PEC Issues Residential Development Report


Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC)

has released a

new report

documenting the state our our local housing construction pipeline.  According to the report:

“Since 2000, there have been approvals granted or applications submitted for approximately 17,832 housing units (or Dwelling Units, DUs) for the City and the County Growth Areas. Specifically, these units have been proposed or approved through rezonings, site plans, or subdivisions. It is important to point out that this is not a list of building permit approvals nor does it include existing byright development potential or unbuilt units from proposals approved prior to 2000. This represents the largest short-term burst of residential development in Charlottesville’s and Albemarle’s history. This raises several questions for local decision-makers and local residents as to the wisdom of approving development proposals years, even decades ahead of anticipated need by our community.”

You can

download a copy here

(163k PDF).

One of the more interesting points I have found in the report relates to the value of proffers accepted in rezoning agreements today vs. the potential future costs of infrastructure.

For example, the County currently has a 5% annual inflation factor on projects in the current draft of its Capital Improvements Program budget.  The inflation on a project like the Meadowcreek Parkway (rising land values and cost of materials) has jeopardized the 2008 construction start for that road project.  Another example is the elementary school envisioned in the Crozet Master plan which was listed as costing about $12.4 million in 2004 dollars when the plan was approved.  However, now the next elementary school in Albemarle is not projected to be built until 2015 and then the project is expected to cost about $29 million.

Now on some proffers, the developer will feel the pain if inflation increases dramatically because they proffered an improvement, not a specific cash contribution.  They have to build something at whatever the cost is when they actually build it.  However, the PEC report suggests a potential dilemma if

cash contributions

on a per household basis are agreed to today and not paid until many years in the future when the houses are actually built.  The value of those proffers will certainly be less as time goes by.  Something to consider as Albemarle’s Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee takes a look at recommendations for revising our proffer policies and expectations.

Brian Wheeler