane, intelligent person, someone with whom I may disagree, but someone with whom it would be pleasant to have a conversation. The one thing I don’t like about extreme people on either side of the political spectrum is when they get all personal and nasty and hit below the belt. I don’t think anyone here will jump on you for being a conservative Republican. Just keep being even-keeled and respectful, like you seem to be! (I don’t mean to sound so surprised. I mean, I know that there *are* plenty of nice and respectful conservative Republicans, but sometimes the ones who find their way to progressive blogs tend to be the inflammatory not-so-nice kind. Thanks for not being like that. I hope those of us on the left side of the spectrum can represent our people well, too.)
Carry on, good people! I’m back to lurking now! :)
Waldo, Commercial spaces provide more money to the county simply because, as danpri rightly suggested, they pay more in taxes than they generally cost in infrastructure. Residential developments generally cost the locality money because they consume more in infrastructure than they pay in taxes.
Now for a mixed use development like this, containing both commercial and residential I really can’t say whether it would be a net gain, loss, or a wash. The 2M dollar upgrade though seems to suggest that it may be a net loss…
Even so, I’d argue that most people would rather pay more at the shops on 29 than pay higher property taxes. A business can pass the cost onto the consumer, and the consumer can choose to buy or not. If the consumer gets higher taxes, then they’re pretty much stuck with them.
If Charlottesville were really hurting in terms having businesses then I could see taxing business less and residences more, but that’s not the case here.
The amount of money generated in public revenue from the teeny-tiny percentage of the population who drives to Short Pump one or two times a year and the small amount that they spend, and that 1% that would make it into the public coffers is so tiny as to not even offset the cost of the new traffic light that will be required on 29. Just the new sewer line—a very small part of the services that will be required for this development—will run north of $40M. At 1% sales tax, that would require people spending $4,000,000,000 (that’s four billion dollars) at this new development that they otherwise would have spent at Short Pump. That would take centuries.
Huh? I wrote “aren’t we just moving a certain percentage of business from Kroger, Giant, etc. to this new place.” I didn’t mention Harris Teeter, and I did add an “etc.” because, hey, I was on a train in Manhattan pecking out a blog comment on an iPhone and I think we can all name a bunch of grocery stores that exist in the area. The point is that there are oodles of grocery stores, and the fact that a new one is opening will generate exactly $0 in new revenue for the two local governments, because neither you nor I are going to eat a single extra calorie as a result of a new grocery store opening.
danpri: Akin to truth in lending (you`ve heard of that?)
This all much to complicated for me. Could we just not have Albemarle Place and just keep what we have. Do we really need more development in the city or county? NO!!!!!!
Danpri – No. What`s the point?
Would the new sewer line be needed anyways in time? Are any other development or residences benefiting from it?
I don’t think this is solely for Albemarle Place.
The “Napa of the East Coast”, eh? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if an old-time farmer up Rt. 29 way, who is getting tired of all the encroachment and tax increases, grabs his scatter-gun and helps one of these big city, fat-cat developers take a little “dirt napa”.
Van- not sure if you were a friend of mine named “Van.” NO other point.
Waldo- your a single guy that does not shop. You wear jeans how often? You underestimate how many people leave our fair area to shop elsewhere. And even if my wife and young uns only come close to the 4B you speak of, and they sometimes try, it still takes jack from the area and away from our own region. If not just the taxes, then the cash, labor, in town profits etc, business license revenue (which is based on sales) etc.
What I do NOT like is that these guys will focus almost entirely on getting chain store corps in the lease. Safer and more secure I understand, but it does freeze out the local small business people. Look what Barracks road did to that old bakery, which actually ground its own flour for freshness by Hollywood Video so they could land Panera, with its truck delivered frozen bread.
I do so much shopping online that I’m sometimes surprised to drive past places like the indoor mall and see so many cars there.
Of course, I buy food locally, but if I need just about anything else (widget to fix something, kitchen gadgets, electronics, books, clothing, even shoes) my first choice is the ‘Net. Not ecologically sound, what with all those UPS deliveries,(and not at all helpful to the local economy) but the free shipping through Amazon is hard to pass up. (For the past two years, I’ve done ALL my Christmas shopping online — a tremendous timesaver.)
There are millions of us who are saving gasoline, time, and aggravation by shopping via the Internet. I wonder when that will translate into fewer people showing up at bricks-and-mortar shopping centers.
