Forest Lakes residents continue to lobby against Hollymead expansion
By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is expected to decide today whether to include two expansions of the county’s designated growth area in the Places29 Master Plan, which comes up for a final vote next month.
“We’re hoping to get that direction so we can proceed and get this [plan] finalized for them to act on it in February,” said Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning.
Members of the Forest Lakes Community Association had thought one of the requests from developer Wendell Wood, to bring 140 acres south of Hollymead Town Center into the growth area, was dead. Neighbors expressed their opposition at a public hearing in November.
At the time, Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd told residents he would follow their lead and not support the inclusion, even though he personally favored the idea.
However, at a subsequent work session in December, Boyd said his mind was changed by “additional information,” but he did not further elaborate at the meeting on the specifics. However, he did make an appearance in late December on WINA’s “Charlottesville Right Now” program to explain his views.
“I had an outpouring of people [from] Forest Lakes who said they didn’t want this,” Boyd said. “They thought we were approving development there. All [a growth area expansion] does is invite private investment. … It only says that this is an area that is available for rezoning. It doesn’t rezone the property, and I think that’s what the people are confused about.”
Boyd went on to say that a rezoning would allow the county to receive financial support, in the form of proffers from developer Wendell Wood, to pay for needed infrastructure.
“The reason I changed my mind is that we should give the public an opportunity to hear what they can get out of it,” Boyd said. He specifically singled out the intersection of Ashwood Boulevard and U.S. 29 as one potential beneficiary of funding from a rezoning.
However, a member of the Forest Lakes Community Association’s Board of Directors said he fully understands the county’s land use policies and remains opposed to the reclassification of the land.
“We’re being told this is only a preliminary step in the process, but that does not make any difference,” Scott Elliff said in an interview. “We have said loud and clear that infrastructure needs to come first and that there should be no development on these parcels until traffic problems have been fixed, which is the key purpose of the Places29 program.”
Elliff said he and other Forest Lakes residents will appear before the board to make their views known during the public comment period in the morning. Board Chairwoman Ann H. Mallek said in an interview that she did not plan to take further public comment during the work session.
When reached for comment Tuesday, Boyd said he would make no further public remarks until he can explain to his constituents why he is in favor of the expansion.
“There is obviously a great deal of misinformation out in the public and individuals trying to spin their opinions as my position,” Boyd wrote in an e-mail. “I have arranged a community conversation at Hollymead Elementary on January 27th and don’t plan on any more comments until that discussion.”
Elliff said he would welcome such a meeting, but said it was long overdue.
“We think it would have been much more preferable to get the opinions of those who live here early on and to listen to their overwhelming opposition to this bad idea,” Elliff said.
Supervisors will also decide whether another potential expansion area should be allowed near the Rivanna Station military base, some of which also includes land owned by Wood. In December, supervisors said they wanted more information about the Defense Intelligence Agency’s future expansion plans for the base. Cilimberg said that to his knowledge the DIA has not presented the information, but added it was possible supervisors could have had personal conversations with DIA staff.
The work session on Places29 will begin at 3:30 this afternoon. Opportunities for the public to speak will come in the morning during the regularly scheduled comment period.
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