The Albemarle County Planning Commission voted Tuesday to recommend approval of the Monticello United Soccer Club’s application for the construction of four soccer fields and a parking area for as many as 96 vehicles off Polo Grounds Road.
The four new fields would be on a parcel not far from the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville-Albemarle’s South Fork Soccer Park. Some who live in the area felt that the additional fields would bring unwanted traffic and noise to the area.
Dean Wenger is the president of the Carrsbrook Homeowner’s Association.
“I contend that that the impact of traffic simply has not been resolved, or worse yet, the impact on traffic has been [found] to be worse,” said Wenger, referring to the additional time the applicants had been given to study traffic effects. “As to not hearing things over on Carrsbrook, trust me … we hear SOCA today and SOCA is much larger, yet these fields are directly across from Carrsbrook.”
Several people argued that because an engineering study on the traffic and potential noise was not done, the issue was unresolved.
Speaking before the commission, MONU president Pat Reilly explained plans to mitigate traffic on the roads, including actively avoiding scheduling games at the same time as SOCA
“If MONU does have an absolute need to schedule an event that coincides with SOCA event times, MONU will contact the Albemarle County Police Department and submit a special activity request form to have a police officer work the stoplight at Route 29 and Polo Grounds Road,” Reilly said. “This will not only manage the small amount of MONU traffic, but will also help alleviate the traffic generated by the SOCA event.”
In the event of a flood, members of the commission wondered if there was a way to ensure a limited contamination risk to the Rivanna River from portable toilets that would be on site.
“The majority of this property is in the floodway, rather than the floodway fringe, which contains more standing water; the floodway is what carries the water,” explained senior planner Scott Clark. “It is immediately downstream of a dam that tends, to some degree, to regulate floods.”
Despite the issue of the floodplain, the decision ultimately rested upon the amount of traffic that members of the commission thought would be brought by the soccer program.
“Is this insult added to injury?” asked Commissioner Tom Loach. “The first time that SOCA came up, the community objected to it and as we’ve heard from the community tonight they’ve kind of lived with it. But that doesn’t mean it’s gotten better … now we’re adding additional parts to a situation that we have not heard a remedy to.”
Commissioner Mac Lafferty felt that the benefits of the fields outweighed the traffic issues.
“As long as we have the philosophy that our community has to have growth, then we’re always going to be faced with this situation of additional traffic, things like that,” said Lafferty. “As long as we’re having new developments, new shopping centers, things of that nature … that problem is just going to increase and I don’t know that we should be punishing one group because of our desire to keep the economy going by growth.”
Lafferty added that the increased traffic in the area could force the Virginia Department of Transportation to examine the intersection for a more efficient solution.
The positive recommendation came with several modified conditions for MONU, including requiring that it submit an annual traffic management plan in an attempt to mitigate potential issues and maintain a willingness to pursue flexible traffic solutions to problems as they arise.
Following the approval, Reilly said he was looking forward to the next step, when the fields would be reviewed by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
“We’re pretty pleased right now and hopefully things will go this well with the supervisors’ meeting,” he said.