Staff Recommended Language [with Applicant’s suggested changes]to be added to the Neighborhood Four Profile, page 59, Land Use Plan:

 

The area located south of the Willoughby residential development and north of Interstate 64 between Fifth Street Extended and Avon Street Extended, accessed via Bent Creek Road, is designated for  Regional Service Use development.  It is intended to fulfill a “town center” role by providing a commercial and employment focal point within Neighborhoods Four and Five.  Neighborhood Model principles recognize that this area, on a macro-level, is located in the center of existing residential neighborhoods as well as planned future residential development areas.  Neighborhoods 4 and 5 comprise many of the characteristics of the Neighborhood Model, with the exception that this area currently does not have a “commercial center”.  When developed, it should provide primarily retail and employment opportunities without precluding a  range of uses that may include but is  not limited to commercial, professional office/industrial/light industrial, residential, live/work, open space and parkland, public amenities and spaces appropriate for such a commercial center.  Notwithstanding the Regional Service designation, compatibility with the scale and character of adjacent and nearby City and County neighborhoods should be maintained.  Because of its location between three entrance corridors, at the confluence of Biscuit Run and Moore’s Creek, this site is of high aesthetic and environmental sensitivity and importance.

 

Environmental Protection

A.     Several acres of elevated land located at the western edge of Tax Map 76M1 Parcel 2B, fronting the former Grand Piano and University Corporate Research Park access roads and extending north and south from the Bent Creek bridge along these roads contain woodland features considered to be natural features with significance to both the site and area.  Existing vegetation, especially exemplary specimen or old growth trees, should be preserved on this tract to the extent feasible. Rock formations sloping down to the existing roads should be preserved to the extent feasible.  These features should be preserved as a visual buffer from Fifth Street Extended and be emphasized in site design .

B.     Bluffs and riparian forest along the existing Grand Piano access road/Moore’s Creek corridor should be protected to minimize adverse impacts to the creek from major grading activity.  Low-intensity design should be used to help accomplish this protection.

  1. To the greatest extent possible, streams and stream buffers should be retained and enhanced in conjunction with the development of the property.  Emphasis should be placed on natural stream channel improvements, such as landscape stabilization and bioengineering enhancements, to the degraded portions of the existing Moore’s Creek tributary.  Where streams are to be disturbed, site development must assure that downstream properties and habitat are protected through implementation of measures for water quality and quantity.  If crossing and/or filling of the small tributary to the east of the existing warehouse is essential to development of the parcel, innovative water protection management measures should be incorporated into the development.

D.     A greenway along Biscuit Run and Moore’s Creek  as recommended in the Comprehensive Plan Greenway Plan should be established.  Greenway trails should be constructed and dedicated at the time of site development.

E.      The existing vegetated buffer adjacent to the I-64 corridor should be preserved and enhanced where feasible.  In addition to its screening function, this green buffer is an important aesthetic and natural resource that contributes to the appearance of the corridor.

F.      The floodplain area northeast of the confluence of Biscuit Run and Moore’s Creek should become public open space for a natural area or multi-purpose field or other low-impact outdoor use.

G.     Development of the property should incorporate principles of low impact development and sustainable design to support and enhance water protection efforts. Impervious area should be minimized through a site concept that emphasizes complementary uses, shared parking, and protection of critical resources.  In particular, green roof technology should be considered as an appropriate and effective technology for managing stormwater on this site.

 

Transportation

  1. The City of Charlottesville, County of Albemarle, Virginia Department of Transportation, affected property owners, and interested stakeholders should work together to develop an  integrated transportation system to serve the site.  As a part of the integrated system, traffic signal timing and coordination should be improved and alternative transportation solutions such as Transportation Demand Management may be necessary.  Phasing of development should take place so that transportation improvements are concurrent with transportation needs generated by the development.
  2. The integrated transportation system should include the necessary improvements, including roadway improvements, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and site design, to accommodate mass transportation in an area encompassing the following streets and intersections:  (a) Fifth Street Extended and the Bent Creek Road (linked by a connector road); (b) Avon Street Extended and the connector road; (c) intersections with the connector road within the subject property; and (d) the connector road.
  3. Concurrent with development of the site, a connection from Fifth Street Extended to Avon Street Extended via the Bent Creek Bridge should be constructed (the Alternative ‘D’ recommended by the Southern Cities report).  This connection may incorporate one or more new roads as well as the existing bridge and former Grand Piano warehouse access road.  This connector road should not be regarded as a replacement or substitute for the Southern Connector and, as such, should be viewed as one element of the City/County/VDOT regional transportation network.  The road should be designed for speeds of 35 miles per hour and provide  improved inter-neighborhood access within the Southern Urban Development Areas. 
  4. The former warehouse access road should become a parkway along Moore’s Creek, but should not be designed as a major thoroughfare .  The road need not be improved with curbing, but should, to the extent feasible, be confined mainly to the existing travelway and disturbed area.  To avoid additional disturbance to this stream buffer, sidewalks should not be required on this road.  The greenway along Moore’s Creek is recommended as a pedestrian alternative.

