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June 07, 2009

Planning Commissioners debate cost estimates for US 29 improvements


By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Monday, June 8, 2009

The twenty-year master plan for the Route 29 corridor north of Charlottesville, known as Places29, has been under development for more than three years. This spring, the Albemarle County Planning Commission is continuing its review in a series of work sessions. When adopted by the Board of Supervisors, Places29 will be incorporated into the County’s comprehensive plan to guide future development in the County’s most urbanized area. 

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DownloadDownload the staff report with implementation table examples

A key goal of Places29 is to link land-use decisions with the community infrastructure improvements necessary to support a more densely populated community. That means planning for transportation improvements as well as parks, libraries and other community facilities. Places29 calls for the creation of a parallel road network and grade-separated interchanges for roads that currently intersect with US 29 at traffic signals.

On May 12, 2009, Judy Wiegand, a Senior Planner for Albemarle County, and other staffers sought the Planning Commission’s feedback on the most appropriate format for the implementation table. The implementation table is the County’s list of priority infrastructure projects necessary to address existing and future developments.  It serves as a guide for the public, planners and developers as to why, when and how projects will be built and funded.

The full implementation table and more specific cost estimates will be reviewed by the Commission this summer.  However, the discussion at this meeting mostly focused on what cost estimates should be displayed on the table, and featured a philosophical debate on whether the Commission should be concerned with potential sources of funding, given that the Board of Supervisors will ultimately make those policy decisions.

2009-places29-chart


COMMISSIONERS DISCUSS HOW TO FORMAT IMPLEMENTATION TABLE

Staff shared an implementation table example for the Commission’s consideration. The transportation project was the conversion of Rio Road’s intersection with US 29 into a grade-separated interchange. The Rio Road project is a major component of developing the parallel road network called for in Places29, so the project’s description also includes the construction of “ring roads,” which would need to be in place before construction could begin. In this example, the action steps included:

  • Prepare a small area plan at a cost of $100,000
  • Construct Ring Roads at a cost of $14.8 million (in 2007 dollars) (including right-of-way)
  • Replace at-grade intersection with Grade Separation at a cost of $35 million (in 2007 dollars)

There is no detailed engineering plan for the Rio Road intersection, but an appendix included with the new implementation table lists the broad parameters of how the grade-separated interchange would work:

“The grade separation would put Rio Road over US 29 and include direct ramps from eastbound to southbound US 29 and westbound to northbound US 29. Rio Road would cross over US 29 because the intersection is at the crest of a vertical curve on US 29. By depressing US 29, US 29 becomes a flatter roadway and there is less excavation...”

Rio-detail
This image from the draft Places29 Master Plan shows how Albemarle County would create a road network as part of the grade separated interchange at Rio Road and US29

Wayne Cilimberg, the Director of Planning for Albemarle County, said the Rio Road interchange called for in Places29 would likely not require the purchase of much land for the interchange because it is being planned as a “very tight interchange within right-of-way and the ring roads serve to provide the additional access.”

While no similar appendix entry yet exists for Hydraulic Road’s intersection with US 29, preliminary plans for that grade-separated interchange have been produced as part of the Albemarle Place project. The development’s previous owner, Frank Cox, was responsible for creating a plan that showed how at least six lanes of traffic could be maintained during construction.

A DISCUSSION OF COST ESTIMATES

Much of the Planning Commission’s discussion focused on what cost estimates would be appropriate to list for each transportation project.  David Benish, the Chief Planner for Albemarle County, initially suggested that the table list both the consultant’s cost estimate as well as the estimate factored into the MPO’s Constrained Long-Range Plan, also known as the UNJAM 2035 plan. Benish said if desired, the Commission could direct staff to break down the estimates to include separate items for construction and right-of-way acquisition.

 “We’re going to sit down with VDOT and validate these numbers,” Benish said. “VDOT was part of the consultants’ process and the consultant used the VDOT cost estimate process to come up with these, so as we adjust them, we want to make sure VDOT is okay with what they had looked at before.”

Chairman Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) said that as a person employed in the financial sector, he wanted to see as many details as possible. Commissioner Don Franco (Rio) said he wanted to see right-of-way costs included as a separate category, or at least broken down. Benish said that while the new table is being developed, County staff would be providing further information on right-of-way acquisition costs.

Franco asked if it would be worth listing the tax parcel numbers of the properties that will need to be acquired to provide the right of way. He was concerned that the Hillsdale Drive Extended project may be in jeopardy because the owners of the Regal Cinema 4, a crucial property along the way, are about to renovate their theater. Cilimberg said because the grade-separated interchanges are not yet fully designed, it is not yet known what properties would need to be taken.

Franco’s concern was that key properties essential to creating the new road network might not be secured. In particular, he cited the need to secure the land to build a bridge for Berkmar Drive Extended, which would allow for a north-south road running parallel to US 29 from Airport Road to the Shopper’s World retail center.

Cilimberg said in the case of the grade-separated interchanges, the small area plans would identify key parcels of property that would need to be acquired. In general, he said, he did not think it was prudent to list that information directly in the implementation table.

A key issue is how inflation should be factored into the cost estimates. The consultant who came up with the initial cost estimates for the transportation projects used the value of the dollar in 2007, the year the consultant’s work was finished. Benish said he assumed the Commission would want those figured to be extrapolated to the current year. The Chairman agreed.

“You have to time-stamp these estimates so we understand that they may be several million dollars off depending on when the year is,” Strucko said.

Julia Monteith, an ex officio member of the Commission, said she thought it would be better not to add escalation costs at this time because the real estate and construction markets are so volatile at the moment. Her point was that construction bids are currently coming in lower than expected, and that it was unclear how much projects would cost in the future.

Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) said he thought the numbers should be shown in the current year for now, but then should be updated every time the master plan is updated. Each master plan must be reviewed every 5 years. Edgerton suggested altering the cost estimates at that time. Cilimberg said staff was planning on using 2009 dollars if the plan is adopted this year.

At the end of the discussion, Cilimberg suggested condensing the UNJAM 2035 cost estimates and displaying one column that listed the estimated project cost in 2009 dollars.

COMMISSIONERS DISCUSS FUNDING SOURCES

The table also listed potential funding sources for the transportation projects.

“You just don’t know based on timing what funding is going to be available from VDOT,” Cilimberg said. “We’re saying [VDOT] should be the primary funding source for the grade separation, for example. But we may over time through the cash proffer system collect funds that can be put towards that project that would reduce VDOT’s part of the project… but we don’t know how much private funds we might have at that point of time.”

Cilimberg said with funding from the state uncertain, and with Albemarle County’s dwindling revenues, there would be challenges in paying for the improvements. He said it will be necessary to prioritize the first five projects crucial to building the road network.

 “We’re only going to be able to identify a few of those elements that we think can actually get funded based on current resources that we can project being available, which is going to leave the question of,
‘How do you do the rest?’” Cilimberg asked. He said many of the transportation improvements would be necessary regardless of whether or not Places29 is adopted, given previous rezonings approved by the Board of Supervisors including Albemarle Place, Hollymead and North Pointe.

Loach said he thought it was a good idea to be able to let the public know the gaps between the planned improvements and the funding realities.

Franco said he wanted to see a column which calculated how alternative funding mechanisms could generate the necessary revenues to pay for the projects. However, Strucko said because the County has not settled on any alternative funding mechanism, providing that information could be over-simplified and could be misleading. Benish and Cilimberg said they would work on providing such information. That prompted Loach to warn that certain groups are already claiming the Planning Commission wants to raise taxes, an allegation he said was false.  

Loach questioned whether funding was a policy area over which the Planning Commission should give its opinion. He said the Board of Supervisors would need to make those decisions and determine that policy.

“The project needs don’t go away just because the money isn’t there,” Cilimberg said. “Plans  are supposed to be able to tell you what you’re going to need and I think if you don’t identify what you’re going to need, and that’s been a problem that we’ve run into already with where we are now. We’ve got a backlog of needs that aren’t going to get addressed.”

Franco said he wasn’t proposing that the Commission make funding decisions, but that the Commission could help explain to the Board of Supervisors what options are available.