Waldo, that’s a good point and facinating figure to back it up. It would be interesting to see that again with the property taxes and business licenses included.
Just to be devli’s advocate here, you said:
Well, the whole point is that it is a mixed use development. Hypothetically it won’t be you or I buying an extra loaf of bread but rather that the residents of that community would use it. In principle, I think things like grocery stores should be included in these kinds of developments, so that people can walk to them. (I suppose one could walk across 29, but it seems like kind of a deadly proposition…)
Nonetheless, I agree with what other folks are saying. Is this a development we really need in an already bloated market? If so, then instead of destroying another stream and forest, wouldn’t it have been better to redevelop an underperforming shopping center like Albemarle Square?
Lonnie, I agree it would be better to stop the constant building of shopping centers. Redevelop Alb Square – yes but even more, not adding more developments up 29N. There are three large ones going up north of the airport, totally crazy.
danpri- After reflection I connect Night Sky Van with lights at Towe Park. If that, by some stretch, is a connection, I too know a fellow who is quite opinionated (to be kind) about those lights.
All of you people whose families were not here when Charrlottesville had a population of 25,000 and Albemarle had 30,000 should leave. You are over-populating the area. True you have mad the area a far greater interesting place to live and we have better hospitals, schools, etc., get out. I’d prefer to die from boredom than have more people on my roads, in more and more schools, and using more and more sewer lines.
Joking aside, I have been told that all of the infrastructure and operational expenses are not paid for by tax payers, but rather, they’re paid for by user fees. Thus, the enitre cost of this sewer line (Meadowcreek) and all of the other projects will be paid for by the customer.
Also, so many people shop at Short Pump at Christman that there are several groups who charter buses during the season to make money for their organizations. There’s even a bus or two that travels to the shopping center in Norfolk. They shop and eat and shop and eat, then come home. That’s why Macy’s and other non-local outlets advertise fairly heavily on our local cable.
C-Ville Eye, you beat me to the punch!
All day I’ve been working on Charlottesville Tomorrow’s story from the Board of Supervisors work session with the Albemarle County Service Authority. The first part of the hour-long meeting featured Don Wagner explaining how water and sewer lines get paid for, and it’s worth listening to for that. Towards the end of the podcast, there’s a brief update on Albemarle Place.
A Freudian slip perhaps?
Seriously though, I think you could carry that analogy to rather absurd extremes. I know people that go to New York City on a regular basis to shop. Does that mean we should try to have all the stores that NYC has?
It sounds a bit like the business version of keeping up with the Joneses. There are alot of people that move to the area from larger cities or NOVA because they hear how beautiful it is, and what a great place to live. Then, after being here a few months they start wondering where all their familiar stores are. IMHO, they never should have left the big city in the first place.
If they think it is economical hop in a bus and go to Norfolk to save $1.00 on the latest trend, that’s fine but I don’t see it as taxpayer’s responsibility to subsidize the building of those stores in my backyard to save them the trip. After all, then we’d be Norfolk.
And Sean Tubbs, I was just at your site trying to find you email address to tell you to look at Council’s agenda on line under Consent Agenda to find out how much the City and County decided to give to the TJPDC in extra funding – $6,750, I believe. Thanks for the link.
Lonnie, my comment about shopping was in response to Waldo’s idea that began with “The amount of money generated in public revenue from the teeny-tiny percentage of the population who drives to Short Pump…” I don’t think we know how many people are shopping else for goods that they can not buy here. I just today tried to buy a watch band at CVS – NOT. I’ll either buy one Monday when I’m near Target or I’ll J. Jacquith it online. As for how much the tax payer will be subsidizing Albemarle Place, I have no idea and am careful not to pull figures out of my hat. However, I believe the new employees at the hospital and at NGIC will probably be very interested in this development rather than pressuring the county to allow them to move to Earlysvill.
“I’ll either buy one Monday when I’m near Target or I’ll J. Jacquith it online.”
Yay! I’m a verb!
You’re a new kind of verb, compound complex.
You might stop in at Tuel’s on the Downtown Mall to get a watchband. They’ve got a good selection, their prices are reasonable, and they’re a locally-owned business. One of the nice ladies there will even put the new band on your watch for you.
