Albemarle County Planning Commission

January 30, 2007

 

 

            Work Session:

 

ZMA 2005-017 Biscuit Run (Signs #52, 56, 63) – Traffic Study

PROPOSAL:  Rezone approximately 828 acres from R-1 Residential (1 unit/acre), and R-2 Residential (2 units/acre) to NMD Neighborhood Model District - residential (3 - 34 units/acre) mixed with commercial, service and industrial uses. Maximum number proposed residential units: 3,100. Commercial uses proposed also.

PROFFERS:  Yes

EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential in Neighborhoods 4 & 5-residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes

LOCATION: Between the east side of Old Lynchburg Road and the west side of Route 20; adjacent and to the south of the Mill Creek subdivision, adjacent and to the west of the intersection of Avon Street, Extended and Route 20.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 90/5, 90/6D (portion), 90/17D, 90-A/3,

90/A1-1, 90/A1-1E, 90A/1A, 90A/1B, and 90A/1C.

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

STAFF:  Claudette Grant

 

Mr. Wade summarized the staff report and gave a power point presentation on the transportation impacts of the Biscuit Run Development as far as the transportation is concerned. 

 

Ø       Tonight staff will give the staff report, the Commission will take comments and then staff has posed several questions for the City and County Commissioners to consider. The purpose of the work session tonight is to inform the Planning Commission of both the City and the County of the review, analysis and comments regarding the Biscuit Run Development and the transportation impacts.  Staff wants this to be an opportunity for the Commissions to provide some feedback, which will be helpful to give the staff and applicant direction as to how to proceed.  (See Attachment – Power Point Presentation of 1-30-07)

Ø       In the fall of 2005 staff started talking with the applicant as to the scope of the development, what intersections should be considered and what counts would be taken. In May, 2006 that scope was ultimately approved.  They went through a long process working with the county, city and VDOT as to what the study area should be.  A lot of thought and process went into that.  In September, 2006 staff received the first traffic study.  They reviewed it and provided comments for the applicant.  They submitted a revised one in December, 2006.  Even with that there were some minor corrections they asked the applicant to make. Staff has just received that.  As noted in the staff report they don’t think that is going to have an impact on the recommendations and the comments they have provided.

Ø       There was a lot of input from various agencies due to the size of the project and its impact. There were 32 intersections studied with 22 of them offsite.  Four were site intersections.  About 12 of the intersections are located in the city.  The Biscuit Run Development will have up to 650 single family units, about 1,250 apartments and 1,210 condos and town homes.  It will be up to 150,000 square feet of retail.  He presented a graphic of the intersections studied.  He reviewed and presented the list of items in the staff report.   

Ø       Staff pointed out a correction in the staff report that Old Lynchburg Road at Sunset Avenue was noted that there was a gap, but actually the applicant is proffering that particular traffic signal.  That was an oversight.  Staff felt that some of these improvements as described in the staff report would have to be done with or without the Biscuit Run Development.  That is why staff posed the question what should be the applicant’s fair share.  Staff would appreciate some of the Commission’s feedback on that to give staff and the applicant some guidance in those areas.

Ø       Staff looked at the traffic study under the existing conditions and then they looked at it under the combined or with the development in place.  Sometimes it could have been just a few vehicles that pushed it over to a level of Service D or E or B.  It could have been a few cars that delayed that intersection.  Sometimes it may not have been a lot more vehicles that made some of those intersections a delay.  But, staff wanted to share as comprehensive information with the Commission as possible.  He noted that many of those intersections were located inside the City of Charlottesville.  The applicant has been in conversation with the City to address some of these issues.  Attachment H lists some of those concerns that the City has brought up and the cost that are associated with those improvements.  Staff tried to identify those locations on the map with the red dot.  The question that will come up is whether a lot of streets in the City should be widened or improved.  That is why it has been valuable in having the City staff involved as well as this type of dialogue to see what direction they should go in. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked for input from the applicant.

 

Stephen Blaine requested 15 minutes for his presentation.

 

Ms. Joseph asked the Commission who granted his request.

 

Stephen Blaine, representative for Forest Lodge L.L.C., said that he had one question for the Commission. 

Ø       He asked if the Commission was in a position to make a recommendation that with the proffered improvements there is adequate infrastructure to support this zoning.  That is the question that they need to answer.  That is what the Board of Supervisors is going to want to know at the end of the Commission’s deliberations. If they are not, they would like to know how the applicant can help them make the finding. They think the Commission can start and have a foundation for that finding by looking at the existing infrastructure and the existing roadway corridor.  He presented a power point presentation to help the Commission by looking at the existing infrastructure.  In meeting with Chuck Proctor, of VDOT, he observed that there was latent capacity in the existing corridors.  The question is how they can take advantage of that. It is apparent when talking to transportation planners that the City and County leaders who made the improvements to Fifth Street years ago clearly anticipated that it would have capacity to deal with the kind of increase in houses to this southern part of the growth area.  So in the words of VDOT and they can base their finding on this there is latent capacity in the existing road network. 

Ø       As Mr. Wade mentioned, he felt that they have a thorough and exacting transportation study.  It has been thoroughly vetted by the reviewing agencies.  It will support a finding that they can make.  The data is here in this vast amount of studies that hopefully the staff will spare them from having to actually read.  But, what they want to do is help find in that data the information that will support a finding that there is adequate infrastructure.  They don’t expect the Commission to do that tonight.  But, with this feedback and the questions and answers they need to find out what are the questions and then it is incumbent on them to find and provide the answers. 

