ALERT: VDOT Environmental Assessment Public Meeting

September 23, 2012

PLEASE ATTEND the VDOT Citizen Information Meeting for Environmental Assessment for the Western Bypass of U.S. 29

Thursday, September 27 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Jack Jouett Middle School 
210 Lambs Lane 
Charlottesville VA, 22901 

The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a citizen information meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27 at Jack Jouett Middle School in Albemarle County to provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on the Environmental Assessment on the Route 29 Charlottesville Bypass project.The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be done in an open forum format. The public will have an opportunity to speak with VDOT Environmental staff and others who can answer questions and provide information about the Environmental Assessment.

READ the assessment here: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/culpeper/rt._29_bypass.asp

  • You may show up at any time during the meeting to express your concerns about the environmental assessment.
  • Written and oral comments will be taken at the meeting

LEARN more:

VOTE in the Charlottesville Tomorrow poll, to ask for a new environmental assessment:

Written comments may also be submitted by Oct. 9, 2012, to:
Ms. Angel Deem
Environmental Division
Virginia Department of Transportation
1221 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219. 
 

Emailed comments should be sent to Route29BypassEA@VDOT.Virginia.gov; please put “Route 29 Charlottesville Bypass Environmental Assessment” in the subject line.


Ask VDOT for public hearing on bypass design

May 2, 2012

From CATCO:

OUR FIGHT AGAINST THE ROUTE 29 BYPASS CONTINUES….

After a year of rushing the Route 29 Bypass toward construction with minimal public involvement and outdated information, VDOT recently announced that it would hold an informal citizen information meeting instead of a public hearing on the proposed Bypass. This is directly the opposite of what VDOT spokesperson Lou Hatter stated in September 2011 when he said, “A public hearing will be held before the re-evaluation is completed in accordance with [National Environmental Protection Act] requirements.”

The difference between the 2 meetings is important. An informal citizen information meeting has no requirements on amount of notice, new information to be made available, ollection of public input, or amount of time during which the public can submit written comments after the meeting. Holding this type of meeting would allow VDOT and Bypass proponents to continue to push this awful project with no meaningful citizen review or input.

A public hearing ensures:

  • Proper notice – at least 30 days in advance of the hearing
  • Availability of project information and the draft environmental assessment 30 days before the hearing
  • A clear opportunity to submit oral as well as written comments at the hearing
  • A clear opportunity to submit written comments after the hearing

WE NEED YOU TO HELP US ENSURE THAT A TRUE PUBLIC HEARING IS HELD!! There are 2 ways to help:

  • Email the Board of Supervisors at bos@albemarle.org and ask them to request VDOT to hold a public hearing on the draft environmental assessment of the Route 29 Bypass.
  • Attend the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday, May 2, 9:00 AM, at the Albemarle County Office Building and make the same request in person during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. Plan to stay to hear the BOS discuss and vote on this issue to show the Supervisors that we are paying attention to their actions.

Without a public hearing, it will be much easier for VDOT to rush this project forward without doing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that would update the decade old studies of the past. Complete, updated information and true public involvement are what we need to ensure that we don’t invest more than $250 million of scarce transportation funds into what a Senator from Norfolk called it last week: “Virginia’s bridge to nowhere.”

→from Charlottesville Tomorrow:

Group pushes for public hearing on bypass By Sean Tubbs

A task force convened to advise the Virginia Department of Transportation on the design of theWestern Bypass of U.S. 29 has requested that the agency conduct a full public hearing on the roadway as part of an ongoing environmental assessment.

 “Public input on new impacts and changed circumstances are crucial to mitigating the impacts of the project,” said Albemarle Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker, chairman of the Jack Jouett Bypass Advisory Committee.
In a letter dated April 24 to bypass project manager Harold Jones, Rooker said the 6.2-mile, four-lane highway will be the largest transportation project in Albemarle County since Interstate 64 was built 40 years ago.
“We believe it is imperative that the public should be given an opportunity for real and significant input on this project,” Rooker said. READ MORE

Your Two Cents: public hearing on budget and advertised tax rate

March 22, 2012

The Board of Supervisors will hold the second Public Hearing on the Budget and Tax Rate on Wednesday, March 28th, 6:00pm in the Lane Auditorium of the County Office Building.

