MEMORANDUM

 

TO:              Members of the Board of Supervisors

FROM: Judy Wiegand

SUBJ:           Places29 Chapter 5: Significant Issues and Questions Discussed the Planning

                   Commission on July 31, 2007, and August 28, 2007

DATE:           August 29, 2007

 

During their worksessions on Places29 Chapter 5, The Future Land Use and Transportation Framework, the Planning Commission discussed a number of significant issues and recommended a number of changes, as described below. The description of each item is based on the staff report and the Commission’s recommendation is given in boldface below the item:

 

1.      The Commission considered two requests from property owners to change land use designations shown on the Framework Map. First, Cliff Fox has requested that the land use designation shown on the Framework Map for TMP 32-33 and an adjacent parcel (TMP 32-34) be changed. The current Comprehensive Plan shows these parcels as Urban Density Residential. Places29 is recommending the same designation. The owner would like to see these parcels redesignated to allow for either office or mixed use development. As an alternative, the owner has asked that the Community Center now proposed between Worth Crossing and US 29 (including the southeast corner of Worth Crossing/Proffit Road) be expanded to include his property. Staff has reviewed this request and discussed it at length with both the owner and the consultants. (See Appendix I. for staff’s full discussion, and Appendix IV. for a map showing the location of these parcels.)

 

The Commission generally supported staff’s analysis and recommendation that this property was more appropriately designated Urban Density Residential and that it should provide residential support for the Centers as currently shown on the Future Land Use Framework Map. The Commission asked for some additional review by the consultant and for staff to bring the matter back for final confirmation.

 

2.      The second proposed land use redesignation is more complex. Wendell Wood has requested that a portion of the area south of Hollymead Town Center be redesignated. In the current Comprehensive Plan, the area is designated Industrial Service. Under Places29, the area has a mixture of proposed designations, including a Neighborhood Service Center, Urban Density Residential, and Neighborhood Density Residential. Mr. Wood is requesting to change most of these designations to permit development of a large footprint retail store, with surrounding retail and mixed use. In return for the redesignation, Mr. Wood and the large retailer are proposing to proffer to construct a significant portion of Berkmar Drive Extended. Further, if funds can be found elsewhere to widen US 29 to six lanes between Polo Grounds Road and Hollymead Town Center, Mr. Wood is proposing to proffer the same funds that would have gone for the widening of US 29 to cover all or part of the cost of the bridge over the South Fork of the Rivanna River. (See Appendix II. for staff’s full discussion, Appendix III. for a copy of Mr. Wood’s proposal, and Appendix IV. for a map showing the location of the affected parcels.)

 

The Commission discussed the role of “big box” retail and how it could be located in the Places29 area, including a discussion of the location and number of Destination Centers already designated within the Places29 area. The Commissioners also referred to the Places29 retail market analysis, which indicated that the three Destination Centers would be adequate to serve the County’s retail needs. The Commission expressed a preference for staff’s recommendation of three Destination Centers (as shown on the Framework Map, which reflects recently approved developments). The Commission discussed the possibility of revisiting this request during future stages of review. Based on the Commission’s recommendation not to expand the Development Area to the south of Hollymead, staff is reevaluating the benefits and constraints of this request, particularly as it relates to this use as a catalyst for the construction of Berkmar Drive Extended.

 

3.  The Commission considered two recommended boundary expansions that have been included in Places29 and are shown on the Framework Map. The first one, Piney Mountain—Southeast, is a portion of the Rural Areas immediately south of Piney Mountain and adjacent to the property now owned by the National Ground Intelligence Center. The recommendation would expand the boundary of the Piney Mountain Development Area to the southeast by approximately 53 acres. Generally, this reflects an area recommended for study by the Board of Supervisors for inclusion in the Development Area in conjunction with expansion of NGIC (Rivanna Station military facility). This boundary adjustment would allow for potential expansion of the base complex and provide for nearby residential development opportunities. The shape of the expansion takes into consideration the topographic conditions in the area, an existing portion of the necessary access road from US 29 to the area, and the proximity of the area to existing water and sewer service.

The Commission indicated that they were not generally in favor of expanding the Development Area, but they needed more information from staff. The Commission asked for more information about why this expansion was proposed and recommended. Staff will provide that information as soon as additional analysis is performed by the consultants. Staff will return for additional discussion with the Commission once the consultant has completed the additional analysis.

 

4.  The second recommended boundary expansion, Hollymead—South, is the area west of US 29, north of the South Fork of the Rivanna River and south of the Community of Hollymead. This proposed expansion area is adjacent to Hollymead. This expansion area is related to the proposed extension of Berkmar Drive across the South Fork of the Rivanna River to Meeting Street in Hollymead Town Center. The cost for this transportation improvement is expected to be significant and will require a combination of public and private funding. The County currently relies on financing new roads through developer contributions. If the road runs through the Rural Areas, the very low density and the very restricted types of development permitted around it would not offer a sufficient level of development to support construction of the road. An alignment of Berkmar Drive Extended through the Development Areas would likely offer more incentive for a developer to finance this new road, and the road would be needed to serve the new development around it. For these reasons, the Master Plan expands the Development Area boundary to allow a higher level of development to support construction of Berkmar Drive Extended.

Generally, the Commission indicated that they did not support this Development Area boundary expansion. They want to emphasize better utilization of the existing Development Area and preservation of the Rural Areas, particularly given the consultants analysis that indicated that sufficient land is exists within the Development Areas to support future growth. The consultant/staff recommendation is based primarily on providing incentives for participation in the construction of Berkmar Drive Extended. In light of the Commission’s direction to staff not to include this expansion area, staff is evaluating other methods and strategies to encourage participation in the construction of Berkmar Drive Extended, including changes in land use designations. Staff will revisit this item with the Commission once alternative recommendations have been prepared.

5.      Two other boundary expansions were also considered. After reviewing these, consultants and staff do not feel they are justified in recommending them. The first area is Piney Mountain—North & East: Wendell Wood, the property owner, suggested that some or all of the Rural Areas north and east of the eastern half of Piney Mountain (east of US 29) would be a good location for additional residential and supporting development. The reason given was to provide more places for housing development close to NGIC now that they are expanding. Staff does not recommend including this potential expansion in the Master Plan because first, the expansion would push development further toward Greene County and thus diminish the sense of separation between urbanizing areas along US 29 in both counties and, second, further expansion of the Development Area boundaries appears to be unnecessary in light of the overall capacity of the Places29 Area for residential development beyond 2025. Residential land use is the most appropriate use for such an expansion area. The residential capacity of the Places29 area as currently laid out on the Future Land Use Framework Map is estimated at 49,600 dwelling units, which should satisfy the need for future residential development for many decades to come. Much of the Development Area designated for future residential development now is north of the South Fork of the Rivanna River, so housing built there would be reasonably convenient to all the employment uses in the Northern Development Areas.

 

The Commission was supportive of consultant’s and staff’s recommendation not to expand the Development Area boundary in this area. Again, these recommendations were based primarily on the Commission’s desire to emphasize better use of the existing Development Areas and preservation of the Rural Areas, recognizing that the consultant’s analysis indicates sufficient land is available within the existing Development Areas to support future growth.

 

6.      The second boundary expansion that the consultants and staff did not recommend was Piney Mountain—West. Wendell Wood, the property owner (of TMP 20-19), suggested that the area west of Dickerson Road, between the Briarwood subdivision and the North Pines subdivision (in the Rural Areas) would be good for additional housing. The reason given for this expansion is the same as that given for Piney Mountain North & East (above), to increase the amount of housing close to NGIC. Similar to the case of Piney Mountain–North & East, absorbing this area into the Development Areas would unnecessarily increase the capacity for residential uses and would eliminate an open space that serves as a buffer between the Development Area and the larger estate homes to the north in the Rural Areas.

 

Staff did explain that both of these areas would be appropriate to consider as possible expansion areas if, during one of the five-year reviews of the master plan, staff determined that additional residential areas were needed. Staff recognizes that these areas are close to water, sewer, and other infrastructure.

 

The Commission was supportive of consultant’s and staff’s recommendation not to expand the Development Area boundary in this area. Again, these recommendations were based primarily on the Commission’s desire to emphasize better use of the existing Development Areas and preservation of the Rural Areas, recognizing that the consultant’s analysis indicates sufficient land is available within the existing Development Areas to support future growth.

