The Albemarle County
Architectural Review Board
(ARB) met today continuing its review of the
development approving Blocks A & B which includes the area south of Sperry Marine running to the 7-Eleven at the intersection of Hydraulic and US 29.
County staff also informed
that a new preliminary site plan was submitted late last week by developer Frank Cox. The timeline for ground breaking will be heavily dependent on the feedback County planners and VDOT provide on this new version of the plan. It could go to a vote by the Planning Commission or it could once again be pulled from consideration by the developer for additional modifications.
The Albemarle Place project is divided into seven major sections or blocks (A thru G). Blocks A, B, and C have now received preliminary ARB approval. Blocks F & G (between Sperry Marine and old Comdial facility) will be reviewed on May 15th. Block D, the area with the tallest proposed buildings, is on hold. Preliminary plans for Block D showed a 10-story residential building that, at 150’ in height, would require a modification to the rezoning. Block E, directly behind Sperry Marine, is not visible from the entrance corridors and thus will not get ARB review.
The most interesting aspects of today’s discussions related to the preservation of four trees along one of the buildings fronting US 29 and the security concerns of Sperry Marine (a division of defense contractor Northrop Grumman).
You might not expect four trees on a development the size of two Downtown Malls to be noteworthy, but ARB Chairman Candace Smith used them to make the point that the developer needed to reconsider the location of the utility easements. As presented, the utility easements along US 29 would have eliminated space for street trees between the building and the highway. When Ms. Smith insisted on reconsideration of that point in order to improve the view along the entrance corridor, the developer conceded the utilities could be run through the building internal to the site.
Next, the ARB heard from a representative of Sperry Marine about the details of a barrier that will reach 20 feet in height to protect the Sperry Marine facility. While the exact nature of the threats was not very clear, the only examples the ARB members discussed were vehicular in nature. Sperry would like a 10 foot earthen berm topped by a 10 foot wall. The ARB members pointed out that the stormwater retention pond along part of the planned wall was quite a deterrent in and of itself. Thus, the wall is now proposed to be shorter along that stretch until reaching its full height deeper into the property. Sperry staff also indicated they wanted to see some green (the earthen berm) on the other side of their parking lot once the forest is cleared for the development.