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June 30, 2006

New Resolution on Crozet Population

CrozetsmallThe Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is considering the resolution below on the Crozet population issue at 11:00 AM at its July 5, 2006 meeting [Agenda Item].  Apparently their unanimous vote on this matter in January 2006 did not accomplish everything the staff and Board intended. 

UPDATE: Charlottesville Tomorrow spoke to Board Chair Dennis Rooker today who indicated it was placed on the agenda in part to allow for the Board to have a public discussion about the matter and to receive additional public feedback.  Public comments can be made at the beginning of the meeting which starts at 9:00 AM.

The Crozet community's petition delivered to the Board on March 1, 2006 asked the Board to cap the population at 12,000 per the Crozet Master Plan.  If passed, this resolution would be the strongest signal yet to the community that a cap is not desirable and that the Supervisors intend Crozet to grow beyond 12,000 people. Several new Crozet rezoning proposals are going to be considered by the County Planning Commission in mid-July. 

Brian Wheeler


LINK TO DRAFT RESOLUTION

RESOLUTION TO REAFFIRM the board of supervisor’s position relating to the density envisioned by the crozet mater plan            

WHEREAS, Albemarle County’s long established growth management policy designates specific rural areas that are to be preserved and protected and designated development areas that are intended to accommodate growth as the County’s population increases in the future; and 

WHEREAS, since 1971, Crozet has been a designated development area and has received significant public infrastructure investment over the years to accommodate anticipated growth and density; and 

WHEREAS, Crozet, at the request of its citizens, became the first County development area to be master planned to insure that the future form of development would create an attractive, vibrant, livable community with a quality urban environment; and

            WHEREAS, the 1996 Land Use plan that was in effect prior to the adoption of the Crozet Master Plan established a growth possibility significantly in excess of Crozet’s by-right population possibility, stated in the Plan in Table II: Albemarle County Development Areas – Total Developable Acres to be in the range of an added population for Crozet of between 7,114 and 17,300; and

            WHEREAS, the Crozet Master Plan was not intended by the County to either cap population at the by-right level or to significantly decrease growth possibilities in existence at the time of the Master Plan, either possibility which would have been in direct conflict with Crozet’s well-established designation as a development area; and 

            WHEREAS, assumptions in the Crozet Master Plan, including population projections of 11,200 – 12,000 in a 20 year build-out as stated under Basic Assumptions on Page 4 of the Plan, are based on a 20-year planning horizon; and

            WHEREAS, the ultimate build-out of Crozet, which would extend well beyond the 20 year planning horizon of the Master Plan, has a potential population maximum in excess of 12,000 and allows Crozet to function as a development area accommodating growth beyond the year 2024; and

            WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors will actively monitor actual growth and development activity in Crozet as it relates to the Master Plan and will conduct a five year review of the Master Plan in 2009, allowing it to make whatever adjustments are required to reflect actual conditions.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors hereby reaffirms that (1) the Crozet Master Plan, adopted in December 2004, has a 20-year planning horizon and potential population of 12,000, (2) the population beyond the Plan’s 20 year planning horizon may well exceed 12,000 to allow Crozet to fulfill its designation as a development area, and (3) the 12,000 population figure does not represent either a population cap or an ultimate population figure for the Crozet development area.

New calendar resources

Trumba_150x36I just outfitted the Charlottesville Tomorrow website with new calendar software offered by a company named Trumba.  I am very impressed with their program.  It offers the following helpful features to people interested in tracking meetings and events:

  • The ability to receive alerts about calendar changes
  • An RSS feed of the meetings (Feed URL -- What is RSS?)
  • The ability to import appointments into MS Outlook

Please send me your feedback and let me know if you find this version of the calendar an improvement.  Brian Wheeler

June 28, 2006

Water and sewer needs for new development

Copc20060627bWhen new residential developments have come before the Albemarle County Planning Commission this past year, a regular concern voiced by the public relates to the quantity and quality of water resources.  Will we have enough water for new development?  Will we suffer water pressure or quality problems?  In response to concerns raised around rezoning requests like Biscuit Run (South of I-64 between Rt 20S and Old Lynchburg Rd) and Cascadia (Rt 20N near Darden Towe and Pantops), on June 27, 2006, the Commission reviewed the general issue of public water and sewer needs required by new development proposals in the County's designated growth areas, the areas intended to be serviced by these utilities.

