Albemarle County Planning Commission

June 5, 2007

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, work session and a public hearing on Tuesday, June 5, 2007, at 4:00 p.m., at the County Office Building Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Members attending were Jon Cannon, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Bill Edgerton; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock. Absent was Eric Strucko.  Mr. Craddock arrived at 4:14 p.m.  Mr. Zobrist arrived at 5:05 p.m. Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 

 

Other officials present were Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

Work Session:

 

Pantops Master Plan - Work Session for discussion, and potential Commission action on staff recommendations responding to public and Commission comments from the draft Pantops Master Plan public hearing held April 3, 2007.  (Rebecca Ragsdale)

 

Ms. Ragsdale and Mr. Benish presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.

 

 

Ms. Joseph opened the work session for public comment.

 

R. G. Dimberg, resident of Glenorchy, asked that as the Commission looks at the Master Plan that they not lose sight that Glenorchy, the oldest residential neighborhood in the Pantops area, was under threat.  Some maps show the absolute destruction of the neighborhood.  The construction of the road shown on the map would only leave the neighborhood partially intact. The integrity of the neighborhood would be destroyed by entrance road to a privately developed shopping center on Hansenís Mountain.  He asked that they keep the integrity of Glenorchy at the top of their list of priorities as they consider these plans. He reminded the Commission that the Master Plan and the Comprehensive Plan both make repeated references to the Neighborhood Model.  What they are talking about here is the real possibility that the oldest residential neighborhood model in Pantops will be compromised, if not destroyed, if this developer is allowed to proceed as planned.  This new road through Glenorcky, whether it takes part of his property or all of it, is to benefit a private developer.  They are not going to bend to the will of this developer easily.  They have not been consulted.  They learned about the possibility in an article in the Daily Progress last fall.  He then initiated communication with people at VDOT.  Only after he opened those communications did VDOT offer to meet.  He found out that the Culpeper Office had meet with Ashcroft already without consultation with the people in Glenorchy.  No one has explained how this move of Hansen Mountain Road would have a positive effective on the traffic on Route 250.  That is how VDOT justifies this.

 

Randy Saltzmon, resident of Key West, urged the Commission to think of the green infrastructure in addition to recreation.  There is also transportation.  There are two major areas that he would like to address.  First, the green way that is to run along the Rivanna River all the way down from Key West will increase bicycles commutating into the City.  Around the world bicycling is regrouping and becoming a transportation model that has decreased congestion and pollution in many parts of the world.  Currently along Route 20 there are about 40 cars every 10 minutes coming down that road.  If they could decrease that they would decrease the problems that will begin to arise if the Meadow Creek Parkway is ever built.  By having alternative traffic it will decrease the traffic.  Secondly, the Peter Jefferson and Martha Jefferson Hospital area will cause an increase in traffic.  The hospital is in the process of moving and has 1,500 employees.  Most of those employees live right around the hospital on the City side. Once the hospital moves they have to get to work.  How will they get to work?  They are going to drive and crowd the Free Bridge off of Route 250.  As part of the plan if they add the infrastructure of a foot bridge from the State Farm Boulevard area to Riverside Park in the City, they have decreased the need for those people to get in their cars and drive across the Free Bridge.  Therefore, it would solve problems in the future.  In addition, the Route 250 residential neighborhood right there at that location would have another access into town to go to the downtown mall without having to drive.  Due to the incline issue they need to pursue obtaining an exemption from the Americans for Disability Act. The first step is to get a foot bridge on that part of the river so people can go from the City to the County without taking a car.  He asked that the foot bridge also be for bicycles.

 

Steve Taylor, resident of Key West, said that he had attended a lot of the master plan meetings.  The one thing that has come out from a residentís point of view, there are many areas that are already head locked by approved developments.  The one small victory they felt that they had achieved was getting that piece of land taken out.  He understands all of the caveats attached to it with the bits of shading, but it just seems to be profoundly disappointing that the one little victory that they achieved as a group of residents is back in.  He wanted to express his disappointment that has happened.

 

John Kleman, resident of Key West, pointed out that there was one more land use change on the map from last time.  There seems to be a park added in along the road on the river.  He asked if there has been any public input on what that park would be used for.  He felt that it was a good idea that park land was added. 

 

Ms. Ragsdale replied that the park area along Free Bridge Lane was advertised for the public hearing and was something that they brought forward in the draft based on their discussions with Park and Rec.  Most of the green area shown as the park is in the flood plain.  Staff visited the site with Parks and Rec and they mentioned that a dog park was needed.

 

Mr. Benish noted that no final decision has been made.  But, it looked like it would be a larger and better area for a dog park than the current one.  Parks saw an opportunity to utilize it as part of the green way along that road way, which is part of Rivanna Park right now.  It would enhance some of the existing facilities.

