Recommendations from DISC II to the Albemarle County

Board of Supervisors June 1, 2004 – September 21, 2004

Interconnections, Private Streets, Overlot Grading

And Urban Street Improvements



Comments from DISC II Regarding Interconnections

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment



DISC II believes that interconnected road systems should be developed in the Development Areas and that it is appropriate that the subdivision ordinance require interconnections between adjacent parcels during the platting process.  Where interconnections are physically possible, economically feasible, and will result in a functionally interconnected street system they should be built with the street system for the subdivision.


The proposed subdivision amendment acknowledges three areas for waivers of constructing the street to the adjoining parcel.  These waivers are where offsite easements would be required to construct the street to the property line, where stream buffers would be disturbed or where a present public purpose would not be served.  DISC II supports these waivers but believes that the there should be other areas in which waivers should be available.


A waiver should be made available that relates to the cost of constructing the improvement to the scale of the development.  For example, it would not be appropriate to require a developer of a 20 - unit development to construct the oversize portion of the street to support the 500 - unit development next door.  It would not be appropriate for a single developer to build Lickinghole Bridge to provide a physical connection to an adjoining parcel.  In both of these cases, however, provisions should be made to allow for the future connections into adjacent undeveloped areas. 


The second area relates to how the interconnection would relate to other goals of the Comprehensive Plan and specifically the Neighborhood Model.  Waivers should be available if a built interconnection would preclude or diminish the ability of a developer to meet other goals of the Neighborhood Model.    


A third area relates to building interconnections in portions of the Development Area where master plans have not yet been created or where insufficient information exists to adequately know where an adjoining connection or connections should take place.  As with the other two items above, opportunities for future connections should not be precluded; however, a waiver to build the street may be appropriate.


DISC II recognizes that the more subjective the waiver, the less comfortable staff would be in granting an administrative waiver.  DISC II acknowledges that these more subjective waiver requests will need to be reviewed and acted on by the Planning Commission.  DISC believes that more emphasis should be placed in the ordinance on the fact that the Planning Commission and ultimately the Board of Supervisors can hear appeals on decisions concerning waivers.






Comments from DISC II Regarding Private Streets

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment



DISC II believes that 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. 



Comments from DISC II Regarding Overlot Grading

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment



DISC II believes that the problems related to drainage, poor lot-to-lot relationships caused by grading lot-by-lot, steep slopes of driveways, and steep slopes around houses relate more to density than the form of development recommended by the Neighborhood Model.  DISC II believes that these problems exist mostly in the Development Areas, though, and that a requirement for an overlot grading plan is appropriate. 


DISC II recommends that minor wording changes be made to Sections 14-313 E relating to storm drainage and 14-313 G related to steep driveways.  We also believe that language should be added to the ordinance to allow for agent approval of a waiver to overlot grading where it is clear to the agent that there is no benefit for requiring such a plan.  Examples of such instances are situations where little grading is needed for development of a site, where large lots (lots in excess of 20,000 square feet) are proposed or where lot widths are proposed to be greater than 100 feet.


Further, DISC II believes that, during a rezoning process, greater attention be paid to grading and topography.  Prior to approval of rezonings, efforts should be made to minimize possible conflicts between the principles of the Neighborhood Model.



Comments from DISC II Regarding Curb and Curb and Gutter

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment



DISC II strongly supports requiring urban improvements such as curbing and closed drainage systems on new streets in the Development Areas.  We believe that there are certain circumstances in which this requirement could be waived without impacting implementation of the Neighborhood Model.  Each circumstance will be unique and needs to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  For that reason, DISC II recommends that all waivers be reviewed by the Planning Commission.  Waivers should be available for lots for single family detached units only or where lots will not front on the proposed street.


In granting a waiver to the requirement for urban street improvements, the Planning Commission should consider the following items:


1.      The project size or street length and the types of lots to be served.

2.      Whether the proposed street(s) or street extension connects into an existing system of rural streets,

3.      Whether the street terminates in the development or at the edge of the Development Area or is otherwise not expected to provide interconnections to abutting areas,

4.      Whether the use of a rural cross-section at a particular location in the Development Areas furthers the goals of the Comprehensive Plan, with particular emphasis on the Neighborhood Model and Master Plans,

5.      Whether the use of a rural cross-section would enable a different principle of the Neighborhood Model portion of the Comprehensive Plan to be implemented more fully,

6.      Whether the proposed density of the subdivision into lots is consistent with the density recommended in the Land Use Plan, and

7.      Recommendations from the Planning Director and County Engineer related to County goals, policies, good planning practice and good engineering practice including the need for on-street parking, drainage, and consistency with existing or anticipated street sections.


These items should be considered before the Planning Commission grants a waiver.  Items 2 and 3 are examples of when a waiver might be warranted.  There are other examples which have not been cited, but which should be covered under the other items in the list. 



Comments from DISC II Regarding Sidewalks

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment



DISC II believes that:


a.      For urban streets, concrete sidewalks should be required on both sides of the street.  An exception to this rule would be allowed only where lots are proposed to be single-loaded; however, more work needs to be done on what “single-loaded” means.

b.   A PC waiver should be available for the requirement to provide sidewalks on both sides of the street and for use of an asphalt path if there is an extraordinary situation.  More work needs to be done to qualify what an extraordinary situation would be.

c.   A statement should be added to the ordinance which states that staff may require a 10’ multi-use path if the use warrants the need for the path.  This multi-use path would replace a sidewalk.  An example of a use warranting the path would be near a school where having bicycles off-road is preferable to on-road.

d.   For rural cross-section streets, a PC waiver could be requested for building a sidewalk.  Because pedestrian access is a high priority as a County goal, sidewalks would not be automatically waived.

f.    In granting a waiver for sidewalks on both sides of the street or a waiver to the requirement altogether, the Planning Commission should consider:


1.       the number of lots to be created

2.       width of lots,

3.       density of the development,

4.       the existing pedestrian system within the surrounding area,

5.       ability of the sidewalk to connect into an existing or future pedestrian system

6.       whether an alternate pedestrian system could provide more appropriate access throughout the development



Comments from DISC II Regarding Planting Strips

And the Proposed Subdivision Text Amendment




DISC II believes that


a.   For urban streets, in single family detached developments, a 6 foot planting strip for street trees should be provided.

b.   A PC waiver should be available for the requirement to provide a planting strip for street trees.

c.   For rural cross-section streets, a PC waiver could be requested for providing a planting strip for street trees.  Waivers for curb or curb and gutter, sidewalks, and street trees on a particular street or portion of a street would likely be considered at the same time. 

f.    In granting a waiver for planting strips the Planning Commission should consider:


  1. whether a waiver to allow a rural street standard has been granted
  2. whether a sidewalk waiver has been granted
  3. whether reducing the size of or eliminating the planting strip promotes the goals of the comprehensive plan, the neighborhood model, or a neighborhood master plan
  4. whether a waiver would better enable other principles of the neighborhood model to be achieved.

g.      The requirement in the subdivision ordinance should apply to subdivisions where no site plan is expected.  Where a site plan is expected, the requirements should be put in the zoning ordinance.


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