By Brian Wheeler
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
A new commercial development along U.S. 29 received a favorable recommendation from the Albemarle Planning Commission at its meeting Tuesday.
Albrecht Place will consist of a 48,000-square-foot commercial building and 183-space parking lot on about 3.4 currently wooded acres behind the Shoppers World shopping center and next to the Berkley neighborhood.
The property owner, Sue Albrecht, will be moving her Design Environs company, a commercial interiors firm, to a portion of the new development. Another tenant may include a local gym.
“I am very excited that we have gotten approval from the Planning Commission,” Albrecht said after the unanimous vote.
In its deliberations, the commission overcame concerns about potential traffic impacts that had led county staff to recommend against the project until more information could be considered.
VDOT evaluated the proposal and determined it did not meet the threshold of necessitating a full traffic impact study, but that some additional analysis by the developer would be beneficial. Access to the site would be via Shoppers World, Berkmar Drive, Commonwealth Drive and 29.
“The main issue of concern with this particular rezoning request has to do with transportation,” said Albemarle County senior planner Claudette Grant. “Submission of the traffic impact analysis will provide necessary information that will help us determine what impacts, if any, this development could have on the surrounding roads.”
Woody Parrish, an architect planning the development, said he had shared his own traffic consultant’s research with staff.
“The staff report does acknowledge that this is expected to have fairly light traffic impacts,” Parrish said. “We have had a traffic consultant look at this and they have come up with estimated trip generations and that number turns out to be less than 1 percent of the traffic than is currently using this section of U.S. 29.”
“We are having a hard time spending another $15,000 [on a traffic study] to quantify information that I think we understand well enough to affirm an existing zoning designation for an infill parcel in the development area that’s fully consistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan,” Parrish said.
That statement struck a chord with the commission.
“Would your traffic consultant be willing to write a letter?” asked commissioner Mac Lafferty. “This seems to me to be the major hold up.”
Parrish said such a statement could be produced, and that satisfied the commission’s desire for more transportation data.