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Rivanna Village development near Glenmore gets favorable review
by Effie Nicholaou | Wednesday, May 07, 2014 at 8:14 p.m.

Changes to a proposed mixed-use development outside the Glenmore neighborhood have won the unanimous support of the Albemarle County Planning Commission.

However, despite the downsizing of a plan first approved in 2007, the 94.76-acre Rivanna Village development is still raising concerns about safety on nearby roads, such as U.S. 250.

More than 60 community members at the commission’s meeting Tuesday expressed their concerns about construction plans and the upcoming changes in the area from the development.

Their cause was championed by Glenmore resident and planning commissioner Richard Randolph.

“Glenmore Way to the 250 intersection is used year-round and daily by walkers, runners, cyclists and horseback riders,” Randolph said. “Mixing in construction traffic with the normal flow of vehicular traffic along Glenmore Way is a recipe for a serious injury or accident.”

Changes the commission recommended for approval include a reduction in the number of residential units from 521 to 400 and a reduced total square footage of non-residential development from 120,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.

“We have a plan that is less dense, has less commercial space… and the plan is more gentle on the land,” said Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen representing Andrew Boninti, the Rivanna Village developer.

The plan also features about 32 acres of open space and linear parks, a mixed-use village center and single-family homes.

Among the amenities for the central park are a basketball court, tennis courts, pavilions, restrooms, a play field, a dog park, water features, docks and a trail system. Upon completion, the park will be dedicated to the county, according to developers.

The developer’s landscape architect, Mark Keller, suggested some streets could also serve as community gathering areas.

“Several cross streets are envisioned to be promenades, which means they’re vehicular- and pedestrian-friendly,” said Keller, a designer with Terra Concepts. “They can serve as neighborhood gathering spaces. They could be blocked to traffic during events. The parking for these units is provided at the rear of the structures.”

Over the past year, Glenmore residents have encouraged Boninti to open a second entrance onto U.S. 250 at the commencement of construction. The entrance is anticipated to be opened in the future to allow access to the development.

However, Long said, that proposal had not been viewed favorably by VDOT.

“To the extent that the commission and Board of Supervisors ultimately permit the proposed Route 250 entrance to be used as the construction entrance, the developers are very prepared to do that,” said Long.

Randolph agreed with the safety concerns and said VODT was the roadblock.

“To date, VDOT has refused to share the traffic safety study it prepared, upon which VDOT bases its assertion that the east entrance/exit should not be opened during construction,” Randolph said.

A VDOT representative at the meeting confirmed the second entrance was not going to be approved for construction purposes.

“I understand that there is a future intersection proposed for the build out of the development,” said Joel DeNunzio, VDOT’s Charlottesville residency administrator. “That [east entrance] intersection for mobility and safety purposes is necessary for the size of the development. With the construction of this development, the second entrance is not necessary.

“We feel strongly that the construction entrance would be safer off of Steamer Drive [from Glenmore Way],” DeNunzio continued.

While a new traffic signal at the east entrance has been proffered to be paid for by the developer, VDOT officials said one would not be approved until it is warranted.

“We do not permit unwarranted signals because they decrease the overall safety and efficiency of the intersections by a considerable amount,” DeNunzio said.

In addition to safety concerns, others residents worried about the negative impacts on the surrounding area if the project failed.

“How would you feel if the value of your property were to drop 20 percent due to a failed village attempt at your own doorstep?” asked community member Richard Wagaman. “For us who live here, we risk taking a major drop in property values.”

The developer also shared a four-minute rendering and animation of the development plans.

“All of the trees represented [on the animation] are taken from our plans,” said Keller. “There is no hocus pocus going on. There is quite a considerable chunk of reality of what we’ve showed you.”

With the commission’s unanimous support, the Rivanna Village proposal next will be discussed at a public hearing at a future meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

 

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