Albemarle County Planning Commission

March 7, 2006

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, March 7, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building 5th Street, Room A, 1600 5th Street, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Jon Cannon, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman, Pete Craddock; Jo Higgins and Marcia Joseph, Chairman.  Bill Edgerton was absent.  Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was present. 

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

Other Matters Not Listed on the Agenda from the Public:

 

Ms. Joseph invited comment from the public on other matters not listed on the agenda. There being none, the meeting moved on to the next item.

 

            Information Session:

 

ZMA-2005-017Biscuit Run (formerly Fox Ridge) – Signs #52,56,63

PROPOSAL:  Rezone approximately 920 acres from R-1 Residential (1 unit/acre), R-2 Residential (2 units/acre) and RA--Rural Area: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to NMD Neighborhood Model District - residential (3 - 34 units/acre) mixed with commercial, service and industrial uses. Maximum number proposed residential units: 4,970. Commercial uses proposed also.

PROFFERS:  Yes

EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential-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: Tax Map and Parcels 90-5, 90-6D (portion), 90-17D, 90-A-3, 90-A1-1, 90-A1-1E, 90-15A, 90A-1A, 90A-1B, and 90A-1C. 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.

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

STAFF:  Claudette Grant

 

Ms. Joseph welcomed everyone to the informational session on the Biscuit Run proposed development, which had been incorrectly advertised as a work session.  A series of work sessions will be held on this request by the Planning Commission after this meeting.  The public will be invited to attend, but at that point there will be no public comment.   She invited members of the public to contact the Planning Commissioners through email at planningcommission@albemarle.org if they had any further questions or concerns. The important thing is that no decision will be made tonight. First, staff will give the staff report and then the applicant will give a power point presentation. After that the Commission will open the meeting up for public comment.  Each individual will get 3 minutes to speak. 

 

Claudette Grant presented the staff report with a power point presentation that showed the features of the property.

·         The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to provide information, familiarize the public about the Biscuit Run proposal and to allow an opportunity for public comment.  No analysis will be given this evening.  Additional work sessions will be forthcoming with more detailed analysis.  No action will be taken tonight.

·         The applicant is requesting to rezone 920 acres from R-1 and R-2 and RA to Neighborhood Model District.  This request is currently being reviewed by staff.  This request consists of approximately 2,500 to 4,970 residential units and 3 neighborhood centers, which would include commercial office and community uses.

·         This proposal is large and staff would like to focus on the following important items:

o        Environmental items – The site is largely wooded and vacant with very little development.  There are many areas of critical slopes, which are slopes in excess of 25 percent.  There are several streams and tributaries located on this site.  The main stream is Biscuit Run.  These streams are of significant importance to the local water shed. There are floodplain and wetland areas as well.  There will be some disturbance of some of these important resources.  For example, the applicant has applied for three special use permits related to stream crossings and fill in the floodplain.  The applicant is working with staff regarding low impact development options that may minimize impacts to the water shed areas on the site. 

o        Transportation – The applicant and staff are currently working on the scope of the traffic impact analysis.  Staff will know more and will be able to discuss this later once the study is completed and analyzed.  Staff, VDOT and the applicant will be analyzing some city streets and intersections.  There are two access points to this development off of Route 20.  There are 3 access points off of Old Lynchburg Road.  The north/south road located on the site shows the potential for a future connection to the rural areas in the southern portion of the site.  No connections to Mill Creek are proposed.  The applicant will be working with staff regarding transit or other development options that may reduce traffic impacts. 

o        One of the descriptions used on the Biscuit Run plan is transect zones, which correspond to various colors in density.  For example, the T-3 zone is the yellow areas on the map.  These proposed areas have proposed uses of single-family detached rental units.  These areas depict the lowest density within the development. The density of these yellow areas is 4.5 units per acre.  The T-4 zone is the orange colored area and provides a medium level of density and a variety of housing types with 6 to 12 dwelling units per acre.  The last zone is the T-5 that is colored purple and maroon and is the densest areas in the development and consists of a variety of uses from various residential uses to retail and office uses.

o        The plan shows trails throughout the site as well as pocket parks and a large park as previously mentioned.  These parks would include sports fields, playgrounds, benches and a variety of other recreational needs.

o        The applicant is having a Phase 1 Archaeological Assessment Study completed because information from the state indicates the presence of sites with historic or archaeological importance located on the property.

o        For those persons who wish to track current development or wish to send in comments they can go to the County website at www.albemarle.org. On the first page to the right there are links to the County’s A-Mail System and to current development updates.  Staff encourages the public to use this as one of a variety of ways to communicate with us.  If there are any questions, she would be happy to answer them. Also, the applicant has a presentation as well.  The schedule for future work sessions will be discussed at the end.

