The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has approved a special-use permit for a University of Virginia indoor golf practice facility.
A previous special-use permit had been approved for the UVa Foundation for a facility on the Birdwood Golf Course behind the Birdwood mansion in 2015, but the structure is now being relocated about 400 feet to the west and will utilize an existing structure on the property in a portion of the facility.
“The previous scheme was going to require access from Birdwood Drive, across the frontage and viewshed of the mansion itself,” Fred Missel, director of design and development for the foundation, said in July.
“By moving it over to the west, it eliminates the need for us to cross in front of that sightline,” he said.
On July 18, the board, the county Planning Commission, county staff and UVa Foundation representatives toured the site. The commission had a work session on the proposed site on July 25 and delayed the public hearing to August after county staff discovered issues with the legal notice for the hearing. In August, the commission approved the special-use permit.
Concerns had been expressed originally about the location of the proposed parking lot being in the view of the mansion, but the lot was moved to the north and slightly west and out of the viewshed.
Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen representing the UVa Foundation, said the future plan is for Golf Course Drive to become the primary entrance for the golf course, as it is, as well as the Boar’s Head Resort with a connector road.
“That is their entrance corridor, and just like the county takes its entrance corridors and the views from them very seriously, and implements measures to protect them, the foundation has the same concerns,” she said.
The parking lot will be screened from the road and from the mansion by trees and berms, she said.
The county Historic Preservation Committee and county staff also had been concerned that the project would compromise the property’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or Virginia Landmarks Register, but had learned from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that the project would not affect the listing, and that the proposed building would be more compatible than the 2015 design.
During the process, the UVa Foundation had asked staff to consider additional changes to the existing special-use permit conditions, specifically one that will require any future new construction at the existing golf course facility and site, except for minor changes, to get an amended special-use permit.
The foundation said it wanted flexibility in future golf course design and reconstruction.
“We’re kind of dealing with that separately and we think we can resolve that in the near future, and we feel like we have good dialogue with the applicants,” said Tim Padalino, a county senior planner.
He said staff had about seven meetings with the UVa Foundation and an additional 11 meetings with only staff to try to accommodate that request.
“I just want to clarify that we continue to work hard on that and coordinate closely with the applications, but we’re going to try leave that out of this decision-making process tonight, so as not to hold up the golf project,” Padalino said.
According to county documents, those future projects include the addition of a 9-hole short course; realignment or relocation of most of the existing 18 holes; and the connector road between Birdwood and Boar’s Head properties.
Supervisor Liz Palmer said she wanted to remind everyone about the water pipeline that will be coming in the future.
“Our next phase of our water supply plan, our pipe that is going to go from South Fork Rivanna Reservoir to Ragged Mountain Reservoir, is going to have to go through this property,” she said.
Palmer said that project is set to start this year.
“I just want everybody to know that [we] have to leave room for our pipe,” she said. “We also have a big sewer coming through there, too.”