Expanding the growth area
In my opinion we are NOT in need of new growth area at this time. There is a huge inventory of approved projects which have not been built because of the economic slowdown . There has also been a dilution of demand because so much was approved in a short period of time. There are not enough customers to go around.
A market analyst told me that in a thirty mile radius of Charlottesville there are only 175,000 people, not enough for unlimited stores and housing developments to succeed.
Urban planners from other areas say that our growth area is too large for effective service provision, that it does not grow from the center out in an organized way, but development hop scotch jumps all over the place whenever a landowner wants to do something. This leaves the service authority chasing its tail to provide sewer and water services.
First should be growth in the area already designated, as highway improvements are made.
In the comprehensive plan the main reason to make change is when change is NEEDED for the community. At a time when there are more than 3 million square feet of already approved commercial space and thousands of houses for sale (with more thousands already approved), we do not NEED to add more empty houses and stores.
The light industrial land inventory will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on February 3. The existing LI zoned properties will be shown and evaluated for usefulness. There will certainly be a debate about the addition of more LI land.
An essential part of that discussion will be the multitude of uses allowed in our current LI zone, including office space. Standalone office buildings bring a higher return than warehouses and more typical light industrial uses. Many of the recent rezonings have taken LI land off the map, turning it into residential and commercial.
There is no point in increasing the area of LI without fixing the definitions which create the problem. For example, the Yancey property which had been proposed for light industrial property, contractor storage, and warehouse uses is now being called a Business Park and could contain more than one million square feet of office space.
How would that affect the revitalization of downtown Crozet which has been a target of county infrastructure investment with more than 4000 dwelling units approved there since 2000? What would be the effect to the road capacity of Route 250 west?