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Albemarle Planning Commission recommends club expansion at Southwood
Rendering of new community center at Southwood, February 7, 2017
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Credit: Timmons Group
The Boys and Girls Club hope this building will in place by this summer
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Sean Tubbs | Tuesday, February 07, 2017 at 10:23 p.m.

The Albemarle Planning Commission has recommended a plan for a new community youth center to be built in the Southwood neighborhood on Old Lynchburg Road.

“Currently, the Boys & Girls Club has about 100 students on their waiting list,” said Craig Kotarski, a civil engineer with the Timmons Group. “This would nearly eliminate their waiting list.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia currently operate a center along Hickory Street within the mobile home development owned by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. A special-use permit caps enrollment at 120 students but that will be expanded to 200 if the Board of Supervisors signs off on the idea.

Under the plan, a new 2,800-square-foot building would be constructed next to an existing basketball court. Kotarski said the structure would be modular and could be moved and repurposed in the future as Habitat for Humanity works to redevelop the 88-acre property.

“Habitat for Humanity will be presenting a broader master plan for the area, hopefully later this year,” said county planner J.T. Newberry.

Newberry said there were no unfavorable factors in the expansion.

No one spoke during the public hearing, and support from the commission was unanimous.

“No one should have to wait to get into the Boys & Girls Club,” said Commissioner Karen Firehock.

Commissioner Pam Riley, who represents the Scottsville District, said the plan has the support of the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee.

“There’s just generally great enthusiasm for this project,” Riley said.

Kotarski said the Boys & Girls Clubs hope to have the building in place by the summer. The item is currently not scheduled for a date before the Board of Supervisors.

Commissioners also voted to extend the amount of time for the Regents School of Charlottesville to find a location. The school currently is operating from a campus on Ivy Road that is just outside the growth area.

A special-use permit governing the property has a sunset clause that requires the school to move by Aug. 13.

The school was established at Jefferson Park Baptist Church in 2010 but added a second location on Ivy Road in 2012 with a maximum of 60 students. Maximum enrollment at the Ivy Road site was increased to 130 in 2014.

There are 105 students in the current school years from 63 families.

“We have far fewer actual vehicle trips coming to the site every day than there are students,” said Valerie Long, an attorney with Williams Mullen who is representing the school.

Long said the school is still seeking property for a new location, but efforts have been unsuccessful due to a lack of suitable sites.

The request had been to drop the sunset clause altogether, but staff had concerns.

“By removing the sunset clause, we would be allowing the school to remain in place indefinitely despite any safety concerns,” said county planner Christopher Perez.

Staff recommended extending the clause to August 2021.

“We need some time built in,” Long said.

Long said the school cannot ask for more students in part because the septic system does not have the capacity to handle a higher enrollment. She added that they also want a site with playing fields.

Firehock said the extension should give Regents ample time to find a site and for the county to collect additional traffic data if the school does not find a new location.

“We wish you well in finding a new site,” said Tim Keller, chairman of the Planning Commission.

 

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