Days after a contentious meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, candidates for the open Scottsville District seat voiced their opinions on sustainability, local planning and the Western Bypass .
“I do think that it’s important that local planning decisions should be…local,” attorney Christopher J. Dumler (D) said of the board’s decision to cancel its membership with ICLEI , a nonprofit organization that provides technical advice and software to localities wishing to reduce their carbon emissions.
Dumler answered questions about the meeting Saturday at his official campaign kickoff to seek the Democratic nomination.
Listen using player above or download the podcast of Christopher Dumler’s (D-Scottsville)
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At Wednesday’s meeting of the Albemarle supervisors, hundreds of citizens came out to voice their opinions on the issue. Unlike its membership with ICLEI, the board voted unanimously to participate in a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist in local sustainability efforts.
Dumler said that he has not developed a conclusive position on the ICLEI issue, but added that he would have voted in favor of accepting the million-dollar grant.
“I am totally opposed to ICLEI,” said Jim Norwood , a Republican business owner who is also seeking the Scottsville seat. In an interview, Norwood explained that the fundamentals of his campaign were to protect the rights, liberties and freedoms of his constituents, particularly property rights.
“People can talk all they want about how [ICLEI] is just a matter of software that we should use as a guideline…that’s really not the case,” Norwood said. “We should be able to, with the strength of the University of Virginia and the intellect of our government, here in this area… we should be able to make our own decisions on how we maintain our sustainability going forward. We really don’t need anyone else to tell us what to do.”
Norwood added that he had suspicions about how the HUD grant was proposed and who submitted it.
“I would have liked a little more information before I cast the vote,” Norwood said.
At the end of the meeting Wednesday , current Scottsville Supervisor Lindsay G. Dorrier, Jr . requested an opportunity to change his June 1 vote opposing the Western Bypass of U.S. Route 29. The motion came as a surprise to many because of rules adopted at the previous meeting that did not allow actions items to be brought up without advance notification to board members and the public.
With Dorrier changing his vote, the supervisors voted 4-2 to direct its representatives on the Metropolitan Planning Organization to remove language blocking the state from allocating money for the construction of the 6.1-mile bypass. Dorrier explained he had spoken that day with Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton who promised to fund the long-stalled road project if the board changed its position.
Dumler said that he would be willing to take a pledge to allow adequate notification to the public before bringing up a major policy change to the board. However, he did not find anything wrong with the way the board reversed its position.
“It’s not like the ball has tumbled all the way down the road and we’ve gone from point A to point Z. We’ve gone from point A to point B,” Dumler said. “And obviously there will be plenty more opportunities for public comment and a public process.”
Norwood said that he had not attended the meeting and that he was unable to comment on the process of the vote. However, he added that he is sympathetic to the change in direction.
“I’m a pretty strong supporter of a bypass,” Norwood said. “I’m not quite sure if it’s the bypass as presented to date, but I do have a strong feeling about the need to take a heavy traffic off of 29, the commercial area for our constituents.”
Norwood did not specify whether he would support or decline a pledge to provide adequate time for the public to provide input, but added that “any major decision should be brought out with plenty of time for exchange with the supervisors.”
Dorrier, who currently holds the Scottsville seat, is retiring this year. The Democratic caucus to nominate its candidate will be held in August. A date for the Republican caucus has yet to be announced. As of now, neither Dumler nor Norwood face opponents for their party’s nomination.
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