Ø       In the questions posed by Mr. Wade he asks whether the proffered improvements are appropriate and he recommends that at a minimum the improvements that are listed on page 4 be proffered by applicant. They want to do more than the minimum.  They want to contribute their fair share for infrastructure improvements that make this a successful project not just for their investors, but for the community.  They have met with Jim Tolbert and talked about trying to prioritize improvements that will make a difference to the road network and the transportation network.  They are not just talking about roads.  They are talking about transit and alternatives to vehicular modem, such as pedestrian trails as well as improvements to these corridors that they have seen.  They have some categories of improvements.  There are clearly some improvements that are included in Mr. Wade’s that strictly speaking if they are trying to achieve a level of service that is the HCM or the manual’s level of service, then there need to be mitigation.  But, some of these are quite marginal.  They would actually take issue with some that are identified by staff that have not been addressed by us. That is because they think when you are down to an overall level of service C for an intersection like Avon Street and the Southern Parkway and there is one movement type of a left turn that is actually a level of service D, it is not cost effective to make infrastructure investments that add additional 5 seconds of delay that are saved. 

Ø       So what they have in the staff report is really the whole universe of improvements that could be addressed in a perfect world. If there were not limits on resources then what they would have is a list of improvements that would mitigate the traffic impacts back to this level of service grade.  The best way to deal with that is not in this form, but in a form that they can get through the Planning Commission to their staff the priority of improvements that will actually make a difference.  In terms of the City, there is a letter in the staff report from Jim Tolbert. He was available for questions, but that they were prepared to contribute their fair share.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for Mr. Blaine.  There being none, she opened the public hearing and invited public comment.  She pointed out that this was a work session to get public information and that there will be a public hearing in the future.

 

Ø       Mark Louisell, resident of Mill Creek, felt that this was an excellent opportunity to recommend the bike path.  That would be an excellent thing not only for the residents of Biscuit Run but for the community as a whole.  There would be an opportunity for recreation.  The path along the creek at Biscuit Run is a very scenic path.  It already has access underneath I-64 and allows people a way to get into the city without having to deal with the freeway.  He welcomed the addition of this development in the community.

Ø       Brian Wheeler, Executive Director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, said that Charlottesville Tomorrow does not have a position for or against Biscuit Run.  He noted the common interest that exists in their community for the creation of quality neighborhoods in our designated growth areas.  When they grow our neighborhood wants to see quality growth.  The County will only have one chance to rezone this property.  That should be done when the timing is right and that there is a clear benefit for the community as a whole.  He asked for the Commission’s thoughtful consideration of 4 issues:  inadequate funding of transportation, the timing of development, the I-64 Bridge at 5th Street and the proffers.  Upon reading the staff report one could not help but notice the repeated remarks about there being no programmed funding and no advertisement dates for many of the key road projects around Biscuit Run.  Residents in Crozet know all too well what that means.  They are still waiting for improvements to Jarman Gap Road long after the approval of numerous new neighborhoods.  Our citizens continue to ask why projects receive approval without support for transportation/infrastructure.  They need more transportation dollars.  Some of that funding needs to come from Richmond, but some too from the developer. If more does not come from those 2 sources it is going to be taken from the taxpayers in the form of increased property taxes.  The timing of the development is the second issue.  Local government has the responsibility to determine when and where growth should occur.  The County Planning Commission understands that challenge.  They are addressing that issue at the Granger property where they want to time the development to the availability of adequate roads. Likewise, the City of Charlottesville has suggested the phasing of development at Biscuit Run as a way to address the additional traffic it will send towards the City and UVA.  Phasing definitely deserves consideration. Third, the I-64 Bridge and proffers, which is transportation challenge with this project.  He submitted information indicating that the bridge over I-64 needs to be widened. The proffer amount needs to be evaluated.

Ø       Jeanne S. Chase, resident of 223 Old Lynchburg Road, spoke in opposition to the request to the large volume of traffic on Old Lynchburg Road.  (Attachment - See Attached Letter) 

“What is the plan to take the current volume of traffic off of Old Lynchburg Road of which many are having difficulty with maintaining the residential speed of 25 m.p.h. on this narrow City street with blind curves, many pedestrians and many bicyclists? Toss in the added problem of cell phones while driving! Try delivering the mail.  NONE of the current proffers that add traffic signals and intersection re-works address reducing the volume of traffic using this City residential street that empties into more neighborhood streets where more people live...and this even includes families who are investing in our area as a community of neighborhoods to raise their children.

 

We are currently experiencing over 5,000 vehicles on a daily average on our residential street.  Before Biscuit Run with an added daily projection of over 30,000 vehicular trips, we have just over the County line the new “Woodlands” development which is to open with 300 condos in the summer of 2007, the Granger property development, the two parcels of land for sale across from Azalea Park...one County and one City, and . . .

 

The residents of Old Lynchburg Road and members of the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood, not yet hearing a viable plan from any of our City, County, University leaders or developers, to effectively deal with the problem of volume of vehicular traffic have had to ask our City leaders to close Old Lynchburg Road at Azalea Park, our neighborhood park, at the City/County line.

 

 The Sunset/Fontaine Connector that is part of the Area B Study should be part of the plan to address the problem of the volume of vehicular traffic now and the future volume as it not okay to dump the problem of volume further on any other part of the Fry’s Spring residential streets.  This is a shell game and it is not acceptable.  We are a City of neighborhoods.  A City to stay healthy can not be part of a plan that will erode these neighborhoods.  The County and the University of Virginia should be part of the viable plan to protect these City neighborhoods as well as the current and future developers of land south of Azalea Park.

 

What will the personal legacy be for our area?  How do we leave it for the generations that will follow us? 

 

Will tourists, stuck in gridlock, return to our area?”

 

Ø       Steven M. Levine, resident of 1886 Scottsville Road on Route 20, spoke against the proposal and noted that many County residents are not in favor of the project. If Route 20 is widened to four lanes it will negatively impact the quality and safety of his family.  It will affect his property.  He asked that they look at other alternatives such as spot improvements along Route 20 south.  He asked that they put the traffic light at Avon and Route 20.  He asked that they look for a place to put a center passing lane where it would impact residents less and help with the traffic congestion.  Let’s widen Route 20 at the Biscuit Run frontage and look at and enforce speed limits.  He asked that they allow the residents along Route 20 to keep their front yards.  He asked that the residents have a voice at the table regarding these matters to help find a solution.

