Albemarle County Planning Commission
January 10, 2006
The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, January 10, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Jon Cannon, Calvin Morris, Jo Higgins, Pete Craddock and Marcia Joseph. Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, represented David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia.
Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Bill Fritz, Development Review Manager; David Pennock, Senior Planner; Steve Tugwell, Planner; Amelia McCulley, Zoning and Current Development Director/Zoning Administrator; Glenn Brooks, Senior Engineer; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Mark Graham, Director of Community Development and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.
Call to Order and Establish Quorum:
Mr. Cilimberg called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.
Places 29 Study - Endorsement of Vision Statement and Guiding Principles - (Judy Wiegand/ Lee Catlin)
Ms. Joseph stated that in December the Commission was offered an opportunity to endorse the Places29 vision and guiding principles on the consent agenda. At that point the Commission asked to have a work session where they could talk about some of these issues. She asked staff to explain how they reached this point, what the role of the Planning Commission is, and what our expectations are for the vision statement because of the new members.
Ms. Wiegand welcomed the new Commissioners and provided the following information:
Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for Ms. Wiegand at this point. There being none, she stated that the Commission would invite public comment regarding the vision statement. She pointed out that Mr. Neil Williamson had previously spoken and asked that the Commission be very careful with this vision statement. Therefore, the Commission felt that they would have a work session. She asked that Ann Mallek, who was on the sign up sheet, come forward to speak first.
Ann Mallek, resident of Earlysville, stated that she was also present as a member of the CHART Committee or the long range transportation planning committee. She wanted to make a quick comment about #10, in the transportation category. She agreed with all of these things with the exception that even though this is a general plan, a little more clarity would make a lot of people happy. Connections for pedestrian and bicycle access are wonderful. The road network that will best serve the area includes US 29, roads that are parallel to 29, and east/west connections. They have had a lot of discussion about that tonight already. Where the parallel roads are is of primary importance right now. It is very important to her and also to the Committee that these parallel connections be in the growth area in the midst of all of the activity that is going to be going on, where there are high density residential or shopping and not out in the rural area where it will be less useful, and where they can get as much transit use as possible because it is right in the middle of the growth areas. She hoped that kind of specificity can be added because it will put people’s minds at ease, and it will make it more clear in the long run. They are always thinking about city street type of connections. Berkmar Road is a great example of something that they talk about a lot and not an expressway or something going fast. But, as the consultants have said, the highest capacity of any road is one where people are driving 35 miles an hour. That is how you get the most people from A to B because they are driving closer together with fewer starts and stops and that sort of thing. She hoped that they have that in mind as they are looking forward.
Grant Gamble stated that he lived in the Earlysville area as well. He wanted to express some concerns particularly with the Ruckersville Parkway, which is sort of in this process. On a personal note, he built a family home there that is about to be sideswiped by the Parkway it if it is built there. So that kind of scares him as an individual and raises it on his radar screen. More specifically and more logically, to talk to Ann’s point, the Ruckersville Parkway is running through a number of neighborhoods, going over a large swath of rural land, and really creating a huge amount of disruption for people who gain no benefit from it as such. He felt that Ann’s point about putting this road in the midst of the growth area, of allowing it in actual fact to go on the other side of 29, and allowing Forest Lakes to choose US 29 or another alternative route seems a much more practical way to deal with this. Conceptually, the Ruckersville Parkway strikes him as not making a lot of sense. The other thing he would want to point out was that within point #6 it says preserving the character of existing neighborhoods. He would like to think about “preserving the character and the integrity of the existing neighborhoods” because that might be a little more specific in terms here. To preserve the character of a neighborhood does not mean you can’t run over houses or sideswipe them. The other point relates to #11. He suggested adding “and further to ensure that the design and constraints offer negligible impact on existing neighborhoods in rural areas.” He felt that the fear that exists now in this audience is what is going to happen with this if it is a very broad and open statement. It says here safety and aesthetics, which really does not speak to these houses that stand in the way of something like the Ruckersville Parkway. So in giving any endorsement to this he would really like the Commission to think about those caveats. The point that Ann referred to in point #10 is a really good one and he would like to reiterate that the road network that serves the northern development includes US 29 and roads that are parallel and those parallel roads should really be in the midst of the development areas, in the shopping areas and in the places that people are living. Certainly he would be an advocate of looking at widening 29 as well because it seems like it is a bottleneck from Airport Road down. There are a huge number of people from Forest Lakes and those neighborhoods that feed into 29 who would benefit from that.
