Albemarle County Planning Commission

July 22, 2008

 

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting, public hearing and work session on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Lane Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Members attending were Marcia Joseph, Eric Strucko, Linda Porterfield and Calvin Morris, Chairman.  Thomas Loach, Bill Edgerton and Jon Cannon, Vice Chairman were absent.  Julia Monteith, AICP, non-voting representative for the University of Virginia was absent. 

 

Other officials present were Susan Stimart, Business Development Facilitator, Amy Pflaum, Senior Engineer; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Patrick Lawrence, Senior Planner; Meagan Yaniglos, Senior Planner; Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney. 

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

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

 

Work Session:

 

Economic Development Policy – LI Land  (Susan Stimart)

 

Ms. Stimart presented a power point presentation and explained the staff report regarding light industrial land.  (Attachment:  See staff report and power point presentation)

 

This is a continuation of the Economic Development Policy update process.  The recent update of the Economic Policy data indicated a lack of light industrial land available for local business expansion in Albemarle County.  The purpose of the work session is to consider new Comprehensive Plan strategies to better support the Policy’s Objective V.  “Objective V – Provide local business development opportunities.”  From the 1995 document they have two strategies:

 

1.       Support existing businesses and industries through an open door policy of communication, and exchange of information and concerns.

2.       Coordinate with existing entities, such as the Small Business Development Center, that assist new small, locally-owned, and minority businesses and micro-enterprises in their start-up and early operation efforts.

 

The Director of the Small Business Development Center is present. 

 

Tonight’s discussion should focus on staff obtaining the Planning Commission’s support for the two existing strategies and determine whether there are some other strategies that might be helpful to address the shortage of light industrial land. 

 

An analysis of 2005 real estate records, excluding land in critical slopes and floodplains, shows an inventory of vacant LI-zoned land of 333 acres.  Of that, 111 acres is also designated for industrial service meaning that it has a long term view to it.  To better understand what they might need in the future staff worked with the 2006 employment base and looked at all the uses allowed in the light industrial zoning.  (See Future Demand Analysis in the staff report.)  Light industrial use includes a very broad spectrum, which include bio-tech companies, lumber mills, office uses, veterinarians, etc.  It is a very wide variety of things. 

 

Taking out what was already developed and accounting for what is presently vacant LI land, staff then used  a 3.5 percent annual average growth rate to project over a 20-year time frame. This resulted in a potential future deficit of between 121 acres and 339 acres.  That is what the long term pictures looks like for us. 

 

Next staff discussed recent trends with LI land.  Staff identified land that was designated in the Comprehensive Plan for Industrial Service and later converted to higher priced uses such as retail or residential development.  There was 35 acres for the Hollymead Town Center, 50 acres for the Willoughby CPA, 40 acres for Albemarle Place and 23 acres for the Willow Glen residential project.  Also, they had plant closings. Avionics Specialties and Badger are the most recent.  Another important trend to pay attention to is cottage industry or typically home occupation, class B, which are behaving in a way that leads towards zoning violations.   

 

Staff asked for Commission input on what strategies or directions they could consider to address this shortage.  She presented several options as referenced in the staff report and discussed the pros and cons, which included constraints, of the various approaches.  There is a limited inventory of county owned land. 

 

Staff Recommendations:

 

For the purposes of maintaining a sustainable economy, economic vitality and of providing space for local business expansion, staff recommends, at a minimum, a hybrid approach be pursued that combines the first two options described in the staff report:

·         #1 – As part of the Master plan process, consider designating and proactively rezone property to LI.

·         #2 – Modify the zoning as regards to allowed uses in the LI and other zoning districts.

 

Staff seeks the Planning Commission’s input to provide direction regarding its question posed in Option 3:

·         Are there certain location conditions, that if met, the Planning Commission would support modifying current growth management policies to meet LI need in support of that activity, such as 1) adjacency to an existing Development Area, 2) location proximate to an interstate interchange and/or 3) availability of sewer and water?

 

Mr. Morris invited public comment.

 

Neil Williamson, of The Free Enterprise Forum, looked for Planning Commission discussion with regard to the options before them and the potential conflicts and the philosophy behind LI in the development area.  There have been instances of conflicts in the development area with light industrial uses.  He thought that it would be a worthwhile discussion to where it should be located whether that is in the development, adjacent to the development area or in a pocket all by itself, which he felt was the old time planning school.  He looked forward to the Planning Commission having an opportunity to discuss that.

