At their meeting August 21, 2007, the
Albemarle County Planning Commission
recommended approval of two developments that would expand the Glenmore community off Route 250 East of Charlottesville. Developer Don Franco of KG Associates came into the meeting prepared to address concerns about a roughly $360,000 difference between his proposed cash proffers and the expectations detailed by County staff. However, while he left the meeting with the Planning Commission’s blessing on both the
developments, he also took home a new bill for an additional $1.4 million in cash proffers.
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the day after the decision, Franco said, “I am a little disappointed about where we are… $1 million is a fairly significant sum to drop on us at the last minute. I remain disappointed about the process.”
For Franco, the process has included multiple Planning Commission work sessions in 2006 and numerous meetings with County staff and Glenmore residents. Since the Planning Commission last reviewed the projects, the County Board of Supervisors has set new cash proffer expectations for Albemarle rezonings. All of the proposed 153 new homes for Glenmore are single-family detached which now carry a cash proffer expectation of $17,500 each. Another expectation is that 15% of a new development’s housing will be “affordable housing.” As an alternative to building affordable units, a developer may volunteer to pay cash into the County’s housing fund at a rate of $19,100 per required affordable unit. That approach was supported in the staff’s recommendations.
While that math seems pretty straight forward, it was the number of proposed lots that got the Planning Commission’s attention. Throughout the staff report, it was presented as an expansion of Glenmore by 103 homes, not the 153 homes representing the combination of the Leake (up to 110 homes) and the Livengood (up to 43 homes) developments.
Franco thought he was on the same page with the County on this matter. “We’ve got the ability to build an additional 50 lots in [the existing] Glenmore. We had gone through this lengthy process showing how we could get to those 50 lots. We also showed an approach [in the Leake development] that keeps us out of the environmentally sensitive areas. We thought we should be able to get some credit against those units in the proffers,” said Franco.
Glenmore’s existing zoning allows for up to 813 homes and 763 of those lots have been created. While some of those homes could already be built by-right in portions of the Leake development, significant critical slopes would make developing certain areas a challenge. It would also certainly impact environmentally sensitive areas identified by the County as an important resource. With the addition of new acreage to Glenmore via the Leake property, Franco prepared a plan that showed how the development could occur along the ridge-top creating less of an impact on critical slopes. Thus while willing to pay the new cash proffer expectations, Franco hoped to do so only on the units beyond the 50 existing lots still allowed in Glenmore.
For the Planning Commission, that didn’t add up. Commissioners were uncomfortable with the prospect of new homes being built in Leake or Livengood under the old Glenmore proffer expectations ($2,300 per home). They argued that any development the size of Glenmore was unlikely to be built at its fully authorized amount (hence the remaining 50 undeveloped lots) and that with these new rezonings, the updated cash proffer expectation should be in place for all 153 proposed lots.
It was an interpretation that seemed to catch the staff off guard as well. After several commissioners had agreed on the staff recommendation to seek $2,089,000 in cash proffers, Chair Marcia Joseph asked County Attorney Larry Davis when exactly the cash proffers would come into play.
“As it is currently proposed in the draft proffers, it wouldn’t kick in until after they have developed  lots,” said Davis. “I think that’s an issue that needs to be further examined….It’s something certainly the Planning Commission should weigh in on, ultimately the Board [of Supervisors] will have to decide whether or not the cash proffer has adequately addressed the impacts of the development.”
After further discussion, the Planning Commission came around to calculating the cash proffer expectation for Leake and Livengood as being based on all 153 lots:
By comparison, the per unit cash proffers previously negotiated for Glenmore were one-time contributions of $2,300 per home to support the County’s capital budget needs ($1,000 for schools and $1,300 for roads). There are other significant proffers for the development, but the total per unit cash proffer expectation for Glenmore’s 813 current lots would be about $1.87 million. As recommended by the Planning Commission, the 153 lots proposed for Leake and Livengood would have total cash proffers more than one and one-half times that amount.
Since the Board of Supervisors upped the ante for cash proffers, the Planning Commission has strictly interpreted the evolving guidelines as a regular part of their discussions, including the recent review of Wendell Wood’s NGIC expansion project.
Franco says he will now take the matter up with the Board of Supervisors. They are scheduled to review the Leake development on November 14, 2007 and the Livengood development on October 10, 2007.