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Charlottesville, Virginia to Bypass Years of Careful Planning

9:21 AM PDT on July 29, 2011

Charlottesville, Virginia is a true stand-out in growth management in the South. Despite strong development pressure, this mid-sized city, which is home to the University of Virginia, has developed a growth boundary to help preserve its scenic natural surroundings and quaint, small-town feel.

After all that careful planning and forethought, it pains me to have to write this kind of story about Charlottesville — the unnecessary highway story.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization had specifically blocked funding for a bypass of US 29 as part of its long-range plan. But Wednesday, the MPO board voted 3-2 to overturn that decision and accept $197 million in state funding to revive the 6.2 mile project that has been sitting on a shelf for the last 15 years.

This whole thing is like a replay of Charleston and Charlotte, except Charlottesville really ought to know better.

Sean Tubbs at Network blog Charlottesville Tomorrow has been following this story as it unfolds. These excerpts were taken from a series of four stories Tubbs has written on the topic.

City Councilors Kristin Szakos and Satyendra Huja voted against the motion to approve funding, which came after more than 100 people spoke at the second public hearing on the topic. Roughly two-thirds of the speakers argued that the MPO should not allow further funding for the project.

Trip Pollard, director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s land and community program, objected to being described as a “special interest.” “Obviously it’s a very controversial project,” Pollard said. “We have opposed it for a number of years because we think it is a wasteful and destructive project, and not because we’re a special interest. We think there are cheaper and better solutions.”

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