• Charlottesville Tomorrow
    News Center

    The articles on this blog were published during 2005-2012. All of this content has been moved to our new website at www.cvilletomorrow.org
    © 2005-12 Charlottesville Tomorrow
    Our photos have some rights reserved.


September 21, 2010

County planners debate decreased resources for community engagement

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Members of the Albemarle County Planning Commission expressed concern last week that public bodies created to oversee the county’s master plans will be less effective now that budget cuts have forced them to meet less often.

“This is not a very good idea,” said Tom Loach, chair of the planning commission. “As far as I’m concerned, the advisory council has been indispensible in helping make decisions in my district because that’s where I get my feedback from.”

Download 20100914-APC-Community-Engagement


Lee Catlin, the county’s community relations manager, said the reduction is due to dwindling financial resources and is not a reflection they are no longer needed.

“It was pretty clearly stated during the budget process last year… that support to master planning advisory councils would be reduced,” said Catlin. She said no one from the councils spoke up during this year’s budget process to make the case for sustained funding. As a result, a community engagement position in her office was eliminated, as well as three positions in the planning department.

The Board of Supervisors endorsed the changes at their meeting on September 1.

When both the Crozet and Pantops master plans were adopted, advisory councils were created to provide a way for citizens to have a say in how those plans were implemented. However, their mission has been reduced because of county budget cutbacks.

“Each of the councils [will] meet three times a year,” said Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning. “There [will] also be an annual meeting of all the councils together.”

The councils are public bodies, and as such fall under Virginia’s open meeting laws which require publicly advertised meetings and the keeping of minutes. No more than two members of a public body are allowed to meet and discuss public business without following those regulations.

County Attorney Larry Davis advised the board of supervisors earlier this month that council members had to be aware of these obligations in any forum where they are meeting when more than two members are present, even if it is at a local community association gathering, a meeting not convened by the county.

Loach said that when the Crozet master plan was originally adopted, the community accepted it because they were told a full-time community planner would assist with its implementation. However, over time that person has been moved to deal with rezoning due to budget cuts.

“If there’s a lot of development activity as a result of either the master plan or the economic stimulus plan, then these advisory councils may need to more regular,” Loach said.

The Village of Rivanna is the latest growth area to have an adopted master plan, but a council has not been created at this time due to a lack of current development there. However, key stakeholders will be invited to the annual meeting.

Commissioner Linda Porterfield said there are already significant problems her constituents and staff, and added it was inconsistent to treat her growth area different from that of Pantops and Crozet.

“We need communication, and if we lose communication, we’re in real trouble,” Porterfield said.  She also objected to supervisors signing off on the changes before the commission had a chance to weigh in.

Cilimberg pointed out that the adopted master plan for the Village of Rivanna anticipated a low level of development in the short-term.

“We have a capital program with essentially no money for initiatives,” Cilimberg said. “The Board is bombarded with a multitude of budget considerations and demands and balancing that against a constituency that does not want to see increases in their taxes,” Cilimberg said. “At some point the reality strikes and that’s our reality right now.”

The Board of Supervisors will consider the Places29 Master Plan in November.

March 09, 2010

Board begins process of amending proposed $293.8 million budget

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has begun amending County Executive Bob Tucker’s proposed $293.8 million budget for the next fiscal year. The Board is reviewing all areas of the budget during a series of four work sessions between now and next Wednesday.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100308-BOS-Work-Session1a

Monday’s session covered general government, and each Supervisor had the chance to suggest changes in the form of new cuts or increased spending on various initiatives.  By state law, the board must pass a balanced budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year which starts on July 1st.

Tucker’s budget reflects a $10.3 million decrease in county expenditures. One-time spending cuts range from $21,000 by reducing landscaping on county property to $100,000 by contracting out custodial services. 

“This recommended budget comes with some difficult and painful choices that change services in our community,” Tucker said.

Other cuts are more structural, particularly in reductions to the county administration and the community development department. The majority of the county’s 78 frozen or eliminated positions come from these two areas.

20100308-Foley Deputy County Executive Tom Foley leads Supervisors through the budget section by section
“We’ve been very responsive to the need to improve our operations and become more efficient, but our changes have also positioned our operations for the future by restructuring and reallocating staff to core responsibility,” said Deputy County Executive Tom Foley.

The impact of those cuts will likely be felt in the county’s efforts to guide development in its growth areas.

The Board of Supervisors has adopted two master plans (Crozet and Pantops) and action is pending on two more (Places29 and Village of Rivanna).

Assistant County Executive Bryan Elliot said the county may no longer have the resources to coordinate community input on how to prioritize the construction of new community infrastructure. For instance, the Pantops Advisory Committee has already cut back to quarterly meetings according to Supervisor Ken Boyd.

Supervisor Dennis Rooker said this trend would reduce the effectiveness of the master planning efforts.

“It troubles me that we’re cutting back so significantly in that area that we’re not going to do what may be necessary to effectively implement [the Places29 master plan],” Rooker said.

Foley said the Board will eventually need to decide what level of community engagement will go to support the plans.

“This is probably the best time for us to be scaling back, but once the [plans] are finished, and those committees are formed, it’s going to drive some demand,” Foley said.

Additionally, the county’s transportation planner has been reassigned to another department because there are no funds in the capital improvement program for new projects.

20100308-BOS-wide Supervisors listen as details of budget are presented by county staff
Supervisor Ann Mallek asked for more information on why the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation is set to receive $6,000, claiming that the county pays the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission to perform similar work.

A growing part of the proposed budget is a 4.4% increase for the county’s finance department. This includes the unfreezing of a business auditor position in county government to focus on tax collection in order to help secure new revenues. The concept was accepted by Supervisors.

The Board will discuss the school budget during Wednesday’s work session, and the capital improvement program next Monday. The amended budget will then be presented to the public on March 31.


