Development Areas Initiative Steering Committee II

August 10, 2004-- ROOM 246

Albemarle County Office Building

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.



MEMBERS PRESENT:   Marilynn Gale, Tom Loach, Will Rieley, Steve Von Storch, and Steve Runkle


STAFF:  Mark Graham, Wayne Cilimberg, and Elaine Echols


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


2.                  Approval of Minutes from July 27, 2004 Meeting – On a motion by Tom Loach, seconded by Steve Von Storch, the minutes were approved as written. 


3.                  Discussion of Urban Improvements – Elaine Echols distributed a two-page handout (see attached) intended to describe the proposed changes to the subdivision ordinance related to urban improvements on public and private streets.  Mr. Rieley asked that the word ”gutter” be omitted from the description since gutters are not always mandatory and curbs without gutters are preferable to curbs with gutter in some circumstances.  DISC II agreed.


Ms. Echols told DISC II that in the preparation of the handout, it became clear to her that staff had worked in too much haste to respond to the Planning Commission and revise wording for the March 30, 2004 draft.  As seen from the handout, different conditions for the requirements were mixed together, making the requirements more confusing than clear.  Using a flip-chart, Ms. Echols began to clarify the intent of the subdivision text amendment for the different circumstances.


As Ms. Echols was writing, Mark Graham conveyed to DISC II that to the greatest extent possible, the Board of Supervisors has asked for a streamlined and predictable process.  He said that the Board wants whatever flexibility is possible.  DISC II agreed with this goal; however, they acknowledged that “flexibility” means discretion is involved.  The more discretionary the decision-making, the less streamlined and predictable the process will be.  DISC II said it would look for the right balance between these two goals.


DISC II members agreed on the following items regarding waivers in general:


a.      Different criteria should be developed for administrative waivers than for planning commission waivers.  Administrative waivers should involve limited discretion.  Where policy decisions are involved and where requests need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, requests should go the Planning Commission. 


b.      Applicants should not be made to feel like it is “punitive” to request a waiver from the Commission.  Different criteria for staff and the Commission will allow staff to send an applicant to the Commission where the staff does not have the authority to grant a waiver.  Staff will make a recommendation to the Commission based on the Commission’s criteria.  The Commission will consider the staff recommendation but not be put in the position of having to disagree with staff’s decision, except in the case of appeals.


c.      Language in the ordinance for administrative waivers should still begin with, “The agent may waive…”; however, there should be a fair level of expectation that if an applicant meets the criteria, the applicant will be granted the waiver.  There must be an “out” clause, though. The agent must be able to deny a waiver if there will be a clearly undesirable outcome if he/she grants the waiver.


d.   Already, there are criteria in Section 226.1 of the proposed subdivision text amendment to allow the Commission to consider broader policy implications and to consider the merits of each proposed request.  This section needs to be used as a starting point for developing the Planning Commission’s criteria.


Regarding waivers to allow for use of a rural cross-section street in the Development Areas, DISC II concluded it would recommend the following:


a.   An administrative waiver should be available for extension of an existing rural cross-section street, if the following conditions exist:


1.   The street will serve only single-family detached lots, and

2.   The average width if the new lots is greater than or equal to 150’.


The average width should be based on the length of the street extension divided by the number of lots fronting on the street, not including any lots that might front on a turnaround.


b.   An administrative waiver should be available when new lots are proposed on an existing rural cross-section street if the following conditions exist:


1.      The street will serve only single-family detached lots, and

2.      To add curbing or curb/gutter would provide no drainage advantage in conjunction with the street or the lots themselves, or

3.      The County has no CIP projects to provide curbing or curb/gutter to the street


DISC II agreed that more work was needed on the following circumstance before a recommendation could be developed.


An administrative waiver should be available for a new street, if the following conditions exist:


1.      The street will serve only single-family detached lots

2.      The new street would connect two existing rural cross-section streets.

3.      The length of the new street is relatively short in comparison to the rest of the streets in the development.


DISC II was unable to quantify the second statement but said it would work on this issue at the next meeting.  Several other issues were discussed which were unresolved.  Steve Runkle asked if the group expected that there would be no more “Glenmores”.  He asked if there was a place in the Development Areas for very low-density housing.  Ms. Echols said she believed the Neighborhood Model anticipated some places for low-density housing, especially where terrain is very hilly or there are environmentally sensitive areas nearby.  She said that the Crozet master plan anticipates low-density housing in these areas.  She said that she thought that low-density housing (i.e., housing of less than 3 units/acre) would be the exception rather than the rule.


Will Rieley said that he thought there should not be much more low-density housing developed.  He said that the existing housing stock in the Development Areas contains a fair amount of low-density housing that would help provide overall variety in housing types and a diversity of lot sizes. 


Marilynn Gale and Mr. Runkle both talked about how existing zoning may affect lot development.  For instance, if property is zoned R-1 (1 unit/acre) and going to be developed at this density, should there be an expectation for an urban cross-section street?  Mr. Rieley said that he did not believe that existing low-density zoning should be a criteria for granting a waiver.  Although DISC II members talked at length about these issues, no conclusions were reached.


4.         Set Next Meeting Date -- The next meeting date was set for August 17 in Room 235 at 12 p.m.  Ms. Echols told the group that Mark Graham would lead the discussion because she was out of the office the next week.  Mr. Runkle asked if it was realistic to expect that they could provide recommendations on the urban improvements section of the ordinance by September 1.  After discussion, members decided to meet on both August 17 and 24 to try and wrap up the recommendation.  Ms. Echols noted that staff was going to try to develop specific ordinance language for them to consider starting in September and that weekly meetings in September would be needed in order to conclude the task.


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

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