Albemarle County Planning Commission

December 4, 2007

                                        

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Members attending were Jon Cannon, Bill Edgerton, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Eric Strucko; Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock.  Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman was absent.  Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent. 

 

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

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the meeting to order at 6:04 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

David Benish presented a power point presentation on the Six Year Road Plan. (See Staff Report)

 

         This is the Six Year Secondary Road Plan review.  The County Board of Supervisors reviews a priority list for secondary road improvements annually.  The County has maintained this priority list for a number of years since 1986.  It is an ongoing list.  They donít make radical changes every year, but do update it based on various requests and changes in circumstance from year to year.  The priority list forms the basis for VDOTís Six Year Secondary Road Improvement Program.  That VDOT Improvement Program identifies how state construction funds are expended over the next six years. 

         Under the Code of Virginia VDOT is supposed to follow the Countyís priorities for secondary road improvements.  It is not necessarily the case for primary roads, but for secondary roads it is.  The County does also maintain a separate list for primary and interstate road improvements.  That is a separate list that is done separately.  Primary road improvements are not included in this list. 

         The number of projects on the Countyís priority list exceeds the funding that is typically available over the six years of the VDOT plan.  There is a conscious effort by the County to keep an ongoing list so that they can keep a consistent priority of improvements.

         The budget for the upcoming six years of the VDOT Six Year Secondary Road Plan has not been released by VDOT to date.  Staff has some tentative numbers, but they have not released the final numbers to the County.  That six year period is FY Ď08/í09 to FY Ď13/í14.  The list takes the priority list and determines how to spend the available funds over the next six years. 

         The Countyís prioritization of projects as reflective of the Comprehensive Plan Goals for growth

         Management and facility and infrastructure planning and development.  It also considers public safety and regional transportation network needs.  Generally the list prioritizes projects within or serving the development area or projects in the rural area to provide for infrastructure to support the growth that is anticipated and recommended for the development areas.

         Rural area improvements by and large are focused on safety type of improvements and/or strategic improvements that would also serve to benefit the development areas.  As an example, Rio Mills and Dickerson Road west of Hollymead are proposed for paving.  They fall on the boundary or outside the development area, but they are a high priority because they create a paved parallel alternative to Route 29 for some traffic.  It was given a higher priority even though much of those roads are in the rural area. 

         The County has a rating system that has been established.  It is a criterion based rating system that is reflective of the growth management policies and also evaluates design, safety and capacity measures.  The first cut is almost always whether it is in the development area or rural area.  So the first cluster would be development area projects.  Then depending on the type of project they use traffic counts and capacity ratings.  They also look at road design deficiencies, the pavement width, the shoulder width, vertical horizontal curvature issues and accident reports.  County staff works with VDOT staff to develop the priorities.  They also seek input from County Police, Fire/Rescue and Schoolís Transportation Division.  Also, Scottsville improvements need to be prioritized in the Countyís Priority lists for consideration by VDOT.  Staff received their input as well.  Staff also receives public comment and requests each year.  This is the time in which they review those for inclusion into the list.

         Under the Rural Road Paving Project policy established by the County and held for a long time the County expends the minimum amount of funding on unpaved roads permitted by the state.  That amount is established by a funding formula based on the amount of unpaved roads, population and a number of criteria.  The County expends the minimum amount required.  This past fiscal year that was about $540,000.

 

Ms. Joseph questioned how that works.  The County has to receive X amount of dollars for the rural projects in order to receive X amount of dollars for the more urban projects.

 

Mr. Benish said that it is not necessarily related to urban or rural.  For paving projects there is a specific amount of money that is set aside under the State distribution of funds.  For paving projects there is a specific amount of money that is set aside under the State distribution of funds.  There is a specific amount set aside that needs to be spent per locality.  In Albemarle all of our roads except for Reservoir Road are in the rural area.  So any expenditure that the County makes on rural roads is in the rural area. 

Our paving money is all used in rural area except for that one alternative

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that it has been the case over the years that the unpaved road allocation was formula driven and was actually based on miles of unpaved roads. They could make the choice not to spend the money on an unpaved road and use it on a standard secondary road. But, if that was the case the formula allocation would be treated as if they had reduced the miles on the unpaved road inventory.  In other words it was a phantom paving of roads that never occurred because it was used on the secondary road in the urban area.  That means that the unpaved road allocation falls over time because of that because they would show less unpaved road mileage even though it never got paved.  That is an option the County has never pursued.  They have just basically taken only unpaved road monies to pave unpaved roads.  They have not used any of the other secondary road allocations.