Ms. Wiegand asked if he would provide staff with the suggested language of #11.
Don Wagner, resident of Arrowhead Drive, stated that his house was located just off of Route 743 just north of the reservoir. He stated that it is amazing that Ruckersville Turnpike is even on the picture. The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors fought the Western Bypass for years and years primarily for two reasons. One, it cut through the corner of the watershed. Two, it was not going to take the traffic off of Route 29 according to their calculations. This proposed Ruckersville Parkway not only goes through the watershed, but it crosses the reservoir. It also crosses the North Fork of the Rivanna watershed. There is a big water plant on the North Fork of the Rivanna. So if they are truly interested in protecting the watershed, he did not see how the Ruckersville Parkway ever got into the study for Places 29. But, it is there. As he has mentioned, he was not here to protect the watershed, but was here to protect his house. It is up to the County to protect the watershed. This would take his neighbor’s house for sure and probably his. In section 10 it ends with the words, “the road network that will best serve the northern development areas includes US 29, roads that are parallel to US 29, and good east/west connecting roads.” He would like to make an addition to that sentence. He passed out the suggested language to add, “However, new roads that disturb established neighborhoods in the designated growth area are inappropriate and should be considered only when no other options are available and the Places 29 vision explicitly excludes any new roads or pedestrian and bicycle facilities which disturb existing neighborhoods in the Rural Areas.”
Diana Foster, resident of Balvelon Drive which comes off of Route 743, asked to add her voice to item #10. She asked that item #10 be tightened up regarding this idea of the parallel roads to 29 that they should be within that development area. They fear that the Ruckersville Turnpike is being snuck in with this plan. For many, many reasons that have been stated it is a bad idea.
Tom Jones, resident of Balvelon Drive off Earlysville Road, stated that the Ruckersville Parkway in one of its many designs put a rotary right at the end of Balvelon Drive, where it was going to dump the traffic from Greene County and north Albemarle County directly onto the most dangerous section of Earlysville Road. For those of you who have driven it know that traffic has a hard time staying on its side of the road as it goes around tight blind turns approaching the bridge. He was very troubled by the way in which the Ruckersville Parkway was incorporated into the Places 29 process, in a way that seemed to ignore the good process that Places 29 had been using up to that point. He felt that the process being used to get the Ruckersville Parkway in front of the public or in front of potential planners is contrary to all of the good planning that goes on. It was developed in a vacuum out of public view rather than looking at traffic statistics or topography. Someone apparently got together and looked and there is a road here and a road here and if they hooked them up, then there is the bypass. He felt that it is intended as sort of a stealth by pass. What it is actually doing is by passing all of the good engineering, good road planning and population planning putting a road in a rural area rather than in a development area. He asked the question who is it suppose to serve. It seems from its northern terminus, it is supposed to serve people coming down US 29 from Ruckersville and coming down 23 to Ruckersville. There is very little population that could get onto it anywhere between there and where it meets Earlysville Road. He felt that it bypasses the topic of protection of our reservoir, which has been a concern with the earlier bypass. So he endorses the suggestion to limit the wording on parallel roads to the development area to the growth area so that no one can misconstrue them in the future as in implying support for putting in the Ruckersville Parkway.