Thanks, I’ll try to get there earlier during the day. I don’t think they are open after five.
Actually, I’m married. Though, indeed, I wear jeans seven days a week—I’m not much into shopping or, on the whole, acquiring stuff. Think of this as a business model. Is it worth a $50M outlay for no possible chance of recouping even a small fraction of that investment?
The difference between “user fees” and taxes is largely academic. (It’s a favorite rhetorical trick of Republicans in the General Assembly who have sworn to never, ever raise taxes—they instead raise “user fees,” which is how we ended up with those $4,000 speeding tickets last year.) It’s true that folks like me, who are not on well or sewer, won’t have to pay for this sewer extension, but a) that’s just one of the costs of this new development and b) oodles of people are on ACSA, which is why so many people aren’t thrilled that water and sewer rates are skyrocketing, as is necessary to cover the cost of this new sewer line for Albemarle Place.
And the $143M to be put into the Ragged Mtn project… I’ve been told that RWSA, ACSA and the city’s department of public works have some $400M of projects on the books for the foreseeable future for water and sewer projects, not including storm water management projects which have not been designed yet. No one is watching the store. Our water and sewer fees are anticipated to be well over $100/month for most non-commercial customers. So far, the customers seem to be in favor of all of the projects. I believe 48% of the water customers are county and 52% are supplied by the city. I don’t believe there are any operating wells still left in the city (there were some used as late as the fifties).
Waldo, checking with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s blog (http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/)under the heading “ALBEMARLE PLACE UPDATE” that said ““When this question of the size of the sewer line came up, I panicked and went and read what the Service Authority had said,” Wagner said. “And the very first report that came out of the County staff to the Planning Commission and [the Board of Supervisors] wasn’t a red flag, but it certainly was a yellow flag saying it was questionable whether or not there was enough sewer capacity down there.”” According to the ACSA, they’re not sure if the current sewer capacity can not handle Albemarle Place. I guess the question for me is a matter of trusting what these people say.
Many of you are missing the point here. The big question is simple: do we want the Charlottesville area to look and feel the way it does now, or do we want to live in Loudon County and other counties that haven’t managed growth well. If Loudon is the way you want to live, please move there now and leave us with our small town. Danpri, can’t you see how a place can go from beautiful and rustic to overpopulated? Do you want C-ville to be Loudon County? Is that your idea of beauty and the way life should be?
This project is in the county’s growth area which is supposed to be about 5% of the county’s total land area. How is this like Loudon County. Why have a growth area if there can’t be growth there?
Cynic…oh I see it all too well. One of the reasons I choose to live in the city in an area fully developed. I like my 3 minute drive to work. No interest in worries about what might happen around me. I make wayyyy to many trips to the NOVA area each year to want this area to be like that! Yet, the bottom line is simple: It would not be built if it would not make money. And so it must be something that will be visited by many people. You can bet the supes wouldnot have voted the use permit if their last few meetings were overflowing with citizens yelling “NO MORE!” Sadly, most people just complain on MB’s.
Developers are a simple lot: will it make money? Yes or No. Not a lot of emotive processing here!
Anyone ever try shopping in Barracks these days? The place is packed and overlfowing. Parking around the holidays IS like NOVA already.
danpri said “It would not be built if it would not make money.” Can you apply this tenet to the new proposal for the Ragged Mtn reservoir? It will be decades before the rate payers pay that thing off, and by that time, we will need to do extensive work on the then “old” dam. Nobody knows these days what the BoS is thinking and why.
The sewer project is part of a larger project that’s been in the works since the County decided to shut down the Camelot plant, and it approved Hollymead, North Pointe, and the various smaller development on 29. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that the new sewer will take the waste from the northern part of the county into the system going to Moore’s Creek, which is anticipated to increase its capacity from the approximately 15 million gpd to 25 million gpd over the next 10 to 15 years. As for revenues to the county, undeveloped property generates far less in real estate tax revenue than developed properties — and I’m betting that the county has been assessing the Albemarle Place property for its approved development potential lately, and has likely already realized a good bit of increased revenue off of it–assuming my search of the real estate tax records online here: http://albemarlevapropertymax.governmaxa.com/propertymax/rover30.asp.–is correct, Albemarle place is currently being assessed at about $20 million — at the current rate of .71/$100, that’s about $142,000 for 2008. Once it’s developed, the manner of assessing the property will change (it will go from comps or cost to income for the commercial, comps for the residential). With sufficient income stream, the commercial property in real estate taxes alone will generate a large amount of revenue.
