Out of Bounds proposed site plan - July 30, 2013

Despite residents’ concerns about traffic and other impacts to their neighborhood, the Albemarle County Planning Commission has unanimously recommended approval of a residential development at the intersection of Barracks and Georgetown roads.

“Traffic is an issue, and in some places it’s a problem,” said Commissioner Tom Loach at last week’s meeting. “That said, the Comprehensive Plan allows this plan. In fact, it encourages this type of plan.”

Local developer Vito Cetta, a manager of Barracks Heights LLC, which acquired the 9.4-acre property in November, said at a May meeting that his plan is to build 56 high-end townhouses. There are no commercial uses proposed.

Known as the Out of Bounds parcel, referring to the name of a nearby driveway, Cetta is seeking a rezoning from residential to neighborhood model development and a maximum of 56 housing units.

The majority of concerns expressed by the residents and commissioners were focused on increased traffic, an interconnection with the adjacent Canterbury Hills neighborhood and stormwater drainage.

“My difficulty is the density — now we are talking about 56 units,” said Joe Phillips, a 20-year resident of Canterbury Hills. “At a conservative two cars per unit, we’re talking about over 100 cars coming to and from there during rush hour.”

“Traffic increases won’t be especially significant,” said Justin Shimp of Shimp Engineering, and the applicant’s representative at the meeting. “Though there will be delays since we are adding a fourth side to the intersection.”

Phillips echoed other residents’ statements when he said that the connection of his street, Bennington Road, from Canterbury Hills into the Out of Bounds parcel would not be used for its intended purpose.

However, a letter from the Virginia Department of Transportation to county staff described the connection as important to the project and nearby residents. The letter also added that this connection has been anticipated since 1963, when the plat was recorded.

“I actually see the interconnection along Bennington as being favorable because it gives them an opportunity to come to a traffic light if they want to turn left,” said Commissioner Russell “Mac” Lafferty.

During a break, several Canterbury residents approached Shimp to share their concerns about the stormwater drainage plans.

The plan shows several underground stormwater detention tanks that will empty via a pipe under neighbors’ yards in Canterbury Hills to a stormwater ditch.

“The developer’s plan has not even been studied, and we don’t know what will happen,” said one Canterbury Hills resident.

“We have secured the drainage easements and the ability to add necessary improvements downstream to satisfy the county’s concerns,” Shimp said.

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors will review the Out of Bounds development at an upcoming meeting.