  • 01:00 - County Executive Bob Tucker begins review of the proposed budget
  • 02:30 - Tucker lays out the philosophy behind how cuts were made
  • 06:50 - Tucker explains budget process to new Supervisors
  • 08:02 - Richard Wiggins explains why revenues are down
  • 13:30 - Supervisor Boyd asks a question about transfers between CIP and operating budgets
  • 18:22 - Wiggins outlines some of the factors that contribute to expenditure increases
  • 22:00 - Deputy County Executive Tom Foley describes cuts to general government
  • 25:30 - Discussion begins on frozen positions
  • 29:00 - Discussion of cuts to Board of Supervisor's office
  • 31:00 - Discussion of cuts to County Executive's office
  • 32:00 - Rooker questions Chamber of Commerce support of political advertising
  • 35:40 - Foley describes the purpose of unfreezing a business auditor position
  • 40:30 - Foley describes savings associated with eliminating Microsoft enterprise agreement
  • 41:00 - Discussion of funding for a primary election if one is necessary in 2011
  • 42:30 - Discussion of how stormwater position might be paid for
  • 43:30 - Discussion of contracting out custodial services
  • 48:30 - Foley discusses service impacts
  • 50:00 - Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier asks question about property assessments
  • 53:30 - Supervisor Ken Boyd asks about potential increases to City-County fire contract
  • 55:30 - County spokeswoman Lee Catlin describes marketing efforts for ACE
  • 57:50 - Supervisor Duane Snow asks what temperature the heat is on in county buildings, rental of county buildings
  • 1:02:15 - Thomas asks how revenue sharing payments will increase or decrease in the next few years
  • 1:03:30 - Dorrier asks about reduction in line item for community relations
  • 1:05:30 - Discussion of master planning efforts
  • 1:12:15 - Snow calls for county to reduce printing of documents
  • 1:14:30 - Foley moves discussion to Community Development Department budget
  • 1:19:30 - Boyd asks if school system is creating ongoing positions using stimulus money
  • 1:27:45 - Foley moves discussion to Facilities Development Department
  • 1:29:30 - Foley begins discussion of agencies funded by Community Development
  • 1:31:30 - Mallek requests information on what ACCT does for its funding
  • 1:34:10 - Dorrier asks about the amount the county pays for CTS
  • 1:38:30 - Elliot lists some of the cumulative impacts of service reduction
  • 1:39:00 - Rooker discusses the value of having local enforcement of environmental issues
  • 1:43:30 - Rooker asks about stream buffer enforcement
  • 1:47:00 - Foley says providing staff for boards and commissions will be a challenge in the future
  • 1:48:15 - Foley explains how $350,000 in transportation funding will go to pay for ACE for one year
  • 1:51:00 - Foley talks about how master planning is going to be affected

November 30, 2009

Political problems on Pantops

This article is the second in a four-part series on the future of Route 250 published jointly by The Daily Progress and Charlottesville Tomorrow.
Part two is published here by permission of The Daily Progress.
Part: One, Two, Three, Four
By Rachana Dixit
The Daily Progress
Monday, November 30, 2009

Albemarle County resident Hank Bourguignon has a blunt assessment of the traffic situation outside of the home he has lived in for more than 10 years: nothing will be done, and the problem will persist.

“I will be in my grave before there are solutions to these problems,” said Bourguignon, who lives in the Fontana subdivision on Pantops Mountain and sits on the board of directors of its homeowners association.

Determining how traffic on U.S. 250 on and around Pantops in Albemarle, and subsequently on the U.S. 250 Bypass in Charlottesville, can be relieved is in a deadlock not only from a lack of finances.

City and county leaders for years have been unable to compromise or take unified steps to alleviate the congestion that, all of those involved agree, is only going to get worse, especially as large developments such as the new Martha Jefferson Hospital set up shop.

“[The] Pantops area is booming, and yet, even before a lot of the recent growth, there already were bottlenecks there,” Mayor Dave Norris said. Referring to county officials, he added, “They never should have allowed the rate of growth we’re seeing in that part of the county.”

In 2000, 30,000 vehicles traveled daily on the road between the city’s eastern edge and Route 20, a 0.2-mile section. That number increased to 52,000 last year, according to Virginia Department of Transportation traffic counts.

County officials say that to help traffic on U.S. 250 on Pantops, two major things should be looked into - building another crossing over the river into the city and widening the bypass.

“The city needs to get over it,” said David L. Slutzky, chairman of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. “That route needs to be widened.”

The Pantops master plan says housing units nearly tripled since 1996 and roughly 300 acres were developed or redeveloped for commercial use. Like the other documents done for county growth areas, it includes an extensive list of transportation recommendations intended to allay congestion on U.S. 250.

It also acknowledges that regional coordination and funding will be necessary to address traffic on Pantops and on U.S. 250 to the Fluvanna County line.

“That’s Richmond’s job, to fund the necessary infrastructure,” Slutzky said of the state government’s role to provide financing for transportation projects.

Interchange expected to help flow on U.S. 250 Bypass

A $32.5 million interchange project in Charlottesville is likely to be the only major road improvement that will be seen on U.S. 250 or the U.S. 250 Bypass anytime soon.

The structure, to be located at the U.S. 250 Bypass and McIntire Road, will function as the endpoint of the controversial Meadowcreek Parkway. The 2-mile road begins at East Rio Road in Albemarle and will connect to the interchange in Charlottesville by going through McIntire Park.

While City Council members recently voiced concerns about pedestrians and bicyclists having sufficient amenities as a part of the interchange project, they are expected to take a vote on the final design before the end of the year.

A timeline projects that the Commonwealth Transportation Board will approve the interchange this winter, and construction would begin in the spring of 2011.

City officials say the mostly federally funded road improvement will help to allay bypass traffic, which has been steadily creeping up.

“Traffic is growing at a pretty good rate on that road, and it’s going to deteriorate as long as it keeps doing that,” said Jim Tolbert, director of Charlottesville’s Neighborhood Development Services.

Charlottesville traffic projections for 2030 - which assume that the city’s portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway will be built - estimate that 25,075 vehicles will travel per day on the bypass between U.S. 29 and Hydraulic Road, that 48,750 will move between McIntire Road and Park Street and that 50,350 vehicles will drive daily between Locust Avenue and High Street. Those figures are an increase from the 23,000, 36,000 and 38,000 vehicles, respectively, seen on those segments on average last year.

Tolbert said that not having a typical intersection at the U.S. 250 Bypass and McIntire Road will help congestion there somewhat by not allowing it to get worse. But, he said, “it won’t do anything for the flow at Free Bridge.”