Cale Jaffe, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, stated that he wanted to share their comments on the vision statement and guiding principles. The vision statement mentions compact development organized into neighborhood employment centers that are walkable. One thing missing from that is an emphasis really on “pedestrian-oriented development” and not just pedestrian-accessible development. The key difference being that “pedestrian-oriented development” is development where the easiest, most commonsense way to get around is on foot and where an automobile is not the obvious default choice. The other thing that is missing is that it talks about mixed use and talks about retail, housing, and employment opportunities. He felt that it should specifically mention the development of office space and that all of these really need to be integrated together to get to the type of Neighborhood Model that they are talking about. Without those concerns they really end up having a Neighborhood Model that just gets back to the same kind of suburban sprawl that they have had in the past and does not answer the problem of reducing development pressure on the rural areas. Just a couple of the quick points:
David Studon, resident of Earlysville, agreed with what his neighbors have said so far. He was hard pressed to make any new points. But, he really questioned the wisdom of the Ruckersville Parkway concept. He asked to focus on the diversion of the parkway from the prior route, which ran behind Walmart to the route that takes out houses in the Earlysville peninsula area that makes very little sense. It really takes out houses and new houses with following the prior plan would not. He felt that Quail Ridge had already been taken out. The other thing is that leaving the route as it was still leaves 743 as an additional route as it is. So this sort of takes that out of the question. Another thing in listening to the interconnectivity issues tonight is that they have a limited access road and if you need a fire truck or an ambulance from Charlottesville they are going to have to go down to that roundabout referred to at Balverian and come back to Rivanna to get there. In addition, the school buses are going to be an issue there. It really makes no sense to have a limited access road there. Again, he agreed with Mr. Wagner’s point about diverting the traffic over the reservoir. One plan that he had seen had 150-foot wide right-of-way, and he questioned why it was necessary to have that much right-of-way for a two-lane road. He questioned whether the bridge could take that increase and if it was an environmentally good idea. Overall he felt that them money spent on this is better spent focusing on Route 29 and some new concepts for alternative transport.
Neil Williamson, representing the Free Enterprise Forum, stated that he did prepare a document outlining his concerns with the minor wording changes, etc. with the vision statement and the guiding principles, which he passed out. He welcomed the new members of the Planning Commission. Places 29 is a new and unique planning challenge for Albemarle County. Unlike Crozet, which presented an opportunity to build a community somewhat on an island, 29 North is an important transportation corridor featuring several regional functions including regional employment centers, UVA Research Park, regional shopping centers, Hollymead Town Center, and Sam’s Club, as well as the successful Charlottesville Regional Airport. In late September the Free Enterprise Forum and other community groups were invited to make comment on the September 20 draft vision statement. They made clear their positions that the vision statement for the 29 North Development Area must consider the impacts of all County residents and should reflect the Comprehensive’s Plan intent for developing this area. While changes were made between the September 20 meeting and the October 27 revised statement, they believe that these changes do not go far enough in expressing the County’s desire to see the development area developed or in recognizing the importance of US 29 in the transportation structure of the state. Based on our spring 2004 survey of the region 55 percent of residents in the MSA found US 29 traffic to be a major issue. A full 42 percent of those surveyed indicated that they sometime avoid social activities or visiting businesses on Route 29 due to traffic. They raised the survey because they believe that the Planning Commission has the responsibility to look beyond just the local residents to see how this neighborhood interrelates to the balance of the community. They believe that there is a sufficient change of tenor between the first Places 29 meetings held at the DoubleTree and those held in October. The October roundtable seemed to be much more focused on what ought not to happen versus what should occur. Such “NIMBYism” is detrimental to the plan’s success. In addition, several business owners have commented that the current draft seems somewhat disrespectful of the region’s significant business presence. The Free Enterprise Forum believes that the vision statement and guiding principles must accurately reflect the County’s desire for development and the need for business growth to occur in this development area. The inclusion of statements referencing the rural areas without the clear understanding that these are adjacent rural areas creates unrealistic and deceptive public expectations. He asked to touch on a couple of the specific points in his handout. Specifically, some of the conflicts that exist in #5 where it follows the Neighborhood Model, work with the terrain and not destroy it. He felt that everyone on the Commission has seen issues where those conflicts occur and it is a conflicted response. As long as everybody understands that, then it was fine to move forward. He leaves these comments for their deliberations. He thanked the Commission for taking this opportunity to review this document. (See Attachment)
Since there was no further public comment, Ms. Joseph stated that it was before the Planning Commission for discussion, but was not actually a public hearing.