“Because these things are improvements that are required today, the public or the Board is going to have to make decisions on how to fund these projects,” Franco said. “It’s more for me that this plan is a transportation plan on how to meet the existing needs and it’s less about rezonings.” He predicted there would be fewer rezonings, and thus less opportunities to secure funding, as the Places29 area is redeveloped. Franco said that’s why he wanted to see data on how much money could be generated by either a service district or a gas tax.

Joseph disagreed with Franco’s approach and said the County’s next step would be to consider reducing its development area if it can’t afford the necessary infrastructure. That prompted Cilimberg to suggest that even if the County scaled back the growth areas, the necessary road improvements would still have to be made.

“The rezonings have already been done, the growth is happening and if it’s not in a development area, it’s somewhere else,” Cilimberg said. “Most everything in this plan that’s being shown for implementation purposes is to deal with growth that has nothing to do with this land-use plan.”
Places29 will next come before the Commission on June 16, 2009. Commissioners will consider the chapter on design guidelines as well as a revision of the land use tables and the future land use map.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 – David Benish, Chief Planner for Albemarle County, begins his report
  • 04:00 – Benish describes how cost estimates and funding sources are available for projects
  • 06:15 – Benish describes the community facilities project example
  • 09:00 – Questions from Commissioners begin
  • 10:00 – Commissioner Don Franco asks if right-of-way costs are included in cost estimates
  • 12:40 – Commissioner Franco asked if specific properties that would be acquired for right-of-way should be listed in the implementation table
  • 18:00 – Commissioner Franco asks if parcels will ever go into the master plan
  • 21:00 – Commissioner Bill Edgerton says the new table is more clearer than previous ones
  • 21:52 – Benish asks Commissioners if they want to include cost estimates for projects recommended to be done by private developers
  • 23:30 – Benish asks Commissioners how inflation should be factored into the Places29 cost estimates
  • 25:30 – Benish said County staff will sit down with VDOT officials to validate their cost estimates
  • 26:00 – Loach asks if funding sources listed on table can be broken down by percentages
  • 27:00 – Cilimberg says the plan will feature a list of projects than can realistically be built
  • 28:40 – Strucko questions Cilimberg’s assumptions about listing what projects can be built
  • 31:00 – Benish says he thinks many of the projects could come 100% funding from primary road funding, but secondary road funding could augment the road network
  • 32:00 – Loach asks if it is possible to include a graph that projects levels of funding
  • 33:00 – Julia Monteith says she doesn’t feel escalation costs are needed
  • 35:00 – Edgerton said all cost figured should be calculated in the year of adoption and updated every five years when the plan comes up for review
  • 37:00 – Cilimberg asks if UNJAM 2035 cost estimates should be included as a column
  • 38:30 – Franco asks for estimates of how much alternative sources of funding could bring in
  • 46:30 – Cilimberg says he hears mixed messages regarding the Commission’s desire to list fund
  • 48:22 – Commissioner Joseph says the table as depicted is “perfect” and she says no more detail is necessary
  • 49:30 – Edgerton expresses support for keeping UNJAM 2035 cost estimates in the table, but calls for equalizing them with the County’s estimates
  • 55:30 – Franco returns conversation back to cost estimates
  • 59:00 – Joseph suggests contracting growth area if County can not afford necessary improvements
  • 1:03:30 – Strucko sums up what he thinks he’s heard from his fellow Commissioners
  • 1:06:00 – Public comment from Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council
  • 1:09:15 – Public comment from Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum
  • 1:12:00 – Strucko said he agrees with Williamson’s point on including project costs and timelines in the table, as does Franco
  • 1:13:30 – Joseph says she resists including a timeline because she’s not sure if the table is to be used in that manner

July 07, 2008

Water pipelines may follow routes of old and new roadway proposals; New sewer pump station also in the works

20080702-BoS The two men in charge of the authorities that deliver water and sewer services to the urbanized section of Albemarle County gave a brief update to the Board of Supervisors on July 2, 2008. Gary Fern, the Executive Director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, began his presentation by wishing the Board a happy New Year – a happy new Fiscal Year, that is.

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Fern told the Board one of the new initiatives this year is that ACSA customers will be able to pay online. Another is that the ACSA Board and staff will be holding a strategic planning session to map out the future goals of the Authority.

Fern also discussed the ACSA’s Capital Improvement Program. The main project to be built is the North Fork Pump Station, which Fern said would eventually allow the Camelot Wastewater Treatment Plant to be retired.  Preliminary engineering for the North Fork facility, which is expected to be located in the North Pointe development, is scheduled to be completed in September, after which a cost estimate can be made.  “It’s a pretty good size project,” Fern said. “It’s one of the largest [projects] the ACSA has ever undertaken.

Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) asked if ratepayers would be the sole funders of the multi-million dollar facility. Fern said he has been meeting with developers looking to build in the County’s northern growth area, a process that will continue as the design  of the plant proceeds.  The ACSA has previously said that participants will include the University of Virginia, the Rivanna Station Military Base, and the North Pointe developers.

“We’re now starting to meet with them individually as we learn what their needs are going to be over the next 20 to 40 years,” Fern said. He added that developers will be expected to make contributions above and beyond connection fees, but that the details have not been worked out.  Rooker asked if the need for the station is due to future growth, but Fern responded that the pressing need is to retire Camelot. The ACSA is spending $385,000 in its CIP for this new Fiscal Year to make temporary repairs to Camelot to extend its service life. Fern says Camelot is currently processing 120,000 gallons of wastewater a day.

Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) asked what kind of minutes were being produced by the ACSA for its Board meetings. Fern said at the moment the Authority is producing something in between summary and near-verbatim minutes.  Mallek encouraged the ACSA to use as detailed minutes as possible, given the millions of dollars being spent in the CIP.

Tom Frederick, Executive Director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, began his  report by thanking everyone who has written to him to point out that the RWSA seems to be incredibly busy.  “I appreciate hearing that because from the inside perspective and from the perspective of our employees, we’re really covering a lot of ground right now as an organization,” Frederick said.

Frederick took the same approach as Fern and highlighted several projects that are being initiated under the RWSA’s CIP. First, detailed engineering plans for the new Meadowcreek sewer interceptor replacement  project will be ready within 30 days.  They will then be reviewed by the Department of Environmental Quality, a process Frederick said would likely take up to two months. The right of way process has begun,  and if completed, Frederick said construction on the new interceptor could begin before the end of the calendar year.  Permits have been granted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

The RWSA is also spending a lot of resources on the rehabilitation of sewer infrastructure, a maintenance item Frederick said the community has neglected to do for many years. He added that the cooperation between the RWSA, the ACSA and the City of Charlottesville has far exceeded his expectations.  The RWSA’s efforts are concentrated on the Schenk’s Branch interceptor, which is the oldest in the system.
Another major capital project is the upgrade of the Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to eliminate nutrients such as nitrogen from the water released into the Rivanna River. Frederick told the Board the project cost estimate is approaching “the upper $40 million range” due to the addition of components to control odors at the facility.

“It’s all related to efforts to continue the enhancement of our rivers in Virginia, especially in the estuary areas where nutrients tend to be of greater concern,” Frederick said.

Frederick shared one idea that has not previously received much public attention.  The RWSA is hoping to connect a new pipe from the North Fork and South Fork Water Treatment plants,  in part because VDOT has asked the RWSA to develop plans to relocate an existing water pipe out from underneath US 29.   The connection would also ensure the northern urban area had redundant sources for treated water.  If an accident or emergency shut down the North Fork facility today, there is no backup water source.

Frederick told the Board the most economical way to build the new connection would be along the right of way that would theoretically extend Berkmar Drive over the Rivanna River up to Hollymead Town Center.  Otherwise, new right of way will have to be acquired parallel to US 29, an alignment that could be difficult given that the topography of the land does not necessarily match the topography of the highway.

“There are so many questions related to that that I asked our staff to stop and let us have some discussion through County staff and others about whether the Berkmar project is going to go through in the near term,” Frederick said.  He added that he needs to know soon what the ultimate plans are for Berkmar. The work could proceed before the bridge is built, according to Frederick, as long as plans were coordinated with VDOT to make sure the two alignments were made at the same grade.

Expansion of the North Fork Water Treatment Plant is not an option because it takes water from the North Fork Rivanna River as opposed to a reservoir, thus creating the potential to more directly impact stream flows.  Frederick said the plant does not need any major repair work, and there is additional capacity to serve the northern urban area – for now.