Ø       Robert B. Goss, resident of Charlottesville/Albemarle County, spoke in opposition to the proposal.  He purchased the Inn at Monticello, which is located at 1188 Scottsville Road.  They are about 250 yards south of the intersection of Route 20 and 53.  His property is an 1856 house that sits on 4.6 acres and fronts directly on Route 20.  He expressed the concerns of his wife and neighbors about the proposed widening of Route 20.  Their concerns are based on several factors.  Any widening of Route 20, particularly in front of their property, will harm the aesthetic beauty of their property.  They have a 5 guest room Bed and Breakfast. Guests come from all over.  They enjoy sitting on their front porch and the beauty of the property. If they widen Route 20 the scenic beauty will be forever harmed.  It may require the taking of some of their land.  If the road is widened it will make it virtually impossible to get in and out of their driveway. It will make it impossible for guests to turn into their driveway.  That is a practical consideration. The figure of 30,000 vehicles per day stands out in his mind. He asked the Commission to consider what effect that will have on their home and business.

Ø       Jeff Werner, of Piedmont Environmental Council, raised some questions regarding the actual counts.  In the recent transportation analysis it says for this study a 25 percent internal trip rate was determined based on a similar type of development. If you go back to the consultant’s report from last year they cite that Biscuit Run is a neo traditional development.  They cite the work of a professor that looked at a community called Southern Village outside of Chapel Hill.  It says that Biscuit Run would exceed the internal traffic capture of this southern village.  So he was curious what this great place was like so he went on line and found a lot of information.  Southern Village is an 11,050 unit development just outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  It has 65,000 sf of retail, 140,000 sq ft of office space, a church, a school, a racket and swim club, day care center, restaurants and Movie Theater.  In a report in “US News and World Reports” it says Southern Village has 15,000 residents includes apartments, condos and townhouses.  The compact hilly neighborhood is dotted with 13 parks. Residents stroll to Market Street where they find a movie theater, a spa, a grocery and a fitness club.  The interest part is that they hop on free public buses to visit the library or take classes at the University of North Carolina and Chapel Hill.  The traffic counts in this report are presented for Biscuit Run with the assumption that it is a mixed use development similar to that of a Southern Village.  But these two places are hardly comparable.  The reason that a neighborhood like Southern Village can have such measurable reduction in vehicular traffic is because it is truly a mixed use neighborhood and because it has a free transit system which links it to the adjacent urban center.  The retail and commercial component of Southern Village equates to approximately 180 square feet per dwelling unit. The 150,000 sq ft of retail at Biscuit Run is approximately 48 square feet per dwelling unit.  Like Biscuit Run Southern Village is near a college town and the residential densities are similar, but the similarities end there.  If they are going to accept development proposals because they cite smarter growth and successful transportation solutions in other communities, then they should expect these proposals to accurately apply the principles that they cite.  A lot more planning needs to be done.  There is a lot of development in the pipe line.  They can take the time to do it right on this one.

Ø       Morgan Butler, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Office, complimented staff for putting together such a well organized job.  They did an excellent job of pulling together a huge amount of complicated information and turning it into something manageable.  Interconnecting neighborhoods us always a touchy subject.  But, it goes hand in hand in creating developments in line with the Neighborhood Model.  Linking neighborhoods with mixed use developments minimizes traffic distances and helps to reduce congestion on main roads. While a bicycle and pedestrian connection between the Mill Creek neighborhood and the proposed Biscuit Run plan is, of course, helpful in this regard.  They agreed that a vehicular connection would be especially beneficial.  Residents of Mill Creek are likely to use some of the commercial uses incorporated into Biscuit Run.  It would seem to make sense to not require them to get onto Route 20 to visit the Biscuit Run commercial area.  Part of the proffers for this connection could include the establishment of traffic calming measures in the Mill Creek neighborhood to assure safety.  Second is transit.  The applicant has agreed to make the site transit ready.  Staff is recommending a transit proffer of $250,000 over 10 years.  They strongly agree with the importance of setting this development up to take advantage of the significantly expanded regional transit system that the County and the City are enthusiastically exploring at this time.  It is much less costly to identify and build transit stops and routes now than it is to retrofit the site 10 years down the road.  They would like to see the recommended proffer amount for transit increased and expanded to cover operational costs as well as the capital costs of building the transit stops.  The third point is about the retail location.  They again pose the question of whether the commercial center of this neighborhood might be more convenient to a greater number of residents of this development if it is moved more internal to this site and not located adjacent to Route 20.  They certainly understand the economic incentives for locating the retail center along Route 20, but think that it would still attract shoppers from outside Biscuit Run as well as be more accessible to residents of Biscuit and the Habitat community who are willing to walk or ride a bike if it was more centrally located in the development.  The final point is that they would like to see the appropriate guarantees put in place to ensure that the densities proposed for this development are ultimately realized.  This 900 acre site is a significant chunk of our growth areas.  They cannot afford to approve this rezoning only to have it built out at density levels that are seen with many other growth area projects.

Ø       Ron Mallory said that he lived about 13 miles from Piedmont College.  Route 20 is a total safety hazard.  Every day that he drives on Route 20 he puts his life in danger.  Route 20 does need to be a 4 lane road.  Every road improvement needs to be done before the builder lifts one 2’ X 4’ to start construction to avoid having a situation like Crozet.  Every 2 years his property taxes go up 30 percent.   He did not think that property taxes should go towards a big subdivision like this.  He asked that this burden not be put on the tax payers back.  He suggested that the by pass around Charlottesville be looped through this neighborhood.  He suggested that the County consider a by pass like Lynchburg and Danville to help with the traffic flow.