Ms. Higgins asked if everyone had received the email that was forwarded from Pam Starling. She asked to make a general statement that this email startled her slightly because of the perspective of open spaces and preservation of open space as a weapon against highway, commercial, and infill development. They are actually working on a Neighborhood Plan and infill Neighborhood Model development to take the pressures off of the Rural Areas, which is very important. She did not know how many times the County was going to face this, but open space is sometimes interpreted as the property next door that is not developed. She did not know how to make the definition clear, but as people move into the County and they purchase property and then something happens, there is a need to try to preserve. But, if they are going to actually preserve and don’t delineate the difference between an undeveloped piece of land and open space, it is going to continue to upset people who feel like master plans are misleading. They are creating something that is going to be used as a weapon against the things that the County has goals to do with infill. She was trying to compare this to the Rural Areas. The pressure on the Rural Areas is going up as time passes. More areas with greenways and parks in urban areas are appropriate. She did not want to reduce their importance, but people get that idea with open fields. She just did not know how they get there. When she sees somebody really committed to the process looking for a way to incorporate something to stop the other goals, and one of the items in here was #2 that talks about Rural Areas, which she did not know how this came into the guiding principles because it has more to do with the Rural Areas plan. If they put it in the statement for the Neighborhood Plan it seems contradictory. In #14 preserving existing open space is important, but the more they preserve in the development area the better. Therefore, if they don’t put reasonableness in to #14, there will be a perception that this document will be used against some proposed developments because they are not in conformance with what they adopted. If they don’t adopt something that says reasonable open space or puts it into context, it means that if they adopt something that does not substantially set aside open space in open space that it could be used against us. Crozet is a good example.
Ms. Joseph pointed out that they had talked about calling them something other than open space. Such as calling them parks or something so people will know that it is structured and it is not just a space that is open and will be there forever.
Ms. Higgins stated that open space is very misleading and misapplied, whether it is defined as pocket parks or recreational areas or something. But, open space in the urban area has got to be carefully handled.
Ms. Joseph stated that it talks about accessible public open spaces, greenways and trails that will be created by preserving the existing open spaces. She felt that really raises people’s expectations that all of this stuff that is open now is going to be open forever.
Ms. Higgins stated that they talk about preserving that is kind of averse to an urban setting, but they don’t talk about creating. You can actually create some usable recreational parks. That is what they do in all the plans with pocket parks and community areas that are created. They are not preserved areas. You have to acknowledge that the urban area was where you want that. Or they need to be looking at where is the next expansion of the development area and nobody wants to hear that. But, there are a lot of people here for the Rural Areas that don’t want a road out in the Rural Areas as part of this plan, and she can see that perception.
Mr. Strucko asked where Places 29 is in the master planning process. He assumed that the same sort of steps are being taken with the same sequence of events, with the charrette exercises, with the laying out of the maps, looking at existing zoning and whether the space is currently open or occupied by a facility as was done during the Crozet process. During the Crozet process the stakeholders got involved, the developers who own land, the builders who own land, and the private citizens that own properties all worked to come up with a plan for Crozet that basically accomplished the things that he was reading here such as the interconnected streets, respect for existing neighborhoods, etc. Certain roads were laid out in the Master Plan that since then have been adjusted because of after talking with existing land owners; they are not interested in giving a right-of-way through their property. He assumed that Places 29 is going through the same sequence of events. He assumed that through the master planning process that all of these issues would get ironed out. He asked if that was correct.
