Albemarle Supervisors support expansion of Colonial Auto

In an effort to stabilize one business during construction of the grade-separated interchange at U.S. 29 and Rio Road, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has given its support to Colonial Auto Center to continue its plan for expanding along Berkmar Drive.

The board decided during a work session Tuesday that it will either amend the Comprehensive Plan update currently under review or support the dealership’s rezoning request, whichever option is needed first.

Colonial Auto plans to use a property zoned for residential use that fronts Berkmar Drive to improve inventory storage and access for employees, vendors and customers.

Pete Borches, president of Carter Myers Automotive Properties, said the company has been discussing land use and a zoning change for the better part of a year.

“We need to mitigate traffic and construction hurdles,” Borches said. “This will allow for a local business to grow.”

The board asked the Planning Commission in October to review the Comprehensive Plan amendment request for this development area.

In December, the commission gave support for the zoning of the Berkmar Drive property to be changed from residential to office-light industrial. This allows for the property to be used by Colonial Auto as a standalone parking lot to replace the area that will soon be affected by the interchange construction on U.S. 29.

The current Places29 Master Plan calls for a small-area plan to be conducted in the area around the intersection of U.S. 29 and Rio.

The commission recommended that until that plan is completed, development along Rio, Berkmar and U.S. 29 should provide adequate right-of-way for the future road improvements.

The panel also recommended that a potential extension of Myers Drive from U.S. 29 to Berkmar Drive be studied in conjunction with the small-area plan.

If development is proposed near Myers Drive or Berkmar Drive prior to completion of the small-area plan, the commission suggested that the land for potential road connections be free from obstructions so that an extension could be made in the future, if considered appropriate.

An additional recommendation to the board was for Borches not to be held to plans for a Myers Drive extension for an indefinite amount of time.

Valerie Long, an attorney representing Colonial Auto, said the company is fine with a limited amount of time but is nervous about the indefinite requirement to keep the area unobstructed.

Supervisor Brad Sheffield suggested that mid- 2017 would be a suitable time for understanding if the connection is needed.

“I don’t want the applicant to not know what he can or can not do with his property,” Sheffield said.

Because Borches also is applying for a separate Comprehensive Plan amendment, if that comes back to the board before the plan update is completed, the board expects to review and add that separately.

For the rezoning application, Colonial Auto is proposing to change the parcel from a residential designation to highway commercial, based on a recommendation from county staff.

“This will pave the way for our team to work with staff on several other layers of zoning necessary,” Supervisor Ann H. Mallek said.

There will be public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan amendment and rezoning at a date to be determined.