 

Steve Blaine, representative for the applicant Forest Lodge LLC, said that they appreciate the opportunity to address the Commission tonight.  Their development group includes Timmons Engineering.  Scott Collins and Mr. Moser are present.  They submitted a rezoning application in September.  He wanted to talk tonight about the schedule, process, the fill in and the development opportunities for this project.  They have talked to over 200 people since they started this project, including the homeowners in Mill Creek South. He described the applicant’s proposal using a power point presentation to display the features of the property. He wanted to show some illustrations to elaborate a little bit on the vision.  He described the process that the applicant is following in the rezoning proposal noting that the process was just beginning.  This is unusual in this context to receive input in this public forum, but they find it beneficial.  The plan tonight is by no means a final plan.  They view this as a collaborative process and are looking forward to working with the Planning Commission through these work sessions and fully expect that the public will be witnessing and participating along the way.  They envision having a series of work sessions.  They are going to take this project little bits at a time by talking about the planning principles and the parts that he thinks are most exciting about this project and the planning opportunities that this project has. 

 

Mr. Blaine highlighted the various areas of the site and the various uses proposed.  He said that the ultimate development plans for the rest of the property have not been decided, but commercial office use and residential use are being considered. They will try to concentrate and direct the growth in the urban area and growth area as called for in the Comprehensive Plan. This project provides a higher density to really implement the Comprehensive Plan’s goal of directing new land development into the growth areas. He stressed that the applicant wants to create a development using the principles of the Neighborhood Model. The developer is willing to donate 92 acres for a neighborhood park with an opportunity to provide a trail system for the community as a whole to enjoy.  They think that it may be viable to connect this to the Rivanna Trail System and allow for bicycle and pedestrian access not just within the neighborhood, but interconnecting with other neighborhoods.  The Capital Improvement Plan for the School District identifies this area as needing an elementary school by 2011.  The CIP budget savings for this proffer would be approximately 2 million dollars, which the development would contribute to the community. 

 

Mr. Blaine continued regarding infrastructure and the existing road networks that there are very few projects where the residents of the community will have access to two major links to the city, which is Route 20 and Old Lynchburg Road.  It will be located less than a mile from the intersection of I-64.  The utilities and infrastructure are already there. The Albemarle County Sewer Authority has sewer lines already in place actually within the project boundaries. There is an existing water line that is being extended down Avon Street.  There will be a water tank with sufficient capacity installed at the development of the Avon Park project on Avon Street.  They will have schools right at their door step.  Monticello High School is a new high school in the area. The Covenant School is located close to the project.  They are less than 3 miles from the major employment centers.  The community will take advantage of this infrastructure. They will promote the Neighborhood Model principles. The developer has pledged to proffer that there will be a 15 percent affordable housing option within this community.  The housing types will include single-family, as well as townhouses and multi-family.  The architecture for this project will be strictly regulated by what is called a Code of Development, which will be filed with the rezoning application.  It will contain requirements for setback, relegated parking and a strict set of architectural guidelines.  There will be neighborhood type streets with an emphasis on sidewalks and street trees.  Regarding the traffic study, he noted that it was being worked on and would probably be the most expensive traffic study done in Albemarle County.  He completed the power point presentation on the proposed development.  He reiterated that this was just the beginning of a process.  They have circulated an informational brochure that has his contact information on the back.  He asked everyone to feel free to contact him or any member of their development team with comments and questions.  They look forward to working with everyone on this site proposal.

 

Ms. Joseph invited public comment.

 