Anyhow, the sewer project is necessary for a lot of reasons, not just Albemarle Place–at least that’s what I understand. Could be wrong.
Sorry about the bad link above. Try this: http://www.albemarle.org/department.asp?department=finance&relpage=1999. Click on “view real estate assessments online”, then “property search”, then “owner”, then search “albemarle place”.
WT, according to Charlottesville Tomorrow the Camelot treatment plant was not shut down but was upgraded (http://cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/2008/02/rwsa_feb08.html). It’s origins are quite interesting: “The RWSA took control of the facility in the early 1990’s after it was designed and paid for by several landowners in the area.” Isn’t this an interesting proffer?
cville eye–i am probably wrong about their shutting down Camelot, but they’re not letting folks direct sewage there anymore because of a lack of capacity to handle the approved developments in the area.
Wt, I’m not surprised. The article said that even after the upgrad, the facility couldn’t handle any new cliets. Maybe they replaced some of the existing clients with new ones and is redirecting the old ones to Meadowncreek?
If we didn’t have Charlottesville Tomorrow we would know very little about the actions of our “authorities” until after the fact.
My concern isn’t that nobody will go there, it’s that a) the public is subsidizing a private development and b) we’ll pretend that it constitutes more business in Albemarle, when we’re really mostly moving purchases from other area businesses.
You’re absolutely right about that, WT, it’s just that Albemarle Place is the straw (or, rather, haystack) that’s breaking the camel’s back. The sewer project is necessary to accommodate growth, and Albemarle Place is a huge, sudden increase in that growth. But rather than pretend that growth is some organic process that we have no input into and really can’t blame on anybody, I think it’s fair to point at Albemarle Place and call them out as a major contributor here.
If you look at the situation in Northfields, which began construction in the ’60’s, some of the houses are on the sewer line and others have septic systems which are now failing. Many of those home owners (most of whom are not the original owners) now want to connect to the sewer lines near but not in front of their homes. The ACSA is now trying to work out with the BoS as to how to pay for the line extensions and the connections because it is estimated that it is a $400,000 project that, at $7,000 per household, can bring in only about $100,000 from those home owners who wish to connect now. Thus, they will have to be subsidized by other rate payers in order to connect to the sewer line or abandon their houses because of the lack of aeqate waste management which will cause blight in a thriving neighborhood. It was estimated that those new customers would actually have to pay $15 – 17,000 in order to cover their costs without subsidy. The ACSA and the BoS acknowledges that many of the customers can not afford this fee up front and there is no developer to pay. This cost is only for hook up, not for treatment.
Albemarle Place is 2M sq. ft. of space, I believe. Wouldn’t it be better if it’s connected to the existing sewer lines to the treatment plant and paid for by the developer (tenants) now than somebody trying to retrofit tit to a treatment plant that may need upgrading in the future to handle the load? At least now, the ACSA can determine exactly what capacity is needed and its paid for in today’s dollars than waitto try to retrofit it later, as with Northfields? I have a feeling I’m missing your point.
Waldo and Cville Eye–I didn’t think of this before your comments (or mine, for that matter), but the county is likely to charge high tap fees to new customers, in addition to the regular fees for sewer usage, that will over time recapture the costs of the project. The numerous taps required for a development like Albemarle Place will be expensive. Eventually, the users of the new system(s) will pay for it. The up front costs will be bourne by the taxpayers, but over time the end users pay for it. Of course, these costs will likely be absorbed by all of the users of the entire system in the form of increased sewer fees. I’m not certain how RWSA deals with these, but I know from other jurisdictions that I’ve done legal work for that the tap fees end up paying for the systems eventually — it just spreads it out over time.
evil, Evil, EVIL!
This development will, according to the county, not even have a crosswalk across Hydraulic Road. This development, with extremely limited egress and ingress, will completely foul up the Hydraulic Road – Emmett St interchange.
