Development Areas Initiative Steering Committee II

June 8, 2004-- ROOM 246

Albemarle County Office Building

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.



MEMBERS PRESENT:  Marilyn Gale, Katie Hobbs, Tom Loach, Will Rieley, Steve Runkle, Steve Von Storch, and Jeff Werner.


STAFF:  Margaret Doherty, Mark Graham, Jack Kelsey and Elaine Echols


1.                  Call to Order – The Chair called the meeting to order at 12:10 p.m.


2.                  Approval of Minutes from June 1, 2004 Meeting – The Chair asked staff to revise the minutes to reflect that conclusions were not reached on private streets.  DISCII asked staff to bring the revised minutes to the next meeting.


3.                  Review of Method of Distribution of Agendas and Minutes – Elaine Echols asked if distributing agendas and minutes through a link to a website was preferable to the emailing of agendas and minutes.  The group expressed a preference to receiving agendas and minutes by email.


Subdivision Text Amendment Discussion – Private Streets – DISC II continued the discussion from the last meeting on private streets.  They talked at length about which item had a higher priority:  private streets that support the Neighborhood Model but which might require County investment at a future date or public streets that don’t support the Neighborhood Model as well as private streets.  After hearing the different viewpoints, DISC II concluded the following:


Implementation of the Neighborhood Model is the priority and the proposed standards in the subdivision ordinance relative to private streets are the best vehicle the County has for now for that implementation.  The County should continue to work on a parallel system to promote changes in the subdivision street regulations with VDOT as well as provide opportunities for private streets to be approved. 


The County’s Engineering Department has developed the attached set of street standards that support the Neighborhood Model and reflect sound engineering practice.  The County should continue to advocate for these street standards to be adopted by VDOT.  Until VDOT accepts the proposal, the County should approve private streets in the Development Areas in accordance with these standards. 


Providing the opportunity in the subdivision ordinance for the development community to request private streets which support Neighborhood Model type developments should not construed to mean that private streets are required.  When a developer does not wish to propose private streets, the County will advocate with VDOT for public street standards which most closely resemble Neighborhood Model type streets.   It is likely that the County will see development proposals which contain a combination of both public and private streets.


Because there is a risk to the County that homeowners associations will default on their responsibility for maintenance of their private streets in the future, more rigorous assurances should be required in the subdivision ordinance to ensure that maintenance of private streets actually occurs. 


After concluding these statements, DISC II asked staff to bring additional information on the conditions for agent approval of private streets.


4.                  Subdivision Text Amendment Discussion – Overlot grading – Mark Graham opened the discussion by stating that three issues have become more and more problematic to homeowners with new construction.  These issues are drainage, safety of slopes around houses, and slope of driveways.  He and Jack Kelsey showed a powerpoint presentation illustrating the problems occurring with individual lot grading and a lack of slope requirements on driveways and yards.  Mr. Graham explained that County staff is spending extraordinary amounts of time as well as money in correcting drainage problems in new developments.


Steve Runkle pointed out that some of the reasons for the types of grading being done or not being done was an attempt to meet the principle of “site planning that respects terrain”.  Elaine Echols offered that DISC II actually said two things when it put forth the principle of site planning that respects terrain.  She said that the first half of the principle was intended to promote sensitivity to slopes and, where possible and appropriate, use building techniques to take advantage of slopes.  She asserted that the second half of the principle said that where working with terrain using architectural solutions was not possible, emphasis should be placed on the quality of the reconstructed slopes.  She said that she would bring the full wording of the principle back to the DISC II at the next meeting.


Will Rieley affirmed Ms. Echols’ comments and said that sometimes the problems illustrated by staff were really the result of people not doing enough grading.  He said that the lack of overlot grading is usually is an economic decision, not one related to trying to achieve a principle of the Neighborhood Model.


Jeff Werner, Tom Loach, and Steve Von Storch all stated that the issues illustrated by the powerpoint presentation are major problems that exist independent of the Neighborhood Model. 


Steve Runkle said that steep terrain is a major limiting factor in terms of grading and regarding.  He also said that use of retaining walls is frowned upon by the Engineering Department.  Marilynn Gale said that one can’t always preplan and Mr. Runkle added that sometimes problems are caused by the homebuyer who wants a particular house built on a lot.


Mr. Runkle said that overlot grading translates into “mass grading” which will cost more to the future buyer.  He said that overlot grading at Springridge cost $6000 per lot.  Mr. Graham countered that in some circumstances, overlot grading may actually be less expensive than the grading on a lot-by-lot basis taking place now. 


No conclusions were reached and the chair said the discussion would be continued at the next meeting.


4.         Set Next Meeting Date --   The next meeting was set for Wednesday, June 16, from 12 – 1:30 p.m.


5.                  Adjournment – The meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.


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