Archive for the 'Programs' Category

Lieutenant Governor Candidates Forum

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Candidates for Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) and Jill Holtzman (R) discuss issues facing Virginians in the 2017 election.

Justin Fairfax (D) (Left) and Jill Holtzman (R) speaking at The V. Earl Dickinson Building at Piedmont Virginia Community College

A 1-hour and 25-minute podcast can be heard here.

Justin Fairfax (D) was raised by a single mother and her parents. He is a graduate of DeMatha Catholic High School, Duke University and Columbia Law School, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review. He later served as a federal prosecutor in Virginia. He currently practices with the Tysons Corner office of the law firm Venable LLP where he focuses on white-collar criminal-defense matters and complex civil litigation.
Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel (R) is serving her third term in the Virginia Senate. She is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and DePaul University School of Law. She is a senior partner in Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, a firm that specializes in election and ethics laws. In the Virginia Senate she chairs the Privileges & Elections Committee and is a member of numerous other committees and subcommittees, including the Senate’s “money” (taxation and spending) committee, Senate Finance.
The forum was moderated by Bob Gibson. Mr. Gibson is a long-time political writer, columnist and editor at The Charlottesville Daily Progress. He is now with the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The candidates spoke at the Wednesday August 9, 2017 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at the V. Earl Dickinson Building and in conjunction with  Piedmont Virginia Community College. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience.

Visioning for the Future of Rio+29

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Albemarle County is actively working to transform the Route 29/Rio Road area, work that started with the new grade separated interchange project and is continuing with a small area plan that will re-imagine how people live, work, shop and play in this critical area of the County. In this podcast, the County solicits the thoughts and ideas of seniors as it begins to finalize the plans for this vital area of the county. Topics include: Current Rio+29 Small Area Plan, the Economic Development in the Rio+29 area and the development of transportation facilities for bicycles, pedestrians, transit, and cars.  Listen to the speakers via the podcast and watch the slides shown.


Presentations were made by Rachel Falkenstein (left), Albemarle County Senior Planner, Lee Catlin, Assistant County Executive, and Kevin McDermott, Principal Planner for Transportation. Lee Catlin spoke first on economic development in the county, how new businesses are attracted, and facilitating the growth of current businesses. There was a discussion of improving the corridors for cars, bikes, pedestrians and transits lead by Kevin McDermott. Rachel Falkenstein discussed amenities, land uses, urban forms and features of the area.

In addition to leading the discussion, Supervisors Diantha McKeel, Chair of the Board and Supervisor for the Jack Jouett District, and Brad Sheffield, Supervisor for the Rio District, also answered questions from the audience.  The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong.

General Assembly Legislative Report

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Area legislators reported on the 2017 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. This was the biennial “short” session when the focus is normally on amending Virginia’s two-year budget. Because revenues were greater than expected, the budget amendments were adopted with little strife. The record on other issues was mixed. For example, bills to reform the redistricting process and end gerrymandering, which passed the Senate overwhelmingly, were killed in an early-morning House subcommittee meeting.

The three below spoke at our Wednesday May 10, 2017 meeting that was moderated by SSV board member Terry Cooper. Download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation and listen to the podcast for details.

Senator Creigh Deeds (D) represents the 25th Senate District which includes the cities of Buena Vista, Charlottesville, Covington and Lexington, and the counties of Albemarle (part), Alleghany, Bath, Highland, Nelson and Rockbridge.
Delegate Steve Landes (R) represents the 25th House of Delegates District which includes portions of Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham Counties.
Delegate David Toscano (D) represents the 57th House of Delegates District which includes Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County.

Program Summary

Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegates Steve Landes and David Toscano presented a report on the 2017 General Assembly session.

Delegate Toscano utilized a PowerPoint presentation (click here to download a PDF) to highlight the actions taken during the session. The state of play in Richmond is conducted in the context of a divided government with the legislature controlled by Republicans and the Executive controlled by Democrats.

