Thursday, August 9, 2007

How big is too big? County and City see largest projects ever proposed.

Today's article in the Daily Progress by Seth Rosen entitled "Biscuit Run talks' end in sight" points out that Biscuit Run's 3100 residential units will be the largest development in the history of Albemarle County. His article on July 22, 2007 entitled "Coal Tower project nears start" indicated that the Coal Tower project in Charlottesville is "belived to be the largest project in Charlottesville's history" at 315 residential units.

Clearly development proposals are bigger than ever before, but will there be new competition for the dubious title of biggest developments ever?

In our national (and local) recent infrastructure experience, it is not clear that our infrastructure can handle rapid growth. Also, available funding to expand our water, sewer, transit, roadway, and other infrastructure to meet this growth appears not to be available. Not only can't this infrastructure be expanded, but the funding appears unavailable to maintain what is already in place at desired levels of service.

As a candidate for city council, I hope to ensure that our community has a lively discussion of what would be reasonable growth in our community, what our current infrastructure needs are, and how we can maintain existing infrastructure while expanding these facilities to meet this rapid growth reported regularly in our news outlets. Who will pay the costs associated with growth? Will this be paid by developers, or taxpayers who get little if any benefits from rapid growth?

Now that Charlottesville city council has just passed a new comprehensive plan, and a council vision for 2025, I believe we need to examine how our plan and vision can be realized in light of huge infrastructure needs. I suggested to council that our city sustainability committee should get involved in this issue and determine if adjustments to our comprehensive plan need to be made to keep growth within the resources in the city to provide public services at a fair cost to Charlottesville's residents. The county is negotiating proffers from the Biscuit Run developers to partially pay for infrastructure needs, but the Coal Tower is a by-right development and no proffers are being proposed to the best of my knowledge.

I believe a balance growth strategy is needed, and needed now. I hope you will join me in an effort to keep growth within our ability to support, and benefit from it as a community.

No comments: