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February 06, 2008

Supervisors approve rural area ordinances... and more

PLUS: Crozet project moves ahead, a traffic signal for Glenmore, Advance Mills Bridge faces setback, sewers for Albemarle Place, and the rising water and sewer rates

Rural Areas Ordinances

20080206bosview2At their meeting on February 6, 2008, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved three rural area ordinance changes related to holding periods on family sub-divisions, stream buffers, and driveways across steep slopes.  The approvals came in front of an audience of about 100 community members, thirty-four of whom spoke during the public hearing.  Identical 4-2 votes on each ordinance broke the stalemate in the Board’s work to support the goals in the rural areas portion of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  Supervisors Ken Boyd (Rivanna) and Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) both voted against the ordinance changes.

Crozet Gateway

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Adnan Yousef and his family lobby the Board to approve Crozet Gateway

In other business earlier in the day, the Board of Supervisors approved a site plan for a new development at a key intersection in Crozet.  The Crozet Gateway project will redevelop a 2 acre site at the corner of Route 240 and Route 250 near Brownsville Elementary School.  The existing convenience store will be replaced with two multi-story commercial buildings, a use allowed by-right on the property.  At issue was a request to lower the number of parking spaces provided in the development.  The developer was proposing 99 while the County was recommending 118.  County staff recommended that the Board uphold the prior decisions of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Administrator to keep the parking expectation at the higher figure.

Adnan Yousef shared his frustrations with the Board about how long it has taken him to get his development approved.  He first submitted his plans in July 2006.  Yousef said he was upset that the County's concerns about the parking matter were not raised earlier in the process when he could have made adjustments to his engineering plans.  He said the delays had resulted in potential tenants opting to locate in other new developments along Route 250 near Crozet which were able to be built more quickly.

Supervisors apologized for the delays that occurred and unanimously voted to approve the parking waiver and Yousef's final site plan.

Transportation Matters

In the Board's monthly transportation update, the Supervisors learned from VDOT’s Allan Sumpter that a traffic signal is moving forward for the Glenmore intersection on Route 250 East.  Sumpter said the “warrants” had been recently re-evaluated by VDOT and that this assessment indicated a signal was now justified.  Planning and engineering work will commence immediately.

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The Board also heard a report on the Advance Mills Bridge situation.  The bridge in Northern Albemarle was closed for safety reasons in 2007 and the community had been working with VDOT to have a temporary bridge installed while a permanent bridge plan was completed.  Sumpter said a recent call from the Federal Highway Administration had put the brakes on the temporary bridge and that VDOT was going to have to focus only on the permanent solution, something that might not be complete until mid-2010 or early 2011. VDOT's Quintin Elliot said any other course of action could jeopardize Federal funding for the permanent bridge project.

Members of the Advance Mills Neighborhood Association and Supervisor Ann Mallek (White Hall) will be going to Richmond tomorrow to meet with Federal Highway officials to understand the reversal of their October 2007 endorsement of the two bridge plan just days before the temporary structure was supposed to go to bid.

Sewers for Albemarle Place

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RWSA's Tom Frederick (Left) and ACSA's Gary Fern (Right) report to the Supervisors

The Supervisors also received updates from both the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA).  RWSA's Executive Director, Tom Frederick, started with some good news that the Sugar Hollow Reservoir had completely refilled and was spilling for the first time since the drought conditions worsened in late 2007.

ACSA Executive Director, Gary Fern, updated the Board on sewer capacity issues at the Albemarle Place development.  Fern said the new Albemarle Place developer, Edens & Avant, was meeting with his staff to plan for the site's sewer needs.  According to Fern, Albemarle Place will be connected to an upgraded Meadowcreek Interceptor by December 2009.

Water & Sewer Rates

Supervisors asked if the water and sewer rates being discussed would cover the costs of the Community Water Supply Plan and a growing list of sewer infrastructure needs.  Fern indicated he was still preparing his capital budget for FY 2009 and carefully reviewing the rate information from RWSA.  The RWSA provides water and sewer services to the City of Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Service Authority. 

Frederick said the RWSA was trying to find the right balance in its rate structure to be sensitive to ratepayer concerns.  The sewer needs will be better understood after the completion of a major sewer interceptor study later this year.  With respect to water rates, in January, the RWSA projected increases of 1.3% in the City and 2.5% in the County for each of next five years to support the construction of the new Ragged Mountain Dam. 

County Executive Bob Tucker told the Supervisors that if the community wanted to expedite the pipeline phase of the water supply plan, rates would go up more steeply.The pipeline will connect the expanded Ragged Mountain Reservoir to the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.  To support both the dam and the pipeline being built at the same time, water rates would increase  7% for the the City and 11.7% for County for each of next five years.

Brian Wheeler

October 11, 2007

Supervisors stalemate 3-3 on rural area ordinances

At their meeting on October 10, 2007, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors were unable to reach agreement on three ordinance proposals related to protection of stream buffers, protection of critical slopes, and holding periods for lots on family sub-divisions.  Over 80 speakers addressed the board during a public hearing that started at around 7:30 PM and was closed four hours later. The Board's acrimonious deliberations started around 11:30 PM and went into Thursday morning.
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Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) started the discussion suggesting there might be consensus on the stream buffer protections and she asked if the Board might consider voting on the three proposals separately.  Supervisors Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) and David Slutzky (Rio) both said they would support moving forward with the stream buffer protections which would apply rules that already exist on intermittent streams in half the county and apply them to the remainder of the rural area.

Next, Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) pointed out that it was getting late and he was uncomfortable voting on matters this late in the evening.  He indicated a preference for another work session to discuss the proposals.  Slutzky reminded the Board that they recently voted on the Biscuit Run rezoning well past midnight last month.  Then Supervisors Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville) and David Wyant (White Hall) offered their assessments and indicated they were not prepared to support any of the three proposed ordinance changes at this time.

After almost one hour of debate, no motions were made for or against the full proposals*, thus there was not a formal vote since the board was split 3-3.  The Board adjourned without specifying when these matters would be considered again.

The audio recording in this podcast features the one hour discussion by the Board of Supervisors immediately following the public hearing.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20071010-BOS-rural.mp3

Brian Wheeler

* NOTE: Sally Thomas moved approval of a portion of the proposed changes to the watershed protection ordinance which related to the determination of erosion impact areas.  That motion failed 3-3 (Rooker, Slutzky, Thomas FOR; Boyd, Dorrier, Wyant AGAINST).  That vote was then reconsidered by a separate unanimous vote to allow it to be discussed again at a future meeting..

December 13, 2006

County holds work session on mountaintop protection

On December 13, 2006, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors met jointly with the Planning Commission in a work session to further discuss the Mountain Overlay District (MOD) Committee's recommendations to "protect the economic, cultural, and natural resources of Albemarle County's mountains."  After a little more than an hour of staff presentations and discussion, the Supervisors agreed to continue the work session on January 10, 2007.  No substantive decisions were made. [Link to agenda item]

When the Supervisors last considered mountaintop protection proposals in September, it was the surviving initiative of the threesome that included rural area phasing and clustering.  The next work session is expected to include: 1) discussion of building height restrictions and ordinance waiver provisions; 2) a decision by the Board as to whether a mountaintop protection ordinance should even be drafted for public and Board review; and 3) if an ordinance is supported, a decision about applying some of the mountaintop protection standards throughout Albemarle's rural areas (i.e. also off the mountaintops).

Brian Wheeler

September 13, 2006

Rural area phasing and clustering proposals fail to move forward

On September 13, 2006, a deadlocked Albemarle County Board of Supervisors failed in their attempt to move forward new proposals to strengthen efforts to protect the County's farms, fields and forests, a goal established in their 2005 update of the County's Comprehensive Plan.  [Link to agenda item]

The first item considered in the worksession today was a proposal to adopt phasing or a time release of lots for new development.  Before the Board was a resolution of intent to adopt a phasing ordinance, something that would come back for further public comment and Board review. 

After their discussion, only Supervisors Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett), David Slutzky (Rio), and Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) were willing to support phasing in some fashion.  Supervisors Ken Boyd (Rivanna), Lindsay Dorrier (Scottsville), and David Wyant (White Hall) said they would not support phasing in any form, even if the proposal was modified to allow creation of at least 1 new lot every year.  The proposal on the table was for a maximum of 2 lots every 10 years.  All the Supervisors opposed to phasing indicated a preference for voluntary conservation easements.

The second item focused on clustering development in the rural areas and a similar resolution of intent to develop a new ordinance was under consideration.  The clustering proposal also failed to move forward.  Mr. Rooker indicated that he could not support clustering alone without a companion phasing ordinance.

Mountaintop protection proposals were also reviewed by the Board.  No action was taken by the Board which decided to hold a future worksession jointly with the County Planning Commission to discuss a number of issues raised by the Supervisors, particularly now that it would be considered without phasing and clustering proposals in place.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20060913-BOS-Rural.mp3

Brian Wheeler

July 26, 2006

Mountaintop protection open house

Yesterday, Albemarle County held the first of two open houses this week to field questions from the public about mountaintop protection strategies and proposals to cluster and phase the rate of development in the County's rural areas

Two very helpful handouts were made available:

The next open house focusing on phasing and clustering is tomorrow from 4:30 to 7:00 at the County Office Building.  Next week, the public will have the opportunity to speak at public hearings on these issues.  Officials will not be taking action at these meetings and they have agreed to accept feedback on either issue at either meeting.  Comments can also be submitted in writing at the open house OR by e-mail to BOS@albemarle.org and PlanningCommission@albemarle.org.