Is is vitally important that progressive folks attend to show support for the advertised tax rate.

Whether or not you are able to attend, please also send an email to bos@albemarle.org.  Identify yourself by the magisterial district in which you live. Keep your email brief, and in your own words.

At the last public budget hearing on Feb. 29, the Board of Supervisors voted to advertise a proposed rate of 76.2 cents (.3 cents less than the proposed equalized rate). This advertised rate only partially offsets the drop in property values by adding 2 cents to the current tax rate (74.2 cents per $100 in value). With the drop in home values, this tax rate will keep total tax payments level or lower for most homeowners. This will be the fourth year in a row that the average homeowner will see their tax payment either lowered or stay steady.

Of the 2 cents, one-half penny will be dedicated to the Capital program which has not been funded for the past three years. Capital expenditures have been restricted to maintenance, but now–when interest rates and construction bids are low–is the perfect time to make needed capital investments.

Budget Facts:

* Albemarle is among the top 100 wealthiest counties in the US. Two comparable counties in Central Virginia have considerably higher tax rates than Albemarle:  the tax rate for Henrico county, with a slightly lower per-capita income, is 87 cents; while Chesterfield, with a still-lower per-capita income, has a property tax rate of 95 cents.

* Despite added mandates from the state and federal governments, Albemarle County has maintained low tax rates throughout the challenging economic environment of the last four years.

* Albemarle County has done more with less in the last four years: for instance, lowering the staffing level per county resident to roughly the same as it was in 2001.

* The low interest rates and lower construction costs because of the recession make this an ideal time to make overdue targeted capital investments in critical core services such as police training facilities and a needed fire/rescue station in Ivy.

* This budget reflects numerous savings due to efforts such as increased volunteerism, and regional partnerships with private organizations and other local governments.

* The county has implemented new fiscal policies to maintain our AAA bond rating, critical to maintaining low interest rates on our debt; and to increase the collection of delinquent taxes, both of which reduce the tax burden on the average homeowner.

* The recommended 2012-13 budget shows a revenue increase of 2.4% total; the total portion of the revenue stream that comes from property taxes is only 45.2%. The amount of property tax revenue is anticipated to increase by 3% (mostly NOT due to equalization, but to new construction, improvement in market value, other property taxes, and increased collection of delinquent taxes).

* The recommended budget expenditures show an increase of 3.7% in the school budget; there is a 6.4% increase in state funding.

* NOT passing the advertised rate will likely result in no police firing range, no EMS service on Pantops, no staffing for the new fire station. Cuts in existing programs could mean losing nearly two million off the school budget, resulting in teacher layoffs, –and possibly police officer layoffs.

LEARN MORE:


Second Hearing on Budget/Tax Rate

March 15, 2012

The Board of Supervisors will hold the second of two Public Hearings on the Budget and Proposed Tax Rate on Wednesday, March 28th, 6:00pm in the Lane Auditorium of the County Office Building.

Is is vitally important that progressive folks attend to show support for the equalized tax rate.

Whether or not you are able to attend, please also send an email to bos@albemarle.org.  Identify yourself by the magisterial district in which you live. Keep your email brief, and in your own words.

The equalized rate offsets the drop in property values by adding 2.3 cents to the current tax rate (from 74.2 cents to 76.5 cents per $100 in value). With the drop in home values, this tax rate will keep total tax payments flat for most homeowners. This will be the fourth year in a row that the average homeowner will see their tax payment either lowered or stay steady.

Of the 2.3 cents, one-half penny will be dedicated to the Capital program which has not been funded for the past three years, and thus is behind where the fund should be. Capital expenditures have been restricted to maintenance, but now–when interest rates and construction bids are low–is the perfect time to make needed capital investments.