Paul Shoop, the Albemarle County Service Authority's (ACSA) Director of Engineering, discussed the planning horizon for their work, their expectations about the scale and location of growth, their plans to maintain water pressure in areas around Biscuit Run and Pantops, and the process for having new neighborhoods added to public water and sewer when they are outside existing jurisdictional boundaries.

I highly recommend this podcast as Mr. Shoop and the Planning Commission had a very informative discussion about local government's ability to support new developments, at least for water and sewer needs. 

Listen to podcast: Download 20060627-publicwater.mp3

Some of the major points were as follows:

  • The ACSA and Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority operate on a 50-year planning horizon, longer than the County's Comprehensive Plan horizon of twenty-years. The water supply and water treatment plans are expected to accommodate projected growth.
  • The 1996 Comprehensive Plan helped determine what the needs would be in the designated growth areas to support projects like Biscuit Run, North Pointe, and Cascadia.
  • The jurisdictional boundaries for public water and sewer and the designated growth area boundaries do not always line up.  When a rezoning request comes before the Board of Supervisors, adjustments are made to the ACSA jurisdictional area to add growth area land.
  • Only the Board of Supervisors can approve changes to the public water and sewer jurisdictional areas.  Land outside the growth area has rarely been added to public water.  Some notable exceptions include the Key West, Flordon, and West Leigh neighborhoods.  The Board receives a couple requests a year and rejects as many as it accepts.  Public health issues and proximity to an existing water line are determining factors.

Note: While it was not mentioned in the meeting, these officials would be among the first to remind the public that, while we have a fifty-year water supply plan, we need to remain diligent on conservation efforts and watershed protection.

Brian Wheeler

Albemarle's groundwater ordinance reviewed by Planning Commission

Copc20060627aIn early June, Charlottesville Tomorrow provided exclusive coverage of the Albemarle County Planning Commission's discussion of groundwater issues related to the Glen Oaks subdivision proposed near Glenmore. That evening, the Planning Commission was told that neither they nor county staff has the authority to reject a subdivision on the basis of data from the County's new groundwater assessments. 

As a result, at their June 27, 2006 meeting (podcast below), the Planning Commission asked staff to present additional information on the intent and the utility of the Groundwater Protection Ordinance.   Mark Graham, the County's Director of Community Development, and Larry Davis, County Attorney, presented information on both the scientific and legal background of the ordinance approved in December 2004. 

Listen to podcast: Download 20060627-groundwater.mp3

The following  were among the important points made in the discussion:

  • In the Piedmont Region of Virginia it is very difficult to predict the impact a well on one property will have on a well on an adjacent property.
  • During the 2002 drought, the wells that tended to fail were older and shallower wells.  These are very susceptible to changes in groundwater.  The Running Deer neighborhood adjacent to the proposed Glen Oaks subdivision has many of these challenged wells in an area with poor groundwater resources.
  • Virginia law indicates that an existing groundwater user has no more right to groundwater than an adjacent property owner wishing to drill a new well.  The General Assembly has not provided local governments with any enabling authority to deny a subdivision based on potential future threats to groundwater that may be caused by an adjacent property owner.  However, Albemarle's ordinance could have been written to address groundwater quality and quantity issues (minimal flow rates) for new wells being drilled, as the County received a formal opinion on that in the past from the Attorney General.
  • The committee which worked on the ordinance in 2004 recommended that no numerical standards be included with respect to well flow rates because of the mixed success these standards had had in other localities (e.g. Loudoun County).  Thus, Albemarle County's ordinance sets no minimum flow rates for new wells before a building permit is issued.  The Health Department informed Charlottesville Tomorrow that they will accept any well that flows above 0 gallons per minute.  Staff shared their experience that wells as low as 0.5 gallons per minute, with evidence of adequate water storage, are the minimal standard.
  • Staff reviewed the long-term objectives of the data collection effort initiated by the new ordinance.  The County is finishing the first year of a well monitoring program that will collect data over a ten-year period.  This research will focus on water challenged areas of the County seeing substantial residential growth.  In time, this data could allow more specific language to be added in the ordinance with respect to groundwater quantity standards, thus enabling a future Planning Commission to reject a proposed development based on insufficient water resources.

