Hearing on North Pointe proposal draws few
By DAVID DADURKA  / Daily Progress staff writer October 14, 2003

A public hearing Tuesday to rezone land for one of the largest proposed developments ever proposed north of Airport Road drew only a smattering of northern Albemarle County residents and environmentalists, who said it would snarl traffic and encourage sprawl.

The project would “create traffic snarls on U.S. 29 and create a surplus of space beyond retail demand,” said Kay Slaughter, senior lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

One of the project’s developers, Charles Rotgin Jr., countered that after all costs, the proposed North Pointe community would net Albemarle $3 million in taxes.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday delayed its decision for two weeks to let the developers refine road connections and explore a different housing mix.

The proposal was rejected last year by the Planning Commission and earlier this year by the county supervisors, who criticized developers for “leapfrogging” work with the commission.

Though commissioners voted unanimously to defer the project for two weeks, Planning Commission Chairman William D. Rieley said he did so only to assist his fellow commissioners in their decision.

“The applicant has made a number of refinements,” Rieley said. “But this, as Mr. Rotgin pointed out, is essentially the same plan rejected by the Planning Commission.”

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

The development would include several miles of hiking trails, a mixture of housing ranging from apartments to single-family units, more than 582,000 square feet of retail space.

Rotgin described a proposed spine road that would traverse the mixed-use community and run parallel to U.S. 29 as critical to easing congestion along the highway.

Developers also have agreed to add two lanes, one on each side of U.S. 29 for about a mile, if the project is approved.

Rotgin added that developers are offering to commit 3 percent of the housing units at “affordable housing” prices.

For example, a one-bedroom unit would sell for $139,000 or rent for $859 a month, according to the developer’s proffer statement.

Ann Mallek, representing the Earlysville Area Residents League, said she hoped “that the affordable housing would be closer to the 15 percent” suggested by the Albemarle Housing Committee’s proposed affordable housing policy.

Commissioner Pete Craddock noted 3 percent equaled about 25 units.

He asked Rotgin if he would consider raising the percentage.

“I am not going to say no,” Rotgin replied, adding that “there is no vehicle for keeping it affordable.”

Homebuyers would be tempted to sell a house purchased for $125,000 for much higher, removing it from the affordable housing stock, he said.

Sam Craig, a local builder, said local developers are “running out of lots.”

Craig added that as the University of Virginia’s Research Park at North Fork grows, so would the demand for housing on U.S. 29 north of Charlottesville.

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