The long sad history of development, as I’ve seen it in western Fairfax County and into Loudon, is that developers always get the taxpayers to foot the bill, even when it is blatantly obvious to everyone that the roads and sewage lead right into the midst of lands that are owned solely by developers. And, because the citizens didn’t see the big picture, Danpri, they did not come out in droves to protest; in fact, many supported such measures, though I know quite a few with regrets. While subsidizing and enabling developers is certainly wrong, it is a pale shadow of the long-term wrong being sold to us, the idea that growth is a good thing. At some point, this new growth will lead to the next batch of growth, at which point new growth will be “required” because we MUST HAVE GROWTH. The goodness of growth is a fallacy. To me, this is all very Dr. Seussian: at some point we will be saturated with growth and then we will look around at what used to be beautiful. It’s a bit like the arguments about what to do with endangered owls in the northwest. The deforesting argument was: it’s owls vs. jobs. The sad truth is that, once the forest is gone, the jobs are gone, too, and so are the owls…and to what end? No forest, no jobs, no owls. I would make the same argument here. After years of growth have been inflicted upon us, what will we have?
Lawny…make me think.
A couple years ago a lady was walking from Collonades to CVS to get her film developed. She had to walk on the sidewalks most of the way as it was too dangerous to walk on the small side area, so she crossed the steet.
Just about the 7-11, she went to cross the street again to the first set of avialable sidewalks leading to CVS. A minivan driver, fiddling with her cassette deck did not see her and struck her with the bumper and her head with the mini-vans side mirror. Did not even hit the brakes prior to impact. Broken pelvis, two broken legs, broken wrist, smashed head with blood coming out both ears. She lived just long enough for me to activate the DNR on my grandmother.
Oh, no crosswalks anywhere..
How much of the new sewer pipe is in the county and how much is in the city?
Is this an improvement of the old pipe or an enlargement of the pipe necessary for growth which means a new pipe not an infrastructure improvement. If it is the latter the county should bare the entire cost
Are city properties impacted for a pipe clearly needed for county growth?
Is this an RWSA project which means the city bares a percentage of the cost or is the cost entirely borne by the Albemarle Service Authority which means county residents bare the cost?
Where are the maps to see the route of this pipe and how many trees will be killed ?
I will be forever amazed how Americans can be so addicted to over-simplification, to the point of complete breakdown. For instance, the polarized debate over “growth”. Is GROWTH in your savings account a good thing? How about GROWTH of your credit card debt? It just depends, doesn’t it!!!
Growth in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, a community that does grow to critical mass will inevitably shrink. Has Charlottesville and area reached that point? I seriously doubt it has.
So, what should be debated, rather, are the merits of individual developments. With that in mind, a community needs to assess whether it is attracting the right type of growth and if not, why…
In fact, a community that does NOT grow to critical mass will inevitably shrink.
I suspect you weren’t intending to imply this, Danpri, but you raise a point I’ve heard many times that I want to respond to. I’ve often heard it voiced that developments should be able to handle any conceivable load, including holidays. I think this is crazy. I think it should be difficult to get in and out of shopping centers around the holidays, it’s the holidays! The choice, as I see it, is to either have a parking lot and traffic system that is smaller and cheaper that is fine 355 days a year and is then annoying for 10, or to have a large and expensive system that is unnecessary and wasteful 355 days a year and only necessary for 10. For me, I prefer the former. I don’t have the violent allergy to inconvenience that seems to permeate America today.
Will it? That’s an interesting assertion, but I’d love to see some documentation. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Must it grow to critical mass all at once? What if it takes 100 years? Or 1,000? Is there an ideal rate of growth and, if so, how does it compare to our rate of growth?
Presumably whatever source that you can provide can also define “critical mass.” Then we’ll know if we’ve reached that point, rather than relying on hunches.
From what you’re saying, precisely the opposite would appear to be true: we should be determining a) what “critical mass” means b) what population number that would require that we limit ourselves to and c) how we go about safely growing (or shrinking) to that size.
York County has already done precisely this. In 1991 they limited their “maximum build-out population” to 80k via their comprehensive plan. Their 2002 study found that they’ll be topping out at 81,000, pretty close to their goal. And then they’re done growing.
You, it sounds like, are advocating doing just this, yes?
