Planning Commission Opposing Rezoning Due to Road Capacity

The Albemarle Planning Commission is set to oppose rezonings in the vicinity of Glenmore, Connie Chang writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow, because there’s simply not the road capacity to handle the traffic between there and Charlottesville. That’s good news for supporters of common sense. Traditionally, developers get to build whatever they want just about wherever they want, and we get stuck footing the bill for the sewer line capacity, road expansions, etc. to accommodate the development. It’s a net financial loser for the county. The area around Glenmore is designated as a growth area, to the perpetual horror of Glenmore, but a two-lane 250W runs between there and Pantops, and it’s already getting more traffic than it can handle. Adding the 1,000+ residential units that could hypothetically be added would require $16M in road upgrades. As the state’s transportation system hurtles towards bankruptcy, there’s almost zero chance of such upgrades happening. Wisely, the planning commission isn’t interested in approving development that our infrastructure can’t handle. It’s a practical approach that hasn’t often been taken in the county, but one that’s necessary in the face of a slow-motion economic transportation crisis that isn’t likely to be solved in the next decade.

18 thoughts on “Planning Commission Opposing Rezoning Due to Road Capacity”

  1. If this is their position, they should revise the comprehensive plan to match and not call it a growth area.

  2. Can we have a national sterilization plan for all developers?
    If you make your living as a developer, your only allowed one offspring so that you will not litter the earth with more developer scum.
    I think this is a viable long-term plan to limit growth in Charlottesville!

  3. I enjoy hyperbole as much as anyone Jeff, but on this issue, in this town, reasonable discussion is far too rare.

    The Planning Commission’s approach ensures that housing prices will remain out-of-reach for prudent, median income households, and that construction trades will have to vacate the city and county.

    At present the median household income in Albemarle is near $58K, and median home sales are near $285K (per CAAR data). Even with low interest rates, middle class households cannot and should not attempt to buy an average house.

    The only way for “Charlbemarle” to have middle class residents is to have more housing in close proximity to its good and services, and that will likely entail more development. At present middle class residents are pushed by economic necessity to live in Fluvanna, Nelson, Greene, etc.

    So the question really is: if development moves just beyond the county’s borders, will that be better or worse for Charlbeamarle’s infrastructure?

    I contend that it will likely be worse for Albemarle. 250 will continue to get busier whether development happens around Glenmore, or just over the border in Fluvanna. At least if you develop near Glenmore you get the property tax dollars to use for the infrastructure.

  4. “It’s a practical approach that hasn’t often been taken in the county…” When the Planning Commission are approached with a plan with the right Priced, expensive housing it will approve the development. That’s why Glenmore is in a growth area and that development was allowed to happen in the first place. That’s why Fontana was allowed, right prices, right people.
    Since the property is in the growth area I’m sure the developers will be looking at Spurziem’s course of action (suit) if they get tired of the PC’s go-around. We should all stay tuned and see if the County will proceed with plans for a new fire station in that area, preparing for growth.
    As for the transportation fund, I thought I read the other day that the VDOT’s budget has risen from $6.3B to $9B in less than 5 years. That suggests to me that it will continue to growth unless people drastically reduced their use of gas.
    With the MJ Hospital’s moving to Pantops and a number of big businesses moving to Zion Crossroads, that section of 250 E will continue to get traffic. The County new that when it set up its growth areas and when they moved farm-type property in it.

  5. I enjoy hyperbole as much as anyone

    I enjoy hyperbole way, way more than anyone else. You couldn’t possibly understand how much I like it.

    As for the transportation fund, I thought I read the other day that the VDOT’s budget has risen from $6.3B to $9B in less than 5 years. That suggests to me that it will continue to growth unless people drastically reduced their use of gas.

    Sometimes the word “no” isn’t negative enough. Such occasions call for a “hell no,” or a “jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, no.” This is a bigger “no” than that. I’ve spent far more time reading VDOT’s budgets than I’d care for. The gas tax provides VDOT with a whopping $85M in construction money this year. The improvements for this Glenmore-area construction alone would run $16M. So we could widen five three-mile long stretches of highway in the whole of the state this year. Or build a couple of bypasses.

    In a nutshell, we keep building new roads, forgetting that we have to pay to maintain them. All infrastructure has to be maintained and so, accordingly, every year the percentage of VDOT’s budget dedicated to maintenance creeps up. And it’s about to leap up, thanks to the burst of highway construction in the 1970s. Right now maintenance is 50% of VDOT’s annual budget. Road construction is 19%. 2018 is the magic year when there is 0% available for construction, because maintenance occupies the rest of VDOT’s budget. That’s the year in which all construction stops.