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio), a proponent of the Berkmar Drive Bridge, said VDOT officials told him earlier this week that one obstacle to getting the project started is the expense of beginning the preliminary engineering. He asked Frederick if there were any ways of bringing down VDOT’s cost by undertaking that work as a joint effort. Frederick said if there was a green light to proceed, the RWSA would begin by doing preliminary engineering to determine if rock would need to be blasted.

“We certainly would go out of our way to be supportive of working alongside a roadway engineer who is asking and answering the same questions with respect to a roadway,” Frederick said.
Slutzky said he would like to schedule a meeting with VDOT Bridge Engineer David Pierce and Frederick to begin the conversation. Frederick agreed, and estimated the RWSA could complete the preliminary engineering process in three months.

Rooker switched gears and asked Frederick for a cost estimate on the new pipeline to connect the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir with the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.  Frederick said the $55.9 million estimate first provided in 2006 still stands, a figure that assumes parts of the pipeline can be built along the right of way obtained by VDOT to build the Western Bypass, a road project that is on indefinite hold.  Rooker wanted to know if the plan to utilize the right of way was still valid.

“There are people who have thrown out statements that VDOT cannot legally allow the right of way to be used for this kind of thing,” Rooker said. “It would seem to me to be wise to, as soon as legally possible, to initiate discussions with the right people at VDOT about our use of that right of way. If they don’t build the bypass… they may be selling that right of way back, so it would be wise to get the easements in place before that might occur.”

County Executive Bob Tucker said VDOT officials have told him that the right of way “is secure” until 2012. Slutzky asked if any utility easements would survive any future sale of that land back to the original owners. Frederick did not know, but Rooker said that was exactly the kind of question he would want to have answered.

Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

January 03, 2008

Top-10 Growth & Development Stories of 2007

In my weekly appearance today on WINA AM 1070 on the Charlottesville Right Now program, Coy Barefoot and I counted down Charlottesville Tomorrow's top-10 growth and development stories of 2007.

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Charlottesville Tomorrow's Top-10 Growth and Development Stories of 2007

  1. County Elections 2007—Ann Mallek elected Supervisor in White Hall District
  2. 4,800 new homes approved at Biscuit Run, Hollymead Town Center, and Rivanna Village
  3. Wendell Wood’s projects around National Ground Intelligence Center on Route 29N get new scrutiny by media, public, and local government
  4. Albemarle Supervisors set new cash proffer expectations
  5. Proposed rural area protection ordinances stalemate Board of Supervisors
  6. Lack of rain leads to drought warnings
  7. City Planning Commission debates ethics, communications with the public and developers, impartiality, and starts holding pre-meetings off camera
  8. Water and sewer infrastructure needs get increased community attention
  9. City approves another nine-story downtown building and receives recommendations to limit future building heights in some areas
  10. Major capital projects continue facility improvements at the University of Virginia

Brian Wheeler

October 19, 2007

Rivanna District Candidates Forum

20071017rivannaall On October 17, 2007, the two candidates for the Rivanna District on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors appeared at a candidates forum sponsored by the Free Enterprise Forum and Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Republican incumbent Ken Boyd and Democratic challenger Marcia Joseph answered ten questions on land use, transportation, and growth in the County. The candidates  also answered several questions submitted by members of the audience. About fifty people attended the forum, which was held at Baker-Butler Elementary School on Proffit Road. The event was co-moderated by Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum and Sean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow.

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Watch the video below:


OPENING STATEMENTS


20071017rivannaboyd Ken Boyd (R): “I'm a 26-year resident of the County. I'm married and I have four children, all of whom were educated in the public schools here. I spent 23 years as a professional in the banking business before starting my own financial planning company 16 years ago, and that's what I do today, I'm a financial planner. Because I was very interested in my kids and their schools, I have a real passion for education, so in 1999, I decided to run for the School Board. I ran, was elected, and served four years as the School Board representative from this area... After that, my youngest son had graduated from Monticello High School, and he had moved  on to JMU, and I didn't have any more kids left in school, so I decided to move up to the Board of Supervisors and ran for that in 2003, and have served, this is my fourth year. I'm currently the Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. There's really a number of things that we've accomplished in the last four years... I'm going to touch on just a couple of them... One is in water, and I know it seems to you like it does to me that nothing has been done about our water situation since the 2002 drought, but the Board of Supervisors and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority have been actively working to put together a 50-year plan, and we're about a month or two away from getting that approved. I'm real happy with that. I was particularly pleased that I was able to work with Dave Brown, the Mayor of Charlottesville, and he and I went to Washington and got the money for the completion of the Meadowcreek Parkway, and if you've been reading the paper, we're actually going to get that road built here in the next year, I think we'll put it out for bids... Lastly, I think that one of the things I'm really happy about that's just come out recently is, you know, we weren't able in either the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors to approve the first SOCA location for their complex, but I've been working closely with them ever since, and we've now come up with an alternative location which we feel will work for both them and us, and we're really excited about that.”

Marcia Joseph (D): “I'm the current chair of the Albemarle County Planning Commission. I'm a 23-year resident. I do also have children who graduated from Albemarle High School, and thanks to Mark Curry, our chemistry teacher at Albemarle High School, are now chemists, so I'm very proud of them. There's a lot of things that have gone on in my life in Albemarle County, and I've done a lot of public service, I've worked for 12 years either on one board or another commission. I've been on the Architectural Review Board, I've been chair of that, I've been on the Ag-Forest District Committee, and I've also served on the Acquisition of Conservation Easements Committee. All of these very important issues to me. I think that it's extremely important for us to have transparency in government, which is exactly what I plan on doing. I think it's important to have all kinds of communication go on between Rivanna, between the Albemarle County Service Authority, between the City and the County. I work currently with, and have friends in, City government and Rivanna. I think it's not just the fact that they're friends, but the important aspect that I feel that we've been lacking is communication. I think that's extremely important. I think that it's time that we started looking at how we develop in this County, and make sure that anything that comes down the pike is not what we develop, or is not what we approve, but we only approve things in this County that improve the conditions for the existing residents of Albemarle County. I think that we've found that our infrastructure now is failing, and needs help, and now its time to pay the piper and we're going to have to figure out how we're going to do this. So, that's why I'm running.

Question 1: How would you assess Albemarle County’s growth management strategies? What other steps would you advocate be taken to discourage development in the rural countryside and encourage development in the growth areas?  Are the existing incentives adequate?

20071017rivannajoseph Marcia Joseph (D): “I think that what we've done is we've managed to definitely encourage growth. We've got over 1400 residential units that have been created, and just in our neck of the woods, along 29 corridor, we've got over a million square feet of retail space that's been approved, which according     to our latest Comprehensive Plan, is a whole lot more than we're going to need by the year 2015. So, I don't think we've done a real good job in measuring how much we're putting into different areas. We also have not really done a good job with discouraging growth in the rural areas. We've had several     items that have come before the Board of Supervisors in the last few years that would just slow down growth, just slow it down a little bit. One was phasing, and that would not allow so many units, so many lots to be created in a year, and the other night had to do with critical slopes, family division, and stream buffers. And those were very benign things, and were just not approved by the Board, and I think it's really important that those sorts of small steps be taken so that we can discourage a lot of growth in our rural areas because that really helps create the character of our rural areas, and the character of Albemare County as a whole.”

Ken Boyd (R): “First of all, I want to comment on the rather benign ordinance changes that we put before the Board of Supervisors the other night because we had over a hundred speakers come out that spoke until 1:00, til 12:30 in the morning, that didn't feel like they were very benign changes... The Board of Supervisors did not, did not vote those down. They felt they just needed more work, and so that's what we're going to do with these, we're going to  have some more work done, try and get more people to buy into it. Now, I have here, I think that our growth management activities are working. I have here, the spring 2006 Clarion, which is put out by the Piedmont Environment Council, and it says, Albemarle landowners set conservation record, and it goes on to talk about how in 2005, we put 10,500 acres into conservation easements, and that brought up the total acreage to around 60,000, and this kind of lauds what we're doing. I know that there's a lot of perception being put out there, but I like to deal in real numbers. I'm a numbers type guy, I'm a financial type person, so, what I did was I went back and I got the building report, the latest building report for the 2nd quarter of this year. And if you compare it to a similar building report in 2004, 46% of the new housing starts... was in the rural area. In 2007, through the second quarter... it's 16%... These issues are beginning to work and beginning to take hold now. It's very soon in the process, and I'd be the first to admit that it's early on to be declaring that we've really shut down all the level of growth we want in the rural areas...”

