Population growth in Charlottesville and Albemarle County took center stage Tuesday. The community got a chance to see the results of a study predicting just how much growth the local environment can take.
The big question is how many people can live in Charlottesville and Albemarle without impacting how the local ecosystem serves the area. About 135,000 people live in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area now, but the study gave some food for thought on the population's inevitable growth.
Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population launched the research project two years ago to find out the optimal sustainable population for the area. The people who did the study estimate that somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people can live in Charlottesville and Albemarle before we start to have major impacts on the ecosystem. They advised that low impact development is the best approach.
"Coupled with smart growth, low impact development can really decrease the impact of development on the environment, which can kind of raise the carrying capacity of the local ecosystems," stated Dr. Claire Jantz with Shippensburg University.
The study predicts most of the growth to happen in Charlottesville, Crozet, and in the Route 29 corridor. Once those are maxed out, the rural parts of the county will see more growth.
The study doesn't give a timetable for the growth in the city and the county. The people over the study say it simply looks at what the environmental impact will be with a 25, 50, and possibly 100 plus percent increase.