L.      One of the new roads on the site should be designed as a main commercial street traversing the town center into this portion of the site.  The road should have curbing, sidewalks, street trees, and other Neighborhood Model elements.  To accommodate service traffic primarily, a second new road segment should be considered at the southern portion of the site.

M.  The intersection of existing and new roads with  the Bent Creek Bridge should be designed to avoid or minimize disturbance to the 100-year floodplain, stream buffer, and the preserved area located above and to the east of it.

N.  Where considered important to the Willoughby residents, construction of a pedestrian bridge should be considered between the south side of Moore’s Creek and the Willoughby residential property.

 

Land Use

O. Development within this area should achieve moderate to high levels of density inasmuch as (a) the existing and planned transportation network, utility, and other public infrastructure as the capacity to support such development and (b) there is no remaining undeveloped land of significant area within Neighborhoods 4 and 5 that can meet the Comprehensive Plan’s Regional Service development criteria.  The continuation of employment opportunities is significant and valuable in this location, particularly in the eastern portion of the site but also throughout the town center area.  The existing Light Industrial use opportunities available under the current zoning may be used to support and encourage development of flex space and/or other employment-oriented uses along Avon Street Extended.

O.    Development on the site may balance retail with employment-based uses and other land uses.

P.      Residential, live/work and/or small professional office uses are recommended along the bluff at the northern edge of the town center area.  These uses should be sited to minimize disturbance to the natural features described under Environmental Protection (above).  It may be appropriate for such uses to occur as infill opportunities, after the commercial and retail uses have been established.

Q.    The western commercial area is intended to be a compact, high density area which mixes retail businesses, services, public facilities and civic spaces.  Large footprint retail of a regional nature may be appropriate in the western portion of the area. Specifically, the buildings should be oriented to major roads; designed, sized and massed with consideration for adjacent and nearby smaller uses in the Center and on the larger site; and  parking should be relegated to the greatest extent possible.

R.     The architecture, urban design and landscape treatment of the property should be carefully integrated to ensure that the visual interest, massing, scale and organization of the development contributes to the role of the site as a town center and commercial focal point for the Southern Urban Area.  The town center area should provide a functional, attractive and distinct destination for shoppers, visitors, employees, and residents of the larger neighborhood with particular emphasis on pedestrian convenience.  Architectural and landscape design guidelines should be prepared to address:

 

a.      The integration of building facades and rooflines;

b.      Architectural massing and form of individual buildings;

c.       Architectural materials and color;

d.      Design of parking areas;

e.       Design/landscape treatment of streets and interior travelways, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular, including traffic calming;

f.        Buffers and screening in areas impacted by critical sight lines;

g.       Enhancements to preservation areas and open spaces and improvements to planned public civic and greenway areas;

h.       Street lighting, signage and hardscape features;

i.         Recreational and civic improvements.

 

In acknowledgment of the size of the developable area, as well as environmental and aesthetic considerations, a mid-sized big box model is recommended for this site.  Development of “super-sized” big boxes is not appropriate due to the site’s relatively small developable area, high exposure to three Entrance Corridors, immersed location within older neighborhoods with established character and scale, and the desire to mix and balance uses on the site and create a bona fide town center.  As a base guideline for maximum building footprints, (excluding outdoor storage, display, awnings, etc.) the largest single big box footprint should not exceed 150,000 square feet.  Buildings of increased footprint may be considered, subject to demonstration by the applicant that the environmental impact of such increased footprint can be offset by (a) design that is sensitive to architectural massing and quality, (b) building that complements the setting of the larger project, (c) parking and traffic accommodation that complements building form, pedestrian access, and building siting, (d) environmental design that enhances existing natural conditions within areas to be conserved, and (e) a commitment to a project phasing plan that ensures that a mix of retail uses of varying size and scale will be developed concomitantly with the expanded big box use.

 

S.       

T.      Maximum total square footage of big-box structures, including outside display, sales and storage areas, is 350,000 square feet.  If the big-box structures are developed in a two-story or greater configuration, this limitation may be adjusted upward.

U.     Preference may be given to rezoning proposals that maximize the range and mixture of uses, along with a phasing plan that assures a mixture of uses and addresses all parts of the site during the development of the project.

 

Public Space and Public Facilities/Amenities

X.  Provision should be made on the site for transit service and a park and ride facility.

Y.  At least 10% of the gross site acreage should be devoted to amenities and 15% should be preserved or created as green space.  Public amenities can be paved areas, such as plazas, courtyards or patios, landscaped areas such as parks or water features and/or natural areas left largely in their undisturbed state.  Preserved areas should count toward both amenity and green space percentages.

 

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