The Amherst County Department of Community Development issued 590 zoning permits in 2021, a 24% increase from the previous year.
These statistics and other housing trends are included in the Amherst County Planning Commission’s 2021 Annual Report, which was presented at the July 19 Board of Supervisors meeting.
The county issued 116 more zoning permits last year than in 2020. The 590 permits issued in 2021 hit a five-year high, according to report data. Single-family housing permits issued in 2021 totaled 128, up from 104 the previous year, and also hit a five-year high.
“Every year we get busier and busier,” said Michael Bryant, chairman of the Amherst County Planning Commission.
Bryant said the rise in single-family homes is a positive trend.
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“These numbers just keep going up,” Bryant said. “We continue to push higher than what we have seen in the last decade. It’s a good sign for us. We have more people who want to live here. Hopefully, the more people who live here, the more companies will want to follow suit. »
The commission is an appointed body that makes zoning and land use recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
“Our priorities have been making Amherst County that perfect slice of Virginia by helping to streamline land development and adjust our ordinances to encourage positive growth,” Bryant said in the report.
Priorities also include providing more resources, jobs and better housing for residents, resulting in a better quality of life and creating a community where people will want to live and where businesses will want to live. invest, Bryant said.
“We strive to encourage growth and redevelopment where businesses can thrive while protecting our rural landscape, providing places for recreation and creating tourist attractions that will bring investment into our local economy,” Bryant said. .
The Madison Heights master plan is also highlighted in the report. The county hired EPR, a Charlottesville firm, to begin the master planning process for much of Madison Heights, from Virginia 130 to James River. The goal is to create a blueprint for county officials and future developers that proposes traffic model improvements; infrastructure availability and needs, such as public water, sewer, electricity, telephone, fiber, 5G and sidewalks; utility locations for schools, police, emergency medical services, fire stations, parks and recreation; and zoning changes and controls that will guide anticipated growth in Madison Heights.
These efforts will position the county government to be ready to fulfill its responsibilities to the public, according to the county.
The report also notes recent progress in expanding countywide broadband through a partnership with Firefly Fiber Broadband, a subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative that provides electric service to select county residents. Through the regional project, 4,322 locations in Amherst County have been identified as unserved, which is defined as areas without access to speeds greater than 25 megabits per second down or 3 megabits up.
The project includes installing approximately 550 miles of new fiber optic cable in the county to make faster internet available in rural areas and is expected to be completed within three years.
“We will reap the benefits of this great moment,” Bryant said.
Board of Supervisors Chairman David Pugh said the report indicates the county is showing signs of growth despite the latest census report showing a 3% decline in population since 2010.
“There are good trends. I hope they continue,” Pugh said. “There are things we can be proud of and say we are heading in the right direction.”