The city expects that 56,400 vehicles will move daily across Free Bridge roughly 20 years from now. And officials agree that they do not know how that bottleneck, and others along U.S. 250, will ultimately be relieved.

“I don’t know that there is an easy answer to any of this,” Mayor Dave Norris said.

According to a list of projects from UnJAM 2035, the area’s long-range transportation plan, the U.S. 250 corridor improvements that are called for in the master plan alone would cost $42.1 million. Adopted in March 2008, the plan says improvements should provide for a Hansen Mountain Road connector; additional sidewalks and bike paths; more transit; widening U.S. 250 on Pantops (but not to more than six lanes); and another Rivanna River crossing into Charlottesville, among a slew of other ideas.

A 2004 study on the eastern part of U.S. 250 also suggested that park-and-ride lots be built at Interstate 64 and at Route 616.

According to building activity reports, Albemarle County issued building permits for 835 new residential units in the Pantops area between 1999 and this year’s third quarter, which ended in September. The largest number came in 2001, when the county issued permits for 11 single-family homes and 265 multi-family units.

Additionally, according to county development activity reports that were kept from 1999 to 2003, which gauged serious development interests, there was nearly 770,000 square feet in major non-residential site plans for Pantops signed off on by county leaders.

“It’s a bottleneck now, obviously,” Bourguignon said of Free Bridge. “If there were a crossing of the river somewhere behind where State Farm is, going over to downtown Charlottesville, you’d divert so much traffic. But nothing will be done.”

Grant Cosner remembers when there was no U.S. 250 Bypass and when the same stretch that runs through Pantops was only two lanes.

“High Street was also two lanes, of course,” Cosner said on a recent afternoon from his auto body shop.

The Cosner Bros. Body Shop has been at its Charlottesville High Street location, where Free Bridge is in plain view, for 53 years. In that time the business has witnessed a substantial evolution of the corridor, as growth on Pantops has exploded and thousands use U.S. 250 to go to work, to shop and to get home.

“I think it’s all been good. I also think the bypass was a really good thing,” said Cosner, who takes U.S. 250 in his 50-minute roundtrip commute to and from the Shadwell area.

VDOT’s average annual daily traffic counts show that while traffic volumes are high on the U.S. 250 Bypass in Charlottesville between Emmet Street and the city’s eastern line, the vehicular increases vary depending on the segment of road.

In 2000, the 0.42-mile segment of the bypass from Hydraulic Road to Dairy Road saw 39,000 vehicles per day, and the figure increased to 43,000 last year. Generally, excluding the Free Bridge area, counts jumped between 1,000 and 4,000 vehicles from 2000 to 2008.

Jim Tolbert, Charlottesville’s director of Neighborhood Development Services, said congestion on U.S. 250 is certainly an issue because of the bottlenecks residents sit through at particular times of the day.

“Is it a massive issue? No, but 250 is an area where traffic is increasing. We know that, so it’s got to have some attention,” he said.

Charlottesville officials, however, say they have no interest in taking measures such as widening the bypass. Tolbert said he would love to see the city and county come to a mutually acceptable solution, “But I don’t think there’s any interest in a solution that just puts the burden on city streets.”

“We are not going to be the conduit of traffic for the whole region,” said City Council member Satyendra Huja, who sits on the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The refusals are mutual. City officials say they want to see Albemarle pursue an eastern connector, a road whose feasibility was jointly studied by the localities. After studying the road for nearly two years, the recommended alignment to relieve the most congestion was to connect Route 20 with Rio Road by going through Pen Park.

But last year, the county Board of Supervisors decided to hold off on studying the road more until it had more data on traffic patterns.

The City Council eventually followed suit, even though city staff recommended the county study two of the proposed routes in more detail and that the route move forward if located outside city limits.

After getting new data, “maybe we can take another look at it,” said Albemarle Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd, who said he is not opposed to building an eastern connector.

Some city and county leaders have relentlessly advocated for a more robust transit system that is not downtown Charlottesville-centric, yet a lack of state funding and the inability to raise large amounts of local revenues have, for now, essentially tabled that idea, as well.

Steve Williams, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, said achieving agreements between the two localities must begin with a neutral party doing technical work at the staff level that all parties can trust. Once that is in place, the localities must define the issues they face and the benefits they could accrue from various solutions.

Williams said, in his view, the traffic troubles that plague Free Bridge and parts of Pantops are not a capacity problem, but one that could be helped through intersection improvements. On expanding transit, Williams said, “There’s just not enough capacity for transit to be the entire solution.”

Slutzky said that the county has largely addressed what it can about the future of U.S. 250 through its multiple master plans, which all have their own transportation recommendations. But he has suggested doing a master plan for the entire area as a way to help officials reach the consensus needed to solve the area’s traffic problems.

“It would be our product, our common solutions, about what would work best,” he said. But concerns about how much such a plan would cost, and limited local resources to collaborate regionally, made it so the idea never got traction.

“Nobody ever talks about it,” Slutzky said.

Norris said to solve the problem, he thinks it will have to come from those residents who have to constantly deal with the pressures of growth and its effect on U.S. 250. Once they voice their concerns and demand that action be taken, maybe then elected officials would come around.

Pantops resident Bourguignon only sees more talk.

“Let us be frank. How long has it taken to get the Meadowcreek Parkway off the ground?” he asked. “They’ve been talking and talking and talking and planning and planning and planning and fighting and fighting and fighting for what, 35 or 40 years?”

November 06, 2009

Crozet streetscape grant prompts questions about County’s capital projects budget

By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, November 6, 2009

Crozet-streetscape The streetscape improvements are called for in the Crozet Master Plan

In the face of significant revenue shortfalls, Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) said Wednesday that at least some projects in the County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) should be scrutinized to see if public investment is still warranted. Earlier this year, the County removed $100 million  from the program through FY2014 in order to balance the five-year financial plan. This week, supervisors were told to expect another $100 million in project cuts and to prepare for a heavily revised capital budget focusing only on maintenance and debt service.