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Supervisor Sally Thomas reviews maps of the mountain overlay district with a County resident

July 25, 2006

Rural area & mountaintop protection

SqhilltowersDuring the next two weeks there are opportunities to attend open houses and speak at public hearings to provide feedback on both the mountaintop protection ordinance and proposals to cluster and phase the rate of development in the rural areas.  Recommendations have come forward from citizen committees and from work related to the Board of Supervisors' review of our comprehensive plan for the rural areas.  Now they want your feedback!

Additional resources on Albemarle County's website:

This week you can stop by the second floor lobby of the County Office Building between 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm to review materials and talk to staff about the proposed ordinances – presentations will be offered several times throughout the evening.

  • Mountain Overlay District Open House * Tues, July 25
  • Phasing and Clustering Open House * Thurs, July 27

Next week, there are two public input sessions before the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.  Both meetings will be held in the Burley Middle School Auditorium beginning at 6:00 pm.

  • Mountain Overlay District public hearing * Tues,  Aug 1
  • Phasing and Clustering public hearing * Thurs, Aug 3

Brian Wheeler

May 10, 2006

Supervisors review Mountain Overlay District Committee Recommendations

Bosworksession20060510aOn May 10, 2006, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors held a work session to review recommendations from the Mountain Overlay District Committee.  The Committee began its work on this project in April 2004 and, after 30 meetings, has completed its recommendations on the framework for a new ordinance to govern development activities in the mountainous areas of Albemarle County, also known as the mountain overlay district (MOD). [project website]

The Supervisors reached consensus in this meeting to send the draft forward to a future public hearing.  After receiving public feedback later this Summer, the Board is expected to provide direction to the Planning Commission as to the specific requirements of the new mountaintop protection ordinance.  There would then be additional public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors take action on the final ordinance in late 2006.

Listen to podcast: Download 20060510-BOS-MOD.mp3

Brian Wheeler

March 09, 2006

Mountain Overlay District Committee Meets

On March 8, 2006, the County's Mountain Overlay District Committee met to review a draft proposal for a mountain protection program.  The Committee began its work on this project in April 2004 and expects to complete its recommendations on the two-year anniversary next month.  The goal is to provide the Board of Supervisors with the framework for a new ordinance to govern development activities in the mountainous areas of the county, also known as the mountain overlay district.

At this meeting, it was evident that the Committee reached a breakthrough point of consensus on the draft ordinance framework as outlined in the "straw proposal" under review by the members.  Fred Scott (Bundoran Farm) described it as "one of the clearest and most succinct documents I have ever read."  He predicted it would be openly received by the public as a reasonable mountaintop protection proposal.  Jeff Werner (Piedmont Environmental Council) described how he felt significant compromises had been made to get this far along.  Yet, the committee seemed to think those compromises had resulted in a proposal they could all support. 

The remaining concerns are scheduled to be addressed in a final committee meeting on April 7th to prepare for a presentation to the Supervisors, tentatively scheduled for May 10th.

This recording by Charlottesville Tomorrow has the call to order by Committee Co-Chair Harry Levins, a presentation of the so called "straw proposal" for the ordinance by Committee Co-Chair Jon Cannon, now a new member of the Albemarle County Planning Commission, followed by the Committee's discussion.

Listen to podcast: Download 20060308-MOD-Committee.mp3

Brian Wheeler

March 07, 2006

Mountaintop Protection Proposals

Sqrural2bwAlbemarle County's Mountain Overlay District Committee will be meeting tomorrow, after a long hiatus between meetings, to discuss a new proposal for creation of a mountaintop protection ordinance.

Meeting Info: Wednesday, March 8th, 4:00 PM * County Mountain Overlay District Committee meeting. County Office Building (McIntire Road) Room 235.

Online resources: Mountain Overlay District website and the "Straw Proposal" being reviewed at meeting

From the document...

Straw Proposal for Consideration by the Albemarle County Mountain Overlay District Committee

This straw proposal was prepared to assist in the further deliberations of Albemarle County’s Mountain Overlay District Committee.

Proposal for a Mountain Protection Program

The Mountain Overlay District (MOD) Committee recommends a three-part program to protect the economic, cultural, and natural resources of Albemarle County’s mountains. The recommended program includes: a mountain ordinance focused on protecting the MOD environment; principles that would mandate and govern Rural Cluster Subdivisions in the mountains; and public acquisition of interests in land...

Brian Wheeler