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Supervisors further outline legislative priorities

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has shuffled some of its legislative priorities for 2021.

The board first discussed its priorities in July, and will formally set its legislative priorities in October, according to County Attorney Greg Kamptner. The supervisors will later meet with local General Assembly members.

So far, the priorities will likely be to enable civil penalties instead of criminal punishment for local violations; increase the civil penalties for zoning violations; enable appropriations to carry over for one year for multi-year capital projects; establish minimum standards for farm buildings and structures; and enable public bodies to meet by electronic communication means when a state or local emergency is declared.

“We’ll come back to the board on Oct. 7 with some more concrete ideas with the scope, for example, of what we would see as the increase in the civil penalties for zoning violations,” Kamptner said.

Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she wanted the board to be able to meet electronically to declare a local emergency in a pandemic.

“Why do we have to be gathered during a pandemic to declare there’s a state of emergency, that’s my concern,” she said. “I’m just making a comment, it’s wackadoodle that we had to meet during a pandemic to say that it was not safe to meet together. I’m just trying to make sure that we do something along those lines that would cover it.”

Kamptner also recommended that the board adopt a policy to enable notices of public hearings to be published on the locality’s website, instead of in newspapers, as statewide or multi-locality initiatives are.

Supervisor Donna Price said she would rather the notices be posted both online and in newspapers, citing internet access issues for some county residents.

“[I have] a little bit of concern of going exclusively from the newspapers to the websites, given the difficulty that many people have accessing the internet, recognizing also that newspaper circulations are reducing as well, so I would think that perhaps doing both would be better,” Supervisor Donna Price said.

Supervisors Ann H. Mallek, Liz Palmer and Bea LaPisto-Kirtley agreed.

Support for additional funding for broadband and community services could be supported with resolutions, as they are state budget related issues, Kamptner said.

Expanding the authority to use speed cameras and asking the General Assembly to stop extending sunset clauses for development approvals could also be included in the board’s positions and policy statements.

“We are dealing with projects right now, specifically one right now in my district, that is a decade or so old, well actually two decades, and the whole area has changed,” McKeel said.


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