 

7.      The proposed grade-separated intersection at Hydraulic Road and US 29. Members of the North Charlottesville Business Council (NCBC) have expressed concern about loss of business and interruption of business during construction of this grade separation. They have also expressed concern about the resulting character of US 29, once the 5 to 8 grade separations proposed as part of Places29 have been constructed. The business owners would like detailed information about the design of the grade separations as a condition of their support for the master plan.

 

County and VDOT staff have indicated that this level of detailed information will not be available prior to preliminary design of the intersections. The designs will not be developed until after the master plan is adopted. When VDOT determines that the grade separation is needed and that the funding is available, staff and VDOT will begin a public design and construction process. All business and property owners in the area will be invited to participate in this process and will have their questions about impacts to their businesses answered.

 

The Commission supports the intersection concept and the design/construction process recommended in the Master Plan. The Commission recognizes the need to balance local goals with the regional transportation demands of the US 29 Corridor. 

 

8.      The proposed grade-separated intersection at Rio Road and US 29. Members of the NCBC also expressed concern about this intersection. The same response given under #7 applies here.

 

The Commission supports the intersection concept and the design/construction process recommended in the Master Plan. The Commission recognizes the need to balance local goals with the regional transportation demands of the US 29 Corridor.

 

9.      The location of the “jug handle” at the proposed grade separation at Ashwood Boulevard and US 29. Forest Lakes residents have expressed concern over relocating the entrance to their neighborhood through the mobile home park (in the northeast quadrant of the Ashwood/US 29 intersection). They have asked that the jug handle be routed through the County-owned property that is in the southeast quadrant.

 

Staff understands the residents’ concerns and has pointed out that it was not their intention to route the jug handle through the mobile home park. Rather, the plan calls for the jug handle to be included are part of redevelopment of that site. The Places29 consultants originally considered the southeast quadrant, but, because it is located near the Forest Lakes Townhomes and for several road design reasons, the consultants determined that the northeast quadrant (assuming that redevelopment takes place in time) was the better choice for the jug handle.

 

The master plan (in Chapter 8) will include language recommending that, at the time the grade separation is designed, the situation will be reviewed and the best choice be made. The residents will be invited to participate in that discussion. The intent is that the final location (north or south of the intersection) be determined at that time. Either location is possible.

 

The Commission generally supported staff’s explanation of this location, but recommended that the Framework Map be changed to show the “jug handle” to the south of Ashwood Boulevard. The Commission is comfortable with the text of the plan, which indicates that the decision will be made at the time the design is done.

 

10.  The proposed connection from the end of Ashwood Blvd to Polo Grounds Road. This connection was proposed in an earlier draft of the Framework Map, as a local connection to assist the people who live in Forest Lakes. However, the residents were adamant that they did not want the connection because it would be a potential cut-through for drivers wishing to avoid US 29.

 

After several discussions and a walk-through the area with Forest Lakes residents, staff recommends that this connection be removed from the transportation network and replaced with the pedestrian/bike trail that is now shown on the Green Infrastructure Map.

 

The Commission supports showing this connection as a pedestrian/bike trail on the Green Infrastructure Map.

 

11.  The proposed interconnection between Polo Grounds Road and Ashwood Boulevard (near US 29). This proposed road goes through the undeveloped property in the northeast quadrant of US 29 and Ashwood Blvd. This road is shown on the Framework Map so that potential developers of this property will know that they must connect their development to both roads. They will not be able to connect to US 29 because of the new access management policy. Staff believes it is unlikely that this property will develop (and the road be built) before 2025. The road was not included in the transportation modeling and is not considered necessary to help relieve congestion on US 29 before 2025. Forest Lakes residents have noted that there are significant topographical constraints to developing this road as a through road to Ashwood Boulevard. Consultants and staff have indicated that these issues will be addressed during further planning. Since the County’s Neighborhood Model requires interconnections, staff and consultants have shown one potential alignment on the Framework Map. The ultimate alignment might be different, but the road is expected to connect to both Ashwood and Polo Grounds.

 

The Commission supports showing this proposed road on the Framework Map.

 

12.  The proposed local road between Ashwood Boulevard and Hollymead Boulevard. This proposed local road was parallel to US 29 and was intended as a service to the residents of Forest Lakes. Again, they saw it only as a potential cut-through. So, it has been downgraded to a road to serve only property on US 29, if alternate access (other than from US 29) is needed. This road was not included in the modeling for the transportation network and is not necessary for the proposed Future Transportation Network to work.