Virginia has enjoyed an improving economy with the unemployment down to 3.9% from 5.4%, second-lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. states; and investment in ports and Dulles. Yet the income inequality gap continues to grow.

Of the 1,817 bills and resolutions introduced, 1,243 of these passed. Delegate Toscano identified 10 successes in areas such as combating opioids, encouraging solar power, increasing judicial discretion and addressing mental health issues. Areas of disappointment included the failure to achieve any improvements in health care and redistricting reform.

Delegate Landes distributed copies of “Sessions Highlights,” and then discussed the 107 billion dollar biennial budget which included a reduction of 61 million in debt and added 35 million in cash reserves. Although there were no tax increases, he enumerated a number of important programs which received increased support. Unlike the federal government, Virginia cannot print money but rather must have a balanced budget. The bond-rating agencies are looking at how Virginia is handling the rainy-day fund and so this will be a continuing concern moving ahead with future budgets.

Delegate Landes detailed several bills that he worked on in a bipartisan manner that were directed toward strengthening the economy and were signed into law.

Senator Deeds began his comments with the astonishing reminder that in 1940, Virginia’s two most populous counties were Pittsylvania and Wise, and the state’s economy was natural resources: coal, tobacco and textiles. Our economy since then has been driven by the military-industrial complex—federal spending—with growth in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

Sequestration at the federal level over the past nine to 10 years requires us to look at new ways to promote economic growth and spur a creative environment conducive to economic growth. Senator Deeds also described his ongoing efforts to improve the system of care for persons with mental illness. Virginia continues to direct the major share of its resources to support the state institutions rather than community-based services. Sixteen percent of the persons in our prisons are seriously mentally ill and 24 percent in local jails.

Changing Populations in Virginia — The Death and Life of Virginia Localities

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Luke Juday is director of planning for the City of Waynesboro, VA.  He stated that after decades of attracting migrants from across the country, Virginia has suddenly experienced three consecutive years of net loss to other parts of the country. The effects of that change will start to ripple across the Commonwealth. With cities getting younger and rural areas getting older, population growth is becoming more and more polarized. The economic climate is becoming increasingly competitive for cities and towns, forcing local leaders to find new niches in a global economy. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong.  Listen while watching his excellent  presentation as a PDF.

Luke Juday is director of planning for the City of Waynesboro, VA. Before coming to Waynesboro, he was a transportation planner at the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and a demographer at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center, where most of this presentation was prepared. He has a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy from Grove City College, a Master’s in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Botswana. He is originally from Chesapeake, VA, where he was home schooled through high school.

Program Summary

Components of Population Change are “natural increase” which is the number of births minus the number of deaths combined with “net migration” which is in-migration minus out-migration. Between 2010 and 2015, Virginia’s population increased by 381,969 which consisted of a natural increase of 220,026 and an increase of migration of 161,943.

With regard to natural increase, Mr. Juday explained the importance of the age distribution within the population. With more younger persons, the population will increase due to higher birthrates and lower death rates. Today in America there are more 60 year-olds than 6-year-olds. From 2005 to 2015, the population in Virginia of those under 18 years of age increased by only 2.9 percent while those over 65 increased 37.9 percent.

Mr. Juday employed a PowerPoint presentation that was packed with charts and graphs to help understand the intertwining of factors contributing to population change both in the nation and Virginia. He also detailed trends in population shifts in the urban core, inner ring, outer ring, satellite counties and outside of metro areas.

ObamaCare to TrumpCare

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Carolyn Engelhard, who is the director of the Health Policy Program in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, spoke at our March 8, 2017 meeting.   She identified the promises and pitfalls of ObamaCare including the winners and losers over the last six years. The post 2016 election polls were discussed, and the “you break it you own it” politics of the current debate over repeal, replace, repair and delay.  The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong.  A podcast of the meeting is below along with a PDF of her excellent PowerPoint.