Question 2:   How important is creating new jobs to the future of Albemarle County?  Should particular businesses be encouraged or discouraged from coming to or remaining in Albemarle County?  Who?  How?

Ken Boyd (R):  “This was an issue on jobs that I ran on 4 years ago, because we were coming off of the year in 2003, a period of time when we had a number of closings of manufacturing jobs. ConAgra, Comdial, Technicolor... We constantly need to be trying to promote job growth in this community... I think we can all agree that what we want are good clean industries here.... Biotech would be an excellent thing for us... I was part of the people on the Board who promoted us joining the [Thomas Jefferson] Partnership for Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce, and the reason for this is that those people thinking about bringing jobs to our area were concerned with the fact that when they were talking to the University of Virginia, when they were talking to the Partnership, that the County of Albemarle wasn't there... In addition to that, we've also set up a $250,000 jobs opportunity fund, which we haven't had to use yet, but I certainly hope that we have some opportunity come up that we can use those funds for job training or for other things that might attract jobs to our areas.

Marcia Joseph (D): “We have an unemployment rate that is 2.7%, around 3%... I think what I hear     more from people is not so much that we need jobs here, but we need some jobs that are higher pay and     better quality and that goes hand in hand also with affordable housing... We have some really good     resources in town, people who have made some home-grown businesses: MusicToday, SNL Securities,     Biotage, Crutchfield. There's a bunch of people who have stayed right here and made some money, and     created some businesses. What I'd like to do is talk to these folks... and find out what is it about     Albemarle County that made you do this, how can we make it easier for you, and how can we create     some jobs here? I'm not so sure that it's important that we attract all kinds of things, though Albemarle     County has never turned down anything to my knowledge...

Question 3: How will you deal with neighborhood opposition to rezonings in our growth areas that are in line with the goals of Albemarle’s Comprehensive plan?

Marcia Joseph (D): “I've really had some real interesting experiences while being on the Planning Commission, and one of them is that normally we have neighbors come in, and they're really concerned  and they speak to the developers and they say why these things shouldn't happen, but recently in the last couple of years we've actually had some developers come in because something has come that wants to happen, some rezoning next to their properties, so I'm finding it kind of comical that we have this sort of thing happen, because it's human nature. People don’t like change.  People don't like the fact that what their expectations are, this piece of property was going to stay the same, it makes it difficult. Our comprehensive plan is our plan.  It helps guide us with growth, if growth is necessary in any particular area... I think it's important to listen to people.  They're the people who live in that neighborhood. I listen to those developers that came in and complained, just as much as I listen to any other neighbor that comes in, and talks about and explains to me how this will have an effect on their property.... I think it's important that we also look at our Comprehensive Plan and look at the Community as a whole... there's some sort of middle ground that we have to come to when we're doing something like that...

Ken Boyd (R): “I am on record saying... that  I will do everything possible as a Board of Supervisor representative to preserve our existing neighborhoods, even if that means going against issues that are in the comprehensive plan.  I personally don't believe that we should do things like put connector roads through existing neighborhoods where the existing roads are not set up to handle that...I think an example of that is the stand that I took on  Ashwood Boulevard, which I did not want to connect to Polo Grounds Road, and we heard from over 800 residents in the Forest Lakes area saying they were opposed to that particular road... We've now got that taken off of the plan for Places29.... I much prefer the alternative of taking the new neighborhoods and putting parallel roads through them if we need to do it...If we build a neighborhood with the idea that they're going to have a road that is a commuter road that's taking people through their neighborhood... then at least they bought their house knowing what's going on...”

Question 4: Albemarle County has dedicated $2 million towards priority transportation projects. With the state unable to fund critical road projects, what do you see as the responsibility of local government bodies to fund road projects? 

Ken Boyd (R): “I guess since I am the Supervisor who originally promoted the idea of putting more money into transportation, that I would have to say that I think that, unfortunately, we have to step up. We have to step up here locally because we have transportation problems that are not being dealt with by the state so we have no alternative but to put money into our own transportation... One of the things that we've done is we've recently put a proffer policy, where we are going to get from developers money up front for every house that's built that will go into paying for infrastructure costs, things like schools and roads and transportation...There's something we have to be very careful about. In my opinion, VDOT or let's just say the state, would very much like to turn over road-building to the counties, and road-maintenance to the counties. We can't do that. We can't put that kind of burden on property taxes... They have been giving us less money and we get less money today than we got ten years ago...One of the things you'll probably see next year from the Board of Supervisors is a proposal for a bond issue so that we can go ahead. We've been paying as you go for most of the time that we've been funding infrastructure in this area, and we can't keep up with the inflated cost of it...

Marcia Joseph (D): “I think our responsibility is to find out what our  priorities are... If we're going to do bond referendums and we're going to do general obligations, we'd better find out from people if this is what they want to happen, or if these are the improvements that they want to happen at this point in time.  I do think there are some important things. We do hear a lot about traffic and we're going to have to do something about it. There are other ways we need to look at this, too. If it's traffic related, maybe we can still looking at other modes of transportation. Maybe we need to think about doing somethings a little creatively, like using transit, and trying to figure out some ways that we can really get people to use mass transit... Maybe we need to talk about other forms of transportation like bicycles...  What's the best way to spend our money? If we're going to go out and we're going to ask some financial institution to lend us some money, what do we want to spend it on? So I think we really need to start talking about those things. I think this is an opportunity for us to become a very unique community... It is not just roadways.  I think we need to think about other means of transportation, and how we might handle that... I do think we may have to borrow some money, but I would certainly make a point of coming to the community and making sure that's exactly what they wanted to happen.”

Question 5: Albemarle County has expectations for the development community to build or pay for affordable housing.  Do you agree with that approach?  How do you believe the County should address the need for not just affordable housing, but also workforce housing?

Marcia Joseph (D): “I have worked with Habitat for Humanity, and so I know what goes on in some of the lower realms, you know, 50% of median income.  Affordable housing in our community is defined as 80% of median income. I think that this is an absolutely wonderful opportunity for us to do public-private partnerships... There's a group out there that's talking about community land trusts... I've been involved with those people... it's just really exciting because it's a way to provide affordable housing by using private funds and if we can get, if I'm on the Board, I would like to encourage other board members to also endorse and commit to providing some funds for this... Right now what we've got going in our affordable housing is that the proffers that we have are for five years only. So, that piece of property would stay affordable for five years and that's it... This would leave it so that it would stay forever...”

Ken Boyd (R): “I want to first address the land trust idea... That's been presented to our Board with encouragement from our existing Board for them to get the act together and come back and tell us what  they want to do there... That's something I'm very intrigued with and I think it's an excellent idea. I think that we've got a good start on the affordable housing project. But, as Marcia says, what we've done, and I'm not sure why we did it this way, but we sort of identified our affordable housing policy around  80% of median income... That does not touch the workforce housing needs in this community... These things are driven by market-rates. We're very very concerned about what's going on with the sub-prime markets now and what that's going to do to the lenders... It's a much more complicated issue than that. I'm looking for great results out of our task force. It's a City, County, University task force  that's looking at it, and they're trying to define what the problem is so that we can break it up into manageable pieces and tackle it.”

Question 6: “The Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission have both had work sessions on the, transportation elements of the Places29 Master Plan.  Will you support Berkmar Drive Extended from the Sam’s Club to Hollymead Town Center and grade separation on Route 29 as major components of that plan?  Why or why not?”

Ken Boyd (R): “First of all, I have been a big supporter of Berkmar Drive Extended for a long time... We've actually had the opportunities in the past to try and get that done but our Board has decided to hold off zoning applications that might have accomplished at least getting some of that road built until such time as the master planning process is over... I think that's an important parallel road  to 29 that we need to build. We're going to have to come up with a bridge, and it's going to be expensive for that bridge, but it needs to be done. Now, I'm not sure that I'm ready to turn Route 29 into an expressway... We've got...  12 percent that's through-traffic. So why would we want to build an expensive expressway  with a bunch of overpasses that are going to handle just 12 percent of the traffic?

