Your Government in Action: Supervisors Consider Restricting Truck Traffic on Two Local Roads

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Ann Mallek, Chair and White Hall representative on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, with Diantha McKeel, Jack Jouett District. Photo: Lisa Martin.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (BOS) addressed several issues of potential interest to western county residents at their October 10 meeting.

Little Explorers Discovery School

The Board voted 6-0 to approve a special use permit for a new Crozet preschool, founded by former elementary school teacher Christi Gillette, to be located at Crozet Baptist Church on St. George Avenue. The approval was subject to several conditions, including a staggered morning drop-off period to reduce traffic on St. George Ave. and a fence to be constructed along the western and northern property lines to reduce noise and increase student safety. Neighbors will be consulted about the fence height and appearance prior to the school opening, which is planned for January 2019. The school expects to enroll 40 children and will offer an after-school option for older kids.

Through-truck Restrictions on Owensville and Miller School Roads

Responding to frequent complaints about the hazards of oversized vehicles barreling down rural county roads, the BOS authorized funding in January of this year for a study of potential restrictions on truck traffic on Miller School and Owensville Roads. The study mandated that if alternative routes were proposed, they must be appropriate for truck traffic and not create an undue hardship for trucks. (The study and restrictions did not consider pickup trucks, but all other types, from multi-axle tractor trailers to dump trucks, delivery trucks, and horse trailers, were included.)

Both Miller School Road and Owensville Road are among the most heavily truck-trafficked roads in the county, and many of their curves do not meet current standards for turning radius or width. Though several Batesville residents commented in favor of strong restrictions, complaining of being at times “run off the road” by large trucks, Blue Ridge Builders Supply co-owner Larry Oder noted that length restrictions such as the proposed 35- to 45-foot limits would restrict his ability to make local deliveries in a timely and affordable way.

The Board’s discussion noted that any length that would allow delivery trucks and horse-trailers to use the roads would also by definition allow dump trucks, so there was no viable way to restrict dump trucks in particular. After hearing from the county’s principal planner for transportation, Kevin McDermott, and the Free Enterprise Forum’s Neil Williamson as well as local law enforcement officials, the Board ultimately decided to impose limits solely on tractor trailers for the two roads and will finalize approval of those restrictions in the consent agenda at its November 7 meeting.

Legislative Priorities for 2019

The BOS annually proposes a set of priorities for legislation in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session as it pertains to Albemarle County. These recommendations are forwarded to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) and other agencies for inclusion in their legislative programs. Among the Board’s priorities for next year are:

Support for increased funding for telecommunications broadband infrastructure;

Support of environmental legislation prohibiting businesses from using disposable plastic bags and plastic straws; Supervisor Randolph emphasized the need for an exception to the straw ban for hospitals and care facilities. Supervisor Liz Palmer noted that plastic bags are the bane of municipal waste and sewer systems, and it would be great to get some state leadership on this issue.

Support for adding Albemarle County to the state list of localities in which carrying specified loaded weapons in certain public areas is prohibited. Supervisor Randolph noted that “this is only an effort to cut out the most egregious examples of extended magazines (sometimes called banana or circular clips), so we are in no way infringing on someone’s right to carry or Second Amendment rights.”

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