 

Mr. Cannon said that it seemed that the state allocation of fund comes with the requirement that amount is to be used on paving unpaved road, which all in Albemarle County are in the rural area. VDOTís policy might be inconsistent with the Countyís land use plan.  That is the question here.

 

Mr. Wade said that for folks that donít use that set aside money there is essentially a penalty that kind of sticks with the locality.  The Board decided to use the minimum amount that is required each year that they get.  There is a lot of pressure at the State level to pave roads.  But, VDOT has some strict standards.  VDOT has had several programs being Pave in Place and Rural Rustic Road.  The County is going through a test phase for the Rural Rustic Roads. They have done some paving on Gilbert Station Road.  There is a concern that paving will increase traffic and make it more dangerous.  VDOT does not want it to be a road with a lot of through traffic or the traffic count to be near 500. They donít want a lot of development planned for it.  They want it to be a road where they donít anticipate a lot of through traffic.  There are several guidelines that they have from regular paving.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that paving unpaved roads in the in the rural area is generally not consistent with our Comprehensive Plan.  What Mr. Wade was alluding to was discussed with the Board.  Essentially it is enabling the potential for more lots to be developed.  If they wanted to strictly stick with the Comprehensive Plan goals and objectives we would shift all of our unpaved road monies into the development areas and supplement our secondary road monies do improvements projects.  Within a few years they would literally have no unpaved road monies anymore because the system would treat it as if they were paving it anyway.  They have an extensive list of roads in the rural areas where citizens have asked for them to be paved.    These are citizens that in many cases have moved into those areas and then asked for the paving of the roads.  That very extensive list usually becomes the vocal group of people that come to the public hearing and say our road is in very bad shape, more and more houses are being built in the area and they are experiencing more traffic and they need their road paved.  The Board is in a no win situation.  If they do what the County policy says they will never pave these roads.  They would be ignoring the citizens.  But, they were not going to divert monies from their secondary funds into paving so they will just spend the amount that they have got and pave the road the best that they can.  What the Rural Rustic Program has done is enabled some of the roads that would have cost a lot more to do as full paving projects to be paved for a much less cost.  They will get more miles done for much lower dollars.  As a result they would end up with a prime and double seal road.  That is what he has seen so far.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if there was a process for people to come forward to express their opposition to the paving of a road.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that on a Rural Rustic Road that no right-of-ways have to be obtained.

 

Mr. Wade said that on Rural Rustic Road there does not have to be a public hearing because VDOT does not have to obtain right-of-way.  When Rural Rustic Road projects come up staff contacts each adjacent property owner that this is what they plan to do in lieu of traditional paving.  This gives them an opportunity to express their opinion.  If it is more than 50 percent then they would have a community meeting with the Board member and Planning Commissioner to vent out the issues.  This has never come up. 

 

Mr. Benish noted that as per County and VDOT projects road projects are now to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel, particularly on urban roads. 

 

Juan Wade discussed the changes and details of the Six Year Secondary Road Plan.

 

Ms. Joseph invited public comment.

 

Allison Mitchell, a resident of Route 640, presented a power point presentation.  She asked that this portion of less than Ĺ mile be prioritized to the VDOT Plan for Secondary Roads.    In July she went to the Board to request pavement.  They now have spot improvements on this Ĺ mile section.  In September she held a community with over 20 people in attendance to speak to VDOT and Ken Boyd about paving their road.  She readdressed the Board in November at their monthly VDOT update meeting and she plans to attend the February secondary road meeting for the Board of Supervisors.  In the meantime she requested the Commissionís support for finishing this County project.  She submitted a petition of over 60 residents and an agreement from the property owners and has gotten a verbal right-of-way agreement for every person along that Ĺ mile stretch.  She asked that the Commission recommend to the Board to finish what they have begun by entirely paving this road to improve the safety of the community Fire and Rescue access and school bus access to the community.  This would also create an access road to the Pantops area and 29 North. The road was not designed to carry the additional subdivisions approved by the County.  The trip for households has increased from about 770 to 1,520 in the past 6 years with the additional 3 subdivisions. By paving the road it would enhance the quality of life and safety and water run off that runs in creek. She asked that the County pave this less than Ĺ mile by using unpaved road funding road. (Attachments)

 

Jeanne Chase spoke in support of the Sunset Fontaine Connector. It is extremely important to prioritize this road to take the 6,000 vehicles that are currently going up and down a residential street as a cut through off the road.  There are many safety concerns on the road due to the high volume of traffic.  She urged that the infrastructure be in place first before any future development is done.