The topic came up during a public hearing on an application for a $250,000 grant from the federal government to help pay for streetscape improvements in downtown Crozet. The County has previously received $300,000 in transportation enhancement money (TEA-21) for previous phases of the project. The money will pay for sidewalks, drainage improvements, decorative lights and benches.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20091104-BOS-Crozet

The total cost of the project is around $2.5 million, according to Albemarle County’s Chief Planner, David Benish. If awarded the grant, the County will pay for around 80 percent of the project with taxpayer dollars. Benish said the Crozet streetscape is one of the higher priority recommendations called for in the Crozet Master Plan.

Boyd expressed concern at the amount of money that the County has invested in the project. He said he was not sure if this was appropriate spending given the County’s ongoing budget issues.

“We have two master plans, and we seem to forget about the other one at Pantops that has absolutely no funding for it,” said Boyd. “At the same time, we’re throwing millions of dollars into Crozet.”  Meanwhile, he pointed out that improvements called for in the Pantops Master Plan have not yet been funded.

Benish said many of the Pantops improvements are anticipated to be paid for with proffers from developers such as intersection improvements and at least $1 million in sidewalk improvements. Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) pointed out that the Crozet Master Plan was adopted five years ago, whereas the Pantops Master Plan was only adopted in March 2008.

“Wait until we get to Places29 and the tab for infrastructure we’re going to have there,” Slutzky said.
Boyd said he wondered how many previous decisions on capital spending will need to be reconsidered as the County’s budget climate continues to worsen .

Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) said once the County begins to apply for grants for projects, it cannot break that kind of commitment.

County Attorney Larry Davis said if the project is not finished, the County would have to return the other $300,000 received through the federal program.

The Board voted 6-0 to support the grant application. Boyd said he could support this application, but that he wanted to apply more scrutiny during the development of the FY2011 CIP.

“I’m going to ask as part of the CIP oversight committee review that we look at these multi-millions worth of monies that are sitting around for previously approved projects and whether or not we can continue to do those,” Boyd said. However, he acknowledged that projects that are tied to grant funds will likely have to go forward.

September 17, 2009

County planners clear way for Pantops fire station despite community concerns

DailyProgress By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Albemarle County Planning Commission has endorsed one potential location for a new fire station in the Pantops area, despite concerns by one Commissioner that the one acre site will use up land designated as open space.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20090915-Pantops-Fire-Station

The owners of Peter Jefferson Place have offered to donate the land to the County to build the Pantops Fire Station. A maintenance shed and sewer pump station currently occupy the site, which is otherwise considered open space.

The proposal is to build a 7,500 square feet building, which would include space for living quarters and bays for a fire engine and an ambulance. The facility would be smaller than the Hollymead and Monticello stations operated by the County. The station would be staffed by County employees during the day and volunteers at night.

Commissioners Linda Porterfield, Cal Morris and Tom Loach
In order to accept the land, the Planning Commission needed to confirm whether the site would conform to the County’s comprehensive plan. Planning Commissioner Cal Morris (Rivanna), a member of the Pantops Community Advisory Council, took the opportunity to discuss one concern of that group.

“The Pantops steering committee is extremely concerned that this is going to take away from our green space,” Morris said. “Green space in the Pantops area is very, very precious.”

Commissioners weighed the merits of open space versus a need to improve fire service in one of the County’s designated growth areas.

Chairman Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) said the County has a goal for five-minute response times, which are currently not met in the Pantops area. “In order to reach this goal, we need more facilities,” Strucko said.

Fire service in the Pantops area is currently provided by the City of Charlottesville on a contract basis, with back-up from the East Rivanna Volunteer Fire Company near Glenmore. In 2007, the City averaged a ten minute response time to Pantops.

Albemarle pays Charlottesville up to $800,000 a year for the service. The current contract expires in 2013, and Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston said the price will likely increase if the County wants to renew.

 “We have on the one hand trying to achieve that five minute goal, and on the other hand we have to replace that consistent [response by an] engine company that comes out of the City,” Eggleston said. “We feel like this is the best bet at this point.”

The fire station is to be built near this maintenance shed, according to Fire Chief Eggleston
Ron Lilley, a project manager in the County’s facilities development office, said similar sites that would allow the County to meet the response time goal would cost between $1 and $3 million. The County had previously budgeted $2.7 million to purchase land and to do site work and engineering.  With a land donation, the overall projects costs are significantly reduced. The fire station is now estimated to cost $3 million, according to Lilley.

“It seems to me that it’s prudent for us to do something good for the taxpayers,” said Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville). “If the money is there and we can build a fire station on a free piece of land, it just seems like that’s the thing to do.”

Eggleston said the station would be built behind the existing maintenance shed, and every attempt would be made to blend it into the landscape. If the project moves forward, station is expected to open by April 2013.

The six Commissioners present voted unanimously to declare the site as being consistent with the comprehensive plan. Next, Albemarle County staff will continue to pursue the transaction with Peter Jefferson Place and to secure funding from the Board of Supervisors as part of the County’s capital budget.


  • 01:00 – Staff report from David Benish, County’s Chief of Planning
  • 10:00 – Ron Lilley of the Albemarle County Office of Facilities
  • 10:30 – Planning Commissioner Cal Morris asks Lilley if there are any other suitable sites
  • 12:10 – Fire Chief Dan Eggleston responds to Morris’ concern about losing green space
  • 17:00 – Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) asks question about response times
  • 21:30 – Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) asks question about continuing paying the City
  • 26:00 – Loach asks Eggleston if homeowner’s insurance rates will go up if there is not service

September 09, 2009

Pantops advisory council shares concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety

DailyProgressBy Tarpley Ashworth
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When the Pantops Master Plan was adopted in March 2008, the Pantops Community Advisory Council (PCAC) was created to oversee its implementation. The council now sees challenges similar to those facing all of the County’s master plans, how to pay for infrastructure to support a growing community.  Two of its members recently gave an update to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors at their meeting last week.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20090902-BOS-Pantops

PCAC representative Rita Krenz said the citizen council’s main goal is to increase communication between all the players in the Pantops area to ensure that their voices are heard by county leaders. She reported that one of the continued struggles among Pantops pedestrians is the incomplete sidewalk network.

