The Albemarle County Planning Commission held their public hearing on the Biscuit Run development Tuesday evening. After a six-hour meeting and shortly before the stroke of midnight, the Planning Commission unanimously rejected the Biscuit Run rezoning request by a 7-0 vote. With this recommendation for denial, the development will next be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors in a work session scheduled for April 11, 2007.
About eighty-five people attended the public hearing and about twenty-seven of them provided feedback when the Commission took public comment. Two residents expressed optimism and a positive opinion on the Biscuit Run development. Two adjoining property owners, the Covenant School and Habitat for Humanity (who recently acquired the Southwood neighborhood), also expressed their support for Biscuit Run. The remaining twenty-three speakers expressed a variety of concerns including transportation needs and traffic safety, environmental degradation, water and sewer infrastructure, and the general need for more detailed information on the plan before a decision is made.
[Watch a video of the applicant's presentation]
After public feedback, the Planning Commission asked attorney Steve Blaine (representing the applicant) if he would consider a deferral, something that has to be requested by the applicant who otherwise gets an up or down vote on the project. Mr. Blaine responded that it would depend on the Commission's expectations about how much more information they required. Mr. Blaine said he wanted to have his first work session before the Board of Supervisors by May 9, 2007 and thus he could only afford a deferral of a couple weeks. Mr. Blaine asked for a, "clear path forward" to a decision and suggested that there were a number of concerns he could address immediately. At this point early in the evening, the Planning Commission determined it was not ready to vote on the project without more discussion and they shifted into work session mode for the next 4-5 hours.
The Planning Commission then received two significant updates, one from the Virginia Department of Transportation on transportation infrastructure and one from the Albemarle County Service Authority on upgrades which may be required to expand sewer line capacity.
[Watch a video of the VDOT report on transportation]
[Watch a video of the ACSA report on sewer capacity]
After these presentations, which covered new information since the previous work session, the Planning Commission had in-depth discussions on old issues that included: 1) the overall layout of the development; 2) the phasing of the development; 3) the affordable housing proffers; 4) the school site and possible proffers to mitigate cost of adding school capacity at all levels (elementary, middle, and high school); and 5) transportation.
By the end of the evening with a large number of unresolved issues the Commissioners once again asked Mr. Blaine if he would request a deferral. He responded with a request that the rezoning be approved by the Commission. Unmoved, the Planning Commission quickly dispatched the development with a unanimous vote to deny the rezoning citing the numerous issues discussed during the evening and raised in the staff report. Next up: the Board of Supervisors.
[Watch a video of the Planning Commission vote]