Jeanne Chase, Secretary of The Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association, submitted a letter from the Association to the Planning Commission and County Staff.  She read the letter into the record.  As the Board representing perhaps the largest neighborhood association in the City of Charlottesville and the one that will be the most affected by the development in Albemarle County south of the City they have become increasingly alarmed by the threats to the quality of life in our lovely and historic neighborhood.  While we do not deny the need or right of the continued development on the perimeters of our neighborhood, we do ask that the development be thoughtful and respectful to the neighborhood and the people who live, work, play and travel there. Almost daily they see green space around us diminishing and our streets becoming more unsafe due to increased (and often speeding) traffic volume that now more than ever uses streets such as Old Lynchburg Road and Jefferson Park Avenue Extended that were not designed to carry cars, bikes and pedestrians in such volumes.  This is regularly occurring with little to no improvements for pedestrians.  Often our children walk, run and bike in our streets due to lack of proper infrastructure, sidewalks, crosswalks, crossings, etc.  With the proposed development of the Biscuit Run property and eventually the Granger property, we anticipate a doubling or tripling of the traffic on roads in our neighborhoods coming in from Albemarle County. We are asking that the members of the Albemarle Planning Commission work together with their counterparts in the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia to hasten the building of the Southern Connector that would extend from 5th Street Extended through to the Fontaine Research Park as recommended in the Area B Study.  We would also ask that Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia work together to seek the proffers and means that would assist in construction of the Southern Connector that would extend from Fifth Street Extended through to the Fontaine Research Park as recommended in the Area B Study.  They would also ask that Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia work together to seek the proffers and means that would assist in the construction of the Southern Connector and in improving the safety of the roads leading into the city for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. They ask for the Commission’s help in keeping our neighborhood issues in mind as they are planning for this additional growth that will ultimately affect all of us.  This letter was signed by John Santoski, President Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association with the signatures of Jeanne Chase, Jack Gwynn, Ellen Catalano, Joe and Betty Mooney, Adrienne Dent, Peter Hedlund, Rebecca Sims, Andrea Wieder and Robert Archer.  She pointed out that the letter can be found at the website of http://avenue.org/fsna.  In changing her hat from the secretary of the Fry’s Spring Neighborhood Association, at that same website a letter can be found that she wrote on November 29, to this Commission with copies sent to the City and to the University of Virginia relative to the observations that she as a homeowner with her husband on Old Lynchburg have had first hand experience for 29 years.  She asked all persons present in agreement with John Santoski’s letter to stand. 

 

Joseph Greenberg, resident of Mill Creek South, spoke in opposition to the request.  He felt that the bigger issue was growth in general. He acknowledged that growth will happen, but it will continue until there are so many houses that people will lose their quality of life and then move somewhere else.  That is not a desirable way to do it.  Now they are trying to plan this growth. The developers will make their money up front when people buy the houses, then they move on and develop somewhere else.  There is another cost with maintaining the infrastructure for this growth.   The biggest infrastructure he sees is the water.  A few years ago they were running out of water in Charlottesville during the drought.  He felt that water was a huge issue and adding houses makes the problem worse.  Therefore, that issue has to be addressed.  Road infrastructure is another problem.  With the addition of 5,000 homes there would be 10,000 more cars using Route 20 or Old Lynchburg Road creating traffic problems.  The growth in the schools is another issue to be considered 

 

Richard Hewitt, resident of area for 4 years, shared the concerns of everyone else present and was opposed to the development. He pointed out that there is an additional 200 acres that is owned by Forest Lodge on the north side of the road, which is prepared to go on the market in about 60 days, which is zoned R-4.  That adds the possibility of 800 additional houses or more if they get the Neighborhood Model zoning across the road from Biscuit Run.  He felt that the proposed development had too much density, not enough water and would negatively impact traffic into the city.    

 

Doug Arrington said that there does not seem to have been much attention paid to the impact on Old Lynchburg Road.  As the previous speaker indicated, there are other developments that will be going on.  One point in particular on Old Lynchburg Road is Singleton Lane north to where the four lanes start.  It is a very curvy area and a lot of people over drive it.  He questioned how Mosby Mountain was developed without any consideration to the impact of Old Lynchburg Road.  He would appreciate if the Commission and Board would take that section of Old Lynchburg Road into consideration when they are looking at this project.

 

Peter Dumct, resident of Stoney Creek Drive for 9 ½ years, asked the Commission to carefully weigh the gains and losses that will result from the rezoning request.  He was curious about what would be allowed without the rezoning.  He complimented Mr. Blaine for what he has done and asked him to continue down that path.  Many of his concerns had already been addressed.  It is a congested road and the traffic is increasing day by day.  In conclusion, he hoped the development will enhance their quality of life.  He supported the project to move forward.

 

Rhett Ripplinger, resident of Rivanna District, expressed concerns about the project. 

 

Joseph Dotly, M.C.S. consulting engineer, said that he had been involved with City applications in many states and has some real concerns about the proposed development and its impacts on the area.

 

Tom Olivia, resident in the Scottsville District for the last 25 years, said that the scale of the development would cause a significant impact on the traffic and have a fiscal impact on the entire community.

 

Kathy Cassidy, resident of Redfields, asked that the County stop approving developments haphazardly. 