Professor Engelhard’s academic activities include analyzing and monitoring changes in health policy at the federal and state governmental levels and teaching in both the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. Ms. Engelhard received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX, and her M.P.A., Public Administration, from the University of Virginia.

Ms. Engelhard co-authored a book looking at the myths surrounding the U.S. health care system, completed a national project in conjunction with the nonpartisan Urban Institute examining the use of public policies to reduce obesity, and contributed a textbook chapter examining the effect of the new law on health care organizations.

Professor Engelhard co-directs a national webinar featuring health policy experts and students across four universities each spring, and she is a contributing health policy expert for the web-based news journal, TheHill.com.

Program Summary

“ObamaCare,” the Affordable Care Act, originally came to be to address gaps in traditional health coverage. Historically, the majority of the those not elderly in the U.S. received health insurance as a job benefit. The private non-group market charged higher premiums based on medical history and often excluded specific conditions like maternity care or cancer. In 2008, 29% of individuals 60 to 64 who applied for non-group insurance were denied coverage based on health status.

The number of non-elderly uninsured Americans reached 49.1 million in 2010, amidst rising unemployment rates and a struggling economy. The steady decline in employer-sponsored health coverage since 2000 largely explained the growing numbers of uninsured.

Conclusion: BACK TO THE FUTURE: competing philosophies as to the fundamental nature and purpose of health insurance.

The traditional Democratic philosophy favors a comprehensive medical payment structure with government subsidies to encourage preventive care and to protect against financial exposure to high medical costs due to illness.

The traditional Republican philosophy favors a market-based traditional insurance structure, with high deductibles, catastrophic protection, and routine costs paid out of pocket. Relying on taxpayer-subsidized health care for others is anathema to Republicans.

In many ways, ObamaCare has become the “new normal.” The political battle now is WHO will pay to help keep Americans insured and HOW it will be paid.

Local Food – What Could Be Better?

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

 

Kristen Suokko served as Board of Directors chairwoman of the Local Food Hub in 2012, and in 2013 became executive director. Kristen spoke at our February meeting on the value of fresh, farm sourced food from local farms. The program was moderated by SSV board member Madison Cummings. Listen to her presentation via podcast.

Local Food Hub is a nonprofit organization that partners with Virginia farmers to increase community access to local food. They provide the support services, infrastructure, and market opportunities that connect people with food grown close to home.

Local Food Hub grew out of a community-supported discussion that identified a need for greater linkages between small family farms and institutions seeking local food. Farmers were being locked out of the institutional market due to missing infrastructure, delivery minimums, insurance requirements, and time. Institutions and businesses found it challenging to access a consistent supply of local produce, and were looking for one number to call to source locally.

Since its founding eight years ago, Local Food Hub has made strides in its mission to make fresh, farm sourced food available to everyone. Locally sourced food is now accessible to school kids and seniors, hospitals and universities, and restaurants and retailers. Community partnerships and programs ensure that we not only feed but also educate a new generation about the value of eating fresh and local. Family farms, the environment, public health, and the local economy all benefit as a result.

Kristen Suokko maintains a wealth of experience in environmental philanthropy and nonprofit excellence, as well as environmental planning and sustainability. She began her career in Washington, D.C., working for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Kristen has lived in Charlottesville for over 15 years and previously held positions with the W. Alton Jones Foundation and the Blue Moon Fund. Kristen received a degree in Russian from Middlebury College and is from New England.

Program Summary

Here’s how the hub works: partner farms and producers (small family farms and specialty producers) sell farm sourced food to the Local Food Hub which in exchange provides support services and resources to the food producers. The Local Food Hub then distributes the food through partner distributors, institutions retailers and schools. The Local food Hub also has partnerships with other community groups including nonprofits, hunger and food access organizations and farm to school. A third element of their services involves public education by increasing knowledge of local food to all segments of the community.

