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County delays development plan
By David Dadurka / Daily Progress staff writer 
May 8, 2003

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors sent a plan for a 269-acre development back to the Planning Commission for further review, with one supervisor telling the project's developer that bringing the plan to the board was "premature."

"This is one of the biggest rezonings in years," Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker said at Wednesday's meeting. "For it not to go through the normal process is problematic."

Elaine K. Echols, an Albemarle County planner, said the developers' proposal skipped the step in which the Planning Commission reviews the details of the project. Albemarle's Architectural Review Board also has yet to see the proposal.

Many of the issues before the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Supervisor Lindsay G. Dorrier said, should have been "hashed out with the Planning Commission. We can't leapfrog over them."

Echols said the planning staff was concerned about the potential for erosion along the banks of the Rivanna River, where town houses and apartments would be constructed.

The community, dubbed North Pointe, which would sit at the corner of U.S. 29 and Profitt Road, would feature a 250-room hotel, a cinema and more than 800 residential units. The Planning Commission recommended in December that the supervisors reject the proposal. The development is one of three major mixed-use projects along U.S. 29 that county officials are grappling with; the others are Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center.

Charles Rotgin Jr., one of the developers behind North Pointe, said the Planning Commission has "expressed, at best, reservations and perhaps dislike" for cul-de-sacs, large stores often referred to as "big boxes," and buildings with parking in front. Plans for Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center both feature parking in front of retail stores.

The county's "neighborhood model" encourages the use of interconnecting streets, but Rotgin said that aspect of the model sometimes conflicts with the goal of protecting the environment. "North Pointe has somewhat typical Albemarle rolling topography," he said. "It would be very difficult to develop the residential portion without the use of cul-de-sacs." Without this feature, he said, they would need to "cut the trees, strip the land and fill the valleys. ... It's something that we do not wish to do."

Rotgin added that the project would bring $3 million in net revenue to the county and said that the residential portion of North Pointe would be created at the time when Forest Lakes is projected to be completely "built out."

The mixture of homes, apartments and town houses, he said, would help keep growth out of the rural areas. "We don't begrudge the county for being a tough negotiator," Rotgin said after the meeting. He added that he would continue his discussion with county staff and schedule a work session with the Planning Commission.

Contact David Dadurka at (434) 978-7299 or ddadurka@dailyprogress.com.