The downside of growth


Ken Boyd’s stated desire for more growth ("Out in the backyard," Government News, October 9, 2007) is further proof of this supervisor’s unwillingness to think realistically and sufficiently broadly about issues facing Albemarle County. Developers like growth because they profit from it. For the rest of us, growth requires more schools, roads, police and other costly services. Current residents subsidize new growth with their taxes. Growth raises housing costs and lengthens drive times. Growth damages our environment, leaving us with dirtier air and water and fewer open spaces. We need elected officials who understand the downside of growth, not cheerleaders for development.

In his campaigning, Ken Boyd also says he wants to save the rural areas. However, a perusal of his voting record provides little evidence of this. For example, in 2005, Albemarle County created its Natural Heritage Committee. This committee is charged with developing conservation proposals for the county’s native plants, animals and ecosystems. Our comprehensive plan calls for its creation. Mr. Boyd first sought to block creation of the committee, saying it could interfere with development. When that failed, he tried without success to require that members include several developers and other members of the business community.

In 2005, the Albemarle supervisors also adopted a new rural areas chapter in the county comprehensive plan. This chapter is widely praised for its recognition of the need to protect a range of agricultural, forestal and ecological values in our rural areas. Mr. Boyd voted to adopt this chapter. However, since then, he has refused to support implementation of various rural areas protection measures based on that chapter. Rural protection proposals that Mr. Boyd has not supported include ordinances requiring clustering and phasing of rural residential development, buffering of all streams in the rural areas, restrictions on disturbances of steep slopes, and a revision of the family subdivision ordinance. None of these proposals have been implemented.

Rivanna District voters who believe decisions about growth should be made with a careful consideration of pluses and minuses need to look elsewhere for a representative on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors. Those who think rural protection mechanisms proposed in our comprehensive plan need to be implemented should look elsewhere, too. Fortunately, challenger Marcia Joseph provides an excellent alternative in the Rivanna District supervisor race.

Tom Olivier