For distribution, the Local Food Hub has a 3,000 square foot warehouse in Ivy, and three refrigerated vehicles. With over 200 customers the Hub has $1.5M in sales.

The Hub assists more than 70 small family farms with Training and technical assistance, liability insurance, marketing, traceability, food safety and certifications. Community Partnerships include hunger organizations, PB&J Fund, City Schoolyard Garden, the Health Department and Crutchfield. The Farm to School program involves 70 public schools in eight districts, Harvest of the Month, Virginia Farm to School Week, and private schools and universities. The Fresh Farmacy program serves 75 patients in three clinics with measurable health improvements.

Vehicle Safety: Today and Tomorrow

Friday, January 13th, 2017

2017-01-11-1-ssv-ageeMarshie Agee is the communication liaison for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In her position Marshie speaks to groups visiting the IIHS Vehicle Research Center, and we were fortunate to have her at the SSV January meeting. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong.

Ms. Agee spoke about these issues surrounding traffic safety.

  • Crash testing and consumer ratings programs have made vehicles safer than ever.
  • Autonomous vehicles get lots of attention, and they do have the potential to make automobile travel even safer. However, none of us can buy one now, and there are many issues to be resolved before they can become mainstream.
  • Crash avoidance technologies like auto-braking are the building blocks for autonomous cars, and these systems are already on the market and reducing crashes.
  • Despite the promise of technology, it’s important not to forget about things we can do right now to improve safety, no matter what kind of vehicles people are driving. Lowering speed limits, using automated enforcement to deter both speeders and red light runners, and improving enforcement of safety belt use and impaired driving laws are proven ways to bring down the death toll.

A PDF version of the PowerPoint presented is here and the podcast is below.

Marshie Agee is the communication liaison for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In her position Marshie speaks to groups visiting the IIHS Vehicle Research Center about the Institute’s work and represents the Institute at conferences and community events. She also fields consumer inquiries about the Institute’s research and presents research findings on the web for both the media and general public. Marshie has been with the Institute since 2004. She received a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Before joining the Institute, she worked as web designer and a teacher.

Program Summary

Dozens of people gasped and grimaced as they watched brand-new cars slam into barriers during a lecture at the Senior Center on Wednesday.

Marshie Agee, communications liaison for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, presented these crash-test videos and a wealth of information at a meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

The IIHS is an independent, nonprofit organization that aims to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage from crashes on U.S. roads through scientific research and educational outreach. The IIHS and its partner organization, the Highway Loss Data Institute, are entirely funded by auto insurers and insurance associations.

“We hope that we have changed the way consumers go about buying cars,” Agee said. “We hope the first question consumers ask before buying a vehicle is not whether it is fast or sporty, but whether it is safe.”

The IIHS established its Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville 25 years ago and has conducted crash tests on cars there since 1995. Automakers covet the institute’s annual Top Safety Pick awards, which recognize new models that perform best in its safety tests.

“Manufacturers love using these awards in their advertising,” Agee said. “If we dangle that carrot out there, it encourages them to make [safety] improvements.”
In 1995, fewer than 25 percent of vehicle models received the highest safety rating, “Good,” in the institute’s first round of frontal crash tests. That percentage rapidly increased, and today, virtually all new models get the top rating for this test.
The IIHS has gradually expanded its testing regimen for new vehicles over the years.

“We don’t let the manufacturers rest on their laurels for very long before we introduce a new challenge,” Agee said. The IIHS conducts five different crashworthiness tests today: moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints/seats.

This is excerpted from an article written by Josh Mandell (jmandell@cvilletomorrow.org) that was printed in the January 12 issue of The Daily Progress. You can access the entire article at: http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/26029-crash-tests-and-autonomous-vehicles/

Unpacking the 2016 Presidential Campaign and Election

Friday, December 16th, 2016

The results of the 2016 presidential election pleased some, disappointed others and surprised just about everyone. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was supposed to have a lock on the presidency but Republican nominee Donald Trump, who faced not only Democratic opposition but a “Never Trump” movement among Republicans, prevailed by winning a majority of Electoral College votes.

