The current and proposed entrance corridors along East Rio Road and the John W. Warner Parkway Credit: Albemarle County

Albemarle County soon could have its 22nd entrance corridor.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the creation of an overlay district along a part of East Rio Road and the John W. Warner Parkway. The measure now moves to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote.

Developments along the county’s entrance corridor overlay districts require a certificate of appropriateness from the Architectural Review Board. The ARB regulates the design of buildings and signs “to ensure that new development in these corridors reflects the traditional architecture of the area and that development within the corridors is orderly and attractive,” according to the county’s website.

In the spring, the Planning Commission asked the Board of Supervisors to consider creating the new district encompassing East Rio Road from the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks to the John W. Warner Parkway and the county’s portion of the parkway. Supervisors in July passed a resolution of intent to amend the zoning ordinance map to accommodate it.

County staff said the additional overlay district would allow for continuity. West Rio Road was one of the initial entrance corridor roads established in 1990, and East Rio from U.S. 29 to the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks received the designation in 2005. To be an entrance corridor, a road must be classified as an arterial street or highway and also be a route of tourist access to the county or to historic sites.

Earlier this year, county staff found that eight roads do not meet the requirements. These roads are Route 20 north of Proffit Road, Route 22, Richmond Road east of Shadwell, Route 53, Route 6, Avon Street Extended, Fifth Street Extended and Barracks Road.

As the erroneous entrance corridors have not yet been resolved, Neil Williamson, president of the Free Enterprise Forum, said during the public hearing that he believes the county should not create additional districts.

“Right now, your entrance corridor ordinance is a mess,” he said. “You have routes that are in that corridor that are not legal, but they remain in the ordinance. There was a resolution of intent that was on a February agenda for the Board of Supervisors, it was pulled from the consent agenda, never to be heard from again.”

No date has been set to revisit the eight roads not meeting the requirements.

“The ARB right now, staff is holding it together with bailing wire. The regulations aren’t right, the code isn’t right, and it needs repair,” Williamson said. I believe, actually, in time, this is the right road to go in to complete the corridor, but this is not the time.”

One community member who received a letter about the ordinance asked how it affected her property.

She received the notice because entrance corridor overlay districts extend 500 feet from the right-of-way if a parcel does not border the designated road.

“Because of the zoning of your property, and because it’s a single-family detached residence, the entrance corridor regulations and design review was never intended to apply to the single-family detached residences,” said Margaret Maliszewski, the county’s chief of planning for resource management.

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Elliott Robinson

Elliott Robinson has spent nearly 15 years in journalism and joined Charlottesville Tomorrow as its news editor in August 2018 through 2021. He is a graduate of Christopher Newport University.