Albemarle candidates outline views on growth areas
In advance of Election Day Nov. 7, Charlottesville Tomorrow has produced in-depth nonpartisan voter guides, featuring exclusive one-on-one interviews with all the candidates for the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and Albemarle County School Board. In advance of the election, we will also feature their responses to important questions about their qualifications, priorities, and key quality of life issues so that our citizens can compare candidates’ answers and make an informed choice.
Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2017 Election Center website also features candidates in the city of Charlottesville and links to the full written transcript and audio of these interviews.
All the following passages are verbatim excerpts from our interviews.
COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, SECOND IN A SERIES
Should the board make boundary adjustments for Albemarle County’s designated growth areas to create new locations for business on land that today is in the rural area? Why or why not?
Jack Jouett District
Diantha McKeel (D-Jack Jouett) * Incumbent
I support the county’s land use policy right now of designated growth areas and they, as you all know 5 percent I think you mentioned that in question, did you mention that in the question? well 5 percent of our land is in our growth area and I support maintaining those boundaries, right now. Our comp plan and the build-out for our comp plan shows that we have enough land in our development area to support our growth through 2035. The growth that we’re currently – and we’re using growth figures from [the] Weldon Cooper Center [at .] – If we develop at the high density level in the growth area we have enough land to support us through 2045. So I think we have existing land available right now within our growth area to do what we need to do. And I’m anxious to get to some of our old, worn out shopping areas, we have empty buildings. We need to concentrate on those those areas in our growth area.
Ned Gallaway (D-Rio)
I don’t think so. I think there’s plenty of opportunity within the designated growth area now for redevelopment and development that it’s unnecessary to have to have that conversation. I think sometime in the future that conversation may come up if the designated growth area is maxed out and… the board of supervisors feels its maxed out then that’s a conversation that will come up and decisions will be made then. But I think as it currently stands, there’s plenty of opportunity for redevelopment and new development within the designated growth areas and I don’t think we have to go to that direction just yet.
Liz Palmer (D) * Incumbent
No, we should not. And the reason is that we have a lot of areas for redevelopment. With respect to getting our tax base, or our tax revenues in better shape, we really need to act more like a city. We need more revenue per acre. When you spread out your growth you create more costs because you have more congestion, more traffic issues farther out into the county. You have inadequate roads. It costs more to deliver services to a dispersed population and so a concentrated population costs less. We have wonderful asphalt fields on 29 North, for instance. And I think that if we could get more revenue per acre on those properties, we’re a lot better off. We could also much better serve those areas with respect to transportation and public transportation because we would be more concentrated. And I think that’s really the way to go. There’s a lot of room in our development areas that we already need to develop and you want those businesses close to where the people live. We recently got a capacity study done that says we have I think it’s a little over 8,000 homes, residential sites, that have already been approved within the development area and not built. And so we really want our businesses close to our homes.
John Lowry (R)
Well, to answer your question it all depends on really who shows up. The government doesn’t make a prospect come to the county, it’s who would like to be in the county and then, what are their needs. So it’s a decision that’s hypothetical until it actually happens. We do need in the county more usable space for commercial activities, for light industry. We have very little land — 440 acres in the growth area that’s commercial, 110 are light industry and they’re not very big parcels, so we need places for businesses to land so they can do things and hire people and pay taxes. But that’s an action idea from me. I think the county should have an economic development department. We don’t really now. We should have an economic development director. We don’t have one now. We should have a new business manager and [Economic Development Facilitator] Susan Stimart is perfect there. And then a real estate manager. And then we can do due diligence and have things happen in the county and we’ve gone for far too long with that process in place.