about Crozet

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I was just reading an article on the Free Enterprise Forum website and found the follow paragraph, italicized no less.

The updated Comprehensive Plan is expected to have criteria to evaluate when, where, and how the Development Areas should be expanded in the future. The current Comprehensive Plan recommends that the County “Use Development Area land efficiently to prevent premature expansion” and to “Update the capacity analysis every two years to ensure adequate residential land exists to meet new housing needs.” However, it does not have criteria to determine where future expansion should occur. Community input is needed to help inform and refine draft criteria.

If you want to know what the development community is thinking all you have to do is go to the Free Enterprise Forum website. What’s unusual about this paragraph is it seems to assume that one of the “AC-44 Options” found on the county website dealing with the Comprehensive Plan Update has already been decided in favor of growth area expansion. You may remember that in the poll taken by aboutcrozet.com when the question of growth area expansion was asked 90 percent of the 168 people who took the poll voted NO to supporting the expansion of our growth areas. I believe the poll results are a clear indication growth area residents take the protection of Albemarle County’s rural areas seriously. It may also be due to the fact residents of our growth areas have already invested almost 350 million dollars to fund rural protection and want their investment protected. I base the amount on two documents I have regarding the cost of rural protection. The first is a report from Robert Tucker, County Executive, dating to 1991 on the subject of the land use taxation program, which is the mechanism the County has used since 1975 to protect the rural character of Albemarle. In his report Mr. Tucker states: “the current level of deferred taxes is 4.2 million dollars”. In 2005 I received an additional report from the Albemarle County Finance Department showing a large increase to 13 million dollars of deferred taxes. To get a total amount I used the 4.2 million as an average amount for the years from 1975 to 2005 for a total of 30 years which comes to a total amount of 126 million dollars. If you then use the 13 million a year as an average from 2006 to 2023 (17 years) you get another 221 million dollars for a total of 347 million dollars. In 2005 the amount you paid was11 cents on the tax rate so you can easily calculate your yearly cost. With the average home in Albemarle County at 472,000, its a chunk of change. As for expansion of the growth area the county’s own data shows that between 20 and 30 percent of all development in Albemarle occurs in the rural area so there has been a de-facto expansion of the growth area every year. This is not to mention the Board of Supervisors just approved a rezoning of 650 acres of rural land for a solar farm. This accounts for just over 25 percent of the total area of the Crozet growth area. In Mr. Tucker’s report he sets straight who pays for rural protection and why by stating the following: “The cost of rural protect is not a hidden fact, since it is an implicit in the concept of land use taxation that the tax burden is shifted to other tax payers. It is also implicit in the land use concept that the redistribution of the tax burden is in the public interest both to the direct beneficiaries of land use and to other tax payers who derive indirect benefits from land preservation”. My understanding of Mr. Tucker’s words is the land use program is an investment program to protect the rural character of the county and not a land bank for future development. If this is not the case then those of use in the growth area have spent millions for a worthless program. This concept of rural land as a land bank for future development is a consistent theme found in many of the Free Enterprise Forum’s posts. I’m sure if residents were asked, this would not be the view of most of the residents of Albemarle County. To be sure this election year will be a referendum on whether Albemarle County goes the way o Arlington, Fairfax and Loudon counties or stays the course of rural preservation.

2 Responses

  1. I was not for any more growth in our rural area 10 years ago, nor presently, and will not be in the future. Builders need to finish their undone tasks and move on. County needs to update our infrastructure to handle the growth that has already occurred, then we need to get back to salvaging what we can of our rural Crozet atmosphere that we love.

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