Albemarle Planning Limits Monticello Viewshed’s Sway - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Planning Limits Monticello Viewshed’s Sway

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In Albemarle County, the debate about efforts to preserve the view from Monticello is over. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation will not have a say over what homeowners can do to their property.

Tuesday night the Albemarle County Planning Commission heard from both sides once again and came to an agreement about what to include in its comprehensive plan.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation proposed expanding the guidelines to property owners building in Monticello's shadow. The planning commission decided not to put the language in its comprehensive plan.

"You have the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which is a separate independent entity, and that should not step in between a person who is going to be an applicant before this body and the body itself. It's wrong," said Cal Morris, planning commission chair.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation wanted to quadruple the viewshed and also proposed voluntary guidelines for those in that area, which the planning commission approved. The guidelines include limiting bright pastels and white on buildings, large windows facing the mountains and lighting.

"We're stewards of a world heritage site and this is about the long view and about what we can be preserving for future generations of people who will come to our area," said Ann Taylor, executive vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Those against the proposed language say it steps on private property rights.

"As much as we respect Monticello for its historical value, it doesn't mean automatically a commercial organization is entitled to say, ‘yeah we want to have a say over what we can see from that vantage point,'" said Charles Battig.

The planning commission decided to provide the Thomas Jefferson Foundation with notifications of new growth in the viewshed but says it will be up to the foundation to contact the owners and work with them to help preserve Monticello.  

The commission agreed preserving Monticello is important but says it's the foundation's responsibility to work it out with homeowners.  

"We also want to ensure that that person who wants to do something with their property is cognizant that you can see that property from Monticello," Morris said.

The planning commission is expected to finalize the comprehensive plan and present it to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors sometime in June.

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