Waldo, it’s- again – not that simple. You can’t just google in “sustainability” and get a valid answer for a particular situation. Charlottesville has its own set of assets and challenges. For instance, we are indeed relatively close to Richmond, which can be seen as both a competitor and a driving force. To my knowledge, Richmond was near decay in the 80’s and now has enjoyed some freshening. Due to a paucity of competitive and varied retail outlets in Charlottesville, many folks – including myself – have had to go to Richmond to purchase items such as furniture, even some makes of cars which are not represented here cville. At the same time, much of the local wealth is either linked to UVA (particularly the Medical Establishment) and old money. What jobs are available in cville? Are they pretty much all UVA and retail dependent?
In an environment of competing surrounding communities open for growth, attention must be paid outside of just what we presently have. Think of it a bit like the human fecundity rate: 2 children per family cannot replenish population, so more than 2 are required. If there’s ongoing war, then perhaps even 4 children may be needed. In the case of sustainable communities, the question we should ask is: what are the strengths and weaknesses of our area, including other surrounding communities in the analysis?
This is the kind of planning and administration that is desirable and I see very little of here in Charlottesville.
Why do you keep saying that? Who said it was simple? If anything, you have provided the simplest perspective here, writing:
Which, again, I’d really love to read more about, and I hope you’ll provide a link.
I can’t help but notice you haven’t responded to my query about what to do once we reach “critical mass,” whatever size that is. Do we plan for it, and stop growing at that point, in the manner of York County? Or do we just admire the whizzing sound that it makes as it flies past us?
I don’t have a link for you Waldo. Sorry. You’re going to have to use your own grey matter.
As for the question what to do ONCE critical mass has been achieved, that’s a whole other set of issues. Why are you concerned about what we do not yet have or are apparently even aspiring to? That said, my answer is: doggedly improve our stance and our processes to better our community and our lives. What else?
I heard Kevin Lynch say at City Council tonight that the city water use has been dropping every year and so the new sewer pipe is needed only for county growth, and he said the City should not be asked to pay for it. The sewer pipe was build in 1950 and if it is filled to capacity that is a County issue, caused by growth, not a City issue. And if there are trees growing along the pipe that are impacting it, that is a maintenance issue and should have been taken care of long ago by Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority just like the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir which should have been dredged years ago as a maintenance issue.
What is RWSA doing with all the money they’ve stockpiled estimated at over 30 million since they doubled the water rates in 2002 to put a bladder on the South Fork, repair the Ragged Mt. dam, and start dredging ?
oh, and they’ve done none of the above
I heard a little of that. After the Matters From the Public segment was over, Council responded by asking Overrun O’Connell to comment. He said that it is not entirely due to growth, that every time it rains there is spillage of sewage into a stream (which we all know we can’t have). He then said his usual, that he would get the necessary information to council at a later date. Whether that information is made public he didn’t say, but usually that kind of information doesn’t make it public. He uses the “you have inside information, so you should consider yourself one of the privileged few” tactic with council because he knows it usually works. The question kevin raised about cost was not answered. Surprise, surprise. Council didn’t ask either, because in Charlottesville, money is no object.
I heard Mr. Lynch say the spillage is due to excess capacity which again is not a City problem it is a County problem because the County needs more capacity and the City needs less. I also heard him ask who is at the negotiating table for the City ? This shouldn’t be a cost share agreement as Mr. O’Connell tried to portray it —-it is a County issue and the cost should be borne completely by the County. The City needs a new negotiator or they will be paying for this.
Cville Eye, I heard the comments about spillage from Mr.Lynch in the second public comment period which came at the very end of the meeting.
Since the RWSA, ACSA and the city’s public works department are not noted for truth in their statments to the public, I will not argue with you Water Lover. If it is a RWSA project, then the city’s negotiators are O’Connell and Mueller; however they can be out-voted by Fern, Tucker and Gaffney. If it is a ACSA project then thei city doesn’t have to contribute anything at all. One thing for certain, the public has no control over any of it. I remember the good old days when the public had to approve the issuing of bonds.
Cville Eye, according to Mr. O’Connell’s comments tonight this is an RWSA project and is subject to a cost sharing agreement. I think the city does have veto power even though they are out-numbered. We just need a tough negotiator which I feel is sadly lacking.
Water Lover, you may be right about the veto power, but I’ve never heard of it. However, the voting members of the RWSA are O’Connell-Mueller-Fern-Tucker-Gaffney (developer). Council doesn’t vote, which is okay because they never ask the RWSA enough questions to vote intelligently anyway. That’s why council and the BoS formed the authority in the first place years ago, they don’t want to have to deal with the issues of water and sewer. They’d rather spend half the night talking about issues of design (something they know nothing about either). That’s why they voted on the Western McIntire Park Plan – 2008 the same night it was presented to them.