Brian Wheeler

June 27, 2006

Charlottesville Tomorrow's letter on North Pointe rezoning

Charlottesville Tomorrow's Board of Directors has sent a letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors regarding the North Pointe rezoning request. You can read this letter via the following link.

The Board of Directors of Charlottesville Tomorrow has been closely following the County’s review of and public feedback on the North Pointe rezoning. While our input on a project like this comes late in the Board’s evaluation, we want to take advantage of this window of opportunity to reflect on the accumulated information and research that is now available to the public.

Charlottesville Tomorrow is not asking the Board of Supervisors to take a position for or against this project. Many members of the public and other organizations have made up their mind and shared their viewpoints with the Board. It is significant that the comments at the public hearing demonstrated how much common interest exists in creating quality neighborhoods in our designated growth areas.

Our Board of Directors, which broadly represents many interests in the community, is asking for the County's thoughtful consideration of the critical challenges we face to reduce current and future traffic congestion, the environmental impact of development on the North Fork Rivanna River, and the cumulative impact of past rezonings in the 29 North corridor, especially with regard to major retail developments.

To read all our blog postings on North Pointe, click here.

Brian Wheeler

June 26, 2006

Virginia's Secretary of Transportation: "It's an ugly picture"

Last week I tuned in to Coy Barefoot's radio program on WINA and heard the Secretary of Transportation characterize the "ugly picture" of Virginia's transportation funding crisis.  At the end of the interview (see transcript below), Coy Barefoot asked the Secretary what he was going to do next, given the inaction by the General Assembly to address transportation in the recently approved state budget.  I was not shocked when he said Virginia can't afford to do much.  I was shocked when he suggested it would be helpful for localities to develop a list of priority projects that might get the state's attention. 

It got me thinking I should write an open letter to our Secretary of Transportation...

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Below you will find links to the Albemarle County Secondary Road Projects list and to the priorities of our local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  Two such priority lists you mentioned would be helpful.  As you can see, our community has a prioritized list of needs.  More priorities will be identified as our community grows and as we continue to proactively develop master plans for designated growth areas. What should we do next Mr. Secretary to keep Virginia (and Charlottesville-Albemarle) moving forward?

  • Albemarle's Secondary Roads Priority List
    Note: Out of 67 ranked projects requested to be done, only 3 projects currently have advertised start dates and funding--Meadowcreek Parkway-County's portion of road; Jarmans Gap Rd.; and Georgetown Rd.  The new state budget puts the scheduled start of these three projects in jeopardy.
  • MPO's Priority Transportation Projects
    Note: See pages 9-10 of this report for a list of over $100 million in projects identified by our MPO in the long-range UnJAM 2025 Plan and the FY05 Transportation Improvement Plan as priority projects.

Sincerely yours,
Brian Wheeler


Podcast available at Charlottesville Podcasting

Coy Barefoot, WINA: What’s the next step for your office?

Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia:  Well, what we are going to begin doing is communicating to people about what we really can afford over the next six years in transportation.  It is not much. 

Coy Barefoot, WINA: It’s not a pretty picture is it?.

Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia:  It is an ugly picture.  Then we are going to be articulating, in ways, maybe that are a little bit better understood [in the] community.  What are some immediate needs?  What would be helpful, I think, in this process would be Charlottesville, Albemarle, and the surrounding counties to say what are some facilities that absolutely need to be built.  What are some transportation services that need to be provided to meet the quality of life that you need.  We can put a price tag on that.  I think some of those simple project-based, program-based illustrations resonate very well with legislators, and so if a legislator from Albemarle County wanted to support the idea of concentrated growth [e.g. in the County’s designated growth areas], what does that take in the way of infrastructure costs, at least as far as transportation infrastructure, and let’s find a way to honestly pay for that.”

June 22, 2006

Glen Oaks appeal to be heard July 5th

Fireworks are likely to continue into July 5th when the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors hears the appeal of a Planning Commission denial of the Glen Oaks subdivision.  Don Franco of KG Associates has informed Charlottesville Tomorrow that his group has decided to appeal the decision to the Supervisors instead of going to court.  The Board has this on their agenda for 10:10 AM on July 5th.

GlenOaks, which is adjacent to Glenmore, was the subject of a lengthy discussion of groundwater issues at the May 30, 2006 Planning Commission meeting [summary and podcast here].  Commissioner ultimately rejected the subdivision request citing disturbance of critical slopes as the reason, this after Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner told the Commission they could not reject the subdivision because of concerns about groundwater availability.

At last night's Village of Rivanna Town Meeting, Don Franco told about 100 area residents that, if Glen Oaks is ultimately approved, no construction would take place unless the entire subdivision was accepted into the Glenmore Community.**  The Glen Oaks parcel is outside the Village of Rivanna growth area boundary and does not have public water or sewer facilities, hence the neighbors concerns about potential impacts to their existing wells.  While Glenmore could expand its community to include Glen Oaks, potential connections to public water and sewer would require special action by the Board of Supervisors.

Brian Wheeler

** Update 6/26/06: Don Franco called Charlottesville Tomorrow to clarify that construction will not take place until a determination is made as to whether Glen Oaks will be incorporated into Glenmore.  If it is not added to the Glenmore community, construction will take place regardless if the subdivision is approved, but access to the new subdivision would be via Running Deer Drive and not Glenmore.  Also, Mr. Franco stated that he is not interested in pursuing connections to public water/sewer for Glen Oaks nor is he interested in having the subdivision added to the County's growth area.  Brian Wheeler

Albemarle Place clearing begins

Albplaceclear20060621bClearing has begun on the Albemarle Place property as a mixed use development that will be the size of two Charlottesville Downtown Malls gets underway.  At the June 5, 2006 meeting of the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board (ARB), another half block of the project was approved near the location of the future Whole Foods grocery store.  The ARB still has to give consideration to the final Whole Foods building drawings and to Block D, the area with the tallest proposed buildings, which is currently on hold.

According to Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning for Albemarle County, the grading permit was approved, even though a final site plan is not yet under review, because early grading is allowed when it is consistent with the previously approved rezoning or application plan.  Developer Frank Cox continues to receive feedback from County staff and VDOT on his preliminary site plan which has not yet been scheduled for review by the Planning Commission.

Albplaceclear20060621aThe first signed tenant for Albemarle Place is Whole Foods which will anchor a spot between Sperry Marine and the old Comdial facility along US 29.  Jeffrey Metzger, publisher of Food World, describes the Charlottesville grocery market as "absolutely overstored" in a Daily Progress article about Kroger's efforts to renovate its stores in town.  When asked this week about the new Whole Foods by Charlottesville Tomorrow, Mr. Metzger predicted it would have a cannibalizing effect on the existing grocery stores.  He said, "there are too many stores getting built and they are selling too many like products, and this is all outpacing population growth."

Click here to read all our postings about Albemarle Place.