 

The following citizens expressed concerns about the potential impacts from the proposed development on the road systems, water supply, environmental degradation, etc.:

 

Ø       Margaret Weeks;

Ø       Joe Anto, President of Mill Creek S. Association;

Ø       Gwen Lackly, member of Lake Reynovia Homeowner’s Association,

Ø       Ed Rivers, resident of Mill Creek;

Ø       Richard Burton said that he grew up on Old Lynchburg Road and the road system is grossly overloaded.

Ø       Carol Herrick, of Lake Reynovia;

Ø       Steve Collette, member of the School Board,

Ø       Jeff Werner, representative for Piedmont Environmental Council;

Ø       Harold Showalter;

Ø       Eric Cranzen (noted that this area needs a master plan);

Ø       Tom False, a member of CHART- MPO Tech Committee;

Ø       Doug Horwith (quality of life issue);

 

Ms. Joseph said that they would go around and hear concerns from the City Council members and other officials seated at the tables.

 

Lewis Sherry, City Council member, said that City residents are concerned about the traffic impact that that the proposed development would have. She was present just to listen.

 

Barry Clark, Town Administrator of Scottsville, said that he received the plan about 1 week ago. His biggest concern was the transportation issues and access points. 

 

Bill Lucy, City Planning Commissioner, said he was present to listen and learn.

 

Mr. Fink, City Planning Commissioner, said that there would be a 10 to 20 percent increase necessary in the infrastructure.  There are intersections in the City that will be affected.

 

Cal Morris, Eric Strucko, Jo Higgins, Pete Craddock, Jon Cannon and Marcia Joseph, Albemarle County Planning Commissioners, expressed concerns about the effect of the proposed subdivision on the  existing area and infrastructure.

 

Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia said that all comments were good and helpful.  She suggested that they add to the transportation plan traffic analysis.  She would also like to hear more about the transit opportunities.

 

Ms. Higgins left the meeting at 7:57 p.m. 

 

The Planning Commission took at ten minutes break at 7:57 p.m.

 

The meeting reconvened at 8:08 p.m.

 

In summary, the Planning Commission held an information session on ZMA-2005-017, Biscuit Run (formerly Fox Ridge). In addition to the County Planning Commission, three City Commissioners and the Scottsville Town Administrator were in attendance. The development proposal was presented by staff and the applicant with power point presentations. The Commission reviewed and discussed the proposal with staff and the applicant, and received public comment.  The Planning Commission and other officials present provided comments and suggestions.  No formal action was taken.

 

Ms. Joseph said that a series of work sessions will be held on this request by the Planning Commission after this meeting.  The public will be invited to attend, but at that point there will be no public comment.   She invited members of the public to contact the Planning Commissioners through email at planningcommission@albemarle.org if they had any further questions or concerns.  

 

Staff asked the Commission to address the proposed work session schedule and dates for the Biscuit Run Rezoning. 

 

The Commission reviewed staff’s proposed work session schedule. The Commission was in agreement with the first two dates as proposed, but expressed several concerns about the items that they are going to be addressing.  The following comments and suggestions were discussed:

o        Work session #1 should focus on the bigger picture items and whether the proposal fits in with the Comprehensive Plan. Items such as relegated parking, density and buildings of human scale should come later in the process.  A question that needs to be answered is how this relates to the future of the county and the transportation system?

o        Work session #2 should focus on transportation matters. It is important that the transportation study is done prior to this discussion.  Mr. Blaine indicated that he did not think the traffic study would be completed by the April 18 date. He suggested that the Commission begin talking about the more general transportation issues and get an update on the scope and understanding of the study process.  He suggested that they keep that date, but not expect that they will tackle the transportation study at that work session.  Once the transportation study comes in it may require additional work sessions after May 9. 

o        It was questioned whether the five items in the March 21 work session or the four items in the May 9 work session could be handled in one session.

o        It was suggested that they would first want to look at the larger systems at the same time.  (For instance, the transportation, the historic resources and the environmental issues.)  Afterwards they would go down to the smaller grain things. 

o        General public comment will not be taken at future work sessions.

o        Several requests were made to change the order of discussion items and to group them together by topic.

o        The Commission asked for an email outlining all of the previous planning for this area that has been done.  Staff indicated that would be included in the staff report for March 21.

o        The discussion should include what growth would be allowed by right versus what would be allowed by the rezoning.

o        The City and Town of Scottsville Planning Commission will be given notice and invited to the future work sessions, particularly for the transportation discussion.  It was discussed whether they would be active members of the discussion.   

o        It was concluded that two work sessions, March 21 and April 18, will be scheduled at this time and additional work sessions will be identified and scheduled after the March 21 work session.

 

Staff pointed out that the next work session would be held on March 21 in room 241.

 

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