20090902-Krenz-Morris Rita Krenz and Cal Morris, members of the
Pantops Community Advisory Council
“If you’re on [Route] 250 in front of Applebee’s and you look left down the hill, best of luck to you,” said Krenz. “If you’re standing in front of the Rite Aid and look to your right, there is also no sidewalk there, either.”

Another area of concern for the council is traffic congestion, particularly during peak periods. PCAC has been encouraging Pantops businesses to institute and promote ride sharing programs to relieve traffic jams. The council also expressed anxiety about approved housing developments that will bring additional cars to the community’s roads.

PCAC member Cal Morris, who also represents the Rivanna District on the Albemarle County Planning Commission, informed the board that PCAC has identified the problems, but needs the board’s assistance on finding, and funding, solutions.

“We’re realizing that [with] the traffic situation… [there’s] not a heck of a lot we can do. We’re trying to look at ways to make it pedestrian [and] bike friendly. [But] how do you get across 250? We can’t do that for ourselves,” said Morris.

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) raised the question of how to pay for such improvements in the Pantops area, such as crosswalks and bike lanes on Route 250.

“The only way we have to really pay for additional infrastructure is to raise taxes. If the community is not interested in that, and I haven’t heard anybody telling me that they want their taxes raised in Pantops, then I want to make sure they understand that this is just a wish list,” said Slutzky.

Slutzky told the advisory council that it would be helpful to the board if PCAC discussed potential methods to pay for the requested improvements.

“We’re in a mode where people say we’d like the infrastructure, end of sentence,” said Slutzky. He added that funding should also play an important part in planning discussions, which it often fails to do.

Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna) clarified that PCAC was not creating wish lists for the county to finance, but was simply asking for fair treatment relative to other communities such as Crozet and Places29.

“They [PCAC] want fair treatment on any kind of capital improvement dollars that are spent,” said Boyd. “I’ve not heard anybody say anything about raising taxes to do this.” Boyd also said that PCAC has been in communication with Pantops businesses to develop private-public partnerships to solve these issues, but realized, too, that the current economic conditions placed many constraints on the possibilities at this time.

Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) suggested the possibility of creating a midday shuttle bus to service all of the major commercial spots that people travel to during their lunch hour.

“I’m always impressed with the noontime road blocks on Pantops, and I don’t know where people are all going at noontime,” said Thomas.

Another priority for the PCAC is to investigate creating a trailhead for a nature trail on a tract of land on South Pantops Drive. According to Krenz this particular tract was designated in the Pantops master plan as green space. No member of either the PCAC or the Board of Supervisors knew definitively who currently owned the land, but Albemarle County Director of Planning Wayne Cilimberg guessed it probably was owned by Virginia Land Corp.

Members of the PCAC said that they would look into the ownership issue further and continue discussion about the site of the potential new trailhead.

Morris said that while the PCAC has much work to do, it is essential for the council to promote conversations between everyone concerned with the future of Pantops. “Communication is our top priority, and we’re just starting to crack that nut,” said Morris.


  • 01:00 – Supervisor Ken Boyd introduces Pantops Community Advisory Council (PCAC)
  • 03:03 – PCAC begins presentation to Board of Supervisors
  • 12:27 – Supervisor Rooker questions who owns potential green space19:41 – Rooker asks about public park in the center of the new Martha Jefferson Hospital
  • 20:25 – Supervisor Thomas encourages PCAC to communicate with surrounding neighborhoods not on Pantops
  • 21:05 – Supervisor Mallek suggests PCAC looking at Crozet citizen survey for ideas
  • 22:13 – Supervisor Slutzky asks whether PCAC has examined payments for requested infrastructure
  • 22:39 – Albemarle County Planning Commissioner Cal Morris answers that PCAC doesn’t clearly have the funds, so they are focusing on what they can do for themselves
  • 23:52 – Slutzky asks how requests from PCAC can be funded
  • 24:44 – Morris says items requests were identified in Pantops Master Plan
  • 25:20 – Slutzky says that the only way to pay for improvements is to raise taxes
  • 26:22 – Boyd says that PCAC wants fair treatment with revenue allocations for improvements
  • 27:01 – Slutzky clarifies that PCAC needs to discuss funding questions
  • 27:43 – Boyd says that 250 needs are more of a state problem than a local problem
  • 28:13 – Rooker asks if businesses have been engaged about green space issue
  • 28:53 – Rooker asks if missing sidewalks were in the plan
  • 29:27 – Krenz says that some are planned and funded, and some are just listed in the Pantops master plan
  • 31:57 – Slutzky suggests looking at UVA Architecture study on pedestrian crossings
  • 32:19 – Thomas suggests special shuttle buses run on Pantops around midday to ease traffic congestion
  • 33:11 – Boyd says that State Farm employees do not have much interest in shuttle service
  • 33:39 – Slutzky suggest talking to homeowners association about potential midday shuttle bus


January 21, 2009

County planners grant waiver for 125-unit complex on Pantops if developer provides affordable homes

Condo-mapThe Albemarle County Planning Commission has granted a critical slopes waiver that will allow a 125-unit condominium complex to be built on South Pantops Drive. The Commission granted approval despite the project’s lack of conformity with the Pantops Master Plan, which calls for open space to be preserved at the location. The comprehensive plan designation for the land changed when the County Board of Supervisors adopted the Pantops Master Plan in March 2008. However, the existing zoning is R-15, allowing for Charles Hurt’s Virginia Land Trust to construct 7 buildings at the location.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20090120-APC-Pantops

County staff recommended a denial of the critical slopes waiver.  The application was called before the Planning Commission because a portion of the preliminary site plan involves the disturbance of critical slopes. That requires an applicant to ask for a waiver.

County Planner Patrick Lawrence told the Commission that the County’s open space policy discourages the disturbance of critical slopes so close to streams and waterways. He added that the retaining walls that will be required “may present an aesthetic problem looking up from the river to the property itself.”  However, the Planning Commission previously approved a different site plan for the property back in January 2005.

The applicant is proposing that the project will connect trails that are currently not linked to the rest of the Pantops area. Lawrence said the County’s Parks and Recreation Department are working to finalize how the project’s trails and other amenities would be connected.

