The Free Enterprise Forum’s Economic Opportunity Luncheon series continued this month with a lecture by Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation. Staley is the Director of Urban and Land Use Policy at the Foundation, which is a non-profit group that advocates for free markets. He’s the author of several books, including

Smarter Growth: Market-based Strategies for Land-use Planning in the 21st Century

and The

Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think and What We Can Do About It


He is also a former chair of the planning board of his hometown, a suburb of Dayton, Ohio called Bellbrook. In his talk to the Free Enterprise Forum, Staley drew upon his decades of experience in planning to explain to the audience why he felt “smart growth” was something to be weary of.

“While I am a critic of smart growth, I also take planning very seriously, and I take urban growth management very seriously,” Staley said.

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Over the course of his 30 minute talk, Staley made five observations:

Virginia law requires local governments to develop comprehensive plans describing how each locality intends to manage its long range physical development and transportation infrastructure.

Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan

includes a chapter on the Neighborhood Model form of development which sets the County’s goals for, among other things, interconnected and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that mix residential and retail/office uses.

Recent major rezoning in Albemarle County including Old Trail Village,

North Pointe


Biscuit Run

, and

Rivanna Village

all envision mixed-use developments in accordance with various elements of the County’s Comprehensive Plans, and in some cases, in compliance with more detailed 20-year Master Plans.

After making his remarks, Staley offered suggestions for how to reform the planning process to make it more flexible for changing business conditions. He then took questions from local officials and representatives of the media.

Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

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