Ø       Alia Anderson, Executive Director of the Alliance for Community Choice and Transportation, said that she saw some disconnects in the staff report.  When she compares it to the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which talks about the Neighborhood Model and the City Bike/Ped Master Plan, the Jefferson Area Bike/Ped Master Plan.  All of these adopted plans and documents for our community talk about transit and bicycle and pedestrian connections as primary in our growth plan and strategies for development in our area and as realistic ways to relieve traffic and transportation concerns.  When she reads the staff report it sounds like these modes are accessory or secondary considerations.  It says that transit service to this area is unlikely in the immediate future and the County has no plans for bike lanes or major improvements on this road.  She has gotten together with some members of ACT and other community folks and they have come up with some recommendations that are in the staff report and some others that they would love to be included as part of this project.

-          There is a huge opportunity for the development to actually market this development as a transit community or a bike accessible community.  It can be one that has excellent trail facilities. 

-          The transit proffer as recommended in the staff report is too low.  There should be a transit proffer enough to fund an additional vehicle and driver or whatever is necessary to ensure 30 minute headway to the site that could be an extension of the City’s plan expansion out to 5th Street Extended.

-          With regard to bike projects, the multi-use trails that have been mentioned would be an improvement of the Biscuit Run greenway to a class A trail is a huge priority.  Bike lanes on Old Lynchburg Road, not only along the frontage of the development but connecting to existing bike lanes on 5th Street, bike lanes on Avon Road and Route 20 are all things that their group sees as priorities. 

-          With respect to the Commission their group has agreed to not all get up and speak.  She asked that everyone in the room that agrees that transit and bicycle improvements should be priorities as part of this development to stand up.  (A huge crowd stood in support of the statement.)

Ø       James King said that over the last 40 years in Charlottesville and Albemarle County he has done visioning for the entire community, not just as the President of the Federation of Neighborhood Associations in Charlottesville for 3 decades. But, also in the 1990’s there was a community visioning effort with the City, County and University with the 2 executive officers and the chief board chair persons giving their visions and so on. He wanted to mention that as a frame of reference in asking the Commission whether they have a joint committee of the 2 planning commissioners and not of staff.  The City is part of the County and is completely enclosed by the County even through it is not growing very much.  A project like this is the verification that they need to have a complete overall viewpoint, which a joint committee or subcommittee of the 2 planning commission, with or without University input, develops as a standard of judgment something that would really give some guidance for helping to make all of the decision.  He was especially supporting the recommendations of Brian Wheeler, the PEC and the speaker that immediately preceded him about bike paths and so on. All of these things plus neighborhood quality are going to be chipped away, sold off and gradually minimized and so on because it is not really resource useful to increase the resources to do a level of service D even though it is over the criteria because it costs so much more than to leave it at C.  Please don’t allow the gradual diminution of this community.  He was referring to the rural areas, the Neighborhood Model in the County and the walk ability criteria.  They need a committee to put together a single overall standard that will do the prioritization that many of the people are asking for.

Ø       Betty Mooney thanked Mr. King for all of the years of service for our community.  He’s been her mentor for many years. She asked that everyone take seriously what he has suggested tonight. They all need to join together and really think seriously about where we are heading. The County has the power to turn down rezoning.  If they are not ready she asked the Commission to be courageous and think before making this decision.

Ø       Joseph Gottley, as a professional engineer for 50 years and a resident, asked the Commission to consider the cosmetic scope of an oversize project and its impact. They need to consider all of the other developments in the pipeline and the destruction of the quality of life. The Commission should think about the pollution, traffic congestion, the intersections and impact of the proposal. As a resident of Mill Creek South and a member of the group called ACTION (Albemarle Citizens to Improve Our Neighborhood) he asked the Commission to advise the Board of Supervisors with due diligence and address the overall development. The overall scope of the proposed development is going to be destruction to Albemarle County.

Ø       Doug Arrington, resident of Old Lynchburg Road, asked the Commission to consider the traffic impact study, the safety and welfare of the citizens with the increased vehicular traffic.  There has been no discussion about the widening of the 5th Street Bridge to accommodate 2 westbound lanes.  The traffic on Old Lynchburg Road will increase from other recently approved developments in the area in addition to Biscuit Run.  He suggested that the speed limit be decreased to 35 miles per hour with a $200 fine such as on Morgan Town Road.  That should be done all the way to Route 708.  Is there some way that all of these developments could put together some money in an escrow account to deal with some of these infrastructure problems that the tax payers for many years to come are going to be paying for.

Ø       Peter Cleanman, resident of 104 Hedge Street in the City, said that when a large development is being put in place it might not be an improvement.  It may end with the situation that the traffic flows are degraded after the so called improvements are made because of the impact of the large flows that are being interjected into the City and the County.  He recommended an evaluation of the proffers with the City, State and County expenditures on transportation.  He would like to see a standard set in our area that they could actually consider transportation in a more broadly based evaluation technique where they could clearly indicate if improvements are being offered after the build out of these projects and then evaluate whether these proffers or investments are clearly keeping up with the demand for traffic or concern about level of service in the communities.  They should not just assume that when X million of dollars is invested that it necessarily translate into improvement. 

Ø       Inga Airs, resident of the City and previous President of UVA Cyclist Team of 2004, said that he was 1 of 3 professional cyclists who currently reside and train on the roads in and around Charlottesville.  He asked to highlight 1 thing.  Old Lynchburg Road as it changes from 4 lanes to 2 lanes is an exit road to the south for road cyclists.  It is very dangerous as it is and really needs bike lanes.  With the increase in cars on Old Lynchburg Road the need for bike lanes is crucial.  Bicyclists need a bike lane that goes all the way past the last entrance to Biscuit Run.

