Published by the Earlysville Area Residents’ League
On Monday, May 24, a meeting on developments in the northern and western part of Albemarle County was held at Hollymead School Rivanna District Supervisor. Ken Boyd, introduced representatives from the various projects to present updates and answer questions. There were over 300 people in the audience. As I said to Ken Boyd when I entered the room, "I guess there are lots of people concerned with land use. " (Ann Mallek)
County Engineering director, Mark Graham, highlighted the projects:
Hollymead Town Center- HTC covers 180 acres, has four major owners, who jointly filed for a change in the comprehensive plan to allow for an integrated project
Northpointe NP covers 263 acres for 500,000 sq ft of commercial space and 890 residential units. More worksessions area planned and public hearings will be held by the Supervisors (BOS) in the summer.
Airport Road construction. This work is about to begin and will install a four lane, divided parkway with curb, gutter, sidewalks, and bike lanes. The project should be completed in early fall, 2005.
Proffit Road reconstruction is in the 6 year plan. There are varying widths of the roadway, from four lane, urban cross section near Route 29, tapering to three lanes, then to two lanes with bike lanes and sidewalks nearing Baker Butler School.
Senior planner, David Benish, introduced the Area master planning process for County Areas 1 and 2, from Hydraulic Rd to GE, to include the Hollymead and Piney Mountain communities. With lots of community input, details will be gathered to;
Identify areas to protect and preserve
Identify needed transportation improvements (in conjunction with the CHART plan process)
Identify existing and proposed neighborhood centers. Future development is to be built around these centers.
Identify the public sector amenities needed for above.
Scope and scale of the above items will be an important feature of the process so that the planners will have details for design and redevelopment, especially the area from Hydraulic to Rio. The input from citizens is especially important for this item.
Speakers were Hunter Wood of United Land (Wendell Wood’s project at HTC area B); Steve Runkle of Kessler Group (HTC area D residential); Steve Blame for Regency Development, HTC retail; Katurah Roell for Virginia Land, building the CVS and other small commercial, in area C of HTC, and Chuck Rotgin for Great Eastern Management and Northpointe NP
It was great to hear all of the speakers extol the virtues of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, (not to mention the hundreds of people who came to the hearings) who "extracted" all the proffers from the developers to build the roads, and pay extra money per residential unit and per square foot of commercial space. Each of the presenters described the public process of their permits and the proffers that each developer had agreed to contribute to County to achieve their developments. These proffers might help to offset the increased infrastructure required from County taxpayers.
Under the permit for 1-ITC, the roadways are being constructed now, even though the project will evolve overtime. This has resulted in a large disturbance of open land in area B with erosion, spoiling of the lakes in Hollymead and Forest Lakes.
Katurah Roell stated that the grading at the Route 29 end is almost complete on his section, and that his four detention ponds are working well. Several neighbors commended the ponds on that property, and castigated the Wood ones further south, which washed over and are not mulched or seeded. The County did not require that the area be seeded for the winter. The contractor said they would continue to work but little was accomplished. There was damage during the winter storms, and the land looks awful, especially compared to the Airport project where the contractor was told to seed the land and move off from November to April.
Steve Runkle spoke for Kessler Group, which has 24 acres, rezoned under the Comprehensive Plan Amendment CPA, to contain up to 370 units, which would be mostly condos and apartments to achieve that density. He said that more likely is 100-130 townhouse units. There is no site plan yet for this part. if they get their plans to the county in the next 90 days, it will take 18 months to 2 years to get through the process and begin construction. His company is also constructing 14,000 sq ft of commercial space at the south end of Forest Lakes shopping center for a restaurant. Kessler Group built Forest Lakes and Glenmore.
Chuck Rotgin represented Northpointe. He now is very proud of his plans, which "represent so fully the neighborhood model." The project was begun in 1981 when his partners began to buy up 15-18 parcels. In early 1990’s the area was added to the growth area zoned for regional service, which means shopping centers. They maintain that their plan reflects the wishes of the comp plan. The Hollymead growth area accommodates the future growth of the county in the way that Barracks Road did in the 50"s, Hydraulic Rd did in the 70’s, Rio Rd did in the 80’ and Airport Rd will in the 2000’s.
NP is proclaimed to be an integrated urban design, implementing the DISC plans. It promises to generate 3$ million annually in tax profits. Proffers have been "extracted" to improve Route 29 N and S from Proffit Rd to Lewis and Clark Drive (at UREF), adding a third lane all the way. The vertical curve on the southbound lane will also be reduced during the roadwork.
Chuck Rotgin heralded the interconnectivity of his project, saying that a 15 minute walk separates the farthest residence from the town center and shopping areas. There is 35% open space, 10 miles of paths and sidewalks, preservation of the critical slopes along the River (This was a major sticking point for EARL in the earlier plans). Chuck also commended his plan for a 50 foot wooded setback from Pritchett Lane, mixed housing types and a stipulated percentage of affordable housing (the first of its kind in this area), a fully graded site for a library and an elementary school, and a spine road throughout the development, joining with Lewis and Clark Drive. This will keep residents from Route 29 by interconnecting parallel streets. Stormwater will be controlled and the systems will capture off site storm water to prevent erosion through the project into the river.
Questions from the audience.
What about water supply for all these new people?
Mark Graham and Ken Boyd passed the question to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority to solve that one.
What about mass transit? Increase as connections and add more in long-range plans. Make changes to increase ridership. Mark Graham indicated that participants in the masterplanning process would discuss this.
What about building the infrastructure right before developing the land?
One developer answered that the infrastructure was being installed at HTC.
What about Ashwood Blvd light and dangerous intersection at Forest Lakes South? The vertical grade south of the light will be removed when 299 is widened. David Benish added that improvements to Route 29 between Airport Rd and the Rivanna River are being pushed to the top of the priority list for the 6 year plan. Chuck Rotgin added that the first store at NP will not open until March 2006. Road improvements will be done first.
Charlie Smith, president of Hollymead Citizens Org spoke about the red silt, which has fouled the ponds at the development from the southerly detention ponds, from area B, the Wood Hunter Wood spoke for the first time to say that the ponds at Forest Lakes were built as detention ponds and they are just doing their jobs. Isn’t it true that these ponds should be on his own property, not on Forest Lakes land?
Someone asked if the Woods will be responsible citizens and clean up the mess that their projects made?
There was no answer.
What will it look like? Several people complained about the look of the projects, that they look just like any place, that the character of the land is gone at HTC due to the flattening and bulldozing. Many people are doubt that the project will actually look like the pretty pictures.
Please stay involved in these and other development projects in the County. Even projects farther away affect life here as businesses move to new accommodations, leaving older ones empty.
Rural Area’s Future
The Albemarle County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on an amendment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to add Chapter Four, the Rural Areas, which will guide future land use decisions in the Rural Areas, on Tuesday evening, June 29, beginning at 6:00pm in Room 241 of the Albemarle County Office Building. The Rural Areas Chapter contains the follow sections:
* A Vision for Rural Albemarle County
* Guiding Principles for the Rural Areas
* Rural Area Land Uses
* Land Use Patterns, Density and Development
* Infrastructure/Community Services
* Fiscal and Tax Tools
The complete text of the Rural Areas Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan may be viewed at the Department of Planning and Conununity Development in the County Office Building or on the website at www.albemarle.org . Please call 296-5823 for details.