The

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

has postponed action on

three ordinances to increase protection of the County’s natural resources

. Chairman

Ken Boyd

(Rivanna) recommended that the public be provided the opportunity to weigh in on changes that have been made since the Board held a public hearing last October.


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“I believe it’s very important that we always have as much public input as we can,” Boyd said shortly after introducing the item at the Board’s January 23 meeting.  Boyd felt not enough notice had been given to the public and he exercised his prerogative as Chairman to allow public comment on the discussion. However, time constraints prevented that from occurring at this meeting as two Supervisors,

Dennis Rooker

(Jack Jouett) and

David Slutzky

(Rio),  had to leave the meeting to attend an

MPO Policy Board

meeting.

Supervisor Rooker said there had been no rush to judgment, pointing out that the Board had a lengthy public hearing in October.  On October 10, 2007 over 80 speakers addressed the Board for four hours providing input on the rural area ordinance changes.

“This process has gone about six years, of trying to adopt some of these rural area provisions that are included in our land use plan. There have been more than seventy meetings held dealing with these and other recommendations that are in the rural area plan,” Rooker said.

Rooker said the changes to the ordinances were scaled back due to public feedback, and that the public had a right to a decision.  He said Boyd had previously brought items up for action without any public input, citing the Board’s 2006 decision to join the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Boyd thought the public needed to know what changes had been made before the Board takes action. For instance, he said he disagreed with the science behind the proposed requirement that no construction can occur within 100 feet of a stream. He said he felt the Planning Commission had not done enough to investigate the issues.

Mark Graham, the County’s Director of Community Development, said that the County’s authority to impose a 100-foot buffer is granted by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988.  Currently, half of Albemarle does have a 100-foot stream buffer in place, and the ordinance change would apply it to the entire County.

Supervisor

Sally Thomas

(Samuel Miller) said she had not taken the two recent holidays  into consideration when she made her motion to place this item on the agenda, and she noted the Board could not have predicted the snow storm that closed the County Office Building the previous Thursday afternoon. She agreed that more time should be given for the public to study the changes.

After some discussion, the Board agreed to delay action until another public input session can be held. That date was set for the February 6 Board meeting, and the item has tentatively been scheduled for that evening. Boyd asked for staff to prepare a Frequently Asked Questions page to provide a place for citizens to find answers about the proposed ordinance changes.

Sean Tubbs

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