Kelly Strickland of Dominion Development Resources represented the applicant and said the project would be close to two major employment centers – State Farm Insurance and the new Martha Jefferson Hospital. He referred to the Pantops Master Plan’s call for housing units to be located close to jobs to encourage people to walk to work. 

“There’s going to be a proportion of affordable units in this site plan,” Strickland said. Because the developer is not seeking a rezoning, the County cannot seek a proffer, or voluntary contribution, that 15 percent of the units be designated as affordable. He said the plan conformed to the spirit of the Pantops Master Plan because it protects views of Pantops from Monticello, it would construct a greenway along the Rivanna River, and because of the access to jobs. 

Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) said that because the site plan needed a critical slopes waiver, he could not consider it a by-right development.

“You could avoid building on the critical slopes by building a smaller project,” Edgerton said. He asked Strickland if he would be willing to proffer that 15 percent of the units be designated as affordable. Strickland said he could not make that decision on behalf of the property owner, who was not present at the public hearing.

Commissioner Cal Morris (Rivanna) said the property owner never came forward to protest the fact that the land was designated as open space during the Pantops master planning process.

Condo-style   Illustrative rendering of how the condos will look (Source: County staff report)

“That concerns me, especially when we do not have compliance with the affordable housing element of it,” Morris said. Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) said she was concerned that affordable housing elements could not be guaranteed. She said County planners have been anticipating the property would undeveloped ever since the County developed its open space policy in the early 1990’s.

Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) said she could support the project because of the need for housing for those with moderate incomes, and because other condominium complexes are nearby. She said the project’s trail connections would be a benefit to the County.

“I don’t know that it does the County a lot of good to keep the whole space unbuilt,” Porterfield said.
However, Joseph was unwilling to take Strickland’s word that there would be affordable housing. Edgerton said he would prefer to see an application that did not disturb critical slopes.

“I personally do not want to give them permission unless they’re willing to give us something back in return,” Edgerton said. “I would be willing to go against our opinion in the Pantops Master Plan because I think there would be a benefit to the community to have a component of affordable housing in this complex.”

Chairman Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) said he would also be open to going against the Pantops Master Plan if the affordable housing provision could be guaranteed. “We’ve seen condominiums of this sort sell for upwards of a million dollars a unit,” Strucko said. He also added that he would like to see sidewalks along South Pantops Boulevard so residents could walk to jobs at State Farm and Martha Jefferson.
Strucko suggested granting the waiver with conditions. Edgerton made a motion to grant the waiver with the condition that 15 percent of units be affordable. Morris seconded and the vote was 6-0. Commissioner Jon Cannon (Rio) was not present. The proposal is not expected to come before the Board of Supervisors unless the applicant appeals the conditions.

Though he voted to grant the waiver, Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) said it was disingenuous for the County to have a master plan that did not conform to the property’s zoning. “I hate to think that the people in the Pantops area were depending on this remaining green space when in fact it was zoned R-15,” Loach said. “It seems to me that master plans should be based on reality.”

Sean Tubbs


  • 01:00 - Staff report from County Planner Patrick Lawrence
  • 05:30 - Comment from County Planner Bill Fritz regarding Pantops Master Plan designation
  • 07:00 - Commissioner Bill Edgerton asks if areas that can't be built on can be included in DUA
  • 09:00 - Commissioner Calvin Morris asks question about possibility of more than 125 units
  • 10:00 - Edgerton asks why project is not consistent with Pantops Master Plan
  • 11:30 - Presentation by Kelly Strickland of Dominion Development Resources on behalf of the applicant
  • 22:20 - Question from Commissioner Tom Loach regarding affordable housing provisions
  • 23:00 - Edgerton asks Strickland if he would proffer that 15 percent of units be "affordable"
  • 24:30 - Commissioner Marcia Joseph asks about the location of a retaining wall
  • 25:30 - Strickland points out that owner is not obligated to provide greenway connections
  • 28:00 - Bill Fritz points out that a previous site plan involving critical slopes disturbance was approved in January 2005
  • 30:30 - Joseph said she is bothered that affordable housing cannot be guaranteed
  • 32:15 - Comments from Commissioner Linda Porterfield
  • 36:30 - Comments from Commissioner Bill Edgerton
  • 38:30 - Comments from Commissioner Eric Strucko
  • 40:10 - Comments from Commissioner Loach
  • 40:50 - Porterfield says she assumes there will be one-bedroom apartments for sale in the complex
  • 44:00 - Morris says if the affordable housing provisions aren't "proffered" they won't happen
  • 45:00 - Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner explains how the Commission can grant waiver on conditions
  • 47:30 - Loach comments that it is disingenuous to have a master plan that does not match reality
  • 50:30 - Edgerton makes a motion

January 14, 2009

County planners review $100 million reduction to capital projects

Albemarle County’s five year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) could be shrunk from $239 million to $138 million due to declines in government revenue from taxes, proffers and grants.  The County Planning Commission heard a report from the CIP Oversight Committee at their meeting on January 13, 2009.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20090113-APC-CIP

CIP-recommendations Committee member Bill Letteri, who works as the County’s Director of Facilities Development, said reductions in County revenues have meant fewer dollars are being transferred into the capital budget. As such, only one program has been added to the program this year, and that is the County’s contribution to the expansion of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The Board of Supervisors directed staff last year to reduce the amount transferred from general revenue to the capital budget by an equivalent of 3 cents of the tax rate. Two cents of that had been dedicated to transportation, the Acquisition of Conservation Easements program and other infrastructure projects. The CIP is also not receiving as much money from proffers and grants. The reduction in funding will cut over $100 million worth of projects that had previously been programmed, from all areas of County government.

Letteri said the public works section of the CIP was cut to a level that would allow the County’s infrastructure to be maintained, but there will be no expansions. Letteri said reduction to the neighborhood plan implementation would leave enough money to pay for components of the Crozet and Pantops Master Plans, but not other plans such as those for Places29 and the Village of Rivanna.

“Everything that we’re doing to the CIP is about either deferring projects or in some cases eliminating them,” Letteri said, adding that the County would need to increase its level of borrowing in order to maintain even the reductions. He recommended changing the County’s debt policy to encourage projects that can leverage outside funds.