Ø       Tom Hearst, resident of Western Albemarle County, asked to address the connector road through this project.  He questioned what kind of roads the County will get out of these proffers. The average commuter simply wants a road that allows them to easily zip from point A to point B.  They do not want excessive curves, traffic circles, traffic lights and other impediments to travel.  Berkmar Drive from Rio Road to Sam’s Club is a very good example of a true connector road.  Given the crucial nature of these connector roads that they will all be stuck with he would ask if they have specific standards that they must meet.  Do they have criteria for such things as adequate traffic speed, limitations on access and on street parking and sufficiency of turn lanes? The connector road should serve the commercial enterprises nearby safely and most importantly secondarily.  An example of how not to build a connector road is Old Trail Road in Crozet.  Its value to the community at large as a connector/commuter road is less than wonderful.  It has 3 dangerous traffic circles.  It has on street parking.  It has town homes where children will be playing only feet from the roadway.  It can not accommodate a high rate of speed.  Its placement makes it of little value to commuters.  As a result adjoining neighborhoods are feeling the effects of cut through traffic.  In summation, if the roads they accept proffers for are really nothing more than access roads for commercial enterprises the public has been poorly served.  If they are to vastly enhance the value of these properties through rezonings they must demand that the primary purpose of our connector roads is to connect smoothly and speedily.

Ø       Kevin Lynch, resident of 609 Locust Avenue, thanked the members of both Commissions for meeting together to work out jointly this very difficult development issue. Do the proffers that have been put on the table adequately mitigate the amount of new traffic that will be generated by this development?  He felt that was not the first question to ask, but are the proffers that are offered the right proffers.  He was not sure that they are.  The City residents are not enthused about widening intersections and roads.  He questioned ITS being a solution for the southern transportation needs.  With this type of broad dispersion he felt that they would get marginal returns at best.  They need desperately on the south end of the County a greater network of roads.  They need more ways to get around from Point A and B without having to drive through the city.  The connector between Sunset to Fontaine really needs to happen.  He did not think that the proposed improvements will be in the City’s interest.  It would be in the City’s interest to provide a way to get around City neighborhoods so that people coming into the University don’t have to drive through City neighborhoods.  This traffic should not be funneled into the middle of the City.  The Commission should consider that and not whether these proffers are adequate.  Are these the right proffers? He encouraged the Commission to read the Southern Transportation Study from 1995/1996.  In the study all of those intersections have identified for widening, etc. and it was noted that was not in the best interest of City neighborhoods.  They need to find a better way to do this.

Ø       Mr. Gottley asked if the Commission knows what the population would be if it was zoned just the way it was today.

Ø       Margaret Weeks, resident of 1455 Stony Creek Drive, said that she and her daughter were present to represent their family.  She drives Avon Street everyday and they are past the tipping point.  She is concerned that these plans don’t address that.  She would love to push all of the people from Biscuit Run onto Route 20, but that is not going to happen.  They have tons of people pouring off of Route 20 onto Avon Street right now.  There is a pothole on Avon Street which has to be fixed every year.  If they can’t fix a pot hole on Avon Street how in the world area they going to withstand this amount of traffic.  Avon Street is way past what it can bear now.  Therefore, she does not care what a traffic study says because she is driving that road.  There are 4 schools within a square mile.  There is a bus depot on that street.  They need to get serious about decreasing the traffic or holding it where they are.  She asked the Commission to seriously consider that.

 

The commission took a five minute break at 7:31

 

The meeting reconvened at 7:42

 

Mr. Wade asked that the Commission review the questions posed by staff taking into consideration the public input.  Staff requests the Commission’s feedback.  The first question – Is the list of off-site proffers and stipulations for those improvements for construction appropriate?

 

Ms. Joseph asked to hear from the City Planning Commission on this.  They have a couple of mixed signals. They have received a letter from the director of MDS who has asked for specific proffers.  They have a list from the developer.  She asked what their thoughts were on this list of proffers.

 

Cheri Lewis said that the City Commissioners were asked not to render an opinion as a body or give an opinion as to anything this evening.  They were asked to participate and ask questions.  She felt that they were not prepared to say that they find these acceptable, but were here to ask questions.   Therefore, they were not prepared to say, but were here to ask questions, gather information and possibly make individual comments. 

 

The City Commissioners posed the following

 

Mike Farruggio asked if there was a way to bring the comments made by Ms. Weeks and Mr. Lynch into these comments.

 

Mr. Wade replied that he had not thought about it.  Proffers are things the applicant must voluntarily proffer or give.  He did not want to speculate. What this meeting will do is spur the City decision makers and staff to make sure that everyone is all on the same page as far as the improvements.  It is a big issue to address.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were other questions regarding this project concerning transportation.

 

Mr. Wade asked that they take general questions and comments and then they could get back to the questions posed by staff.   

 

Bill Lucy questioned what would happen at the intersections of Old Lynchburg Road and JPA and Fontaine Avenue.  Is that something that should be revisited?  He felt that they need to revisit the northern UVA connection.

 

Mr. Wade replied that staff felt that they had to draw the line somewhere and they chose those major intersections with input from the City, VDOT and County staff as to what were the most critical intersections that they needed information on.  They may not have done links on those particular roads, but they may be able to go back and look at information on those links.

 

The City Commissioners asked staff to review the following intersections:  Old Lynchburg Road to JPA, JPA to Fontaine, and Fontaine Avenue to Emmett Street.  Assuming that 50 percent of the traffic is coming from Old Lynchburg Road the question was raised why were the first 3 intersections in the City not studied.  They asked that the best set of information be provided to them.

 

Jeanne Alexander, Traffic Engineer for the City, said that when they were considering ITS improvements at these signalized intersections and the traffic study no every single signalized intersection that is impacted was studied.  For ITS purposes it does not do any good to have two intersections coordinated, but the one in the middle is not. That is why the count is a little higher than what was in the study.  That was a broad approach of the major corridors.  That was how that count was arrived at with a rough figure per intersection to connect them for the technology to do it. The main crux of ITS is the signalization coordination of the intersections.

 

Mr. Wade felt that they have touched base on a lot of these questions, but was not sure how the Commission wants to proceed.

 

Mr. Edgerton suggested that since Mr. Wade has worked so hard on the staff report he would like to go through the questions with the understanding that they certainly don’t have the hard information they need to make decisions.  But, it would be some value in that.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that the questions were on page 9 of the staff report.