 

Lee Griffith. Resident of Ashley Subdivision echoed her comments.  She understands the Comp Plan and realizes how important it is the development is already in place and needs the road paved.

 

Jeffrey Windset, resident of Ashley Subdivision, noted that it mainly has to do with safety.  He supported Ms. Mitchellís request.

 

Mercer LeGosse said that the more traffic on that road that the more the road needs to be fixed since it was a very twisting road.  He preferred that the road be paved.

 

Jamie Goldburg, live in Ashley Subdivision, asked that the road gets paved.    He was trying to avoid a washboard road that people cross over into the other lane.  At bridge turning into mud.  Get stuck on mud or if go around are in the other lane.  Getting muddier and more wash board canít keep up with the grading to accommodate the traffic.

 

Mr. Strucko asked why they paved everything except the Ĺ mile.

 

Mr. Wade replied that this particular section has to be done using regular paving standards.  The cost will be more.  They will have to have a public hearing and go through entire process including environmental review.  Based on the criteria the Board set up it is behind other paving projects and it might be many years before it is done.  The two sections done were straighter and VDOT felt it could be done.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that the Commission was not endorsing any other road than what they saw in Area Study B.

 

Mr. Benish said that the interchange would not be mentioned.  The new inclusion is more specificity about the Sunset Road Connector being included.  The Sunset Avenue upgrade now cites the connector road.  The Boardís strategic plan emphasizes that there are some local and regional road improvements that they wanted accomplished by 2010.  Meadowcreek Parkway, Jarmanís Gap Road and Georgetown Road were the 3 of those identified projects.  All of their efforts are engages in getting those 3 projects done.  That is what he was trying to get across to the Commission.  This mechanism that they are looking at really just sets those priorities.  They are working in those priorities to the extent that this scoping for the Georgetown Road project is trying to scope a project that can be funded with the existing funds available as opposed to what the ultimate cost would be.  That further ensures that any additional funding can continue to go to Jarmanís Gap Road to ensure that it is funded.  If there is something on this list that they might want to focus in on is after Georgetown Road after they moved down the list once Meadowcreek is achieved and as they progress through Jarmanís Gap and Georgetown what are the next strategic ones that they start to plan and scope for.  What they see on the list are Proffit Road, the Southern Parkway and the Sunset Avenue, which includes the connector road.  Then it is the Berkmar Drive Extended Bridge.  He asked that the Commission think about the next strategic plan and the planning that they are doing besides the building planning that they are doing.  Those are the next projects they are going to start focusing in on.

 

Mr. Strucko said that he heard a lot of comments about the need for Meadowcreek and he supports them.   He asked to provide a scenario by pulling the money issues off the table and pretend that there are no restrictions how he would prioritize this list.  The criteria he would use would be designated growth area and the biggest impact.  He would guess Meadowcreek Parkway would stay number 1.  Then he would look at Georgetown Road or Jarmanís Gap Road and compare the 2 roads.  Georgetown Road does have a higher traffic volume, but it has the infrastructure such as sidewalks, turn lanes, lights on each end and lined.  He looks at Jarmanís Gap Road that does not have a lot of those amenities.  He sees Jarmanís Gap and Georgetown serving a growth area.  Therefore, he gives Jarmanís Gap Road the edger over Georgetown and would leave it in that order.  Then he would not keep Profit #5.  The Meadowcreek Parkway would have the big impact on that section of the designated growth area, but there is nothing happening south of town.  So he would put the Southern Parkway, Fontaine Sunset Connector next and then possibly move Profit below them.  That is probably a realistic response that his mind would take in terms of this list.   Next, what would the Commission suggest to Ms. Mitchell in her situation?  He only mentioned a half a dozen and did not get down to number 40 or whatever.  The recourse to help this situation is to approach the Board of Supervisors and the Capital Improvement Program and look for specifically dedicated County monies to see if the County will get into the road paving business for at least a Ĺ mile stretch in your neck of the woods and fix that little anomaly that is there 2 paved sections separated by a dirt road.  It does not make sense.  He suggested that Ms. Mitchell approach the appropriatorsí, which would be the Board of Supervisors and argue for a project on that list.  He did not think it would cost millions, but just a fraction of a million.

