Village of Rivanna residents decried a proposed 200-house development at a community meeting at the East Rivanna Fire Station on Monday night, saying the development would snarl traffic along U.S. 250 and doesn’t fit in county land use plans.
At a meeting of more than 200 people, both candidates for the Scottsville District seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisor opposed the plan because, they said, it is inconsistent with the area’s master plan.
Mike Hallahan, who is running as a Republican, asked why the meeting was happening at all, since the master plan dictates that traffic improvements would need to happen before the development.
“Why are we even here … why do it at all, why pay the tax dollars on [the master plan] if you’re not even going to worry about it,” he said. “That’s what I want to know.”
County acting planning director David Benish said the county has to accept applications that are made and review them, and the master plan will guide the decision making.
Donna Price, who is running against Hallahan as a Democrat, said she was “strongly” opposed to the proposed development because it is not consistent with the master plan.
The proposed development, Breezy Hill, is part of a request to rezone about 84 acres in the Village of Rivanna area from rural area to R-4.
Don Franco from Roudabush, Gale & Associates, the design consultants working with developer Southern Development, said they wanted to get input from the community at the meeting.
He said they were requesting R-4 zoning to build townhouses as well as single-family detached homes.
The Village of Rivanna Master Plan states that “future residential development should only be approved if and when transportation improvements to U.S. 250 have been made and sufficient sewer capacity is in place to support that development.”
In the master plan, which is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the property is shown on the future land use plan as “Neighborhood Density Residential — Low,” which is defined as less than two units per acre.
Later in the plan, however, it recommends a “possible” density of 1 unit per acre for that area.
The Breezy Hill proposal is about 2.38 units per acre.
The Comprehensive Plan is the county’s guiding document for its long-term vision for land use and resource protection, and includes master plans for the designated development areas of the county. County staff and the Board of Supervisors look to the Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.
“A comp plan is not an obligation, it provides guidance toward decisions that are made by the [Planning] Commission and the Board [of Supervisors], but I would say our commission and the board take very seriously that guidance that’s provided in the comprehensive plan,” Benish said.
The master plan for the village was last adopted in 2010 and amended in 2015.
As well as traffic and planning documents, residents raised concerns about a proposed second entrance on Running Deer Drive and that the development is too dense as planned.
One Glenmore resident said she feared the development would slow emergency vehicles getting to the hospital because cars would not be able to pull off the sides of the road for ambulances on U.S. 250 due to ditches.
“Just because we’re a growth area, 5%, well why don’t you go and make it 90% and 10%, do something different,” she said. It’s really abusive, it really is, because everything is being thrown on the growth area without saying, ‘How are you living? What’s going on there? How is it affecting you?’”
Dennis Odinov, a former chairman of the Village of Rivanna Community Advisory Committee, said the section about the road improvements is one of the most important parts of the master plan.
“What’s even more important is the effect it’s going to have on every other development areas’ master plans ... if ours can be overridden, then master plans aren’t worth anything anywhere in the county,” he said.
The master plan lists some recommended transportation projects for the area, and it says that it’s “essential that all of the U.S. 250 improvements be constructed before new development occurs in the Village.”
“Some of those have been done, not all of them, but also not all of them are things that we would currently recommend,” county transportation planner Kevin McDermott said in an interview last week.
According to review comments from county staff, only one of the main recommended projects — improvement of a bridge over the railroad at Louisa Road — is complete. Making U.S. 250 six lanes from Free Bridge to the Interstate 64 interchange is partially complete and the other portions are not funded.
Another project, improvements at the I-64 and U.S. 250 interchange has been funded by the state, but is not yet complete.
Making U.S. 250 four lanes from the I-64 interchange to Milton Road and, possibly, Glenmore Way is not complete, and was “previously identified as not be feasible.”
“Even at the time that was recommended, there were studies that were showing that that wasn’t a great idea, that wasn’t the best way to deal with the traffic,” McDermott said.
Intersection improvements at U.S. 250 and Milton Road are not funded and are not listed as a county priority.
The addition of eastbound left turn and westbound right turn lanes on U.S. 250 at Black Cat Road needs additional evaluation, the staff comments say.
The developer voluntarily included a proposed proffer for affordable housing and a cash proffer of $4 million for road improvements, but state law prevents county staff from accepting those proffers or engaging in discussions about the proffers.
“The density will probably come down based on what we’ve been hearing in here,” Franco said at the end of the meeting. “That doesn’t mean it’s going all the way down to 80 [units], but there are opportunities to change the plan.”
County staff have not yet fully reviewed the proposal. The developers also will go before the county’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.