Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Search Of: Charlottesville Planning Commissioners

The City of Charlottesville is in search of candidates for appointment to the Planning Commission. Applications are being accepted now and are due July 16th.

As of August, I will have served 8 years on the Commission (2 terms of 4 years each), which is the term limit for Planning Commissioners in the City. I feel fortunate that I have been able to serve and it has been one of the most rewarding ventures I've had.
Two openings on the Commission need to be filled, as my friend and colleague Mike Farruggio has decided not to re-up for a second term.

As I told
Sean Tubbs in a recent interview for Charlottesville Tomorrow, my advice to candidates is as follows:

"You must be prepared to work very hard, and to have sufficient time/availability in your professional and personal schedule to learn how to do this important job, especially in the first year. You must be prepared to leave your predispositions, prejudices, agendas and niche expertise at the door of City Hall, have a healthy respect for what you don't know about the job, and be truly willing to be a public servant. You must be willing to make sometimes unpopular decisions based on our ordinances and guidelines and on behalf of all of the citizens of our City. You should not enter the position with any allegiance to any constituency or audience. If you are applying to pad your professional or academic resume, you may want to reconsider because you will not be benefitting Council, your colleagues or the citizens of the City. "

Applicants must be City residents who are “qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions of community growth and development.” The Commission serves as an advisory body to City Council and makes recommendations to Council on applications for rezonings, special use permits, and major site plans. The Commission oversees design review in the Entrance Corridors. Among other responsibilities, it is also charged with the capital improvement plan and with developing the City’s comprehensive plan, with the next cycle of the comp plan starting in 2010.

The Commission convenes one regular meeting per month and one work session, on the second and fourth Tuesdays respectively . Each member also takes on other committee assignments and serves on advisory bodies throughout City government and in the region. As the PC's delegate, I have had the privilege to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Board of Architectural Review, the UVa Master Planning Council, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), the Rt. 250 Interchange Steering Committee, and the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee.

Anyone wishing to apply should contact Jeanne Cox, Clerk of City Council, at 970-3113.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If Your Albemarle Property Is Under Land Use, You May Need a Little Validation.

For the first time ever, Albemarle County land owners whose property is under the Land Use Assessment Program need to complete a "Revalidation Application" and undergo an inspection of their property to continue their land use status. The deadline for this is September 1st. Previously, verification of continued use only occurred when property changed hands for value.

Land Use is authorized by Virginia law and provides owners of property in Albemarle and other counties in Virginia with a significant reduction in their annual real estate taxes. Property used for agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, forestry, and open space purposes can be placed under the Program and taxes are abated for that portion of the property on which the use occurs. The downside of Land Use is what happens when the County takes away the status: "Roll Back" taxes, meaning those taxes which were abated while the property had the special status, become due for the previous five (5) years plus interest at 10% a year.

The reason for the County making this change in policy is obvious: under their current revenue strains, they are looking everywhere they can for additional revenue and figure they'll determine that some have been taking advantage of the system. But why has Albemarle decided at this time to breathe down the neck of Farmer Joe, who's just as strained?

Albemarle County has provided some Frequently Asked Questions about the revalidation process and is holding some information sessions at extended hours for public discussion beginning next week.