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Speakers Jim Hobart and Terry Cooper

The excellent slide presentation can be downloaded as well as the podcast.  The PDF version does not include the two election videos, but is much faster to download.

PowerPoint (pptx) Presentation   (74MB)

PDF Version of Presentation   (18MB)

The Senior Statesmen of Virginia hosted two political consultants in a program that was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong.

Jim Hobart is a vice president at the leading Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.  Jim is a veteran of numerous important campaigns, including four victorious U.S. Senate campaigns and 11 winning U.S. House campaigns in 2014.  He was named Campaigns & Elections magazine’s Rising Star in 2013.  Terry Cooper is a native of Charlottesville and a veteran opposition researcher for Republican campaigns.

Many questions about the elections were addressed, such as:

  • How was a political novice (Trump) able to dispatch more than a dozen seemingly far more qualified Republicans and secure the nomination?
  • Why did Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders perform so well in the Democratic primaries and caucuses yet lose the Democratic nomination to Clinton?
  • Why were voters left with a choice that many described as between the lesser of two evils?
  • How was Trump able to carry states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — that were supposedly part of a “blue wall” guaranteeing a Clinton victory?
  • Why didn’t the pollsters and the media see what was coming?
  • And what do the 2016 election results portend for the nation and for the futures of the Republican and Democratic parties?

Policing Issues In Albemarle and Charlottesville

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

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Charlottesville Chief of Police Al Thomas Jr. (left) and Albemarle County Chief of Police Ron Lantz addressed current policing issues including traffic concerns, staffing levels, drugs and gangs. They spoke at our Wednesday, November 8, 2016 meeting. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Rich DeMong. A podcast of the one-hour presentation and Q&A is below.

2016-11-09-2-ssv-thomasAlfred S. Thomas Jr. was appointed Charlottesville chief of police effective May 23, 2016. Chief Thomas served as chief of police for the City of Lexington, Virginia, since 2010. During his time in Lexington, he has directed a number of major initiatives, including operational reorganizations, upgrades to emergency communications infrastructure, implementation of mobile data terminals and digital in-car camera systems, and expanded outreach to city youth with the implementation of multiple programs including a junior police academy, police summer camp, and a regional high school internship program.

Upon his appointment to chief of the Charlottesville Police, he was cited for his experience, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities.

Prior to his time in Lexington, Chief Thomas spent 20 years with the Lynchburg Police Department working in varied roles with increasing command responsibility. From 1985 until 1990, he proudly served in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

Chief Thomas was chair of the Rockbridge Regional Law Enforcement Command Board, vice-president of the Rockbridge Area Housing Corporation Board of Directors, is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officials and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Rockbridge Area YMCA.

2016-11-09-3-ssv-lantzAlbemarle County named Ron Lantz as chief of police effective June 1, 2016.  Chief Lantz served as Albemarle’s deputy chief of police where, since 2012, he assisted the chief of police in planning and directing the many activities of the Albemarle County Police Department including providing supervision for 115 of the 129 sworn officers in the functional areas of patrol, traffic, school resource, crime prevention, and animal control.  In addition, Chief Lantz was responsible for leading the implementation of the County’s Geographic Based Policing initiative which was launched in 2012.

Prior to joining the Albemarle County force, Lantz completed his career with the Fairfax County Police Department by serving as a district station commander where he was responsible for 155 officers providing police service to 125,000 residents. While with Fairfax County, Lantz received the Departmental Meritorious Commendation, the Departmental Meritorious Action Award, and the Departmental Meritorious Service Award.

