North Pointe decision delayed
By DAVID DADURKA  / Daily Progress staff writer
October 28, 2003

The sharp bang of the gavel briefly silenced an Albemarle County developer, who objected to the Planning Commission’s delay of a decision on his 269-acre proposed project on U.S. 29 for the second time in two weeks.

As North Pointe developer Charles Rotgin Jr. moved to the podium and attempted to voice his opinion Tuesday night, commission Chairman William D. Rieley told him he had not been asked to speak.

“You are out of order,” Rieley scolded, telling him to sit down.

“I am not going to take a seat. ... I may be out of order ...,” Rotgin responded, and was quickly interrupted by a few quick raps of Rieley’s gavel. Rieley then called for a five-minute recess.

A visibly frustrated Rotgin returned and agreed to the delay, after officials said they would discuss his project at a meeting originally scheduled for the controversial Vineyard Estates project.

Patricia Kluge and her husband, William J. Moses, withdrew their request for a special permit for the 511-acre rural subdivision earlier this week, submitting instead by-right plans for three separate subdivisions on the same property.

Developers submitted a request to rezone land where the North Pointe project would sit, across from the University of Virginia Research Park at North Fork, in 2000. They have touted it as a mixed-use community featuring retail, office and residential space.

Environmentalists and some area residents have criticized the project, saying it would increase traffic congestion and create an excess of retail space in the region.

“New shopping centers will snarl traffic on [U.S.] 29,” said Albemarle resident Liz Palmer.

Rotgin countered: “This is where retailers have said they want to be. We are not going to build speculative space.”

The project has hit several walls, facing rejection by the Planning Commission last year and most recently in May when Albemarle supervisors sent the project back to the commission, saying it needed more work.

Two weeks ago, commissioners asked Rotgin to retool the project’s housing mix, consider additional road connections and provide for more affordable housing.

The county’s planning staff warned at that meeting that deferring the project for just two weeks might not give them ample time to provide a thorough review.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Rotgin said he addressed these issues in an e-mail sent to commission members, increasing the percentage of affordable housing from 3 percent to 4 percent of the units built and providing another road connection.

Albemarle planner Elaine K. Echols said, however, that staff did not have a comprehensive list of items that had changed on the plan since the last meeting.

Commissioners expressed concern that they were not adequately informed about the requested changes to the North Pointe plan to make a decision.

“My question remains, more or less as it has on other occasions, how can we be expected to act under these circumstances?” asked Planning Commissioner C. Jared Loewenstein.

Contact David Dadurka at (434) 978-7299