Marcia Joseph (D): “The consultants have looked at this in any number of different ways and have come to the conclusion that [Berkmar Extended] is the way we can move traffic most effectively on 29... I do support that. It's going to be a real huge challenge to try to come up with the money for that bridge. I've heard anywhere between $14 million and $40 million... The grade separated  interchanges have been a problem in a lot of people's for many many years. I met with one of the members of the North Charlottesville Business Council today and I'm going to sit down with him next week and try to figure out what it is about that whole process or that whole design that is so problematic to people... It's hard for me to say I don't agree with it, because we've got engineers and experts that we're paying an awful lot of money, that are telling us that that's the way to solve our problems. I realize that we're the people who are leaders and we're supposed to look at this and make sure that it's  right, so that's what I'm doing now...

Question 7: Do you support a limited access bypass for Route 29 around northern Charlottesville and, if so, where would that be located?

Marcia Joseph (D): “I really don’t.  I think that the Places29 [Master Plan] has determined that we don’t need that. I mean, I haven't heard that as part of their recommendations, and again, I'm relying on experts but I'm not an engineer and haven't done any traffic modeling, but they say we don't need it, so I don't support it.”

Ken Boyd (R): “Well, just so everybody understands, the so-called Western Bypass as its more commonly referred to was not, was taken out of the study group, so they were not allowed to look at that as an alternative, so that was the recommendation, that was a majority of the Board that did that. I in fact do support a  connector road. I would rather call it a western connector rather than a western bypass. I think that if we follow the route of the existing, proposed bypass, by which they've bought most all of the land already for that, and then if we had a road that would dump in right across from Leonard Sandridge Road, that this would be an excellent help to us to route traffic off of 29 and we could then possibly have 29 become that main street that we want it to be... But, for right now, there's not enough support on the Board to do that so that's not a road that's even being considered as part of Places29.”

Question 8: The county’s water and sewer infrastructure will need upgrades and expansion. How do you propose to fund our water and sewer  infrastructure and over what time frame?.   What changes, if any, would you make to the boards of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority or the Albemarle County Service Authority?

Ken Boyd (R): “When I first came on the Board four years ago... one of the things I wanted to do, I was concerned about the water supply and the water system in this area, and I was sort of amazed to find out that we had no accruals for capital improvement projects that were happening in the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. Now, the Albemarle County Service Authority was, but not in Rivanna. In addition to that, and even worse in my respect, is that we had not done any real analysis of the either the flow or the maintenance of the infrastructure... So when we talk about the fact that we've got to build for growth in the future, we've got to do some corrections for growth that's been in the past. We have some pipes that are as much as 50 years old, and we've found out now that we're already at capacity with sewer lines... Another thing I've been advocating for for at least four years is to change the structure of the board of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority. I think this community would be much better served with a board similar like the MPO, which has elected representatives on that Board... I think that in regard to how we would fund the future, would be sort of presumptious and probably not  appropriate for us to to try to micromanage a process that's already in place. They're already looking at bonds and options... I do think this from the preliminary things I've seen, this is another situation where we probably need to go ahead with all of the improvements at one time rather than do them piecemeal...”

Marcia Joseph (D): “We don’t have any choice as far as time frames go in the water supply. We are under the gun now.  We have to repair a dam that was built in, well one of them was built in 1920 and the other in 1895. These are at Ragged Mountain, and they have to be repaired. The state is telling us that it's got to happen. So we don’t have any choice in that matter.  We are also going to raise the height of the dam to make sure there is water enough for the next 50 years. We're looking at a cost of $140 million dollars, so we have to do that. The time frame for this building is 2011... How do we fund this?  What I've heard a lot is ratepayers, and I think it's really important for us to make sure the ratepayers are not the only responsible parties.  I think we really need to sit down with the University and the City and make sure this all works equitably... Now in changing the structure of these entities, I was fascinated at how independent these entities are that are actually providing our water and sewer for us. As I sit on the Planning Commission and projects have come before us, I have asked and other commission members have asked, “Alright, this is a rezoning, do we have enough water?”and we are assured by the Service Authority that we have enough water. Not once has anyone said to us “Oh, by the way, we have a $140 million project coming down the pike,” so that we're never able to give that information to any of the developers or any of the citizens that come in, because citizens have been badgering us for years about water, and we have been told, no problem.... we really have to start thinking about these things and get all of these entities together to make sure that we're all talking...”

Question 9: Does County government have the appropriate resources, financial and personnel, to achieve the objectives in our comprehensive plan?

Marcia Joseph (D): “That's a real interesting question because right now we're dealing with a planning staff that's down several members because of the budget cuts that have been made recently... We don't have the proper resources apparently at this point of time to be on a level playing field right now, and deal with the issues that we're dealing with maybe six months ago, because our revenues have gone down... We really need to take a look at our comprehensive plan and decide what it is we want to do, again, as a community... If we're down right now, in funding, it's going to be a little bit difficult to decide we have the personnel when we don't have the appropriate personnel right now.”

Ken Boyd (R): “First I want to clarify one point because there is not budget cuts that are going on and causing a freeze in salaries. It's a revenue shortfall, that's what's happening. We had projected to have a five percent increase in our revenues, and it is probably going to manifest itself at something less than one percent... That's why we're being very cautious with replacing people for opening that we have. But I do agree that at the present time, we do not have the resources we need to implement all the things that are in the comprehensive plan.  But by the same token, even though we live in this sort of, immediate “me, me, me” world where everything has to be immediately done now, we have to realize and take a step back and understand that in order to be appropriated in our taxation of the individuals here, we can't do everything all at once and it's going to have to be gradually done over time as we implement these changes and move forward.”

Question 10: The Board of Supervisors has recently endorsed the concept of prioritizing areas for new development and community infrastructure within our growth areas. Do you think this prioritization is a good idea? Why or why not?

Ken Boyd (R): “Well the answer to that is yes and no.  I think that it is very appropriate that we set priorities for the infrastructure that the County is going to be putting into our master plans, I think we should do that. We should decide on which way we want to spend County dollars for things like sidewalks, redevelopment, libraries, things like that, and what sequence we ought to do it in. I do not agree, in fact, I voted against prioritizing what the development community does, because I think that is going to create a competitive advantage or disadvantage depending on who owns the property where we see can be developed next. So it's simple. I don't think we should be dabbling in the free enterprise, and the marketplace with that and giving priority for one person or developer or build over another.

Marcia Joseph (D): “I do support this idea.  I think it's extremely important. If we're going to prioritize where we put our infrastructure, then we ought to make sure that’s where the development goes. I think that unless someone is willing to put in all of the infrastructure that's necessary to support the development, then that would be fine, but I think it's also a sense of security for the community, that they have an idea of what's going to happen, where, and if we're all helping to pay for the infrastructure, then we ought to know where the development is going, so I think it's extremely important.”

Audience Question #1:  How do you see recently approved projects such as North Pointe, Biscuit Run and Hollymead Town Center as benefiting our community?

Marcia Joseph (D): I’ll start with Biscuit Run, because I think it does benefit the community. I think we got a 400 acre park, I think we got a through-road through that, I think we got a school site on that. We got money for proffers for road improvements that are off-site...  I don’t think North Pointe was a good idea.  I think the layout is not good. I think that anything that puts another 30,000 cars through that intersection of Airport Road and 29 is not such a good thing. I think that North Pointe could have been phased, if it it needed to happen. I don't think we need any more big boxes on 29.... I think that we didn't need that much commercial activity... Hollymead, I think that that was also not a benefit the way it happened. It should have been phased, I think we learned a lot about stormwater with that, that we really need to make sure that as these things happen, they are phased so that people know what's going to happen so that ponds are not destroyed and water isn't rushing through some of these culverts underneath...”

