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Albemarle begins planning process for southern growth area
Sean Tubbs | Friday, March 09, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.
Nearly 100 Albemarle residents crowded into a packed room at the County Office Building on Thursday to take part in the first step toward creating a “mini-master plan” for urban areas south of the city of Charlottesville along Interstate 64 .
 
“We’re interested in what is being proposed, particularly the commercial development north of 64 at [Fifth Street and Avon Street] and how that will be accommodated in terms of transportation,” said Sally Mank, a resident of Mill Creek South .
 
The southern designated growth area , which county planners refer to as Neighborhoods 4 and 5, is one of the last remaining sections of urban Albemarle that has not been through the master planning process.
 
“We want to identify the most important goals and land-use recommendations for the Comprehensive Plan update, which is similar to what we have right now in the Land Use Plan,” said Elaine Echols, a county staff planner. “A more detailed plan, like Crozet’s or the Village of Rivanna , will come later.”
 
Mill Creek South is part of what county planners refer to as Neighborhood 4 , which also includes Mill Creek and Lake Reynovia. Undeveloped sections include the former Blue Ridge Hospital tract owned by the University of Virginia Foundation.
 
Neighborhood 5 includes the Southwood Mobile Home Park , the Redfields subdivision and several apartment complexes, such as Eagle’s Landing and University Place. Neighborhood 5 also includes an undeveloped tract known as the Granger property, which is being eyed for more than 70 single-family homes. Development of that property would likely include construction of a connector road between Sunset Avenue and Fontaine Avenue.
Even though it is technically not in Neighborhood 4, several people at the meeting were concerned about a potential development east of Route 20 known as Somerset Farm. Developer Wendell Wood has asked for the land to be added to the county’s growth area so he can build up to 1,900 homes, as well as commercial development.
 
“Right now the Planning Commission has decided against expanding the development areas,” Echols said. “[Somerset] is something that is not under consideration at this time … [But] if the developer wants to pursue that, he can ask the Board of Supervisors after the Planning Commission’s deliberation,” Echols said.
 
There are currently no roads connecting Neighborhoods 4 and 5, but a westward extension of a road called the Southern Parkway has been a conceptual project for many years. When asked if anyone in the room would like to see it constructed, no one in the audience said yes but more than a dozen people shouted no.
 
Mank said she hopes the process will help define the future of a major corridor serving southern Albemarle.
 
“We’re also seeing such a [diverse] land-use mix on Avon with industrial development interspersed with medium- to high-density residential,” Mank said. “It’s not clear what the intention really is in terms of the future land use matrix.”
 
The meeting attracted interest from some Charlottesville residents, as well.
 
“The Fry’s Spring neighborhood has as its boundaries the development areas that are being discussed and we have found that it is quite wise to get significant infrastructure to support any development areas and not do things that will erode city neighborhood streets,” said Jeanne Chase, a city resident and advocate of creating the Sunset-Fontaine Connector.
 
Supervisor Christopher J. Dumler said he is hopeful the county will be able to develop a full master plan for the southern urban areas in the future, but said he understood that cannot be done now because of limited staff resources.
 
“Neighborhoods 4 and 5 have some of the best opportunities in Albemarle County for light-industrial land, for prime commercial land, and there are a lot of good job creation opportunities,” Dumler said. “That’s one of the things I hope to get out of this process. Where are those parcels? Then we’ll talk to the landowners and see what kind of business opportunities we can attract to the southern end of the county.”
 
After a presentation, citizens were asked to mark maps with suggestions of what they would like to see changed during the coming update to the county’s Comprehensive Plan . A second meeting will be held at 6:30 pm April 2 at the County Office Building on Fifth Street Extended.
 
The Albemarle Planning Commission will review public input this fall before making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which will adopt a new Comprehensive Plan next year.
 
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