M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Albemarle County Planning Commission
FROM: Susan Thomas, AICP
DATE: August 24, 2004
RE: ZMA 2003-005: The Meadows Expansion
At the public hearing of July 20, action on the Meadows Expansion was deferred to allow staff to review and comment on new information submitted by the applicant. Instead of the interparcel connection via Meadows Drive that has been recommended by staff, the applicant suggested extending Davis Drive into the Old Trail development, and provided a preliminary road plan. The Commission asked staff to review the plan and evaluate the feasibility of using Davis Drive.
Staff evaluated the applicant’s alternative from three perspectives: Planning, Water Resources and Engineering. Comments are summarized below.
The Davis Drive alternative received significant attention during the recent Crozet Master Plan process, in part because the Old Trail property includes a “pipestem” extending eastward to Crozet Avenue, suggesting that in a legal sense a connection might be possible. In fact, a connection was shown on several early alternatives, although opinions were divided on the advisability of this particular location. The owners of adjacent parcels in White Oak Subdivision became involved in the planning process in part because of the road issue, and they continue to follow Master Plan issues closely, including the current connector road alignment discussion. They have strongly opposed any acquisition of their property for the proposed road.
At Planning’s request, Stephen Bowler, most recently the County’s Natural Resources Manager and formerly Watershed Manager, has provided comments on this road issue (Attachment A). As the Commission may recall, at the time the Crozet master planning process began the County was completing an assessment of all of the perennial streams in the urban area. The Watershed Manager walked Slabtown Branch, accompanied by neighbors from the White Oak Subdivision, assessing it under the established study criteria (see attached comments). Slabtown Branch scored the highest for biological communities of the nine Development Areas streams assessed. The Green Infrastructure Task Group also identified it as a high value stream corridor in its Master Plan report. Therefore, when the connector road alignment question arose during the Master Plan process, Planning staff went to Water Resources for guidance. Water Resources advised against a Davis Drive alignment that stayed out of adjacent private parcels because of the adverse environmental impacts it would impose on the stream, and suggested that a perpendicular crossing would be preferable because of the reduced area of impact. The proposed connection via Meadows Drive represented a compromise intended to provide a link between Crozet Avenue and the Old Trail Village that is perhaps less centrally located than Davis Drive or other alignments but one that still would contribute to an interconnected system. The intention of the Master Plan has always been that other connections would be made when those properties develop or redevelop.
A letter from Mark Graham, Directory of Community Development, to the applicant’s representative is attached (Attachment B), suggesting an alternative to both Davis Drive and the connector road originally recommended by [Planning] staff. Essentially, this would be an alignment similar to the one shown on the proposed Master Plan, located to the south of the existing Meadows Drive. Although an intersection with Crozet Avenue in this location requires a greater level of intersection improvements due to the topography, it does keep the road entirely off the Meadows property while allowing for a driveway connection should the Meadows want to use it. A temporary grading and construction easement of 20 feet is requested, to allow construction in the limited space between the ball field and Meadows property. Some kind of easement or reservation/dedication may also be necessary along the Crozet Avenue frontage for site distance improvements related to the new intersection; staff suggests that this issue could be resolved when the road is designed and more is known about a final alignment and dimensions. The applicant’s engineer indicated that the availability of an internal connection to the proposed road appears to be a positive feature from the Meadows’ perspective.
This connector road is proposed as a local two-lane road, placed between the ball fields and the Meadows, with an alignment that stays on the south side of Slabtown Branch and extends to Old Trail. (see Attachment C) It would offer an alternative access to the school campus, should traffic levels and patterns on Route 250 West make a second entrance necessary and/or desirable. This location offers opportunities for different kinds of connections from those possible with either the Davis Drive or the Meadows/Old Trail neighborhood connection show on the Master Plan. Staff emphasizes that at this point the road is conceptual only, and would need both the support of the schools division and funding for its construction.
A – July 30, 2004 Comments from Stephen Bowler, Natural Resources Manager
B – August 12, 2004 Letter from Mark Graham, Community Development Director to Brian Smith, PE
C – Area map of natural features
Go to staff report
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