 

Mr. Kleman said that he had another question about affordable housing.  He was a social worker with the Arc of the Piedmont.  They are going to see a profound need for housing in the next 5 to 6 years for this population.  The Homestead decision by the U.S. Supreme Court of 1999 is requiring all business institutions to place people in the community if they are not in need of institutional care.  Central Virginia Training Center in Lynchburg is now looking at a population going down from 500 to 300. They have hundreds of people on the waiting list for services.  They are going to be looking for about 100 homes or apartments in the Charlottesville area in the next couple of years for low income individuals.  Hopefully there will be some affordable housing made available in the Pantops area to help with this situation.

 

There being no further public comment, Ms. Joseph closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that he was concerned about two issues regarding the Wheeler property. First, taking the property out of the development area could lead to exasperating the bigger problem they are fighting all the time in not getting as much development in the development area as they want.  One of the things that has been frustrating in some of the developments submitted within the last year in this growth area is that they have not been able to achieve the density of the existing Comprehensive Plan.  If the land is taken out at a later date there is no question that will indirectly put pressure on the rural areas for more development with the assumption that a certain amount of growth is coming this way.  If they canít accommodate it in the development area, the growth is going to go in the rural area.  He was struggling with that.  The neighborhood would love to have the Wheeler property remain rural forever, but it is an area for whatever reason was designated back in the 70ís as a target for development.  The Boardís proposed swapping of property in the development area seems to have been upsetting to Ms. Wheeler.  Leaving it in there one-half way is a concern.  He felt that the Commission needs to make a decision, which staff has reminded us this is the Commissionís decision to make.  It is not fair to the community to flip flop back and forth because of someoneís personal concerns.    

 

Ms. Joseph agreed.

 

Mr. Cannon said that he needed to understand the chronology.  It is a reason the parcel was put into the growth area to begin with.  It was thought that it was an appropriate parcel to be part of the inventory in the growth area and an appropriate place to have growth go.  Then there was a proposal to take the parcel out in this planning cycle based primarily on Ms. Wheelerís intentions with respect to the land, which he was prepared to go along with.  Now there has been a reversal of that because some change in her preferences or expectations with respect to the land.  The Commission needs to make a call here based on the merits for the planning process.  There are significant considerations that Ms. Wheeler has in respect to the future of the property, but the Commission needs to make its own independent decision. 

 

Mr. Benish noted that various issues were identified by the community such as scenic mountain views and open space.  There was also an issue of impact to the roadway and Route 20 in that particular area given the character of Route 20.  This was along with the understanding that there was a property owner that did not have an interest in this property.  Those two pieces of information looked like a win/win. 

 

Mr. Cannon said that if on the merits it looks like the parcel should be taken out, then he was happy to take it out.  But, he felt that they need to get to the merits.  Previously, he was not getting to the merits and was just happy to be accommodating.  But, it has gotten more complex with the most recent reversal.

 

Mr. Morris agreed.  Mr. Taylor really summed it up very well.  There are a number of persons who were at those planning sessions at State Farm and so on and it was really their understanding that this was the understanding of the property owner at the time.  So the parcel was taken out, but now it is back in.  It needs to be one way or the other and not a hatched mark.  It is either in or it is out.

 

Mr. Craddock felt that the parcel should stay in.  If the property owner wants to take it out, then she needs to do a separate action such as a comprehensive map amendment.

 

Mr. Edgerton favored leaving the Wheeler property in and taking out this special consideration.  Ms. Wheeler needs to figure out what she wants to do with the property.

 

Ms. Ragsdale reiterated that the Commissionís choice is to take the hatching and leave it yellow, neighborhood density.   Since they have the priority areas and the relationship to the neighborhood center in the plan already, if it comes in development for a rezoning it is obviously not enough priority area for the rezoning.  That will be acknowledged in the plan.  Staff is clear on that now.

 

Regarding Peter Jefferson Place the dashed red lines are preserving some of the interconnectivity, but it was respecting the approved master plan for Martha Jefferson Hospital.  The Planning Commission questioned why they would not want to show the other roads as a dashed line for the future needs.  Therefore, a request was made to show the grids and the dashed lines the same way it is shown near the museum.

 

Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, that staffís recommendations on the Pantops Master Plan be moved forward to the Board of Supervisors with the adjustments as discussed and agreed upon, as follows:

 

 

Mr. Edgerton noted that it should include anything else the Commission had discussed.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Strucko was absent.)

 

Ms. Joseph stated that the Pantops Master Plan recommendations will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors. 

 

In summary, a work session on Pantops Master Plan was held by the Planning Commission for discussion and potential Commission action on staff recommendations responding to public and Commission comments from the draft Pantops Master Plan public hearing held on April 3, 2007.  Staff presented a power point presentation and summarized the changes made to the Master Plan.  Public comment was taken. The Commission reviewed and discussed the publicís comments and proposed changes and took action.

 

The meeting adjourned at 5:41 p.m. for a dinner break. 

 

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