 

The Planning Commission agreed to go through the questions with the understanding that they certainly don’t have the hard information they need to make decisions.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that he had been on the side line listening so he was going to throw out an impression he got regarding the first question.  The Commission does not feel they can answer as to the level of proffer to be provided.  The information the Commission really wants to work from is the difference between this property developing by right and it developing under the rezoning proposal and what that additional impact is.  The Commission would like to see this project addressing that additional impact whether it is directly attributable improvements or some part of other improvements that they will be contributing towards.  What the applicant is saying that in contributing towards other improvements they want to know what the priorities are for the County.   What the County needs to do is:

 

Staff needs to get analysis from the applicant as to the difference between the base line, which is by right, and the full development under the rezoning in terms of both direct impacts and contributing impacts. Then provide that information to the Commission with some level of assessment that staff would provide as to what they think are the most important priority of improvements that are not directly attributable to them.  He felt that the Commission was saying that they want those improvements directly attributable to them covered, but they also don’t know to what degree they go beyond that.  In the City they kind of have to leave it to the City he felt that is what they are saying.  That is another question in here.  But, in terms of the County that is the way they want to try to address this.  He asked if that was a fair assessment.

 

Ms. Joseph replied that it was sort of, but that they were intertwined with the City at this point and really need to make sure that what they are doing makes sense for us all.   She felt that there would not necessarily be two lists, but just one list.

 

Mr. Strucko said that he would like the proffers of this County project to include mitigating impacts in the City.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that what the City wants is up to them.

 

Mr. Cilimberg felt that there was no question that they want that.  For what the City wants the Commission has to rely on them.  But, he felt that the City should be working from the same base of information that the County Commission is using for the County.  If that makes their list different, then they will tell us.

 

The Commissioners agreed with Mr. Cilimberg.

 

Mr. Wade said that when staff gets that information back they will do like they have and give it to the City, County and the MPO to review and see essentially what that difference between 1,400 and 3,100 trips is on the network.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that in any development there are those improvements that are necessary for the development itself at the site.  Those are not what they are talking about.  They are talking about proffers beyond those things happening at the site, the off-site aspects.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that there are a couple other features here.  They are talking about a by-right development that would be all residential that would probably take a considerable period of years to build out.  He did not know how they put a number on that, but guessed that there were ways to do that.  What is being proposed is not only an increase in density, but there is also a mixed use component which will be bringing additional traffic not necessarily from the site onto these roads, but from outside of the site onto these roads.  If there is a retail component that has a regional factor it is going to be burdening these roads from people off the site. 

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that he felt that they have already anal sized that.

 

Mr. Edgerton agreed that has been addressed to some degree.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that it also internalizes some trips that would otherwise go offsite.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that there is a huge benefit to the County long term if they can to get the growth in the growth areas and do so without burdening the community in an untenable way.  If everything in the growth area develops by right then they have a problem long term.  The applicant is doing what our Comprehensive Plan says we want him to do, which is put growth in the growth area.  But, they have to be careful in how it is done so that it does not become more of a burden to the community than a benefit.  This is the balancing act.  He felt that a good place to start since they were talking traffic tonight was to get the analysis that Mr. Wade’s report refers to of the specific percentages of the impacts on the network.  If they can come up with some calculation of that he felt it would be very helpful. 

 

Mr. Wade felt that the direction given staff they will know how to proceed.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that there was so much information that it was really hard to process all in one session.  She noted that the Commission was through with question 1.

 

Mr. Wade asked that they go to question 2, is the Route 20 commitment acceptable.  Again, this was touched on.  VDOT estimated that the cost would be between 26 and 28 million dollars.  The applicant is proposed to contribute 5.5 million towards that.  It has been a Board high priority for many years to widen Route 20 from an existing 4 lane section to Mill Creek, which is essentially the road that the high school is on.  There have been a few fatal accidents in that area.  It is really a project that the Board would like to get done.  The Board just reiterated that in October or November of 2006 when they gave VDOT their primary road priorities.  VDOT is working on a cost estimate.  The original cost estimate was for the existing 4 lane section to the site location.  So they are coming up with a cost estimate for the existing 4 lane to Mill Creek.  He assumed that the cost estimate would be lower than the 26 or 28 million dollars that they have.  Therefore, staff puts the question to the Commission.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that he would imagine that to pin down whether they feel that it is what they want or not is going to have to be judged in the context of these other things they just talked about.  It may or may not be the place where they want to put the money.

 

Mr. Strucko asked how many daily vehicle trips are on that road now.  How much would Biscuit Run contribute?  What is the cost of the daily vehicle trip of that road improvement and what does Biscuit Run share? 

 

Mr. Zobrist asked for the overage from the by-right.

 

Mr. Craddock said that as the report already mentioned that traffic light at Route 53 and Route 20 has come on line in the last month or so and that has been a great improvement.  The County wants to improve the road from Route 53 to at least Monticello High School.  There have been some fatalities on that road.  One of the speakers talked about road improvements and he thought along those lines the improvements right in front of the Biscuit Run development itself with the improvements to where Avon Street comes onto Route 20 would be a significant and maybe even be close into line with what the applicant has proffered to pay for.

 

Mr. Cilimberg summarized the Commission’s answer to question 2 in that it was part of number 1.

 

Ms. Joseph asked that they go on to review question 3.

 

Ms. Wade asked is the Southwood connector location acceptable and what should be the timing of this development?  The Commission has touched on this question and a lot would depend upon the information that they are given.  They noted staff’s support of this particular alignment because it would support the Sunset Avenue Connector. 

 

Mr. Edgerton agreed with staff’s recommendation. He felt that the connection should not be made until the funding is available.

 

Mr. Zobrist and Mr. Morris agreed.

 

Mr. Blaine asked which recommendation.  Was it the one dated last Friday or the one dated January 22 from staff that says the construction of the primary connection road should be the first step in the development of this site.  It is from the same County staff one three days from the other.  He felt that there was a conflict.