I have learned that the Nature Conservancy stream meandering project for Meadow Creek and the proposed new sewer line share much of the same route. Interesting! Is this another Nature Conservancy/ RWSA boondoggle?
There is also significant opposition to tearing up all the land around Meadow Creek to fix it.
Will this lead to less sediment or more sediment by tearing up all the plants and trees ?
It’s clear to me that the local yokels have turned the water over to the multi-bilion dollar, global Nature Conservancy (who does not want to conserve the nature around Ragged Mtn), but I didn’t know they’re turning the sewer over to it also. Well, at these prices, we can’t say that we’re getting something for nothing.
“I heard Kevin Lynch say at City Council tonight that the city water use has been dropping every year and so the new sewer pipe is needed only for county growth, and he said the City should not be asked to pay for it.”
This will also be the case with the regional transit authority. The increase in bus routes will be mainly for those county residents who wish to come to the city (UVA) and work. I think the last councilor that championed the county’s picking up its development costs was David Toscano. Until Kevin, the rest just go along to get along.
Perhaps growing to critical mass, according to Majunga, means we end up looking just like Loudon. Anything short of our critical mass means we are doomed to “shrinkage,” whatever that might look like. Honestly, it sounds sort of inviting at this point. I know there are a lot of people in Loudon County who would like some shrinkage.
There’s a somewhat unmeasurable aesthetic quality to a place like Charlottesville. I would like my children, grandchildren, etc… to have a few places, havens if you will, such as Charlottesville. I firmly believe that some places, buildings, environments, etc… have aesthetic value that is diminished by growth. Charlottesville, being my home, is one of these. In the US, where the car and the dollar are kings, we seem to have a hard time recognizing and preserving things that really ought to be preserved and/or are just fine the way they are, McIntire Park being one such example. The possibility of us becoming Loudon or the “Napa of the East” is something that most of us should think about when we hear developers and such tout the virtues of growth.
Schuyler is calling you, Cynic… That decaying community is an example of what happens with such short-sighted mentality. And what kind of “shrinkage” are you looking for? Everyone should leave but your own family and friends?
If an area is so fortunate to be in demand, like Charlottesville often is, and in the comfortable position to be able to pick, choose, establish and nurture a well-planned growth (at least for the time being), it seems wasteful, to me, to forgo the opportunity.
There seems to be confusion over who will pay for the new sewer pipe. All major water and sewer pipes in the system are controlled and paid for by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the costs passed on to the city and county rate-payers. Actual hook-ups and lines leading from the major pipes in the county are controlled by the Albemarle Service Authority. The Daily Progress article was confusing because Gary Fern, of the Service Authority was quoted when actually this is an RWSA project which Mr. Frederick is in charge of. The City and County negotiate a cost sharing agreement for these projects. In the case of the new enlarged Meadow Creek sewer line for Albemarle Place the county should be picking up the entire tab because there is nothing wrong with the pipe it is only a capacity problem that is necessitating spillage into the stream,and county growth that makes the enlargement necessary.
If the City rate-payers get stuck paying for this they will need to hold Council responsible. The same goes for all the new water plan infrastructure which is being driven by county growth.
It may well be a project by the RWSA, but not all sewer lines are installed by that authority. For example, the new sewer lines proposed for streets in the Northfiels’ subdivision will be an ACSA project (http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:NHoxEgzOhygJ:cvilletomorrow.typepad.com/charlottesville_tomorrow_/ Charlottesville Tomorrow Northfields ACSA&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us)
Thanks Cville Eye I stand corrected. It must have something to do with the fact that this pipe originates in the City. There will be a meeting on Sept 24th at the performing arts center of Charlottesville High School from 6-8pm to view the pipeline route.
I wonder if the Hollymead Town Center is connected to this line or to the one at Camelot.
So, Majunga, if I don’t want Charlottesville to become butt ugly and a traffic nightmare, I’m selfishly trying to horde it for myself and family?
All I’m saying is that growth for the sake of growth is just plain stupid, and we need to learn to pay very close attention when we hear the word. We need to ask more than just “who is paying for it?” We need to ask “why?”