 
John Chavan, county resident, congratulated staff for their excellent job and time spent in their research in getting the LI on board.  He questioned how soon they could get this finalized.

 

Mr. Morris closed the public comment to bring the matter before the Planning Commission for discussion.

 

Ms. Joseph said she felt bad because there were only three commissioners present because it is a very important topic.  She felt that they need more input because there were varied opinions.  She suggested that they discuss this at another time with more members present.  Obviously, there are people in the audience tonight that are interested in a conversation. 

 

After discussion, the work session was rescheduled to next week’s July 29 Planning Commission meeting in order to obtain feedback from all Commissioners.  An email should be sent to advise other Commissioners to hang onto the material for next week’s discussion. 

 

Mr. Morris suggested that Ms. Joseph provide input tonight since she would be absent next week and then the Commission could continue the discussion next week. 

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that she listens to other people’s opinions before formulating her opinion. That was one of the reasons why she felt it was so important to have other members here.  She needs to hear some discussion from other Commissioners.  Right now she would say absolutely not that some industry should be put in the rural area. 

 

Mr. Benish noted that they would have to have a second meeting anyway to hear from everyone else.  There needs to be an additional work session to discuss agricultural issues.  They could come back a third time with the consensus of comments from the prior two meetings and sort of wrap up the discussion.  There is a way in which they can pull all the comments together in the next two weeks and then wrap it up in a third work session.

 

Mr. Morris said that would be great.  He felt it was great the way staff had presented the options.  He agreed with Ms. Joseph that he liked staff’s recommendations the way they are.  However, having listened to at least one public member who would like to move it into the rural area that he felt it is a point that needs to be discussed.  Therefore, he would rather do it thoroughly because it is too important.

 

Ms. Joseph agreed.  She asked staff to provide some information on who she is talking to.  She said that it was hard to understand where staff was going in how they determine the needs.  She asked where staff got the 3.5 growth because she thought they were less than 2 percent now.

 

Ms. Stimart noted that the population growth rate is different from their employment base.

 

Ms. Joseph said that she needed to hear that sort of thing.  They hear that there are all kinds of things happening with NGIC and more people may come down.  She asked if it might be more than 830.  She asked if that figured into it.  She asked if staff had realtors calling or if it was more the state calling.   Those are the kinds of things that are important to know.  It could include some of the antidotal stuff that is happening to perhaps include information from people who have tried to come in to do rezonings.  That information could be helpful to justify what is going on here.  She knew of several pieces of light industrial land that are not being used.  She would like to talk about how they are going to reuse some of these places.  She asked if that was a possibility.  She asked if it was possible that they could get a little more lax so they could get Badger or Avionics up and running again.

 

Ms. Stimart noted that Avionics is in the middle of environmental mitigations, which would be another year or two.

 

Ms. Joseph suggested that they talk about Comdial people and what uses are currently in there and if it is successful.  She asked if it was a kind of use that they anticipate in other spaces.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that her interest would be to have more information on existing land and buildings that have been utilized in order to weigh that into their consideration of the need for additional lands.

 

Ms. Joseph agreed that kind of information is important.  She asked what kinds of things they could offer taking into consideration their location.

 

Ms. Porterfield noted the slide currently on the screen was an option that would work in her district right now due to it being located close to a development area and the I-64 interchange.  That area has public water and possibly sewer by boring under I-64 or having a developer put in their own sewer plant.  The area contains a lot of old zoning that is primarily commercial.  The area also does not appear to have land that is rural in the agricultural sense--being farmed and/or containing large stands of trees. It would be good to look at unusual land such as this with an eye to putting some of this land to better use.

 

Mr. Morris noted that was a perfect example of diverse opinions, which need to be shared with the other Commissioners.  It would be very helpful.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that she disagreed with Ms. Porterfield.

 

Mr. Morris apologized to the public for deferring their discussion to next week, but the issue was too important.

 

In summary, the work session was rescheduled to next week’s July 29 Planning Commission meeting in order to obtain feedback from all Commissioners. 

 

 

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