Brian Wheeler

June 21, 2006

Transportation funding challenges

In my weekly appearance yesterday on Coy Barefoot's radio show, Charlottesville Right Now (WINA AM 1070), I discussed with guest host Adam Gottschalk the proposed redevelopment around Crozet Pizza and the challenge the new state budget presents local transportation projects. [Podcast link coming soon]

On transportation funding, I want to share two additional items of interest.  The first is a recent letter from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (text below) to our local General Assembly delegation that asks for a long-term and sustainable transportation funding solution.  The second item is an article from yesterday's Washington Post in which Loudoun County staff recommended rejection of a major rezoning request ("Planners Oppose Loudoun Project") "because it would overwhelm already inadequate local roads with tens of thousands of additional cars each day."

Land use decisions and transportation infrastructure must be considered together.  In the absence of  a state funding plan for transportation, our local government must give even more careful consideration to our transportation needs.  This statewide funding crisis will delay local road projects we have long identified as essential to quality growth.  Our citizens continue to ask why development projects receive approval without first addressing the need for new roads, interchanges, and sidewalks to support the development (e.g. Crozet residents on Jarmans Gap Road; Hydraulic Road residents on Albemarle Place and the intersection with Route 29).  VDOT says plainly that the system does not work that way.  Transportation improvements come when the funding and need both present themselves.  VDOT, however, does not have the discretion to decide the appropriate timing of a rezoning.  Local government has that responsibility to determine when and where growth should occur and if the timing is right to provide a clear benefit for the community.

Brian Wheeler


June 14, 2006

Delegate R. Steven Landes
Senator R. Creigh Deeds
Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
Delegate Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr.
Delegate Robert B. Bell, III
Delegate David Toscano

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors urges the General Assembly to adopt a biennial budget for FY 2007-2008 as soon as possible. Local governments require a state budget to maintain the uninterrupted delivery of core government services, including education, public safety, health and human services and environmental protection. Everyday, the citizens of Virginia directly interact with and rely on these services to meet a variety of needs.

Furthermore, upon approving the new biennial budget for FY 2007-2008, the General Assembly must agree to the enactment of a long-term and sustainable transportation funding package. We recognize the challenges in developing funding strategies for transportation. However, we implore the legislature to form a compromise that supports sustainable increases in transportation funding and grants local governments more flexibility in how such funding is expended. Identifying a renewable source of funding as soon as possible will allow current projects to proceed as planned.

Thank you for your consideration of the County’s concerns regarding the state budget and the funding of the Commonwealth’s transportation needs.

Sincerely,

Dennis S. Rooker, Chairman

June 08, 2006

Downtown Mall's 30th Anniversary Events Scheduled

Sqpeoplemall

The City of Charlottesville has announced three days of events in July to celebrate the Downtown Mall's anniversary.

[link to press release]

Downtown Mall to Celebrate 30 Years with Anniversary Celebration

July Celebration Will Honor 30 Years of Contributions to the City

CHARLOTTESVILLE – The City of Charlottesville along with the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville announced today a three day celebration to honor a full thirty years of bricking Main Street into one of the most successful pedestrian Malls in the nation. The City, along with downtown businesses, invite visitors and residents to the Downtown Mall on July 6th, 7th and 8th. The opening ceremony will take place at the Central Place at 5:00pm on July 6th with music and a dedication by some of the original architects of the project. A large 30th sculpture of bricks will be created by local artists to commemorate the event.

The Downtown Mall was built in 1976 and has undergone many transitions over the years. Now a thriving pedestrian shopping district, it is seen as one of the most successful downtown renewal projects in the country. Maintained by the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department, the historic Downtown Mall is home to a vibrant collection of more than 120 shops and 30 restaurants located in the historic buildings on and around old Main Street Charlottesville.

To coincide with the celebrations a community forum will take place in City Council Chambers on Friday, June 30th starting at 5:00pm. Current and past members of Council and those involved in the planning will discuss the challenges and triumphs of the project and answer questions from the public. The event will be carried live and rebroadcast on Charlottesville’s Own TV 10.

Thursday, July 6th
Opening Ceremonies and Slide Show Retrospective

Friday, July 7th
A Celebration of Downtown Arts and Entertainment

Saturday, July 8th
Family Day with the Kids