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September 07, 2006

Task force searching for feedback and ideas with survey of development community, citizens and staff

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Bosdrp20060907The County's Development Review Process Task Force met today and approved a set of survey questions, five each for the public and for the development community, in an effort to determine what the County could improve upon in its public engagement and in its process for rezonings and special use permits.  The online and paper survey will be available starting September 18th and the County will collect submissions for a two week period.  A hybrid version will be used to survey staff in the County’s Community Development Department.

The task force was formed in response to what was seen by some members of the Board of Supervisors as a broken development review process for the growth areas that was pushing new home construction to the rural areas at an unacceptable rate.  Further, resident concerns from Crozet and the Village of Rivanna motivated the Board to look for an improved public engagement process. 

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20060630ruralareapermitsDevelopment in Albemarle County’s rural areas has been very consistent over the past eight years averaging 293 housing units annually [click chart for larger image].  During this same period, there have been numerous changes to the comprehensive plan that impact development in the designated growth areas, including: approval of the Crozet Master Plan; the adoption of the Neighborhood Model; and the approval of thousands of housing units in the designated growth areas in rezonings like Albemarle Place, Old Trail Village, Belvedere Farms, Cascadia, and North Pointe.  With respect to the rate and form of rural area development, the Board of Supervisors is considering a number of ordinance proposals which are intended to further protect the rural fields, farms, and forests, an identified priority when the comprehensive plan was updated by the Board last year.

According to the County’s data, there are over 7,500 potential housing units that have been approved and are in the pipeline, but have not been built.  The City of Charlottesville has over 1,000 units that have been approved and are in various stages of construction.  In fact, on August 2, 2006 when the Supervisors approved the Cascadia development, Supervisor Ken Boyd remarked that there now seems to be an oversupply of approved housing in the County.  He stated, “A couple of years ago there was a real concern by the development community that we didn’t have a lot of supply of lots in the development area.  We have changed that… this Board has approved thousands of residences.”  He then asked developer Don Franco, “How do you think you are going to make money on all this?  Where are you going to find all the people to put in [these growth area lots]?  Whether you bring them in from the rural area or not, it just seems to me that we have already shifted that supply to where we may have an oversupply of residences.”

That shift in the housing pipeline seems to have shifted the emphasis of the task force as well.  During the meeting, the group reviewed the numerous recommendations which have come forward as a result of their process review thus far, and collecting more feedback and ideas from the survey is seen as essential to finalizing a set of recommendations.  The group plans to meet three more times in September and October before making its final report to the Board of Supervisors.

Brian Wheeler

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