Ms. Wiegand stated yes, but noted that the major difference between Places 29 and Crozet is that Places 29 has a major additional piece, which is the big transportation study of what is going on in the US 29 corridor. The study includes transportation modeling. That is actually being done under the auspices of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, although it is being coordinated very closely with what they are doing with the Master Plan. She asked to very quickly make a comment about the Ruckersville Parkway because there are a lot of people worried about that. That is something that they included in the modeling for this process because it is out there and it is getting a lot of attention. It is not something that the County is pushing at this time. They are not saying that it is going to be the thing or that they think that the road should be out in the Rural Areas. They are also going to be addressing the land use implications as well as the traffic implications. So they are not making any decisions to push that road. It is just in the modeling phase. They are just looking at it that way to see what kind of traffic would use it and what kind of traffic would use the other roads that are being proposed like Berkmar, Hillsdale Extension and US 29 itself.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that when it came up the MPO Policy Board actually made a decision that the Ruckersville Parkway should be looked at for the purposes of modeling and that was it. So there is no commitment.
Mr. Edgerton stated that a number of people spoke this evening and he felt that there were probably some good arguments for it. He asked if there was also some modeling for some parallel connections within this that will be going on at the same time.
Mr. Cilimberg stated yes, because ultimately when there are the alternative kinds of design identified for the framework of transportation and land use they need to have that information for all of those.
Ms. Wiegand stated that they were looking at the transit options as part of this. They started off with the Citizen’s Planning Academy last May. Then they had a workshop for the public last May. They had a workshop and an open house to explain parts of this back in November. The next big one will be in May of this year. It is a continuing public process. They also talked with people and meet with people in between. So it is definitely following the same general pattern of the Crozet Master Plan.
Ms. Higgins stated that the level of specificity isn’t intended to go to that same level as Crozet if she was comparing the two.
Ms. Wiegand stated that Because of the size and complexity of this area they are likely to be looking at the framework master plan rather than something as specific as Crozet.
Mr. Strucko stated that she had just outlined his curiosity because Crozet was something they you could get your arms around and it was an island. There was some existing development, but a lot of open space that was zoned for something. He agreed that 29 North was the commercial center of Albemarle County. He asked if there was a specific study area.
Ms. Wiegand stated that she would sit down with the new Commissioners with a map and walk them through the process so far.
Mr. Strucko noted that 29 is a big road.
Ms. Wiegand stated that they were looking at and studying the Corridor that runs from the 250 Bypass up to the Greene County line. The area is basically the County’s four northern development areas, which is Neighborhoods One and Two that are on each side of 29 up to the South Fork of the Rivanna and then Hollymead and Piney Mountain. Now some of the area along 29 that is north of Piney Mountain is in the Rural Area. They are looking at the impacts that this plan is going to have on the adjacent Rural Areas. This does not happen in a vacuum, of course.
Ms. Monteith felt it was great to hear from the public on this, but it was not clear what they were trying to achieve at this meeting.
Ms. Joseph stated that what happened was that the Commission was given this vision statement on a consent agenda a couple of weeks ago. Because it was such an important element of the Places29 plan, they thought that they should have some discussion on it. So they are having a discussion on whether or not they can endorse this as it is written right now. The Planning Commission is part of this process as the advisory committee to staff and they are receiving this input from the community.
Ms. Monteith stated that it sounded like they were talking about wordsmithing. She asked if they were trying to wordsmith this document tonight. She noted that she was being very specific.
Ms. Joseph suggested that they ask the Commission because if they want to endorse this do they want to endorse it by changing the words or do they want to endorse it just as it is with direction to staff.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that staff mentioned last time that this was kind of a milestone in the process and this endorsement will ultimately be done by the Board. The Commission’s recommendation goes on to the Board. This is not the plan itself. It is setting out how they expect the plan to be designed. So it is an important decision. It does not necessarily need to be wordsmithed to the precision of trying to cover everybody’s specific concern, but it certainly needs to reflect what you feel you want to say, the Board wants to say ultimately, and being comfortable with this as the basis for the plan itself.
Ms. Joseph agreed that this was going to guide the consultants in how this thing is going to be manifested.
Ms. Monteith stated yes it was very specifically.
Ms. Joseph stated that it was up to the Commission as to what is their pleasure.
Mr. Strucko asked who was proposing this.
Ms. Joseph stated that this language has gone through so many groups of people.