Lantz received his Bachelors of Science from the University of Charleston with a major in Organizational Leadership. He successfully completed the Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program from American University and is currently enrolled in courses geared towards a Master of Science with a focus on Criminal Justice and Public Administration from Liberty University. Lantz is also a graduate of the DEA Drug Commander Academy, the FBI National Academy, and the Virginia Association of Police New Chief / Deputy Chief School.

Program Summary

Charlottesville Chief Al Thomas spoke about changing the structure of the department’s ranks — including the recent promotion of Maj. Gary Pleasants to the role of deputy chief. He also addressed the need to focus more efforts on connecting with the community and listening to what people want.

Albemarle County Chief Ron Lantz addressed his department’s efforts in geopolicing, a strategy that splits the county into geographical sectors and assigns officers to specific areas, allowing them to better engage their community. He also spoke about traffic being one of the biggest issues his officers face, most notably distracted driving.

“I once saw a guy eating spaghetti while driving with his knees,” said Lantz, getting a laugh from the audience. “We had a good conversation, pulled over on the side of the road.”

Lantz said he hopes to hire more officers and, eventually, open a district police station in the north part of the county near Hollymead Town Center. Along with the addition of a new satellite office in Crozet, he said he’d like to see another open in the urban ring near apartment complexes with high numbers of calls for service.

Taxes, Growth and Our Albemarle County Quality of Life

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
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Liz Palmer, Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
Tim Keller, Chair of the Albemarle County Planning Commission

We all appreciate the amenities, cultural and historical richness of our community and those are the very things that attract others. Growth often increases road congestion, noise and property taxes. How can we avoid these problems?  This question was addressed by officials of Albemarle County at our October 17th meeting where the program was moderated by SSV past president Bob McGrath. The details are in this podcast.

Liz Palmer is the chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and represents the Samuel Miller District. She was elected in 2013. Prior local government service includes eight years on the board of the Albemarle County Service Authority. She has been a practicing veterinarian for 35 years. She currently operates a mobile practice, Charlottesville End of Life Pet Care.

Tim Keller serves as the at-large commissioner and chair of the Albemarle County Planning Commission. He is a founding principal of Land and Community Associates and professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University. Tim has directed a variety of innovative landscape planning and conservation projects throughout the United States and abroad.

Program Summary

In her opening remarks, Ms. Palmer observed, “Anyone who has lived here for the last decade or longer has witnessed the population growth of our area and has felt the effects. Many enjoy our beautiful countryside and the fact that we can drive just a short distance outside of town and be in the rural areas. This is possible because of the growth management practices of the last 30 + years and hard development lines established in 1980 which Tim will talk more about later.

Others complain that this growth management plan holds back business and thereby hurts people’s ability to make a living. They also believe it is driving up land prices and making the county increasingly unaffordable. Then there are higher taxes which is a negative impact not always directly associated with growth. Our talk will concentrate on what local government can do to balance these competing concerns. What kind of economic development can help with the budget without stoking growth.”

Ms. Palmer and Mr. Keller covered three discussion points:  1. Does growth pay for itself?  That is, do the local taxes paid by the average family in a single family home cover the costs of services provided by local government? (Spoiler alert: No! Growth does not pay for itself).

2. Does local government possess the tools to mitigate the negative impacts of growth on our taxes, environment, and quality of life? (Another spoiler alert: Yes, but ultimately will need state help and tax reform).

3. Can urban infill and redevelopment help us maintain our Albemarle County quality of life in the face of population growth and increased property taxes?

Ms. Palmer turned over the presentation to Mr. Keller to address the third point. His answer: the Albemarle County Growth Management Plan is successful. The rural is still rural. Development is primarily directed to the growth areas. The growth areas warrant focus through continued and refined economic and land use planning and urban design.

One of Mr. Keller’s major takeaways: “This quick trip through planning history brings us to today. Would some folks like to see more development, and less controls? Of course. Would others like to see little or no change? Albemarle County’s growth management approach provides a reasonable middle ground.” The current rural areas policy has proven effective.