 

Ms. Joseph said she could not suggest that it go up on the list.  But, she felt that Mr. Strucko had given good advice because she needed to go and talk to the Board.  She asked if the Commission wants to move the priority around like Mr. Strucko suggested and some of the southern roads go up higher than Profit.

 

Mr. Cannon said that he could not make an assessment because they donít have comparative data apart from the cost and traffic count.  He did not have the information that would make him comfortable with to begin moving this priority list around. 

 

Mr. Zobrist said that they could suggest taking the rural paving money and quite paving the rural area and put it on the Meadowcreek Parkway.

 

Mr. Cannon and Ms. Joseph noted that they would support that.

 

Mr. Cannon said that he did not know how to deal with any of these priorities.

 

Mr. Edgerton noted that staff had indicated that it would be charged against their balance.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that he was okay with that if they want to keep the rural area rural and not keep putting in roads.  To get right down to it the only thing they have enough information to decide if they want to recommend changing that particular priority.

 

Mr. Cannon said that they donít actually lose the money, but just lose the ability later to spend the money on rural.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that initially they donít lose the money because it is there based on the unpaved road miles.  Once it is spent on another project it is going to be assumed that the unpaved road miles would reduce even though you never spent it on the unpaved roads. So eventually they would exhaust the miles.

 

Mr. Cannon said that they would have to pave their unpaved roads out of their own pocket if they wanted to do it at some later time.  But, they would have had the benefit of that money to do something else.

 

Mr. Benish said that there were some general philosophical statements that the Commission was making about the plan as opposed to specific recommendations.  He felt that the concern was expenditures within the rural areas primarily on paving projects are not consistent with the goal of the Comprehensive Plan and that is a concern of the Commission.  Secondly, what Mr. Strucko was putting forth is that within the strategic priorities staff and the Board should consider perhaps providing greater emphasis on roads to the south as opposed to Profit Road and let the Board and staff relooks at those criteria without staff having to go into the durance of that.  That is what he heard from what Mr. Strucko was suggesting.

 

Mr. Strucko agreed.

 

Mr. Benish noted that staff could be prepared to comment to the Board on that.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked that the recommendation include that if the Board is serious about protecting the rural areas that they need to be willing to address either the zoning or by right development in the rural area to minimize the expediential growth that is causing a lot of the pressures that they are feeling right now as evidenced by some of what was said by the members of the public tonight. This is unacceptable to say that they are going to protect the rural area and then allow by right developments in the rural area that exacerbates the situation and make it dangerous.  They have to get the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning in the rural area consistent with the Comp Plan. Otherwise, they are kidding us.

 

Mr. Zobrist asked to add to that. If the word got out to the citizens that all of the developers representations about when that road is going to get built when they buy in a subdivision will go out the windows because it is a real poor message that those roads are not going to get paved.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that they remain a buyer beware state, unfortunately.

 

Mr. Zobrist asked Ms. Mitchell if they would have bought in their area if she had of known that.

 

Ms. Mitchell said that they enjoyed the rural road until the population increased with these 3 subdivisions.  That is the main point.  The road is now deteriorating because of the increased traffic.

 

Mr. Zobrist noted that they have it right in saying quite paving rural roads.  He supported Mr. Edgerton.

 

Mr. Cannon said that it was the unanimous consensus of the Commission that it be represented to the Board that way.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that they are back to the whole question of the zoning in the rural areas reflecting what the Comprehensive Plan calls for. 

 

Mr. Cannon said that he would support serious reconsideration of making the trade that they have talked about.  It was taking the money out of paving the rural roads and putting it to something else.

 

Mr. Zobrist felt that was what they had just said.

 

Mr. Cannon said that they should add that on to make it more specific.

 

Mr. Zobrist added the caveat except for the areas that create an undue and unreasonable safety risk to the residents.