 

Ms. Joseph agreed with that statement, but with building the road.  She agreed with the phasing aspect because it all depends on what sort of hangs off this road, too.  The Commission has seen too many roads planned and then never built.  She felt that this was a very important connector road.  Therefore, she was not sure if she agreed if it should kind of wait until something else comes on line that maybe some of the development should wait within this particular area and just build the road.  So she was not sure about that and probably was in the minority here.

 

Mr. Craddock agreed with Ms. Joseph in that connector road is very critical to this whole thing.  It has been something that they have a developer willing to build a connector road.  The Southern Parkway has been sitting there for 20 years waiting to be built. With the other road connecting through the north side over I-64 off of 5th Street and Avon he thought that they have 2 good connections coming in.

 

Mr. Strucko commented that one of the speakers earlier discussed the theory of a connector road in Crozet.  He hoped that the cross section of this road truly is a connection between Old Lynchburg Road and Route 20.

 

Mr. Zobrist encouraged that it have no on street parking.

 

Ms. Joseph supported having bicycle lanes.

 

Mr. Wade thanked the Commission for their comments on that.  He thought that the information that they have talked about this evening, with the City going back to look at their improvements as well that when they come back they will be more unified in our position of that.

 

Mr. Joseph said that the Commission has answered the other 2 questions.

 

Mr. Wade replied yes, that the Commission definitely had answer question 4.   In question 5 the Commission strongly expressed that they want this to be a model for that.

 

Mr. Morris replied absolutely it should be for not only bicyclists and pedestrians, but it should be transit read.

 

Mr. Wade said that regarding transit ready staff has noted that the site will be transit ready or a transit oriented development.  The City, County and the MPO were in the process of getting that RFP.  At some point in the future, probably 18 months or so, they will have some direction as to the regional approaches to transit.  It may be recommended.  What staff is hearing from the Commission is that they would like in addition that the site be transit ready.

 

Ms. Joseph said that might affect the way the land use is designated in there too.  It may be that there are more commercial pods in there than just the one so that they can actually get people gathered in these places so that it will make sense to have transit in those areas.

 

Mr. Wade elaborated further that in a vacuum in really not knowing the outcome of the regional approach and the Board’s support of funding it or a portion of it thereof were they looking at some of the apartments that if there was no public transit that they have some type of shuttle service.  If public transit was not viable in the near future, what are some types of things that the Commission would like to see.

 

Ms. Joseph asked staff to bring some suggestions to the Commission. 

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that in establishing the desire for transit what the Commission is saying is that they want it to be ready and able and monies towards the provision.  It needs to be realized that in the real world that they are living in here that transit actually being provided by the current public transit provider to this location may or may not be within a foreseeable period.  For example, the monies at North Point, which is very far from where existing transit is, it is intended to be seed monies towards that occurring.  Martha Jefferson Hospital on Pantops was also proffered monies towards potentially bringing transit there.  So at the very minimum that is something that could be an element of this project.

 

Ms. Joseph said that everyone was convinced that a lot of the traffic was going to go to the University and maybe at some point the University can be sensitive to this issue and provide transit for this area.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that to be fair to applicant that is not something they can not control.  So he was trying to say that it may be about some dollar amount that could be used towards one of those remedies and staff could work on what that might be.

 

Ms. Joseph said that was a good idea.

 

Mr. Wade added that the traffic impact analysis did not include any transit.  So essentially it is the worst case scenario.  If any trips are put on transit, then it is less traffic on the network.  So it would be an improved situation.

 

Mr. Morris complimented staff on the well done staff report.

 

Mr. Wade asked if the Commission planned to still hold the February 10 meeting.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if they were still having the February 6 meeting.  She asked Ms. Grant to give the Commission a preview of the upcoming meetings.

 

Mr. Grant said that yes, they were planning to have the February 6 meeting.  The staff report was handed out this evening.  The intent of that meeting is to bring back the questions that the Commission had asked at the last work session and to let them know the status of where they are with those items.  The Commission also expressed a wish to find out about the meeting that staff and the applicant had with the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Albemarle County Service Authority.  Staff also has included that in the staff report. 

 

Mr. Strucko asked if staff is expecting a report from Steve Allshouse on this project.

 

Ms. Grant replied that they are and that she discussed it with Mr. Allshouse today.  The Fiscal Impact Analysis will probably be completed within the next 2 to 3 weeks. 

 

Mr. Strucko asked if that analysis would make an attempt in covering the cost impact of what they just talked about tonight the traffic and roads.

 

Ms. Grant replied that it would probably not cover the traffic and roads.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that Ms. Grant was probably not close enough to some of the discussions that they have on the Fiscal Impact Committee.  He thought that the Fiscal Impact Committee had asked that there be a project used as an example of factoring in a transportation component.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that Supervisor Ken Boyd was here earlier this evening.  He pointed out that Biscuit Run was that project.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that the transportation element that would be part of that is the element that is about those costs that the County might incur in the future separate from VDOT costs in the transportation system.  So they really are doing an analysis that is essentially separate from the kinds of things that they are talking about tonight that were projects really not in that list of County potential cost projects.

 

Mr. Wade added that he met with Mr. Allshouse today about the Fiscal Model in coming up with the costs and he did not know if it would be done during the same time frame as that.  But, he knew that it was being worked on and he would come up with that type of information for transportation.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if the Commission would be able to have the information requested tonight in a timely fashion to review before the scheduled public hearing.

 

Mr. Wade replied that he would doubt very seriously that it would be available.  Staff will go back and talk with the applicant about some of the issues and concerns that the Commission brought up tonight and see if it was something that they were willing to do in the timeframe for it.  But, his first inclination is probably not because it is only a couple of weeks.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that speaking as one commissioner he was going to have a lot of trouble considering this being this is the biggest issue on this project for the community at large.  It is going to be very hard to make a reasoned judgment without the traffic information they need here.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if Mr. Blaine would like to address that issue.