    No, VDOT’s budget is not growing meaningfully, and even if it was, a $3B increase is nothing compared to this state’s infrastructure needs. You couldn’t untangle a single upstate county for $3B.

  6. Here is a chart called “Projected Annual Revenue” (Click on it to make it larger) showing where Chalbemarle will get $50M per year for road construction locally:

    It’s not $50M, it’s $19M—the rest is entirely from local taxes that we raise ourselves. The funding that they’re referring to is from HB3202, the transportation funding bill that was premised in no small part on abusive driver fees. And you’ll remember how well that turned out; a year ago July, people were baying for the heads of legislators who authorized the $2,500 speeding tickets. Anyhow, of what’s left, there is ostensibly money for localities, but I don’t think it’ll happen, certainly not as promised. This money is a political football, and I’m betting that upstate will get it, not us.

    Where is VDOT getting the $$$B for transportation?

    Well, it’s not. :) But the money that we do have is dedicated funding from the taxes that go directly to transportation—car sales, fuel. Here’s a recent Post editorial that explains the problem.

  7. That’s my hidden point. If localities in the future will want local roads, they will have to raise the money themselves. Long ago, the State should have changed its policy to only build roads that would affect state travel and not local travel. Now, every person in the state feels that the State should fund any and every road, local or state, that it asks for. That’s an impossible road program to fund statewide. By letting the locality fund its roads, the State gets let off the hook tax-wise. That, of course, goes well with a lot of people in Richmond and it doesn’t go well with others. My prediction is that eventually each region in VA will have its own transportation authority. Of course, by being an authority, local voters will have no direct say over the local issues, the same problem we have now with our authorities.
    Thanks for the summary of transportation funding. Since the city gets very little dough from car sales now, I never think about that tax.

  8. My prediction is that eventually each region in VA will have its own transportation authority.

    That’s what Mark Warner tried to make happen, and was defeated. That’s what Creigh Deeds is campaigning on, and Bob McDonnell ardently opposes. I think that local transportation funding is quite possibly the only politically viable model, assuming that a governor and legislature is elected that is willing to allow localities to have that power. (The General Assembly despises giving any power to localities to do anything at all without asking Richmond for permission.) As unlikely as that seems, it’s a whole lot more likely than the legislature raising taxes sufficiently to cover transportation costs, especially in such a way that allows eastern Virginia to get the substantial funding that they need for roads while letting western Virginia be taxed less, what with having far less road-related infrastructure needs.

    Most likely, nobody will do anything until construction funds dry up.

  9. With the rta’s approval from the General Assembly, Chalbemarle has that capacity now, except that the rta does not have the constitutional power to raise taxes, thankfully. As far as real local control, it will depend on the rta’s structure. If the board is appointed, there is not effective local populace control. If the board is elected, the public will have greater control of its money and the projects. I hope it will be the latter. The rta can use the money for both transit and roads. The county seems to be in favor of the vast amount of money going to roads. The city and county will be keeping their taxes to be applied separately to their own jurisdictions as each locality sees fit, is the current proposal.

  10. Chad, you wrote, ‘The only way for “Charlbemarle” to have middle class residents is to have more housing in close proximity to its good and services, and that will likely entail more development.’

    I don’t think that allowing builders to erect more McMansions around Glenmore will help anyone looking for affordable housing. Why would a developer build something he’ll sell for, say, $250k, when he can build something that can sell for, say, $700k?

    If the greater public good calls for low-income or middle-income housing, that impetus has to come from government. Planning and zoning can mandate middle-income housing. (Although, in a Dillon-ruled state, you may need a “mother may I?” from Richmond.)

  11. Waldo, what price range are you using for “middle income housing?” About $250k? I want to search on to see how many are on the market.

  12. Sorry, I really can’t see. I read the previous post three times and now the name has changed from Waldo to Janis.

  13. The reason they are opposing this change is that its near high-priced Glenmore. The planning commission won’t care if its near Cville or Greene or especially if its along Rt 29N.

    If traffic is the consideration, then the Target monstrosity would not have been allowed nor all the condos going in behind it.

  14. and if traffic does really matter, they wouldn’t rezone property for NGIC on Rt 29N.

    In fact, they would freeze all development on 29 north of the interstate. Pigs will fly before that happens.

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