Ken Boyd (D): “I was not on the Board at the time that Hollymead was approved, and had I been on the Board, I never would have approved it with the erosion control and sediment control restrictions that were put on it. Every project since then, we've put much stricter erosion and sediment control restrictions on them, and we've asked them to proffer it, and that includes North Pointe, and that includes Biscuit Run, both... I disagree little bit, that I'm going to sit here and say that a planner who does absorption calculations and says we have too much or too little retail space only because all we've done is rezoned it. I'm more of a free market type person, and what I believe is that the market will take care of itself. If there's too much retail space in North Pointe, then it won't get built because they won't find anybody to put in it, and I can tell you they're not going to build something where they've not got a tenant to put in there... I think that the traffic situation is probably no worse on North Pointe than what has been created at Biscuit Run.... I do want to correct Ms. Joseph.  It is phased at North Pointe. We have phasing in regards to when the commercial development will happen... In my mind, both [Biscuit Run and North Pointe] met the neighborhood model....

Audience Question #2
What experience do you have that will help you lead the County as we deal with major financial issues in the near future? Roads, water, revenue decline...


Ken Boyd  (R): “My background is in finance and banking and financial planning.. I've also had the opportunity over the last 8 years to be working with both the school budget and the budget for the Board of Supervisors... This positions me... to deal with what's going to be a very complicated budget process. This year with us being down on our revenue projections is just the beginning of what we feel will be a 2 to 5 year cycle and one of the things we're doing is we're reforming our budget, and this is based on an initiative that I've been asking for for eight years to start doing our budget differently, so that we can get a better handle on it...”

Marcia Joseph (D): “Well, I do not have an MBA, but I don't think that you need that to be a member of the Board of Supervisors.  I think we have adequate staff and I think I'm a smart enough person to try to figure out exactly what's going on in the budget. I think we would get lots of public input as we normally do, and lots of input from staff, as we normally do, and I think that that's how we would do it. I don't think it takes rocket science to do this stuff, it has to be simple, we all have to understand it, so I think my experience in knowing what the needs are of the community, talking to the people in the community, I think that's extremely important also in deciding what our priorities are and how we're going to do this...”

Audience Question #3
With the County’s annual [population] growth rate less than 2%, where do you want it to be?

Marcia Joseph (D): “I think we've all sort of counted on it being around 2% for a very long time, since I think 1976, 75, it's been about 2%, and I think that's what we've relied on when we're looking at our comprehensive plan, and deciding where our designated growth areas are, and where these people are going to go. I think that makes a whole lot of sense. I think that we're never going to get it lower, and it's not anything that I want to see go lower. I didn't spring from the earth in Albemarle County. I am not a native. People come here because it's a beautiful place, and I think that we should probably count on about two percent growth happening in Albemarle County."

Ken Boyd (R): “Well, actually, since I've been on the Board, the growth rate as a percentage of population has been declining every year. When I first went on in 2004, our growth rate was 1.7%. In 2006, according to the Weldon Cooper provisional numbers, it was at .7%...  I mentioned earlier about jobs and the economy and ebb and flow.We can't get to a point where we have much less than one percent in growth. We certainly don't want to get to a situation where we have a minus growth pattern going on, because if you think that your taxes are high now, then just imagine what it will do if we don't have the economic development going on and the job creations here, and the retail business that brings in retail sales and business taxes that they bring...I think that one to two percent would probably be a good level for us to be, and it looks like that's where we've been for a long time, and I am a bit concerned it dropped below one percent at the current time."

Audience Question #4
The MPO is considering a regional transit authority.  What is your position on the RTA and would you support the implementation of night bus service on [CTS] Route 5?


Ken Boyd (R): “I wholeheartedly support the Regional Transit Authority... I think it's very important that we improve... that we have different transportation mechanisms for people to get around this county without having to be in a car... I'd like to see the numbers [on night service] are...I think if we have got empty buses like we had years ago with Big Blue that ran up to the Forest Lakes area, then that's just a big waste of time and money. But we also need to work with the public and educate them and I'm not at all opposed to investing some money in transit with the idea that if we build it, they will come.”

Marcia Joseph (D): “I am really excited to hear that there are Board members that are supporting this.  It really is about time we started thinking of ourselves in more of an urban context and providing different means of transportation for people. Again, that's another way that we can get people off the roads, and deal with some of the traffic that we've got going on. Yes I would support [the RTA], I think it's really important, we've got some terrific entities here that can get together and make something work... You talked about the night service. I think it's important to try these things out. There are people who work at night. There are people who need to get to places back and forth, and I think that we need to try something like that, see if it works, see what the ridership is, get some advertising out there, and get these things happening....

Audience Question #5
While preserving the rural areas is admirable, preserving quality of life in the development areas is equally important.  Please speak to your commitment to preserving quality of life in the urban areas.


Marcia Joseph (D): – “Places29, if you all don't know, is a Master Plan that we're all looking at right now... actually, the 23rd of October, the Planning Commission is having a meeting at 6:00 PM, so if you want to find out what's going on, please come to the meeting and we do allow public comment... One of the things I think is extremely important is for the growth areas, is, I'm a landscape architect, I think we need parks. I think it's important for us to have some open green spaces in these urban areas...I think when we start talking about bus service, and we start talking about walking trails and bike trails, one of the exciting graphics that you'll see in Places29 has a parallel multimodal kind of pathway along 29, and when you see it, it's a wonderful thing because people can walk on it, people can bike on it...”

Ken Boyd (R): “Every other year we do biannual survey, and we call it our customer service survey to find out what we're doing in the County that people appreciate, and what we feel we're doing a good job. Something that always comes back  with high remarks is emergency services and police services. And when we talk about quality of life, now this is something that falls off of the radar screen because we've done a good job of providing that but it's a quality of life issue for this community...Now, since I've been on the Board and probably one of the most recent things that we've done is that realizing that our response times for emergency services have greatly dropped for this area, particularly in the Forest Lakes area, with the density and the urban area that we have there. We put a temporary station out at the airport a year and a half before the opening of the new station, because we knew that we had to do something... These things cost money. The Board has just recommitted to its plan to get to a level where we have 1.5 police officers per 1,000 people in the County. Now we haven't gotten there yet and we're probably going to have to add four or five police officers over the next few years to accomplish that...”

CLOSING STATEMENTS

Ken Boyd ( R): “I very much love this community and I have since I came here 26 years ago. I think that if what I'm hearing on the doorsteps of the 3,000 homes that I've visited during this campaign is true, that everybody that I've run across would like to, whether they moved here 26 years ago... or whether they moved here last year, they want to freeze this community in time as of when they got here... We cannot do that, that's an impossible thing to do. It's very important for the Board of Supervisors to consider all of these issues that you're talking about... And I still remain committed to you to work very hard on that...”

Marcia Joseph (D): “I just received the endorsement from the Albemarle Political Action Committee for Education, that's the teachers in the community. I'm very excited about that.... I've also been endorsed by the Sierra Club... I am an environmentalist and I am not ashamed. Those two things I'm very proud of.... One of the things that's really really important to me as a Board of Supervisors member, is to make sure that we have open communication between all kinds of entities. I don't want to see what happened at the budget last session, where there was all kinds of animosity between different people within the audience, and schools took a hit a lot of the times and they shouldn't. We're proud of our schools, we have some great teachers, we have great schools, we have great principals, we have great kids. It's important to us to remain a community that people want to live in to have a great educational system...”

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST

  • 1:10 – Introduction and ground rules from Neil Williamson of the Free Enterprise Forum
  • 2:27 – Opening statement from Ken Boyd (R)
  • 4:39 – Opening statement from Marcia Joseph (D)
  • 6:36 – Question 1
  • 11:25 – Question 2
  • 15:36 – Question 3
  • 19:10 – Question 4
  • 23:46 – Question 5
  • 29:33 – Question 6
  • 35:45 – Question 7
  • 37:39 – Question 8
  • 44:02 – Question 9
  • 47:19 – Question 10
  • 49:15 – Audience Question 1
  • 54:59 – Audience Question 2
  • 57:43 – Audience Question 3
  • 59:42 – Audience Question 4
  • 1:02:33 – Audience Question 5
  • 1:06:24 – Closing statement from Ken Boyd ( R)
  • 1:07:25 - Closing statement from Marcia Joseph (D)

Kendall Singleton and Sean Tubbs

October 15, 2007

Board of Supervisors approves Willow Glen despite industrial land concerns

Willowglen
Plans for the approved Willow Glen subdivision

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has voted to approve the 234-unit Willow Glen residential development off Dickerson Road near the Hollymead Town Center. The developer needed a Comprehensive Plan change from a mixture of industrial service and urban density residential to all urban density residential, as well as an accompanying rezoning.