One project getting scrutiny is the County's contribution to the new YMCA facility being design for McIntire Park in Charlottesville. The committee suggested moving a $1.25 million project to help pay for  a competitive swimming pool at the YMCA outside of the five-year CIP as the County is currently reviewing other proposals for improved swimming facilities from Crozet Park and from Star Swimming (Fairview Pool). The Board has also previously committed another $2 million to support the construction of the facility, but that contribution is not programmed in the CIP. 

The proposed amendments to the CIP also push back construction of a replacement for Northside library to at least FY2014. The facility’s current lease expires sometime during FY13, so staff is currently negotiating an extension.

Projects suggested for deferral from five-year CIP:

  • Replacements for voting machines ($394,000)
  • Pantops Fire Station ($6.5 million)
  • Ivy Fire Station
  • Crozet community park ($2 million)
  • Northside Library replacement facility ($17 million)
  • $1.25 million commitment to fund competitive swimming at YMCA until alternatives can be reviewed

Projects suggested for elimination:

  • Climate Protection Program ($1,016,000)
  • North Fork Rivanna Natural Area ($114,000)

Other reductions:

  • Funding for implementation of Neighborhood Plans reduced by $3 million
  • Roadway landscaping reduced by $1.1 million
  • Sidewalk construction reduced by $1.1 million
  • Transportation funding cut by $10 million due to elimination of specific capital transfer
  • County’s contribution to ACE reduced by 50%, saving $4.6 million
  • Funding for stormwater program reduced by $3.7 million

Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) wanted to know if the cuts to master plans would mean that no further master plans be adopted. County Director of Planning Wayne Cilimberg said the money in the CIP for neighborhood plans would go to specific projects, and not the actual development of the plans themselves. He confirmed that implementation of Places29 could be delayed if there is no funding .

Edgerton also called for a restoration of funds for the ACE program. “One of the priorities of our comp plan is the preservation of the rural area and this is the only vehicle that’s been made available to the County,” Edgerton said.  His comments were echoed by Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large)

The Commission made no specific changes to the committee’s recommendations, which will go before the Board at a later date.

Fania Gordon & Sean Tubbs


  • 01:00 - Staff report from Bill Letteri , Facilities Development Manager for Albemarle County
  • 05:30 - Letteri details the County's policy on acquiring debt
  • 08:00 - Letteri details the differences between the adopted plan and the proposed changes
  • 22:30 - Leterri describes the delay to the YMCA contribution
  • 24:20 - Planning Commission begins questioning Letteri
  • 25:00 - Commissioner Marcia Joseph asks about the reduction of a "climate protection program" from CIP
  • 26:30 - Joseph asks what cuts to stormwater program will entail
  • 27:30 - Commissioner Bill Edgerton asks about cuts to neighborhood plan implementation 
  • 28:30 - Edgerton asks for details on cuts to sidewalk funding
  • 31:30 - Edgerton says he strongly supports restoration of funds for ACE
  • 33:20 - Chairman Eric Strucko asks about proffer contributions to capital fund
  • 36:30 - Strucko asks how decisions on capital transfer rate were made
  • 38:30 - Public hearing comment from County resident Sean Haggerty
  • 41:00 - Joseph seconds Edgerton's support for ACE

August 28, 2008

County Planning Commissioners give feedback on Riverside Village

 Conceptual drawing for Riverside Park

At their meeting on August 26, 2008, the Albemarle County Planning Commission spent an hour in a work session reviewing a proposed development in the Pantops Mountain area.  Riverside Village would be built on 18.6 acres between Free Bridge Lane and Route 20, north of Route 250.

The applicant, Dominion Development Resources (on behalf of Southland Homes), is seeking a rezoning from R-1 to Neighborhood Model District in order to build 102 residential units, 30,000 square feet of office space, and 5,000 square feet of retail. Up to 26 units can be built by right, if bonus density provisions are requested. The applicant also has requested a special use permit to allow for a portion of the flood plain to be filled in.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20080826-Riverside-Village

Planning staff sought input from the Planning Commission on several questions:

  • Are the proposed non-residential uses appropriate? The adopted Pantops Masters Plan calls for only 20,000 square feet of non-residential uses in a area designed to have “Neighborhood Density.”
  • Should additional land be dedicated for a public park and amenities, in addition to the public park being proffered by the applicant?
  • Is the scale of the proposed 5,000 square foot, 4 story mixed-use building in “Block 3” appropriate, given its proximity to the Rivanna River? The building will contain commercial space on the ground floor, with multi-family residences on the upper floors
  • Does the applicant’s proposed stormwater management plan meet the Commission’s expectations?

A previous work session was held in December 2007. Since then, the project has been slightly reduced in size, and less development is now planned in the flood plain. Regarding the special use permit, Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) said he did not think any of the flood plain should be developed at all.

“I don’t see any reason why they can’t pull this plan back a little bit just to really respect the flood plain and to really let nature take its course,” Edgerton said.

Kelly Strickland of Dominion Development Resources

Kelly Strickland with Dominion Development Resources said his firm has worked on developments along the river corridor, and wants to put a public space near the river.  He disagreed with staff’s interpretation of the Pantops Master Plan and felt that the limit of 20,000 square feet of commercial space shouldn’t apply to this project, because many of the individual businesses will be designed as buildings similar to the residences on site.  He asked the Commission to interpret this guidance as no more than 20,000 square feet per building.

Regarding Block 3, Strickland said there would be two or individual businesses in the space. He’d like to see a restaurant with a river overlook, as well as a canoe rental business or some other fitness-related operation. Strickland also said that he did not see the need for additional amenities in the development itself, given the proximity to Darden-Towe Park as well as the future park being donated to the County by the developers.  The type of amenities offered in the park will be decided by the Parks and Recreation Department after the rezoning has occurred.

Commissioner Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) agreed that the developer shouldn’t be required to build more amenities on-site, but did express the concern that the donation of the land in the flood plain as a public park might encourage it to be developed.  Strucko also said he was pleased to see the applicant willing to proffer the park, as well as to conform with the County’s affordable housing expectations. However, he was concerned that no cash proffers had been specified to assist with roads, schools and other infrastructure needs. He calculated that the applicant should pay just over $1 million to help offset infrastructure needs.

