Friday, August 26, 2005

It Takes a Village

Albemarle County planners would like to channel growth in the Crozet community (to the west of Charlottesville) into a "village." The Old Trail Village project would permit some 2,000 residential units and 250,000-square-feet of commercial space a short distance from "downtown" Crozet.

An editorial in the Daily Progress is skeptical. "County planners refer to a 'village concept' in a sort of marketing jargon that takes the bucolic term, stands it on its ear and force-feeds it steroids until it plops down next to a community such as Crozet as something a little less country and a little more inflated." Locals are worried about the impact on traffic, water supplies and schools.

I know next to nothing about this particular project, so I cannot comment on the details. But I would note that, in the abstract, clustering rural development in "villages" makes a lot more sense than smearing growth randomly over the countryside. Presumably, a village contains a mix of houses, stores, offices, restaurants and other amenities that enable residents the ability to take care of most of their daily needs locally -- without the necessity of hopping onto the regional transportation grid (in this case, U.S. 250 and Interstate 64). Ideally, the houses, shops, office and schools are located closely enough together, and the streetscape designed in such a way, that people are encouraged to walk or bicycle with some frequency to destinations within the community.

In the best of all worlds, the new "village" would not even be a free-standing community, but would integrate seamlessly with the existing town of Crozet, creating a larger community with a balance of housing, retail, office and amenities.


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Village development is great. The trouble is when localities try to follow that route by basically prohibiting any development elsewhere. To allow 5-10 units per acre in a village is great, but it is wrong to then allow only .2 or even less units elsewhere.

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great location for a development. Right by an interstate so you don't need to spend 30 years arguing over a bypass, its already there. Much better than what is happening to Rt 29 north of Charlottesville.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I think we are going to need a lot of "villages". That means we will have to fill them with jobs. Those jobs will probably need to be transferred from somewhere else where there are too many jobs and not enough transport. We will then need to make sure the villages are connected by adequate transport.

Collectively these ideas willl be identified as promoting sprawl and they will be fought tooth and nail by NIMBY's. What this boils down to is telling someone else what they can an can't do with their own money.

When we eventually get what we wish for in this regard, we'll look back and wonder where we went wrong.

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray, that's the unfortunate truth about the entire planning process -- at its root it involves using the brute force of government to tell folks what they can and can't do with their own money and property.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

That might even be OK, IF the government was better at figuring out what to do with people's money, but we have shown time and again that government is not, and all the policies they derive are worse than useless in the end.


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