Budget Facts:

* Albemarle is among the top 100 wealthiest counties in the US. Two comparable counties in Central Virginia have considerably higher tax rates than Albemarle:  the tax rate for Henrico county, with a slightly lower per-capita income, is 87 cents; while Chesterfield, with a still-lower per-capita income, has a property tax rate of 95 cents.

* Despite added mandates from the state and federal governments, Albemarle County has maintained low tax rates throughout the challenging economic environment of the last four years.

* Albemarle County has done more with less in the last four years: for instance, lowering the staffing level per county resident to roughly the same as it was in 2001.

* The low interest rates and lower construction costs because of the recession make this an ideal time to make overdue targeted capital investments in critical core services such as police training facilities and a needed fire/rescue station in Ivy.

* This budget reflects numerous savings due to efforts such as increased volunteerism, and regional partnerships with private organizations and other local governments.

* The county has implemented new fiscal policies to maintain our AAA bond rating, critical to maintaining low interest rates on our debt; and to increase the collection of delinquent taxes, both of which reduce the tax burden on the average homeowner.

* The recommended 2012-13 budget shows a revenue increase of 2.4% total; the total portion of the revenue stream that comes from property taxes is only 45.2%. The amount of property tax revenue is anticipated to increase by 3% (mostly NOT due to equalization, but to new construction, improvement in market value, other property taxes, and increased collection of delinquent taxes).

* The recommended budget expenditures show an increase of 3.7% in the school budget; there is a 6.4% increase in state funding.

* NOT passing the equalized rate will likely result in no police firing range, no EMS service on Pantops, no staffing for the new fire station. Cuts in existing programs could mean losing nearly two million off the school budget, resulting in teacher layoffs, –and possibly police officer layoffs.

LEARN MORE:


Supervisors Hold Town Hall Meetings

March 13, 2012

Supervisors Ann Mallek and Christopher Dumler will be holding town hall meetings to talk with constituents throughout their districts.

 Chair Ann Mallek: 

  • Tuesday, March 13th, at 7 PM, at Broadus Wood Elementary School
  • Saturday, March 17th, at 1 PM, at the White Hall Community Center
  • Monday, March 19th, at 7 PM, at Crozet Meadows.

Christopher Dumler:

  • Monday, March 12th at 6pm, Stone Robinson Elementary School
  • Thursday, March 15th, 6:00, Scottsville Elementary School
  • Saturday, March 17th 2:00 pm Albemarle County Office Building, 5th Street

Recommended Budget and Proposed Tax Rate Public Hearings

February 28, 2012

The Board of Supervisors will hold the second of two Public Hearings on the Budget and Proposed Tax Rate on Wednesday, March 28th, 6:00pm in the Lane Auditorium of the County Office Building.

Is is vitally important that progressive folks attend to show support for the equalized tax rate.

Whether or not you are able to attend, please also send an email to bos@albemarle.org.  Identify yourself by the magisterial district in which you live. Keep your email brief, and in your own words.

The equalized rate offsets the drop in property values by adding 2.3 cents to the current tax rate (from 74.2 cents to 76.5 cents per $100 in value). With the drop in home values, this tax rate will keep total tax payments flat for most homeowners. This will be the fourth year in a row that the average homeowner will see their tax payment either lowered or stay steady.

Of the 2.3 cents, one-half penny will be dedicated to the Capital program which has not been funded for the past three years, and thus is behind where the fund should be. Capital expenditures have been restricted to maintenance, but now–when interest rates and construction bids are low–is the perfect time to make needed capital investments.

Budget Facts:

* Albemarle is among the top 100 wealthiest counties in the US. Two comparable counties in Central Virginia have considerably higher tax rates than Albemarle:  the tax rate for Henrico county, with a slightly lower per-capita income, is 87 cents; while Chesterfield, with a still-lower per-capita income, has a property tax rate of 95 cents.

* Despite added mandates from the state and federal governments, Albemarle County has maintained low tax rates throughout the challenging economic environment of the last four years.