Mr. Strucko asked if it had gone through the Master Planning participants.
Ms. Joseph stated yes and along with the stakeholders.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that one of the reasons there are references such as the Rural Areas and open space is that there were a fair number of people in the process that identified that as a part of what they wanted to make sure was respected in the master planning.
Ms. Higgins stated that was in the urban areas.
Mr. Cilimberg stated not just in the urban areas. He felt that some of them recognized or at least made their statement that the Rural Area is important to them as development area residents. But that is part of the environment in which they live. Now the Commission needs to decide how far they go in setting this out. That is what some of the public said, but not all of the public. This is representing a lot of perspectives. If they don’t feel that is part of what you think is essential to the Master Plan as it moves forward, then they will want to change that. But, he felt that this was structured around a whole lot of people’s involvement. That is one of the things that happen when you are getting a very inclusive process. They get a lot of comments and ideas as to what is important in the process. They are in a position of trying to decide what is important from that to be moving forward as the basis for the real Master Plan work.
Ms. Higgins stated that being sensitive to the people who are here tonight who have taken their time to wait through the night to make some statements. In the neighborhood process you get all of the people in that neighborhood together and they, of course, are going to say take the traffic off 29 and put it on a road that does not pass through our neighborhood. Now something has been drawn on paper and the people who it passes through are going to say wait a minute you need to keep that road back in the neighborhood that you are trying to plan for. So she really did not know how to solve that.
Mr. Edgerton stated that at the beginning of the meeting Ms. Wiegand said that she was not asking the Commission to approve this, but was asking that they endorse this. There is a big difference between those two words. Personally, he had no trouble endorsing what he sees as long as the door is left open for some of the specificity that they heard tonight and it was going to come up again in the ongoing public meetings. The concerns need to be heard in the future and this statement and these principles should not preclude that. He felt that it would be naive for the Commission to try to sit here tonight and try to wordsmith it tonight. He felt that as long as they can keep the process open enough to include some of these concerns as they evolve. He stated that Ms. Higgins’ point was right on target that depending on which neighborhood you talk to, you are going to get different reactions to things. Mr. Wagner’s comments about protection of the watershed, he would like to think that is part of the discussion because they have spent a lot of years worrying about that watershed. He hoped that did not get lost in the Master Plan. He had heard a lot of good comments tonight. But, most of it was specificity and really being able to make sure that whatever they endorse does not lock it in.
Mr. Cilimberg suggested one approach. If the Commission endorses what they have before them, then staff would compile what was commented on tonight as essentially an attachment to the vision and guiding principles. That way, people’s comments that they felt were critical to the consideration of these principles during the actual master planning process would be incorporated. That way the Commission would not have to get into the specific changing of words in the vision statement unless there is something that really bothers you. He felt that was the key.
Ms. Joseph suggested that they go around and whoever has issues that they want addressed that the Commission can talk about that.
Mr. Craddock stated that he went along with what Mr. Cilimberg was talking about. He noticed that it kept coming up about the parallel roads being in the development areas. That would be a highlighted item to have in there.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that staff would certainly attach those kinds of comments to this.
Ms. Higgins stated that she had already voiced her concerns. But, she wished that they could get to the issue of the word “preserving open spaces” although it sounds wonderful of defining an open space as a recreational space and maybe talking about creation of and put it in context. She felt that they were misleading people over and over again by leaving that undefined. She asked that staff work to that and put it in context. But, they cannot preserve the growth area and expect to preserve rural areas, too. Something has to be clarified.
Ms. Wiegand stated that staff would really appreciate help with that because they are trying to avoid that problem. What that one statement meant was that staff has received comments from people in existing neighborhoods that had open space as part of their neighborhoods. They wanted to make sure that was preserved when this plan took effect. But, that might not be exactly how that is read to mean. They also have a problem with the term “open space” because are they talking about vacant space or about parks. Staff would be delighted if Ms. Higgins’ wanted to work with them on that.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that they could work with that in terms of the attached comments. In some ways they are saying that this is supposed to be considered as is the word.
