By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Friday, October 7, 2011

When the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

last reviewed a site plan for a new apartment complex in April 2010, nearby

Woodbrook

residents were satisfied a proposed trail would be made of gravel and would only run between a stormwater pond and the movie theater adjacent to

Albemarle Square

shopping center.

“Imagine our surprise at the grand opening of Arden Place to see that the sidewalk goes at least 200 feet beyond the Carmike terminus and is paved all the way,” Susan Reed, president of the Woodbrook Neighborhood Association, told the board Wednesday.


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As part of the rezoning for the 212-unit

Arden Place

, Coleway Development agreed to provide open space and a trail in order to qualify for additional housing density. Portions of the open space were to be dedicated to the county.

County regulations require the path to allow work crews to access the Woodbrook stormwater lagoon, which is maintained by the county. This access is chained off to thwart pedestrian and vehicular access from the shopping center area.





Map developed by Mark Graham explaining the situation

During the rezoning process for Arden Place, Woodbrook residents successfully opposed a pedestrian connection to their neighborhood. Many had argued that a trail would increase the crime rate in their community.

Reed said when neighborhood residents complained last month to county officials to ask for it to be removed, county staff tried to persuade them the sidewalk was a community amenity.

“Someone has an agenda to put in a sidewalk to Woodbrook and perhaps later a road,” Reed said. “Someone built something that was not approved. We want to know how it can be legal to just ignore what was decided.”

Mark Graham, Albemarle’s director of community development, said he does not have enough staff to monitor all construction to make sure developers explicitly follow their site plans. He also noted the trail does not make a connection through to the neighborhood.

“The whole issue is [Coleway] built this access pathway further than was shown on the site plan and the only question at this point is can they amend their site plan to show it being longer or whether we would demand they rip out what they built,” Graham said.

Davis said there is some uncertainty regarding whose property the extraneous trail has been built upon. A map presented to the board depicts the trail as straddling county and Coleway property.

“If it’s on [Coleway’s] property, I’m not sure what would stop them from amending the site plan to show it,” Davis said.

County Supervisor Rodney S. Thomas will preside over a meeting today between residents of the Woodbrook neighborhood and the developer of Arden Place.

“We’re going to meet and determine what the developer can do and what he can be asked to do to remedy the problem,” Thomas said.

Reed told supervisors this week that the neighborhood wants the extraneous sidewalk removed and presented them a petition with more than 100 signatures asking that Coleway be ordered to do so.

Woodbrook residents are also concerned that the path is paved and not gravel.

County Attorney Larry Davis said the board’s motion did not specify that the path be made of gravel.

“But the site plan that was shown did show it as gravel, which was fine. That was the minimum requirement for an access path,” Davis said. He added that the developer had the right to exceed that condition.

During a discussion Wednesday, none of the supervisors seemed interested in forcing Coleway to remove the trail extension.

“This is the way it’s going to be,” said Supervisor

Ann H. Mallek

.  “This is [Coleway’s] own private property.”

Supervisor

Dennis S. Rooker

said he had been to the site and called it a “terrific amenity.”

“It’s a lovely path, it runs down along the stream,” Rooker said. “A lady came by strolling a baby.Somebody rode their bicycle by. There were several deer out there standing around.”

However, Supervisor

Duane E. Snow

said he could understand the concerns of the neighborhood.

“The bottom line is they don’t trust us because they think we’re going to put a road through there,” Snow said.