Panel vetoes North Pointe plan
By David Dadurka  / Daily Progress staff writer
  November 18, 2003

A planning commissioner aired a laundry list of problems with a development proposed north of Airport and Profitt roads in Albemarle County, before the panel voted Tuesday 4-2 to deny rezoning 269 acres for the project.

The existence of several “big-box” stores, a smaller-than-desired contribution to a transportation study and environmental threats were just a few of the items of concern commissioner Bill Edgerton outlined.

The community, dubbed North Pointe, which would sit at the corner of U.S. 29 and Proffit Road, would feature a 250-room hotel, a cinema and nearly 900 residential units.

Commissioners Edgerton, William D. Rieley, Pete Craddock and Jared Loewenstein voted for the motion to deny the rezoning, while Rodney S. Thomas and William W. Finley voted against it.

The discussion about North Pointe, in part, became one about whether the county’s neighborhood model, which strives for a more compact and interconnected communities, was “a” model or “the” model for new developments.

The neighborhood model, among other things, calls for communities to accommodate walkers, bikers and public transportation, incorporate a mixture of residential and commercial uses and provide interconnected streets within a development.

North Pointe developer Charles Rotgin Jr. argued his project met 11 of the 12 principles of the model, despite the county staff’s assertion that it did not.

Quoting from the county’s Comprehensive Plan, Rotgin said that with individual proposals, the neighborhood model may not be “equally applicable,” and commissioners agreed that the model was open to interpretation.

North Pointe would include several miles of hiking trails, a mixture of housing ranging from apartments to single-family units and more than 582,000 square feet of retail space - all of which meet the goals of the model, he said.

A proposed road, North Pointe Boulevard, would traverse the community from Profitt Road to U.S. 29, connecting the development to the University of Virginia’s research park entrance at Lewis and Clark Drive.

Rotgin said that the road would act as a “relief valve,” taking local traffic off of U.S. 29 and easing congestion.

The road, he said, provided one example of interconnection.

But some commissioners, however, sharply disagreed.

“This is as far from the neighborhood model as possible,” Edgerton said. “I thought Mr. Rotgin was rather creative in his application of the principles.”

Edgerton said he found it “unacceptable” that the developers were only offering to commit 4 percent of the housing units at “affordable housing” prices, when the county’s housing committee recommends 15 percent.

At North Pointe, for example, a one-bedroom unit would sell for $139,000 or rent for $859 a month, according to the developer.

Commissioner Thomas, however, said he believes that no project can meet all 12 principles of the neighborhood model.

“It was a way and a guide, not the way,” Thomas said.

The North Pointe site is less than a mile from Hollymead Town Center, now under construction. The Board of Supervisors approved the town center, which will include Target and a Giant food store, this summer.

The supervisors, who have final say on developments, will hold a work session on the North Pointe community on Dec. 3. A public hearing on the proposed development is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Contact David Dadurka at (434) 978-7299