Mr. Morris stated that in relation to that in #2 staff should take a good hard look at that. He stated that one hears it every time in a Master Plan that what do you like about Albemarle County, oh the beautiful views when you come it is wonderful and so on. Then they bring in a bulldozer and it is different. They need to preserve this in the Rural Area, but that is in the Rural Area plan and not Places 29.
Mr. Cilimberg stated that it was more of recognition of the importance of the Development Areas to serve a purpose of accommodating that growth so that you can preserve those woods.
Mr. Strucko pointed out that the Neighborhood Model principles are pretty clear that in order to make a good livable neighborhood, there needs to be a park or open space amenity. But, it does not have to be 30 acres of open field. It can be a one-half acre park or whatever the topography and current conditions will allow. That was one of the twelve main principles of the Neighborhood Model. The participants in the Master Plan can truly understand that vacant lot next to them may be 10 acres, but it is currently zoned residential and not RA and something potentially could go there. But, as part of the development process, a segment of that land could be set aside for some open green space. Again, they need to let the participants in the Master Plan understand that. He was very reluctant to do wordsmithing and was glad somebody brought that up. It is a little premature at this stage. They have 110 residents and several dozen other stakeholders that have already worked on this, and he would assume that there is already a consensus. He asked that they allow the process to continue to unfold. He felt that generally speaking they were heading in the right direction. These phases, terminology, and values are very familiar. Let’s make sure that they don’t misunderstand some of the terminology.
Mr. Cannon agreed with what has already been said and Ms. Higgins’ comments in particular. He felt that there is a trick though because what the people want that live in Places 29 is some recognition that they are also connected to the rest of the County and the beautiful parts of the County even though they have chosen to live in a more densely populated growth area. So it may be a trick that is not able to be done. But, if they could establish firmly the principles of infill and denser development in the growth areas while preserving the concept of connectivity to the rural areas, he felt that would be helpful because it would satisfy some in terms of what you are getting from the folks that want to be connected to that beautiful place out there. But, it would still preserve the sense that they are really dedicated to developing this area and making it an important commercial and densely developed area.
Ms. Monteith stated that when you get so many people pouring into a process, sometimes the language gets a little bit diluted. She felt that some of the specificity that some of the people brought out tonight could be added back into this. That relates to what Ms. Higgins was saying when she was saying density that some people want it and others don’t. So, sometimes you need to be a little more specific about what it is you are saying. She felt that the comments from the public were very helpful in that manner.
Mr. Edgerton stated that Mr. Williamson made the statement that they believe that there was significant change in tenor between the Places 29 meeting held at the Doubletree and those held in October. He agreed wholeheartedly with him. He did not think it was completely coincidental that the Ruckersville Parkway had been held the week before that meeting and a whole lot of people got very concerned. That became a major discussion at least at one of the tables that he was seated at. This exercise needs to be focused on what ought not to happen as well as what should happen. They need to somehow make sure that they don’t just go the negative route. They are not going to solve any problems in long term. He agreed in concept with what Mr. Williamson was saying. He agreed with Mr. Strucko that they need to move on with this process, but need to make sure that the door is open for people who are concerned to express their opinions and have the document be flexible enough to adapt to that.
Ms. Wiegand stated that it was by no means a finished product.
Ms. Joseph felt that the pedestrian aspect really needs to be highlighted. In one of the statements it talks about mixed used pedestrian friendly centers. The whole place needs to be pedestrian friendly and you can link to every place you walk to.
Mr. Edgerton stated that was pedestrian oriented versus pedestrian accessible, which came out this evening.
Ms. Joseph agreed that was very important. She agreed with Ms. Higgins’ on the open space, too. But, she knew that was going to be difficult. She stated that the Commission would move on to the next item. She thanked everyone for staying for the hearing.
Mr. Edgerton asked if they wanted to vote on this matter.
Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Strucko seconded, to endorse the vision statement and goals as presented plus include all of the comments received tonight from the public and the Planning Commission.
The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.
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