Emory told Charlottesville Tomorrow that he is excited about his new position but he said he will need some time to get adjusted to his new role.
“It’s an awesome responsibility,” Emory said, “but it’s going to take me a while to get used to it. A lot of things that you think you can do as a Planning Commissioner you really can’t.”
Emory said he thinks the existing Planning Commission is a fantastic group of people and that it takes care of some of the most important work done by the city. He said he hopes he will be worthy of the position.
“I hope to just essentially serve the city for a couple of years and learn to listen to people really well from neighborhoods and people impacted by the city of Charlottesville,” Emory said.
While Emory said he doesn’t mean to imply the Planning Commission isn’t already doing a good job of listening to the people of Charlottesville, he said time restrictions make it hard to hear everyone. Between reading documents and attending meetings, sometimes lasting as long as eight hours, Emory said it is difficult for the Commission to be able to listen to the entire community.
“We spend a disproportionate amount of our energy and planning efforts on certain areas, like the downtown mall, and other areas are somewhat neglected,” Emory said.
Time demands also make applying for the position unreasonable for many people without a lot of spare time to devote to the group Emory said. For this reason, he feels participation is limited to people who do not have very many other large commitments.
In the community, Emory has spent his time co-founding a group focused on the preservation, research and education about the historic
Woolen Mills Village
and working with photography. Last year Emory sued the city over zoning issues in regards to the historic, Timberlake-Branham house, which borders properties in Woolen Mills. He dropped the case in mid April and did not want to comment on it. Emory said he has been on the Woolen Mills board for about two years and will continue to serve there; however he said he is going to cut back on photography.
“Actually the Planning Commission comes along at a good time. I’ve spent 35 years learning how to do film,” Emory said. “It’s a good time to sort of take a break from photography for a little bit. I’m just trying to let the technology phase settle down.”
Emory said he thinks he is ready to start his work and he is looking forward to learning from the Commission and listening more to the community starting next month.