City wants Biscuit Run to pay for roads; Supervisors suggest City’s revenue sharing income and economic development dollars could be re-allocated to transportation
On February 21, 2007, the Policy Board of the
Metropolitan Planning Organization
held their monthly meeting. In responses to matters from the public and under other business, the Board held two significant discussions on the proposed
Biscuit Run rezoning
in Albemarle County.
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asked for the County’s consideration of traffic impacts as they review the rezoning application. Mr. Norris expressed disappointment that the current proffers under review by the County Planning Commission addressed only one of three priorities identified by the City earlier this month: $150,000 to improve traffic signal timing and synchronization (Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS). “It took that as something of a slap in the face to the City,” said Mr. Norris. Biscuit Run is expected to add more than 30,000 vehicle trips a day on the area’s road network.
Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett)
David Slutzky (Rio)
explained that they needed to let the Planning Commission conduct their review process and that they had not even seen the City’s recent letter formalizing its request for three transportation improvements that could be supported by Biscuit Run’s proffers: improvements on Old Lynchburg Road; traffic light synchronizations (ITS); and the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector road.
In early February, Mr. Lynch said he would give the County “a month” to demonstrate that they were serious about getting the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector built. When that issue was raised, Mr. Rooker pointed out his preference for that $12.8 million road and bridge to be built by the developers of the Granger property (Coran Capshaw) and by UVA at the Fontaine Research Park. He expressed reluctance to have Biscuit Run proffers applied to “alleviate” another developer’s responsibility for building roads. There was consensus that the Fontaine-Sunset Avenue Connector was a key road priority for both localities.
Mr. Rooker explained that he did not like this growth in the County and that it was actually the City that benefited directly from residential growth outside their borders in the form of increased contributions from Albemarle as part of the 1982 revenue sharing agreement. In FY 2008, that agreement is expected to send the City an additional $3 million for a total of about $13.21 million, irregardless of the property tax rate set for Albemarle in 2007. Mr. Rooker said, “The question I would be willing to put on the table is, ‘Is the City willing to take the increase in the revenue sharing payment to put into regional transportation?’” Mr. Slutzky suggested the City could also redirect money from economic development to transportation needs. Mr. Rooker said the County might be able to match contributions from the City for some of the many transportation projects on their shared priority list that VDOT is not addressing with state dollars.
Mr. Lynch responded that it might be beneficial to have a discussion between the City and the County to ensure local government is not subsidizing growth. “I have argued for years to pull out of [the Thomas Jefferson partnership for Economic Development (TJPED)]….I am all for having some discussion as to how we can better manage what we do, as two localities, so we don’t end up subsidizing essentially the development community,” said Lynch. Supervisor David Slutzky provided a fourth vote on the Board of Supervisors that allowed the County to join TJPED in 2006. Albemarle County has also recently joined the Chamber of Commerce and created a $250,000 “jobs development opportunity fund,” two initiatives that Mr. Slutzky also voted to support. Mr. Rooker voted against all three initiatives and he has voiced his opposition to public funds being spent towards what he sees as efforts to encourage more growth than what is already happening in the community.