 

Mr. Blaine said that they would endeavor to have all the information in plenty of time for review and analysis before the public hearing.  If they were not in the position to take action, obviously they could not take action.  But, it would be their preference because this schedule has been published and he felt that there was a lot of expectation that they maintain the schedule.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that they were at four weeks right now for that meeting.  The Commission has not seen the report for next week, which goes over the things that came out of the last work session plus their discussion tonight.  The Commission needs to decide their comfort level with the February 27 hearing.  But, he can tell them that staff essentially needs that information now to be able to review it and provide the report for February 27.  They might have the public hearing, but he did not know to what degree there was going to be information in hand that staff will have analyzed.  When staff has to use VDOT and City staff to be part of that analysis to meet a February 27 hearing he just could not guarantee that.

 

Mr. Blaine said that the data is all there for the analysis.  The traffic engineer believes that the data is all there.  Clearly a methodology has to be given rationale.  They would propose a methodology based on this by right development.  It may take time to get VDOT and the County to agree to that methodology.  But, they will have a proposal that will have a rational basis for the Commission to make a consideration.  They may not agree with it.  But, he saw no reason to continue to juggle.

 

Mr. Wade noted that what he heard from the Commission was that they also want to consider the City’s impacts and the issues that were brought up tonight.  Again, staff does not have control over that.  That is something that has to be considered, too.  He felt that it was great if they could stay on the schedule, but staff wants to be realistic.  Staff has been frank with the applicant that they want to scrutinize this as much as possible because of the public scrutiny received.  The applicant has been very understanding about that.  Staff wants to make sure that if they get something in that they want to have time to review it and provide comments.  It sounds like there is information from the County that the Commission has requested that can be done in a fairly short time, which is good.  But, he did not know about the City’s part.

 

Ms. Joseph said that the Commission appreciates the applicant’s need for speed, but she hoped that he also appreciates that this is a big project.  The Commission is not trying to hold the applicant up, but just needs the information because it is a huge responsibility.  This is the biggest project that has ever come through the County and the Commission wants to do it right.  She thanked the City Commissioners for coming.  The February 6 meeting will be a summary of what they have been through.  She invited them back if they want to come.  The February 10 meeting is a public forum that will be held at Fifth Street, which is a Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.  The Commission will be there to take comments and answer questions.  The applicant and staff will be there.  It will be an informal meeting.    

 

The Planning Commission reviewed and discussed the information and questions posed by staff and provided the following direction as noted in the following summary.

 

In summary, the Planning Commission held a work session on ZMA-2005-017, Biscuit Run – Traffic Study.  The purpose of the work session was to inform the Commission of the County and City of the review, analysis and comments regarding the Biscuit Run Development and the transportation impacts. Additional information has been received from the applicant that staff has not had time to review, but staff feels that it will not have any effect on the recommendations and the comments provided. This is an opportunity to receive feedback that will be helpful to give staff and the applicant direction as to how to proceed. Staff presented a power point presentation, summarized the transportation information associated with this project and posed several questions for the Commission.  The applicant’s representative, Stephen Blaine, made a presentation and explained the traffic impact analysis and proposed transportation proffers.  Public comment was taken.  No formal action was taken. The Commission provided feedback to the discussion questions posed by staff.

 

  1. Is the list of off-site proffers and stipulations for those improvements for construction appropriate?

 

The Planning Commission felt that there was not enough information and did not know, but there was likely a solution. The Commission asked staff to give them a better idea of the direct impacts of the Biscuit Run development on surrounding roads. 

 

Specifically, the Commission does not feel they can answer as to the level of proffer to be provided because there is not enough information.  The information the Commission really wants to work from is the difference between this property developing by right and it developing under the rezoning proposal and what that additional impact is.  The Commission would like to see this project addressing that additional impact whether it is directly attributable improvements or some part of other improvements that they will be contributing towards.  What the applicant is saying that in contributing towards other improvements they want to know what the priorities are for the County.   The County needs to do the following:

 

Staff needs to get analysis from the applicant as to the difference between the base line, which is by right, and the full development under the rezoning in terms of both direct impacts and contributing impacts. Then provide that information to the Commission with some level of assessment that staff would provide as to what they think are the most important priority of improvements that are not directly attributable to them.  The Commission wants those improvements directly attributable to them covered, but they also don’t know to what degree they go beyond that.  In the City they kind of have to leave it to the City. 

 

  1. Is the Route 20 commitment acceptable?

 

The Planning Commission’s answer is in condition #1.  To pin down whether they feel that it is what they want or not is going to have to be judged in the context of these other things they just talked about.  It may or may not be the place where they want to put the money.

 

  1. Is the Southwood Connector location acceptable and what should be the timing of the development?

 

The Planning Commission’s answer to question #3 would depend a lot on the forthcoming information from staff as requested in condition #1. 

 

In their discussions, several Commissioners felt that the connection should not be made until the funding is available.  Two Commissioners agreed that the connector road is very critical to the whole development, but that the phasing of the development should be considered so that possibly some of the development in this particular area would wait and just build the road.

 

  1. Should Attachment H improvements (City’s NDS identifying transportation impact and cost on City streets) be proffered?

 

The Planning Commission’s answer will depend on the information requested in condition #1.  The Commission asked the City Commissioners to review the materials and provide their comments for their consideration.

 

  1. Should alternatives to the vehicle, such as bike lanes and transit, be proffered?

 

The Commission in establishing the desire for transit wants it to be ready and able and monies put towards the provision.  The Commission definitely wants alternatives to the vehicle for bike lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians.  The Planning Commission felt strongly there should be bike lanes that connect to Route 20, 5th Street and Avon Street to accommodate non-recreational users.

 

The next summary work session will be held next Tuesday, February 6 at 6:00 p.m.  Also, the Commission plans to hold a Public Forum on Saturday, February 10 at Fifth Street County Office Building from 10:00 a.m. to noon to provide information to the public and take public comments. 

 

Go to next set of minutes

Return to exec summary