I’m probably looking for what York County has done, according to Waldo. In short, they asked the question: “how big do we need to be?” I would love to see an analysis of our water supply, our long-term employment picture, our land resources (in case we need to produce our own crops when gas hits $10 per gallon), etc….. so that we can better understand our limitations, in terms of sustainability. For all you know, it’s possible that we have already surpassed what our growth ought to be. How would we know? By continuing to build until we’re butt ugly or we finally recognize that we’ve outgrown our ability to sustain ourselves?
I’ve already seen some butt ugliness and growth of this sort in C-ville. The Pantops area is both. It is my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) that the city is providing emergency services to the Pantops area (county) because this area grew too quickly.
If you wish to have the last word on this, go ahead. I’m done. People either get this or they don’t.
“The Pantops area is both. It is my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) that the city is providing emergency services to the Pantops area (county) because this area grew too quickly.” The city provides FIRE service to Pantops as well as to other areas of albemarle County for an annual fee. It has been doing so for a long, long time.
Lonnie, You seem like a sensible guy and environmentally knowledgeable. Do you think the 9.5 mile up-hill pipeline to connect the two reservoirs is a good idea?
Why does “growth = butt ugly”?
When Jefferson built Monticello and grew the area, was that butt ugly?
Planning for growth when growth is knocking at your door is the smart thing to do, rather than shoving your head in the sand and coming up every so often to scare anyone approaching.
http://www.cvillepublicmedia.org/wina/rn_wheeler_080916.mp3 providess the audio for Brian Wheeler’s interview with Coy Barefoot this past Tuesday. Near the end of the half show, Mr. Wheeler gives some interesting information on the connection between Albemarle Place and the sewer line. I also got the impression that North Pointe will not be connecting into the Camelot treatment plant, but rather Moore’s Creek through the Meadowcreek line. It seems that Don Wagner, chairman of ACSA is also connected to the North Pointe development.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of downloading the mp3, you can also click the play button and listen here.
“It seems that Don Wagner, chairman of ACSA is also connected to the North Pointe development.”
Mr. Wagner is a well-known local developer. He gave us Seminole Square, among other county jewels. He lives near the reservoir, which occasioned his impassioned opposition to the alternate western US29 bypass route (very near his property) recently championed by van Yahres and others. Development is good so long as it doesn’t affect the developers too personally…
So the chairman of the ACSA and the chairman of the RWSA are both developers? Are developers the only people in the area that know anything about water and sewer? Now wonder birth was given to the genetically defective Ragged Mtn proposal, they are all inbred.
@Cville Eye – A few points on sewer connections. Hollymead Town Center (HTC) connects through multiple ACSA trunks to the RWSA Powell Creek Interceptor. The most recent big rezoning there (HTC Area A2) resulted in a February 2008 agreement where HM Acquisition LLC agreed to “bear all costs of the design, permitting and construction” of new sewer capacity once the existing lines hit 80% of capacity as determined by ACSA. A similar arrangement was made for the Biscuit Run development and its interceptor.
Earlier rezonings like Albemarle Place (2003) and North Pointe (2006) do not have such agreements in place. It is expected that North Pointe will be connected via new pump station(s) to the RWSA Powell Creek Interceptor. When those pump stations are operational, Camelot treatment plant will be shut down. When I wrote about North Pointe’s need for a new sewer connection in December 2007, I pointed out that the RWSA was expected to weigh in on the ability of the Powell Creek Interceptor to handle new flows. I believe they are still completing that assessment of the capacity of all their sewer interceptors to handle new users.
Albemarle Place will connect to Meadowcreek Interceptor.
Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Brian Wheeler, thanks for the clarification. I guess it’s up to the city customers to see to it that they will not be picking up the costs associated with any additional expansion of capacity needed for northern Albemarle development.
Wait a minute. Does Dona Wagner recuse himself from any discussion of Powell Creek?
More on the proration of sewer costs due to growth near Albemarle Place: http://www.dailyprogress.com/cdp/news/local/article/cost_for_pipeline_expansion_at_issue/28281/#When:02:40:00Z
Upon what basis they are planning to divide up the costs is still unclear. RWSA is accustomed to making these kinds of decisions without public or elected representative input. I hope the public is able to ask the right questions. I doubt if our representatives will ask any. The last councilors to ask these types of questions were Toscano and Lynch.
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