* Albemarle County has done more with less in the last four years: for instance, lowering the staffing level per county resident to roughly the same as it was in 2001.

* The low interest rates and lower construction costs because of the recession make this an ideal time to make overdue targeted capital investments in critical core services such as police training facilities and a needed fire/rescue station in Ivy.

* This budget reflects numerous savings due to efforts such as increased volunteerism, and regional partnerships with private organizations and other local governments.

* The county has implemented new fiscal policies to maintain our AAA bond rating, critical to maintaining low interest rates on our debt; and to increase the collection of delinquent taxes, both of which reduce the tax burden on the average homeowner.

* The recommended 2012-13 budget shows a revenue increase of 2.4% total; the total portion of the revenue stream that comes from property taxes is only 45.2%. The amount of property tax revenue is anticipated to increase by 3% (mostly NOT due to equalization, but to new construction, improvement in market value, other property taxes, and increased collection of delinquent taxes).

* The recommended budget expenditures show an increase of 3.7% in the school budget; there is a 6.4% increase in state funding.

* NOT passing the equalized rate will likely result in no police firing range, no EMS service on Pantops, no staffing for the new fire station. Cuts in existing programs could mean losing nearly two million off the school budget, resulting in teacher layoffs, –and possibly police officer layoffs.

LEARN MORE:



Request FHWA Conduct Impact/Traffic Analysis

February 24, 2012

YOU CAN ASK FHWA for BYPASS IMPACT EVALUATION–ONLINE!

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is overseeing a reevaluation by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) of the impacts of the proposed Route 29 bypass. Bypass construction cannot proceed until a favorable reevaluation of impacts is returned. It is important that opponents of the bypass urge that the FHWA require that VDOT conduct a rigorous review of impacts.

The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) has created a web page that allows residents to communicate their concerns about the bypass to the FHWA:
http://pec.citizen-networks.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=16261.0&dlv_id=0

A written letter has a powerful impact on decision makers. You can write to FHWA Administrators at:

Irene Rico, Division Administrator
Ed Sundra, Planning and Environmental Manager
Federal Highway Administration
400 North 8th Street, Suite 750
Richmond, Virginia  23219

Tell them that the Bypass is a waste of our tax dollars and disrupts our Community. Here is a copy of the PEC letter:

The proposed Route 29 Western Bypass north of Charlottesville is a controversial and expensive project that VDOT is vigorously pursuing without the thorough evaluation that should be required of any project of this scale, magnitude, and extraordinary public expense. Hundreds of local residents have expressed opposition to this project, but no one seems to be listening. It is critical that the FHWA put the brakes on VDOT’s determined effort to push aside community concerns.

The original Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 1993. As a result, the analysis of critical issues and impacts is quite outdated–especially the traffic information comparing alternatives. A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was completed in 2002, but it covered only a subset of issues related to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. Neither study evaluated the potential health impacts of highway emissions on people living nearby, and children especially. Nor did they account for the recent listing as “impaired” of several river and stream segments that would be affected by the construction of the bypass, including stretches of the South Fork of the Rivanna River and Ivy Creek. Furthermore, this quarter-billion-dollar bypass will remove traffic from only half of the 9 miles of the developed and developing segment of Route 29 in Albemarle. One need only look at a map to realize it is a stretch to even call this a bypass.

The FHWA must require that VDOT undertake a very thorough reevaluation of the project, including a detailed traffic study with a complete evaluation of alternatives–particularly the incremental, less-expensive, and more effective improvements recommended in the Places29 Plan. A plan developed with VDOT participation and in February 2011 was unanimously adopted by Albemarle County. A new SEIS is needed and must include a thorough traffic study that looks anew at alternatives from the prior NEPA documents as well as new alternatives that combine grade-separated interchanges at the busiest intersections with other improvements like parallel roads.

For additional information, please review the PEC website for talking points at http://www.pecva.org/index.php/our-region/albemarle-charlottesville/western-bypass .