COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
VDOT Rural Addition Policy – Eligibility to Participate
VDOT now requires private roads to be built to VDOT standards for counties that participate in Rural Addition Program
Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
July 6, 2005
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
The purpose of this agenda item is to determine if the County should make revisions to the Subdivision Ordinance necessary for the County to continue participation in the Rural Addition program offered by VDOT. Under this program, up to 5% of a county’s Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) funds may be allocated to bring substandard private roads up to VDOT standards for the purpose of converting that road into a public road maintained by VDOT. Albemarle County has occasionally used this program, with recent examples being West Leigh Road and Corville Farm Road.
In May, Jim Utterback, the Charlottesville Resident Administrator for VDOT, informed the Board that VDOT has recently determined this program will only be available to counties that require private streets to be designed and constructed to VDOT standards. Staff has consulted with VDOT’s Local Assistance Division on what is required to maintain program eligibility and determined this would require changes to Albemarle County’s Subdivision Ordinance
Develop and Implement policies, including financial, that address the County’s growing transportation needs.
In order to continue program eligibility, VDOT must find that Albemarle County requires private roads to be constructed to VDOT standards. Without that finding, local funding sources will be required if private roads are to be upgraded and converted to public roads that are eligible for VDOT maintenance. It should be noted that even if Rural Addition funding is available, it will not fund everything that might be required for the road to become eligible for VDOT maintenance. Expenses not covered by VDOT funding include: plats for right of way or easements, utility relocations, and relocation or removal of improvements in the right of way, such as fences or mail boxes. Additionally, VDOT requires a determination that there is no speculative interest served by the use of Rural Addition funds, which can require that the property owner(s) fund that part of the road improvements.
Based on discussions with VDOT staff, County staff has determined what ordinance changes are required to maintain eligibility. Those changes are outlined and discussed in Attachment A. Staff considers it important for the Board to recognize these ordinance changes could restrict development potential in a number of circumstances. These circumstances include: increased right of way requirements for some rural area development and limitations of private street design for some Neighborhood Model forms of development. For example, staff suspects the change in requirements for three to five lot roads in the rural area could have a significant impact on the rate of rural residential development. Staff notes that many other counties have indicated they have decided against participation in the Rural Additions program because of conflicts with that county’s development policies. Attachment B is a listing of Virginia Counties and their current status with regard to this program.
Staff notes that the question of allowing private streets to be built to a different standard was discussed with the Board last December. At the December 8th worksession on this topic, the Board indicated a willingness to accept alternative private street standards that would promote the use of the Neighborhood Model for development. That decision was widely supported by the development community and advocates for the Neighborhood Model. At that time, VDOT had not indicated a concern with an alternative standard for private streets.
There is no loss of state funding if the County is not eligible for Rural Additions funding. The Rural Addition funding is simply an allocation of SYIP funds and competes against other County priorities for those funds. If the County was not eligible for Rural Additions funding and an improvement project could not be funded by the property owners, the County could be asked to fund those improvements. Historically, the County’s policy has been that the property owners are responsible for the cost of those improvements and the use of Rural Addition funding has been limited to unique situations. Using Corville Farms Road as an example of that unique situation, that road was intended to be a public road when the subdivision was created, but the developer failed to complete the work and, given the age of the project, the County had no bond to use for completion of the road. As there was no bond for the road and many of the property owners were financially incapable of funding the road improvements, the County decided to use Rural Addition funds to complete these improvements. Staff estimates this type of situation occurs about every five years, on average, and the project typically requires about $100,000 of improvements. Additionally, staff notes it is not unusual for the County to fund other parts of rural addition projects not covered by the SYIP. For example, with the West Leigh project, the County shared in the cost of relocating a water main that was not eligible for VDOT funding.
Finally, staff notes the County is currently supplementing VDOT transportation funding far in excess of the typical rural addition project cost. If the County continues to provide supplementary transportation funding in this manner, the use of the SYIP for rural additions is a moot point. The County could easily designate its own funding to the rural addition project and allow VDOT’s SYIP funds to be used on other projects. The total designated for road funding would not be altered in this situation.
Assuming the County will continue supplementary funding for roads in the future, staff would recommend against the Subdivision Ordinance changes necessary to maintain eligibility for the Rural Additions Program. As explained above, there would be no budget impact in this circumstance and the County could continue to allow development projects to use much more effective street designs for Neighborhood Model developments.
If the Board were to discontinue supplementary funding for roads in the future, this decision could create circumstances where SYIP funds would not be available for rural additions and alternative funding sources would need to be found. Staff believes this is an acceptably small risk as it is likely the County will have increasing need for supplementary road funding in the future and the relatively small size of the infrequent rural addition project the County might undertake could be managed with little change to the CIP.
Attachment A – Needed Subdivision Ordinance changes
Attachment B – County Rural Addition Eligibility Status
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