COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Guidelines for Growth in the Development Areas
Establish policies for growth in the Development Areas and the associated Master Planning of these areas
Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
October 4, 2006
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
It has been almost two years since the County adopted its first master plan. In that time period, a number of questions have arisen about the master planning process and what a master plan should accomplish, especially as it relates to how growth should be accommodated within master planned areas. Given that the concept of a master plan is still new to the citizens, staff and the Board of Supervisors, staff believes the timing is appropriate to review why master plans were proposed and how the County wants to use master planning to accommodate growth in the future.
Since its inception, the Comprehensive Plan has focused accommodation of growth in what were originally identified as “Growth Areas” and what are now identified as “Development Areas” (hereinafter, both are referred to as “Development Areas”). These areas have been established collectively under the Comprehensive Plan as the priority areas for new development, public services and public infrastructure. Development Areas have been proportionally a much smaller land area than the Rural Area in the County and have decreased in area since the first Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1972 and are now some 35 square miles in size. Development Areas as established in each successive Comprehensive Plan have historically provided a range of the theoretical capacity for their ultimate development, but have not established growth expectations for the 20 year planning period. In addition, Development Areas have not established priority areas for development, priority areas for investment in public infrastructure, concurrency guidelines for development and infrastructure or for the mix of residential and non-residential development, phasing guidelines that stipulate the timing of development, or any standards for a desired maximum “inventory” of approved commercial square footage or residential units to meet anticipated growth. The Comprehensive Plan has established what type of development should occur in what locations within the Development Areas, but decisions as to when and where the development occurs have generally been left to the free market. The Comprehensive Plan has also established what public facilities are necessary at what locations to support development of the Development Areas and has anticipated developer provision of facilities along with VDOT and the County’s CIP. However, the ability of developer and VDOT funding and the County’s CIP to adequately pay for the cost of public infrastructure to support the Development Areas as the priority areas for new development, public services and public infrastructure has become increasingly difficult. Because this investment in infrastructure is critical to achieving the quality of life necessary to make Development Areas what is envisioned in the Neighborhood Model, the timing of infrastructure development associated with the rezoning of property within the Development Areas may need further consideration.
The Neighborhood Model has redefined how the Development Areas should develop to provide an active, vibrant urban place that will be perceived as a more desirable place to live than the Rural Areas. It puts a greater reliance on public facilities and urban services in the Development Areas to achieve the urban form. It continues to anticipate developer provision of facilities along with VDOT and the County’s CIP providing a greater emphasis on concurrency with development. It emphasizes Master Planning of areas within the Development Areas to best define how the Neighborhood Model can be achieved in these areas. Master Planning, in defining how the Neighborhood Model principles can be achieved in particular areas, can establish priorities for the preferred form and location of new development.
The Crozet Master Plan, the first and only adopted master plan, has for the first time in the County’s Comprehensive Planning of Development Areas, provided the growth expectations for an area with a 20 year planning period. Subsequent to the Crozet Master Plan’s adoption, staff developed a range of the theoretical capacity for the ultimate development of
Crozet. To date, the Board has not established intended growth accommodation guidelines/ parameters for the Master
Planning of Development Areas beyond its longstanding policy of Development Areas collectively being the priority areas for new development, public services and public infrastructure. The ability of developer and VDOT funding and the County’s CIP to adequately pay for the cost of public infrastructure to support the recommendations of Master Planning remains a challenge. While development areas are relatively small compared to the County’s total acreage, they still represent a large area to serve with the infrastructure necessary to maintain a high quality of life. Maintaining a high quality of life in the development areas is critical if they are to become the preferred location of new residents moving to the County.
In consideration of how to further refine policies for accommodating growth in the Development Areas, it is important to understand recent and anticipated growth trends in the County. From 1997 through 2005, there was an average of 922 residential building permits per year in the County. That number is skewed by the large number of apartments approved in the two year period of 2002 – 2003, with a total of 2799 building permits in those years. In that same nine year period, there was an average of 631 building permits per year in the Development Areas, about 68% of the total for the County. However, there has been a generally declining percentage of single family detached building permits in the Development Areas, falling from 55% in 1997 to 47% in 2004 and 48% in 2005. In the same period, the number of Rural Areas building permits has remained fairly constant, with an average of 291 building permits. With approved re-zonings and approved subdivision plats and site plans, there were over 6,500 potential additional dwelling units at the end of 2005 throughout the County, at least a 7 year supply based on the average residential building permits per year from 1997 through 2005. There were over 8,000 dwelling units proposed in developments awaiting County approval at the end of 2005, an additional approximate 9 year supply based on the average residential building permits per year from 1997 through 2005. While the large majority of these approved and prospective developments are in the Development Areas, the Rural Area has a potential of over 50,000 additional dwellings, almost exclusively single family detached, through by-right subdivision utilizing existing development rights.
Albemarle’s population grew from 84,100 in 2000 to 90,700 in 2005 (Weldon Cooper Provisional Estimate). According to population projections from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), the population is projected to grow to 97,200 in 2010, 107,400 in 2020 and 117,400 in 2030. Recent VEC projections have been approximately 3% to 6% lower than the actual population realized, meaning that the actual growth will probably be somewhat greater. Using a more liberal 10% error factor that considers other potential growth impacts, such as NGIC, the County’s population would grow to approximately 106,900 in 2010, 118,100 in 2020 and 129,100 in 2030. This population growth would translate to close to 650 dwelling units per year over the next 25 years.
These trends and facts seem to raise some particular questions regarding County policies about the planning of the Development Areas under Master Planning that should be answered to provide important guidance as to accommodating growth in the Development Areas through future Master Planning.
approach taken in the Crozet Master Plan for estimating 20 year growth, but would also project that growth within the context of the total anticipated growth throughout the County. It sets out the “big picture” of what the County is trying to achieve in each Development Area, but provides the opportunity for a more realistic accommodation of the anticipated 20 year growth in each area. It should be understood that development under existing zoning, coupled with rezoning that is also likely to take place, could yield development that is different from the Master Plan’s vision and the potential for more growth than what might be expected in the 20 year planning window for a particular Development Area.
Board decisions regarding policies for growth in the Development Areas as discussed above will have a profound effect on the implementation priorities for services and infrastructure in the Master Plans. This, in turn, will drive the County’s future budget priorities for both the operating and capital budgets.
The information contained herein is intended to facilitate the Board’s discussion of its intent for accommodating growth in the Development Areas and the associated Master Planning of these areas. Moving forward, it will be important for the Board to provide guidance by answering the questions posed above in the discussion:
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