It was standing room only Tuesday night at a work session for a proposed 200-unit housing development near Glenmore in the Rivanna Village Area of Albemarle County.
The county Planning Commission met to discuss rezoning the 84-acre site of the planned Breezy Hill subdivision from rural area to R-4, which allows medium density clusters of single- and multi-family houses.
Ultimately, the five planning commissioners present were supportive of a less dense development in the area than developers Roudabush, Gale & Associates and Southern Development originally proposed. Commissioners Bruce Dodson and Jennie More were not at the meeting.
A public hearing with the Planning Commission for the rezoning has not yet been scheduled.
The county convened the meeting to get feedback from commissioners on infrastructure issues, appropriate density, housing types and affordable housing, said Tim Padalino, a county senior planner.
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.”
The Breezy Hill rezoning presents no water or wastewater capacity issues, said Alexander J. Morrison, a senior civil engineer with the Albemarle County Service Authority. The service authority studied the wastewater plant serving the community, took into account the approved master plan and “applied additional density factors” to the undeveloped areas.
The master plan goes on to say, “it is essential that all of the U.S. 250 improvements be constructed before new development occurs in the Village.”
In a report, staff said that changes in travel patterns near the site might render some previous recommendations for improvements moot, but that traffic issues along U.S. 250, Route 22 and Interstate 64 remain a high priority.
“The proposed development would add a potentially noticeable number of new trips to this segment and therefore this issue should be addressed to meet the Master Plan directive,” said principal planner Kevin McDermott in the report.
The Milton Road and Black Cat Road intersections with U.S. 250 also could see a minor impact from the development, but McDermott said they should be considered secondary issues in the rezoning.
The unbuilt “Rivanna Village” development, which was approved at the time of the Master Plan adoption, was initially thought to include a total of 521 dwelling units, but was later rezoned for a maximum of 400 dwelling units.
County staff recommended that the planning commission look at McDermott’s report when considering the rezoning, rather than a “strict reading and strict interpretation” of the section of the plan that calls for making traffic improvements before approving new developments.
“We can’t control [the Virginia Department of Transportation] and we can’t control the county’s budget for roads, but I think we can have some influence about whether more development goes in or not,” Commissioner Daphne Spain said.
She said she wanted to follow the Master Plan for the area.
Commissioner Julian Bivins said he supported having houses on the site, just not the number in the proposal due to the infrastructure concerns.
“I don’t understand how a proposal of that size would be able to fit in there,” he said
Residents from the Glenmore development and the Running Deer Road area told the commission they are worried what the development would do to traffic in the area.
More than 200 people had attended a community meeting about the proposal in June.
Phil Welsh said he had two petitions signed by 247 residents against the project, but did not present the petitions to the planning commission.
“We’re moving forward,” he said.
Residents of Dunlora have also submitted petitions against two other proposed developments on Rio Road.
Anthony Crimaldi, a Glenmore resident, said it takes him anywhere between 13 minutes to an hour to get to work on U.S. 250, and suggested that the center turn lane be flipped to a regular lane during rush hour.
“That right there and the proposed [Virginia Department of Transportation] change of the [I-64] underpass will move a lot more traffic than you’re moving now,” he said, referring to a diverging diamond that has been approved for U.S. 250 under I-64 at the Shadwell exit.
Deborah Conway, president of the Glenmore Community Association Board of Directors, said traffic “is pretty miserable every single work morning.”
“I thought I would be able to tolerate the commute and every year it gets worse, and Rivanna Village is not built out,” she said.
In the master 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, but later in the plan, a density of 1 unit per acre is prescribed for the area.
County staff recommended that a development density of 1 unit per acre would be appropriate, which would be 65 dwelling units on this site, according to the staff report.
County interim planning director David Benish said the property could have up to a maximum of 42 units if it was not rezoned, but it would likely be fewer.
The master plan also says, “density will radiate from the Village Center with the lowest densities at the edges of the Development Area” and that “future development is expected to be at a size and scale compatible with existing neighborhoods within the Village of Rivanna.” It also says that this area “will have the lowest density of this Development Area,” and that “single-family detached homes on medium or small lots are expected.”
Though the area has no public transportation options, the developers told the county in a separate meeting that they would be agreeable to a cash proffer to support county affordable housing efforts
Staff agreed to the cash on the condition that it is “determined to be sufficient.”
Some of the commissioners wanted to know how the contribution would be used, and how contributions for affordable housing have been used in the past, while others thought affordable housing could be included in this development.
“I could live with it going off site, but in principle I think we should provide for a variety of locations for people seeking affordable housing,” said Commissioner Pam Riley.