‘Baby step’ boundary adjustment could deter brewery

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Supervisor Liz Palmer led the charge for a much smaller addition to the growth area than originally proposed. Photo: Submitted Supervisor Liz Palmer led the charge for a much smaller addition to the growth area than originally proposed. Photo: Submitted

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors snatched victory from the jaws of a 223-acre growth area expansion and approved the addition of only 35 acres south of the Interstate 64/U.S. 29 interchange to the comprehensive plan’s development area at a September 23 special meeting.

When the supes last met September 9, it looked like they were ready to add to the growth area land that Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, had allegedly expressed interest in. But when they came back to hammer out the details, the Samuel Miller District’s Liz Palmer, the most vocally opposed to the amendment, managed a “rear guard victory,” according to Scottsville District candidate Rick Randolph, and swayed three other supervisors to vote for adding the much smaller 35 acres plus 16 acres for green space instead of the 85 acres for light industrial with 138 for park and green area originally proposed.

“An engineer said it would be very, very challenging to build any type of facility on the land we approved,” says Supervisor Ken Boyd, who admits he’s “disappointed” with the way the board went and the likely loss of around 100 “good, middle-class” jobs.

“It’s truly a baby step,” he says. “We need to grow up a little if we’re going to have a vibrant economy.”

Opponents to the amendment like Randolph, a planning commissioner who joined that body’s unanimous vote against the expansion in August, applauded the baby step.

Christine Davis, who gathered signatures on a petition against the amendment, is concerned about the precedent this decision makes. “If land will be added piecemeal to the development area,” she says, the board needs to publicly acknowledge that policy.

Rio District Supervisor Brad Sheffield moved that the board not consider any other comp plan amendments until the economic development office provided an inventory of land designated light industrial in the county.

Faith McClintic, the county’s economic development director, says, “The fact that the board did anything is progress. We still have a long way to go.”

According to Boyd, following Governor Terry McAuliffe’s visit to September 14 visit to Deschutes in Bend, the company will pay another site visit to Virginia. “They’re going to Roanoke,” says Boyd, “not here.”