The land's proximity to the airport had triggered concerns from the County's Business Development Facilitator about a lack of industrially zoned land in the County. At a September 5, 2007 work session,  Supervisors said they wanted to see more analysis on the County's inventory of light industrial land. After further review, staff recommended against the comprehensive plan change.

At the work session, Supervisors had also rejected the developer's plan to get credit for proffering “moderately” priced housing, opting instead to receive cash proffers to pay for projects in the Capital Improvement Plan. That means Sugaray2 LLC will pay close to $2.5 million dollars in proffers.

In his report to the Board, Planning and Community Development Director Wayne Cilimberg pointed out that the County has 266 acres of available land zoned as industrial service in the Places29 area. He added that the County currently could see 6,500 more residential units built in the same area according to the existing Comprehensive Plan.

“Industrial is much more limited than residential in terms of its availability for future development,” Cilimberg said. 

Most of the entire area around the airport was at one point designated and zoned for industrial use, but has slowly been converted to residential and mixed-use over time as part of the Hollymead Town Center.

“One of the ironies here is that because we've changed these other parcels out of the Light Industrial, we have arguably had an impact on the speculative value of this parcel of land,” said Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio). “And if we conclude that in fact there's a dearth of sufficient light industrial land to satisfy our market place, than in the context of our master planning exercises, we clearly should be addressing that need.”

But Slutzky questioned whether it was necessary to deny this land use redesignation based on that logic. “[The land] has probably been priced because of our earlier actions, to the point where it's not actually going to work as light industrial when we've rezoned everything else around it,” he asked. “I'm not denying that there's an insufficient amount of light industrial potentially available but I'm not sure the solution to that is to deny this application on that grounds.”

Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) said he agreed, and Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) suggested a work session to look at other ways to address the issue.

Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) questioned if the requested land use re-designation were a wise idea, due to its proximity to the airport and the U.Va. Research Park.

“What we have before us is a report from staff that's pointing out the existing deficit, and we're about to take an action to worsen that deficit. I don't know where we're going to make that deficit up unless you're talking about increasing the growth areas,” he said.

County Planner Judy Wiegand says the Places29 Master Plan is expanding the types of industrial designations allowed to give different kinds of industrial users more choices. If adopted, industrial zoning will be divided into three categories – heavy industrial, light industrial, and research and development office.

Rooker asked the developer, George Ray, if he and his partners purchased the land with an intent to redesignate the land as residential. Ray, who once worked as Charlottesville's economic development director, said that he had the price he paid for the land far exceeded what an industrial user would have been able to afford.

“We set out from the get-go, Mr. Rooker, to try to meet the affordable housing need in Albemarle County,” Ray said. “While we took a look at some of these alternatives way to develop the property, it wasn't our vision to do an additional office park.” Ray and his team are pledging to try to keep some of the units moderately priced, but without proffer credits, they will have to let the market set the price.

“All of the additional costs that have been stacked on these units by actions of the County have made it not practical for us to try to build something at $235,000,” Ray said, referring to the cash proffer expectations.

20071010long
Attorney Valerie Long

Attorney Valerie Long represented the developer before the Board. Since the September 5 work session, she and her staff put together an analysis of recent demand for industrial service land.
She said she understood the County's wish to keep an inventory of available land for light industrial, but said her research shows that there is enough inventory of land already zoned light industrial.

“We just feel strongly that the way the Willow Glen area, Hollymead Town Center and beyond has developed, that this is not the appropriate location for industrial land given all those other actions that have taken place over the years,” she said, adding that the project would be a good example of the County's Neighborhood Model plan.

Rooker eventually came around and announced he would support the re-designation. “There is a substantial amount of light industrial to the south of this that is more in a large block of property,” he said. “We need to think long and hard about taking any of that out of light industrial.”

No one spoke at the public hearing, and the Supervisors voted unanimously to vote for the comprehensive plan change, as well as the rezoning.

Sean Tubbs

September 13, 2007

4,300 homes approved for Biscuit Run & Hollymead Town Center

20070912bos1 The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to approve the Biscuit Run development. The vote came after 32 people spoke at a public hearing, and after Supervisors considered last minute changes to the proffers made by the developer, Forest Lodge LLC.

The public hearing on Biscuit Run began shortly after 10 PM and the public, at least those still present after waiting for five hours, got their opportunity to speak starting around 11:00 PM.  The unanimous vote came at 1:05 AM this morning.

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The rezoning will allow at least 3,100 homes on 828 acres, as well as some retail and office uses, plus an additional 400 acres for a County park. Biscuit Run will be the largest development in the history of Albemarle County. The County accepted an estimated $41,150,000 in proffers in connection with the rezoning. Without the rezoning, Supervisors said the developer could have built between 1,000 and 1,400 homes on the property by-right.

20070912bos2 “This will be the gold standard for the neighborhood model plan,” said developer Hunter Craig.

During the public meeting, many people requested that the Board postpone action until a full environmental impact assessment could be made. Many residents of the Mill Creek South neighborhood spoke in cautious support of the project, because a proposed connection between the two neighborhoods will now be built as a walking trail. Other speakers expressed concern about increased traffic on Route 20 and the adequacy of water and sewer capacity.

Several neighbors spoke in favor of the project, saying they look forward to using some of the shops, parks and trails that will be built as a result. Ron Sykes, the Headmaster of the Covenant School to the north of the development, said Biscuit Run would be “complementary to our campus.”

“We don't have legal authority to require a developer to do an environmental impact study,” said Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett). He added that the Neighborhood Model would help reduce the impact of the development on the region, while allowing residents to get to several destinations on foot.

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) said he was pleased that transit became a major component of the proposal. “It's really a poster child for how a proposal can make its way through our process,” he said.

Supervisor David Wyant (White Hall) said that the proposal is a good example of how a public-private partnership work. He added that the level of scrutiny that has gone into this proposal has improved the process by strengthening erosion control requirements.

“It's not the perfect project, but it's one of the best ones that's come along in a long time,” said Supervisor Ken Boyd.

HOLLYMEAD TOWN CENTER APPROVED

Earlier in the evening, the Supervisors unanimously approved Hollymead Town Center (HTC) Areas A1 and A2. In all, the Supervisors approved in this one meeting more than 4,300 new homes for Albemarle County.

HTC Area A-1 will be a commercial development on approximately 31 acres along Route 29 North across the street from Holly Memorial Gardens with approximately 277,000 square feet of commercial, office, and service uses. HTC Area A-2 will be a mixed use development on approximately 47 acres behind Area A-1.  It can have up to 1,222 homes and up to 368,000 square feet of commercial, office, and hotel uses.

Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

May 07, 2007

Sinkhole-causing drainpipes to be replaced

If all goes as planned, come September, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will install a new drainage pipe on Route 29 near the Hollymead Town Center. A section of pipe there failed not once, but twice, eroding the earth underneath the southbound lane, causing two sink holes that opened up there eight months apart in front of the Seminole Commons shopping center. 

29sinkhole "This sinkhole was basically the result of a pipe failure," said Darin Simpson, the Assistant Administrator for VDOT's Charlottesville residency. The excessive rainfalls filled the existing pipe where it became almost pressurized. That created a situation where because of the breach of the pipe, it would pull the roadbed material down to the outlet end and where the pipe ultimately discharged, and over time, it just pulled enough roadbed material that the road couldn't bridge itself and it lost stability."

Water pipes can be built from a kind of plastic, concrete, or corrugated metal. The first pipe that failed was made of the latter. Simpson says it likely deteriorated over time due to the elements, especially salt used to clear roads of ice and slush.

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After the first pipe burst in November 2005, Simpson said VDOT used plastic material as a replacement pipe which did not adequately match the existing connections. Eventually, heavy rainfall doomed it as well and another sinkhole formed in July of 2006.

"It surcharges, which means it runs at full capacity, and now it's pressurized." That led to vacuum conditions at the location of the first repair. For the second repair, VDOT left the replacement pipe underneath the ground, but strengthened it with a geotextile filter fabric, as well as a concrete collar.

"We get the heavy rains, the pipe is still going to surcharge, but we feel comfortable at that joint it's not going to break," he said.

Many people assumed that the large amount of development near Hollymead Town Center played a role in the pipe failures.