Wayne Cilimberg  said many developers are now making equivalent donations, rather than cash, in order to satisfy the County’s requirements. The Pantops Master Plan calls for a park in the general location of the development, so Cilimberg argued that Dominion Development Resources is providing something the County wants.

Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) said she could see the benefits to the park, even though it is in the flood plain. “It’s something that’s being given to the County, and I’m really happy to see that you’re facing the river instead of facing away,” Joseph said. “We’ve had so many of the areas along the Rivanna River thrown away, and it’s been the back door. In this you’re actually setting the stage here maybe for people who come after to actually use this river and this walkway so I appreciate that aspect.”

Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville) said she thought the residential density was too high for the site, and Edgerton agreed.  Commissioner Jon Cannon (Rio) said while he thought the density was an issue, the land is in the growth area.

Porterfield was concerned the applicant had not provided enough parking. Senior Planner Rebecca Ragsdale said she had asked for more information on the topic. Further information on the project’s impact on traffic volumes on Route 20 will be presented as the item makes its way through the planning process.

On the issue of the rain gardens, the Commission asked the developer to re-orient the buildings that face Route 20 so that they are parallel to the road, rather than being diagonal to the road. This will mean the rain gardens will be moved internal to the development.

Chairman Cal Morris (Rivanna) said he thought a four-story building against the river was “over-powering” but he could not decide if it was appropriate because the exact uses are not yet decided. Loach agreed and said he would rather see it lower. Ragsdale said only the ground floor would be commercial, and the upper floors would be multi-family residential.  Edgerton said he wasn’t opposed to the size, but did want the massing to be broken up.

The item will return to the Planning Commission at a date to be determined.

Sean Tubbs and Brian Wheeler

March 26, 2008

County Planners oppose Pantops sports and auto complex

20080325sports At their meeting on March 25, 2008, the Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session to consider a project proposing a major indoor/outdoor sports complex, a two-story retail and office building, and an auto dealership on Route 250 East near the Interstate 64 interchange at Shadwell.  The East Pantops Complex is on three parcels totaling 58.2 acres which includes the South Lego Farm.

The majority of the commissioners expressed strong concerns about the scale and location of the sporting complex and additional Highway Commercial activity. In the view of the Commission, the overall project was not seen as compatible with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  All of the commissioners were opposed to the seven additional residential lots proposed for the property.  Chairman Cal Morris was not in attendance at the meeting.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20080325-EastPantops.MP3

The staff report identified numerous challenges the proposal presents for the County’s consideration.

  • Location: Project is in the rural area outside the Pantops Development Area.  In addition to the sports complex, the project proposes seven additional housing lots, an intensity of use not intended in the Rural Areas portion of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Scale of facility: The applicant stated this would be the largest indoor recreation facility of its type in Virginia.  The indoor sports facility is proposed to be 93,750 sq.ft. covering 2.15 acres.  In Albemarle’s rural area, only four other buildings exceed 90,000 sq.ft.  Three of them are County schools and the fourth is the Earlysville Industrial Park Building.
  • Comparable projects: An indoor soccer facility less than half this size in the rural area off Polo Grounds Road was recently rejected by the Board of Supervisors.
  • Historic resources: There are several historic resources near the property (Monticello, Shadwell Estate, and the archaeological site of the 19th century Shadwell canal lock and dam.
  • Highway interchange policies: This property is on the rural area side of the I-64 interchange not designated for interchange-related development.
  • Master plan: The Pantops Master Plan was approved in March 2008.  Staff note there were no requests for changes along this eastern boundary of the development area (e.g. to include this property in the plan).
  • Natural resources: There would be grading and fill in the floodplain and in stream buffer areas to create outdoor playing fields.

20080325harding The centerpiece of the proposed project is the 93,750 sq.ft. indoor sports complex.  The applicant, Mike Harding, said it would include three indoor soccer fields, four indoor basketball courts, a health club, and a restaurant.  Modeled after a smaller facility in Rockville, MD, the building would cover 2.15 acres.  Harding said it would be the biggest indoor sporting facility of its kind in Virginia.  The Commission was skeptical such a facility could be done in accordance with the goals of the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

Harding was encouraged to consider applying for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) which would lay the foundation for the County to consider an appropriate application in the future.  However, given the tenor of the commissioners comments about the proposal and the concerns presented by staff, the likelihood of such a CPA being approved in the County’s rural area by the Planning Commission seems remote.

Harding described his request for the Highway Commercial rezoning along Route 250 as appropriate development that would be “linear infill.”  He questioned the County’s designation of that land as rural dating back to the great rezoning of 1980.  “To refer to any part of this project as rural in character, I’d have to say that our forefathers that did that were putting lipstick on a pig,” said Harding.  “There is nothing here that is rural in character where the rezoning is being asked for.”

The newest Commissioner, Linda Porterfield (Scottsville), told her colleagues that she could support additional Highway Commercial uses along Route 250 East given the numerous commercial properties between I-64 and Route 22 at Shadwell.  “What I am looking at on this side of [the Interstate] is that this is land that is very close in proximity to the other land that is being used commercially….I am also looking at land that…I don’t think has been used for rural [purposes] in a very long time.”

“What do we do to make this productive land for the County of Albemarle?” asked Porterfield.  In recent years, some of her fellow Commissioners have taken what they describe as a principled approach in opposition to the expansion of the county’s designated growth areas, whether through a master planning process or through rezonings like this for the proposed auto dealership.  Land left rural and undeveloped is a “productive” use of the land in their interpretation of the Comprehensive Plan’s goals.  Commissioner Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) observed that the parcel was bordered by other non-commercial land with conservation easements and historic district designations.

20080325copcWayne Cilimberg, the County's Director of Planning, summarized the Commission’s discussion at the conclusion of the work session.  He told the commissioners he heard them saying they could not support the creation of new residential lots nor could it support a rezoning of rural land to Highway Commercial to support the proposed auto dealership.  He also said that the sporting complex was not ruled out if it could be done on a smaller scale, but that the Commission would need to see more detailed information in a revised plan.

Next, developer Mike Harding will have to make a determination as to what type of revised request he plans to bring back to the County for further consideration.

Brian Wheeler