TJPDC Metropolitan Planning Organization eyes Ruckersville, Twin Lakes

By Susan Gibbs

The Greene County Board of Supervisors will consider adding Ruckersville and Twin Lakes to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, July 24.

TJPDC would like this map of its proposed Metropolitan Planning Organizaiton to become a

The announcement came as a surprise when, with no mention of the matter on the agenda, Andrea Wilkinson of Ruckersville announced the proposal during the Matters from the Public portion of the Board’s regularly scheduled July 10 meeting.

“I am stopping by as Greene’s commissioner on the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC),” Wilkinson said.

She explained that she had attended a “little” meeting with the county’s zoning administrator, Bart Svoboda and the county’s planner, Stephanie Golon, the day before “about the prospect of Greene (having) the urban sections join the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) … to cover Ruckersville and possibly Twin Lakes.”

Other areas TJPDC would like to be a part of the MPO are Zion Crossroads, Lake Monticello and Crozet, Wilkinson told the Board.

TJPDC’s plan is to integrate strategies for: land use; transportation; housing; economic development; air and water quality; energy use; and human behavior change into its MPO’s local ordinances that comply with its 1998 Sustainability Accords and other, unidentified, planning documents.

The plan, called the Charlottesville Region Sustainability Implementation Plan, is online at http://www.tjpdc.org/pdf/Charlottesville%20Region%20Sustainability%20Implementation%20Plan.pdf.

It calls for moving sustainability in the region from a regional goal to actual implementation by creating six products, including: a sustainability baseline and performance measurement system; common land use that is in compliance with the transportation vision for the Charlottesville/Albemarle region; integration of sustainability strategies into comprehensive plans and the long range transportation plan; code and ordinance sustainability recommendations; plan for human behavior change processes, and public engagement.

But Wilkinson did not tell supervisors any of that.

Instead, she told supervisors: “The (MPO) is the transportation arm of the region … it doesn’t cost anything … what it allows you to do is benefit from some transportation funding that is federally-funded 80 percent, 10 percent state-funded and 10 percent planning district funded … so we could get the benefit of that planning … that includes long-range planning for transportation improvement projects that are important to our locality … the disadvantage is, of course, there’s meetings.”

She did not call supervisors’ attention to statements about barriers to implementation of TJPDC’s sustainability implementation plan as published on its Web site. Those barriers include TJPDC’s view that: it is difficult to achieve the necessary change in mind set for both individuals and institutions from business as usual to a new paradigm; sustainability strategies and approaches must be developed and tailored to fit the local/regional context; the incorporation of sustainability into local planning documents requires additional effort; and once sustainability policies and strategies have been developed and incorporated into policy documents it is still necessary to put structures in place that will allow the actual implementation.

According to information published on TJPDC’s Web site, structures that will allow actual implementation include: “legal mechanisms through codes and ordinances; systems for educating individuals and institutions on sustainability and encouraging behavior change; and performance monitoring standards to determine if real change is taking place.”

But Wilkinson did not explain any of that; nor did Svoboda, who, in addition to being Greene’s zoning administrator, is a voting member of TJPDC’s Rural Area Transportation Technical Committee.

Greene County Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda

“This is about a federal transportation agency,” Svoboda told supervisors at the July 10 meeting, when he followed Wilkinson to the podium. He explained that the Western Bypass in Charlottesville is an MPO project, and that as part of that project, improvements would be taking place on U.S. Route 29 in Albemarle, but ending at Greene’s county line.

“As that develops … and we start to develop more traffic … we bottleneck … if projects continue into the future heading north it’s likely that whatever happens either on 29 or off 29 would be planned together as part of the MPO … the potential is there that we’ll receive improvements on 29. Those are the kinds of things the MPO does.

Otherwise we’re going to rely on (the Virginia Department of Transportation) … and local dollars to be able to do that as opposed to federal dollars,” Svoboda continued. “We would have to coordinate the project with VDOT and try to hook it up to the MPO project and it might not happen at the same time … I think it will help us to be aware of what’s happening to the south of us so we don’t get steamrolled in the future; so we don’t wake up one day and find a traffic light at Advance Mills and now we’ve got a traffic jam that goes from the county line.”

But what Svoboda did not tell supervisors is that the implementation of TJPDC’s sustainability plan into its MPO will, according to the TJPDC Web site, “create specific strategies to realize the vision articulated in the Sustainability Accords.”

Those accords are to: encourage strong ties between urban and rural areas; strive for a size and distribute the human population in ways that preserve vital resources; retain the natural habitat; ensure water quality and quantity are sufficient to support people and ecosystems; optimize the use and re-use of developed land and promote clustering; promote appropriate scale for land uses; retain farm and forest land; develop attractive and economic transportation alternatives; conserve energy; provide educational and employment opportunities; and increase individual participation in neighborhood communities.

Svoboda also did not tell supervisors that, in addition to realizing the vision articulated in the Sustainability Accords, the implementation of TJPDC’s sustainability plan into its MPO will, according to the Web site,  “build on the lessons learned through the Eastern Planning Initiative, subsequent scenario planning efforts, and other plans and studies to develop a performance management system, align land use and transportation visions and long range plans, and develop and codify implementation strategies into city’s and counties’ comprehensive plans, the MPO’s  long range transportation plan, as well as codes and ordinances, and activities to result in changes in behavior for individuals, institutions and other organizations.”

Having not been told any of these things, Chairman Buggs Peyton asked Svoboda, “How much staff time will it take?”

“I would have to analyze the meetings,” Svoboda replied. “That’s one of the things I talked about with Steve Williams (executive director of TJPDC) …”

“Can we make a decision at the 24th meeting?” Peyton interrupted him to ask, and to which, both Svoboda and Wilkinson replied, “Yes,” in unison.

Supervisor Jim Frydl commented that his “faith in how much we’re going to get from a planning organization that gives us 15 days to decide on a major issue is (dubious).”

“I don’t know if we can dis them because they e-mailed everybody about six weeks and ago and we didn’t answer them, but that’s more us,” Wilkinson responded.

Neither Chairman of the Board Buggs Peyton nor Supervisor Eddie Deane, who is the Board’s liaison to TJPDC, had attended the TJPDC meeting regarding the MPO the day before.

The July 24 meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the County Administration Building on Celt Road in Stanardsville.

Editor’s note: Jim Moore of Charlottesville writes: “As a C’ville citizen and attender of the TJPD “partnership” meetings, I encourage Greene Co. to asses the District’s success at achieving their goals to create a better society though the use of a Performance Measurement System.  Is this $1.4 million project on schedule?  Would Greene be expected to share in the $400k of labor expenses being provided by Albemarle Co., Cville and the other partners?”

Also, Eye on Greene was asked to note that the  MPO is a program established by the federal government that maintains a contractual agreement with TJPDC to provide staff.

 

 

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