The Observer

County, developer can't come to terms over North Pointe
May 12, 2004Ron Hasson hasson_ron@yahoo.com
The Observer

Pulling teeth would be, at least, progress.  No matter how slightly, the roots would give a little, facilitating the eventual extraction of said tooth.

So, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisor's work session on the North Pointe development was not like pulling teeth.  Chairman Lindsay Dorrier suggested a new "roundtable" format for the next meeting between the board and North Pointe developer Chuck Rotgin and company (Great Eastern Management).  The delay might add months to the nearly two-year history between the county and the developers of North Pointe, and nearly the same amount of time spent on what seems to be the big stumbling block - proffers.

Proffers are "gifts" given by developers to the public good - building, schools, offering parks, cash to a housing agency - as a means of balancing out the negative effects of a development. In North Pointe's case, with land as close to Ruckersville as it is to Charlottesville, it's anyone's guess what that effect will be and how many "gifts" are enough to compensate.

Rotgin's proposal has net with opposition from both the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) and, at last week's meeting, county staff.  The BAR, on a four to one vote, said they could not support North Pointe plans to locate a "big box" store adjacent to Route 29, an entrance corridor.  It was one of a laundry list of complaints.

But county planners seemed most concerned about the list of proffers, many of which were contingent upon the county forming a special tax district to help North Pointe raise the money.

The county attorney said such a condition would be unacceptable.

Staff also reckoned that some of what Rotgin had labeled as "proffers" should be considered "conditions" of gaining the special zoning he needs to develop the land.

So both developers and county staff will come back next month and present their own versions of what each proffer is worth, and it will be up to the Board of Supervisors to decide which version to believe.

Once encouraged by county approvals of Albemarle Place and the Hollymead Town Center, Rotgin could only cling to the few positive comments coming from individual supervisors during the work session.

Dennis Rooker, though notably adamant about settling the proffer issue without promising a special tax district, sounded an optimistic note, "If not big boxes, what will we put there (the entrance corridor)?  Gas stations?  Fast food?

New member Ken Boyd said it would be a transportation nightmare to locate such developments anywhere but along the main roads like Route 29, and he seemed most satisfied with Rotgin's current proffer offers, questioning the fuss over inadequate affordable housing in the plan.

Boyd said the recent amendment to the Neighborhood Model merely suggests 15 percent affordable units in developments of a certain size.

"How did that get to be a (requirement) for a special use permit?" he said.