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April 12, 2012

Supervisors approve Estes Park rezoning

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DailyProgressBy Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday a new 68-unit neighborhood north of the Forest Lakes community despite concerns from two members who objected to the way an affordable housing requirement was phrased. 
 
Estes Park is being developed by River Bend Management, which needed a rezoning of 12.75 acres in order to allow for that number of homes. 
 
At issue was River Bend’s desire to pay a cash proffer of $754,000 towards capital improvement projects, an amount that assumes a certain level of affordable housing. 
 
“That’s based on an amount that reflects a deduction for 10 affordable housing units being built,” said David Benish, the county’s chief of planning. “That [number] is reflective of the 15 percent required under the [county’s] affordable housing policy.”
 
However, River Bend has not decided yet whether to designate those units as affordable.
 
“I would love to build those affordable units, but we’re not the company who will be building the houses,” said Alan Taylor, River Bend’s vice president. 
 
Instead, the company plans to prepare the lots and turn them over to a builder. 
 
County Attorney Larry Davis said if the eventual builder decides not to sell those units as affordable, the cash proffer required as part of the rezoning would not be high enough to allow the county to build infrastructure to support those 10 units. 
 
“What the cash proffer policy simply does is, if you build affordable units, then you don’t have to pay the cash impact fee on that unit,” Davis said. 
 
Because the action taken was a rezoning, the county would have no opportunity to collect the additional money if the builder opts not to designate the units as affordable. 
 
The county’s affordable housing policy is relatively new and was adopted in October 2007.
 
“Since that time the policy has been consistently applied under the cash proffer policy,” Davis said. 
 
Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler said he was concerned about the precedent of granting the request.
 
“If this is an exception that’s made today… it almost amounts to a policy change in our proffer policy,” Dumler said. 
 
Dumler and Supervisor Ann H. Mallek raised the idea of deferring the project until the affordable housing policy could be reviewed. 
 
“I personally think the development is great and the fact that is such a good example of the way developers have worked together to make everyone happy,” Mallek said. “I want to applaud that and have it go forward as fast as possible, but I also don’t want to throw the policy under the bus.” 
 
However, Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd made a motion to approve, which succeeded on a 3-2 vote with Dumler and Mallek voting against it.
 
Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker recused himself from the discussion because he is an attorney for an adjacent property owner. 
 
No one spoke against the project during the public hearing, and many praised the process that led to the rezoning. 
 
“The members of our association wish to thank the Planning Commission [and] the Board of Supervisors for listening to our request to have our community remain as it is,” said Emma Scott Mapp of the Forest Ridge Homeowners’ Association board of directors.
 
In March, the Albemarle Planning Commission recommended removing a public road access to Moubry Lane in order to satisfy concerns of the Forest Ridge subdivision, which did not want to eliminate the cul-de-sac. 
 
Instead, the only vehicular entrance for Estes Park will be at Worth Crossing, which leads between the Forest Lakes community and Proffit Road. The Moubry Lane connection will be a pedestrian-bike trail instead. 
 
Scott Elliff of the Forest Lakes Community Association said Estes Park was a model development that he personally supports. 
 
“As a community association, we were treated very well and with great respect by the owners and developers,” Elliff said. “The project includes for the first time an ironclad commitment by the owners of the property for taking full responsibility for any damage to Arbor Lake that occurs as part of the development.” 
 
The Forest Lakes and Hollymead neighborhoods are involved in a lawsuit related to silt and sediment from nearby development that has reportedly filled Lake Hollymead.
 

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