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March 20, 2009

County planners question commitment to infrastructure for Rivanna master plan

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On March 17, 2009 the Albemarle County Planning Commission received an update on the Village of Rivanna Master Plan. The Village of Rivanna is one of the County’s designated growth areas and the location of the Glenmore development on Route 250 East.  Staff made recommendations regarding the land use and transportation plan for the Village based on input that was received at several public workshops held with the citizens of the Village between July 2007 and November 2008.

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The draft Master Plan includes an area of slightly higher residential density, about three dwelling units per acre, to the west of the Village Center and a housing density of two units per acre for the rest of the Village. The Commission asked staff if these densities are high enough to achieve the desired density for the County’s growth plan. 

“If we’ve been counting on more density in this area, and we don’t provide that in long term plans then that’s going to put more pressure on other areas,” said Commissioner Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett).

The Master Plan for the Village includes the expectation that 300 to 400 new dwelling units could be built in the future.  Currently there are 750 dwelling units in the Village of Rivanna, with another 650 units that have been approved but not yet built.  County staff has set a target of 2,100 dwelling units for total build-out.

There is an expectation that the Village could grow in population by up to 1,000 people in the future which would lead to increased pressure on water and sewer facilities and increased road traffic.  While water infrastructure is in place that could be extended to new development in the Village, “significantly more investment” in Glenmore’s wastewater treatment facility would be required to meet the demands of the larger population, according to the staff report.   Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) suggested that requirement would hamper the full build out of the community.


The Commission also discussed whether the entire Village would be served by public water and sewer even though it includes an area that will only contain two dwelling units per acre.   “Two seems awful low to supply sewer and water… that’s a significant cost to the rate payers,” said Loach.

Based on expectations for transportation that were set through the public workshops, planning staff recommended several changes to the area’s transportation network.  These changes include:

  • Expansion of Route 250 to four lanes from Glenmore Way to the Interstate 64 Interchange at Shadwell
    Map 
    Proposed roundabout from Eastern Sub Area Study
  • Add points of access to the Village at Hacktown Road and Breezy Hill Lane
  • Replace the proposed traffic signal at Glenmore Way (funded by a developer  proffer) with a roundabout on Route 250
  • Provide a pedestrian crossing over Carroll Creek to connect Running Deer Drive to the Village Center and other pedestrian connections to residential developments

Planning Commission Chair Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) asked the Commission if they had comments about the proposed improvements to 250.  The Commissioners expressed that they thought the proposed improvements were acceptable but questioned how they would be funded.

“[Route 250 is] going to continue to be a problem until there is money to fix it,” said Commissioner Linda Porterfield (Scottsville).

Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use officer at the University of Virginia and ex officio member of the Commission, suggested using stronger language about the pedestrian improvements and bicycle improvements that will be part of the Master Plan.  She suggested the development should be designed as transit ready.

“The language is crisper about vehicular improvements, I would like the language regarding pedestrian improvements to be comparable,” Monteith said.

During public comment, residents of the area expressed concern about their wells drying up and issues with connecting new and existing homes to the nearest water line. 

Cindy Burton of Running Deer Road
Cindy Burton of Running Deer Road addresses the Commission
“In order to access that line we’d have to knock down our trees and our buffer, the day may come when I have to do that.  We’re working off two wells now,” said Cindy Burton of Running Deer Road.

Glenmore resident Neil Means said that according to the Eastern Albemarle Sub-Area Study, which identified the area’s transportation issues, even with the expansion of Route 250 to four lanes it would still be inadequate to meet the needs of the Village if full build-out were achieved.

“Nobody has any idea how to connect the Village of Rivanna to Charlottesville with roads of adequate carrying capacity,” Means said.

In response to the public comment, Commissioner Loach questioned why the Commission would encourage development if there are no funds to carry out the infrastructure improvements. He asked staff for more information regarding how they would tie the funding and implementation of the new infrastructure capacity to new developments. 

“If we’re going to make the quality of life decrease for the current residents, why do it?”  Loach said.

The Village of Rivanna master plan will come back at a future meeting for further review by the Commission before being scheduled for a public hearing later in 2009.

Fania Gordon

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