by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.
When I first moved here thirty years ago commercial growth pretty much stopped at the Rivanna River on Route 29 going north and on Route 250 going east. That has changed a lot. With the advent of Forest Lakes in the late 80’s and Glenmore in the early 90’s, our population spread out and so did the business districts all the way to Airport Road to the north and Pantops to the East. Crozet was designated as a growth area to the west but so far that growth has been mostly residential with commuters zipping in to Charlottesville on I-64.
Now there are a lot more traffic lights as you drive on these major roads and it gets a little congested during rush hour which fortunately, really is about one hour, twice a day. The upside is a plethora of fine restaurants, (Charlottesvillians are pretty picky foodies), a wide variety of retail and grocery options. (Whole Foods is expanding, Trader Joe’s is coming) and even more interesting people to bump into at Fridays After Five on the Downtown Mall.
Growth is not my thing. I’m a bit of a recluse, a loner who cherishes good company in small doses, someone who thinks living around the beltway would be like living in a cage. This is what I like about living here. When you’ve seen a little bit too much of the car in front of you on Route 29 or Route 250, just take a right or a left and within a mile you’ll be out there in the country. You’ll find out the places you’ve heard of like Free Union, Whitehall, Somerset, Barboursville, Greenwood, Batesville, Syria and Graves Mill aren’t towns or villages even… they’re country stores and post offices and they really haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. You’ll be driving past farms, forests, slowing for tractors and cyclists and absolutely loving the view.
Credit good planning for not making a mess of things. I can see the activists cringe as I say that but contentious as it may be, as drawn out and frustrating as it seems before imperfect decisions are made, this is still a wonderful place to live. I would even say that the overall quality of life we can enjoy here surpasses what I found and knew I loved in 1982. Pro growth, slow growth and no growth proponents will always be at odds and they will find a vibrant forum here in Thomas Jefferson’s hometown. On one thing they will always concur: Preserve our Quality of Life. So far, so good.
One of my favorite things to do is to check my watch when I leave my office or my house and see how many minutes it takes me to make my first cast on the Moormans or the Conway or the Rapidan River. It’s usually about 30 and that includes rigging up my fly rod and putting on waders. I always do that, check my watch, because it thrills me so to be so close and so far away at the same time.