"The Target and all of the new Hollymead development goes into the big stormwater retention pond that you see when you drive in that parking lot," he said. Developers are now required to build such ponds to handle stormwater.

"When you have a storm event it will only release water slowly into the system so you're not getting a rush. When you pave and you put structures and concrete and asphalt down, you've obviously changed the conditions of the land, when it all used to be vegetation, and the run-off wasn't as bad. So now, once you pave it and everything, you get larger amounts of runoff. And, the pipe that failed, I don't think those measures were in place. And it's just one of those things that they did. Someone wanted to develop [Seminole Commons], and they said, we have a pipe here, you can tie into it, and it's just, lessons learned."

Simpson says he is confident the drainage pipe won't fail again, but VDOT will spend at least $250,000 on a project to replace a 260 foot section. The new concrete carrier pipe will be thirty inches in diameter, half a foot larger than the existing pipe.

"Hydrologically, that six inches gives us a lot more capacity then what it might sound like to folks," he said. He adds that VDOT has studied the watershed to see if there are any more possibilities of excess water flow in the next major storm.

When the replacement work starts this September, contractors will use a process called “bore and jack” to tunnel underneath the road. Simpson said this will only cause a minimal disruption to traffic on Route 29, shutting down only one lane.

Could it happen again at another spot on Route 29 North?

Simpson says it's hard to tell how old the pipes are because of the upgrades made to Route 29 over the years. The south bound part of Route 29 is older than north bound, but VDOT records can't confirm if the pipes along the south side were ever replaced.

"When 29 was two-lane, there were some portions that we could find that were built back in the 1920's. We found other plans when it was upgraded to four lanes, what they did according to the plans, they basically left the existing pipes in and tied on new pipes, and extended them."

In the meantime, new developments have been built along the Route 29 corridor, including Forest Lakes and Hollymead Town Center. Simpson says the impact on pipes by any future development projects will be looked at on a case by case basis.

"Our requirement would be that at a minimum, you have to tie on to the existing pipe and bring it out to a point that meets design standards for the outfall," he said. When construction on roads and new development begins, VDOT will then inspect each pipe to check for its structural integrity.

Simpson said the camera has recently been sent through the existing pipe, and revealed no further deterioration. Bids on the replacement pipe project will be accepted through June 27th.

Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler

December 05, 2006

Hollymead Town Center development to be reviewed by Planning Commission

Htc20061205As was previewed today in the Daily Progress, more development is in the works for the Hollymead Town Center area on Route 29 North.

The portion of the development know as Area A2 (click image on right for a better view) will be considered tonight at a work session by the Albemarle County Planning Commission.  The public may offer comments on this development at the meeting.

The proposed development would include:

  • 1,014 housing units in Area A2
  • 102,000 sq. ft. of retail
  • 208,000 sq. ft. of office
  • 140,000 sq. ft. hotel

THtcareaa220061205he rendering below (click for larger image) is the applicant's suggestion as to the appearance of the residential portion of this section of the Hollymead Town Center (the first four rows of housing).  The housing units shown in the distance are in Area D which has already been approved for the Abington Place townhouse development.

Charlottesville Tomorrow will produce an audio podcast of the discussion of this item which you will be able to download or play from our blog tomorrow.

Brian Wheeler

September 06, 2006

County Planning Commission seeks enforcement of Hollymead Town Center proffers

In their September 5, 2006 meeting, the Albemarle County Planning Commission unanimously rejected a request from LeClair Ryan attorney Steve Blaine representing Target and Hollymead Town Center LLC for a two-year extension on the deadline to build a new road behind the Harris Teeter and Target stores.  The Hollymead Town Center development is divided into four major areas lettered A thru D.  Mr. Blaine’s clients occupy what is called Area B and the road in question is on Developer Wendell Wood’s property in Area A which has not yet been rezoned. 

20060905copc

The Planning Commission took a tough stand in defense of the County getting what has been promised to them in proffers, or voluntary contributions from a developer in exchange for a favorable determination on a rezoning request.  Unless there is a meeting of the minds, the road named Meeting Street may be 1-2 years from construction and some occupants of Hollymead Town Center may not get occupancy permits they need to open for business.

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Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20060905-CoPC-HTC-Proffers.mp3

BACKGROUND

20060905htcmeetingstDeveloper Wendell Wood proffered the construction of several roads as part of the original Hollymead Town Center rezoning for Area B in July 2003 when it was approved by the Board of Supervisors.  In what is known as Proffer 3, Mr. Wood promised to continue Town Center Drive from near the Harris Teeter to Dickerson Road.  In what is known as Proffer 4, Mr. Wood promised to build Meeting Street (formerly Ridge Road) connecting Area A to Area C behind the Harris Teeter store. 

When Area B was sold to Hollymead Town Center LLC (Dierman Realty and the Regency Realty Group) to support development of the first phase for tenants including Target and the Harris Teeter, a private agreement was made between the two developers as to when the road would be constructed by Mr. Wood to support the rest of the town center’s development and in compliance with the proffer agreements between Mr. Wood and Albemarle County.  Mr. Blaine reported that his client had already paid $400,000 to Mr. Wood to support construction of Meeting Street.

Because Town Center Drive has not been built as required by Proffer 3, a moratorium on the issuance of new certificates of occupancy was ordered on August 18, 2006 by Jan Sprinkle, the Albemarle County Deputy Zoning Administrator.  According to Mr. Blaine, there are several small businesses that are waiting for these certificates before they can legally open.  County staff told the Commission that this was standard practice for a property with a zoning violation. 

As required under Proffer 4, when the certificate of occupancy was issued for the Target on June 15, 2005, the clock started ticking on the deadline for the construction of Meeting Street, which was due for completion one year later on June 15, 2006.  Even if Mr. Wood can clear up the requirements of Proffer 3, it appears that the additional zoning violation under Proffer 4 could lead to further delays on Area B’s occupancy permits. 

The Commission’s denial sets up an interesting discussion before the Board of Supervisors on October 11th and a potential lawsuit by Mr. Blaine’s clients against Wendell Wood to force construction of Meeting Street, if they do not build it themselves and bill Mr. Wood for their efforts.  If the situation is not quickly resolved by the two developers or the Board of Supervisors, the completion of Meeting Street could be delayed by 1-2 years as it moves through the courts or the County calls the bond, collects the cash from Mr. Wood, and bids out the road project on its own.

Staff also informed the Planning Commission that a stop work order currently exists on Area A because of a pattern of repeated erosion and sediment control violations.  A rezoning request submitted by Mr. Wood for Area A is currently under review by the County. 

THE DISCUSSION

Steve Blaine submitted on behalf of his client a proffer amendment request that would extend the deadline for the construction of Meeting Street by two years.  In his comments to the Commission, Mr. Blaine argued that the County was in a much better position to get Meeting Street built through leverage related to Mr. Wood’s upcoming rezoning request for Area A and because of its ability to call the bond and build the road on its own.  Mr. Blaine described the challenge his client faces building a road not on the Area B property and which, even if they built their portion, would not allow for a connection all the way to Route 29 unless Mr. Wood complies with the requirements of Proffer 3 for Town Center Drive.  Mr. Blaine asked why they should “build half a road to nowhere” since it would end in a dead end in the short term.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Blaine said that local small businesses trying to open in the Hollymead Town Center would be hurt if the Planning Commission did not make an accommodation.  He encouraged the Commission to find a practical remedy that utilized financial incentives to compel Mr. Wood to build the road.  He said his client was being held to a standard that was not just.

The Planning Commission had a sharp reaction to the presentation.  Chairman Marcia Joseph argued that it was not the County’s fault that occupants built businesses without the property owner handling their obligations to build roads promised in the rezoning.  Commissioner Bill Edgerton stated that the proffers should be enforced and that he would have difficulty believing the road would even be built in two years if an extension was granted.  He took exception to Mr. Blaine’s suggestion that this was unjust treatment when both parties signed an agreement saying the road would be built.  Commissioner Eric Strucko pointed out that this is another example of where he sees the need for concurrency of road infrastructure with development.  He pointed out that businesses also face risks in the partners they choose, but those risks are not the County’s problem and this infrastructure should be built by the applicant as promised.

Wendell Wood was not present at the Planning Commission meeting and Steve Blaine declined to comment for Charlottesville Tomorrow after the vote.

Brian Wheeler