 

Mr. Cannon said that Mr. Cilimberg and Mr. Edgerton are correct.  The Board has wrestled with this.  The Commission has just heard about and just figured it out and understands it.  His concern is that they are being dictated to by Richmond about where they have put their resources in a way that is not just inconsistent with the plan, but is contrary to the plan.  He wants to do something about it.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked that they add a friendly amendment that the Board look hard at their previous decision to spend the minimum that was allocated to the rural area.

 

Mr. Cannon said that it would helpful to them for us to take a further and a more informed look at that.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that there was no road on the list that was not in the development area.

 

Mr. Wade noted that the only exclusion was in Scottsville.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that Scottsville is a development area that they donít control since the annexation.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that Ms. Chase came in and talked about Sunset/Fontaine.  She is correct in the way it was presented to the PACTEC meeting.  It was presented by the University.  She said she would support some kind of study, but did not support it in general because what the County supports are connecting roads. What they were proposing was 2 little cul-de-sacs coming side by side.  The more she thought about that road going on and using the interstate is that it is a one-way street and is not a connector road.  There is no way anyone could go 2 ways on that thing.  Sunset and Fontaine could be used to go 2 ways.

 

Mr. Cilimberg noted that what ends up happening is one gets off Sunset and goes around the Fontaine Park to Fontaine Avenue using the interstate and Route 29.  It is not direct.  His understanding was that it is PACTECís interest just considers studying this, but they would not replace the Sunset/Fontaine Connector with that concept.  His understanding from last weekís work session on the Fontaine Research Park was that the Commission still anticipates that road being provided for until somebody shows a better alternative. 

 

Ms. Joseph agreed.  Staff needs to understand that the Commission is not endorsing any other road than what they saw in Area Study B.

 

Mr. Benish noted the new inclusion is more specificity about the Sunset Road Connector being included.  The Sunset Avenue upgrade now sites the connector road.  The Boardís strategic plan emphasizes that there are some local and regional road improvements that they wanted accomplished by 2010 being Meadow Creek Parkway, Jarmanís Gap Road and Georgetown Road were the 3 of those identified projects.  That is all their efforts are engaged in getting those 3 projects done.  That is what he was trying to get across to them.  This mechanism really just sets those priorities.  Staff is working in those priorities to the extent that the scoping for the Georgetown Road project is trying to scope a project that can be funded with the existing funds available opposed to what the ultimate cost would be.  That further ensures that any additional funding can continue to go to Jarmanís Gap Road to ensure that it is funded.   One thing that is on the list that the Commission might want to focus in on is after Georgetown Road is done and as they move down the list and once Meadowcreek is achieved and as they progress through over many of the projects. They need to think about the next strategic plan and the 6 years and the planning that they are doing other than the building planning.  Those are the type of project that they are going to focus in on. 

 

The Planning Commission held a discussion and provided the following comments and suggestions for the Board as listed in the summary below.

 

In summary, the Planning Commission held a work session to review and comment on the proposed Priority List for Secondary Road Improvements in the County.  Staff reviewed the proposed Priority List for Secondary Road Improvements and explained the procedure.  The Commission discussed the priority list, took public comment and provided comments and suggestions. The Commission took no formal action. 

 

         The Commission supported priorities 2 through 11, designated growth area roads.

          The priority list needs to be reviewed to possibly move Jarmanís Gap Road up closer to priority #1.   A strong statement should be sent to the Board of Supervisors to encourage the following:

 

 

o        The Commission suggested that the Board take the rural paving money and quit paving the rural area and put it on the Meadowcreek Parkway.

 

o        The concern was expenditures within the rural areas primarily on paving projects are not consistent with the goal of the Comprehensive Plan.

 

o        Within the strategic priorities staff and the Board should consider perhaps providing greater emphasis on roads to the south as opposed to Profit Road and let the Board and staff relooks at those criteria without staff having to go into the durance of that. 

 

o        If the Board is serious about protecting the rural areas that they need to be willing to address either the zoning or by right development in the rural area to minimize the expediential growth that is causing a lot of the pressures that they are feeling right now as evidenced by some of what was said by the members of the public tonight. This is unacceptable to say that they are going to protect the rural area and then allow by right developments in the rural area that exacerbates the situation and make it dangerous.  They have to get the Zoning Ordinance and the zoning in the rural area consistent with the Comp Plan.

 

o        The caveat was added except for the areas that create an undue and unreasonable safety risk to the residents.

 

o        The Board should look hard at their previous decision to spend the minimum that was allocated to the rural area.

 

 

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