Letters reflect the opinions of their authors and not necessarily those of the Crozet Gazette.
I ran for White Hall district supervisor in 2007 because the future of our county and its residents was threatened.
Then: Representation of citizens was not considered an important part of the job. Preparation for Board and County staff decision making was lacking. No one kept track of the approved units of housing and square feet of commercial space, deciding instead on each application in a vacuum, and 4,000 new units were approved in the Crozet area in four short years. Many of these units provided no proffer funds to offset the costs to the community. Citizens who had been a part of the Crozet Master Plan process felt their work had been in vain, as votes on the Board of Supervisors did not reflect the Plan’s basic tenets.
Now: Since 2008 I have focused on representation, hosting fifteen town halls around the district. Citizens have met with me over coffee in my kitchen or theirs to discuss their issue of concern. From working with Crozet residents on the successful revision of the master plan that protects the character of their small town, to support of off-farm sales for farmers—I have worked to connect citizens to the people who can improve their situation and to represent all of the citizens of our district.
Our economy has staggered locally. I understand the peril many families face. I voted to reduce spending drastically in the county budget, postponing critical infrastructure projects in Crozet, because I knew there were many residents who could not withstand tax increases. The local government staff has been reduced by 70 positions and staff reorganization continues today. As the economy begins to revive, it is essential that the County make prudent investments which will create jobs during construction and revitalize our area, such as the Crozet Library.
Vocal citizen opposition to a giant gas and truck fuel stop near Western Albemarle High School in Crozet was essential to force a good decision for the community. The final permitted result was what citizens had asked the owner to build in the beginning, a station comparably sized to those in the area, fewer pumps and reduced operating hours, and water use which can be regulated and restricted to protect neighboring wells. The citizens who spoke out and wrote the Board were instrumental in this success.
The five year review of the Crozet Master Plan was another success, in which the community reclaimed its future and protected its small town attributes. There is on-going contention on the Board of Supervisors about the need to respect community choices, and I have listened to and spoken out for the citizens of Crozet. I know that Crozet is still lacking needed road connections and sidewalks, but the current streetscape project will result in a significant improvement. The storm water project will facilitate higher density use of the historic downtown, as will shared parking allowed by the downtown district zoning adopted in 2009.
The Economic Development manifesto presented in January 2010 evolved from a sweeping reduction in regulations into a broadly supported plan to encourage locally-owned enterprises, including economic vitality in rural areas with performance regulations based in our comprehensive plan.
Reform of off-farm sales allows farmers to sell direct to consumers in all zoning districts. Farmers markets and on-farm stands now have ordinances which protect neighbors and businesses.
Baby steps of progress have been made. Citizens feel the power of their voices in decision making. Our small, locally owned enterprises and farms are beginning to prosper. The Comprehensive Plan is up for review and we must ensure that citizens’ views are represented in this crucial document. The challenges for 2011 are remarkably similar to prior years.
I wish you well in 2011. I hope you will invite me to your neighborhood or HOA meeting, to listen to your concerns directly. Remember, open government is not a slogan but a way of life.
For our future,
White Hall District Supervisor