 

The Commission supports showing this proposed local access road on the Framework Map.

 

13.  The proposed local road between Hollymead Boulevard and Timberwood Boulevard. A second stretch of road parallel to US 29 and also intended as a service to Forest Lake residents. Its alignment was difficult because it was routed to the east of the cemetery, where there is a stream. Forest Lakes residents saw this road, too, as a potential cut-through. This road has been downgraded to a means for alternate access (when access is not possible from US 29) and the stretch to the east of the cemetery has been removed entirely. At this time, the “road” is shown only as a short stretch going north from Hollymead Blvd. The northern “end” is an existing road.

 

The Commission supports showing this proposed local access road on the Framework Map.

 

14.  The proposed local road behind Premier Circle. The residents of the Commonwealth Circle neighborhood expressed concern about loss of backyards, loss of privacy, and increased noise from this proposed road. During a walk-through with residents during April 2007, staff looked at the terrain issues (an area of steep slopes and a stream valley) and determined that it would be difficult to construct this road. Staff indicated to the residents that the road was not included in the modeling, but was simply indicated as an alternate route. Staff also indicated that the road would not be built until the motels at the southern end redeveloped.

 

The Commission indicated support for the local road and asked that language to protect and preserve the existing neighborhood be included in the plan.

 

15.  The plan calls out several “key subareas” for special consideration or further, more detailed planning (beginning on page 5-25). At this time, these subareas include: 1) the Rio Road/US 29/“Midtown” area, 2) the Airport Road Corridor/Uptown area, 3) the University of Virginia Research Park, and 4) the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. Two of these areas will have Small Area Plans recommended for them (see below). The Research Park is called out because staff and consultants have worked with the University Foundation’s staff on this part of the plan. The airport is the only District proposed in the Places29 area.

 

Staff recommends that two of these “key subareas” be the subject of “Small Area Plans.” These plans would be prepared some time after the Master Plan is adopted, when the need to do them arose. The two areas are: 1) the area around the Rio Road/US 29 intersection, including the proposed Midtown, and 2) the Airport Road Corridor, including the proposed Uptown. These two areas are outlined with dashed lines on the Framework Map. The reason for preparing a Small Area Plan is to work more closely with property owners and business people to facilitate development and redevelopment, as well as to coordinate land uses with future transportation improvements. These plans would be prepared in conjunction with VDOT’s design process for the proposed road improvements and, when completed, the Small Area Plans would be adopted as part of the Master Plan.

 

The Commission agreed that these key subareas deserved special consideration and supported the Small Area Plan concept for the two areas.

 

16.  Transit and potential ridership. The proposed transit improvements are described on page 5-55 and a concept is shown in Figure 5.32. Two types of service are included in the recommended network. One service type would be Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that would operate on US 29 and provide a rapid connection from Charlottesville and UVA to Airport Road, the proposed Uptown, and the concentrations of employment at the UVA Research Park, NGIC, and GE-Fanuc. This rapid service would be supplemented with local circulator routes (buses or street cars). One of the two circulator routes would operate between Hydraulic Road and Albemarle Square. The other circulator route would operate in the Hollymead area connecting North Pointe and the proposed Uptown with Hollymead Towncenter.

 

The transit network could be implemented in two phases. The initial phase would extend as far north as the Midtown at Rio Road. The second phase would extend to the Uptown at Airport Road. The Hydraulic to Albemarle Square circulator service could initially be an extension of the CTS routes that operate in the southern portion of the Places29 area today, whereas the route in the Uptown area would need to be new service.

 

The Commission asked about the estimated 2% of trips that the transportation modeling indicated might switch from cars to transit once a transit system served the Places29 area. They felt the number was low. After a discussion of the number and how it was derived, the Commission asked that staff include a goal to strive for higher levels of ridership. The goal will include a list of measures needed to encourage more people to use transit for more of their trips. Staff also pointed out that there is a Guiding Principle supporting transit in the Places29 area.

 

 

Appendix I:  Request to change the land use designation currently shown on TMP 32-33 and 32-34

Appendix II:  Request to change the land uses shown in an area south of Hollymead Town Center and west of US 29

Appendix III:  Copy of Wendell Wood’s proposed land use changes

Appendix IV:  A copy of the Framework Map showing the locations of both Mr. Wood’s and Mr. Fox’s requested land use changes.

 

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