In this post I want to share several comments from County staff and the North Pointe representatives which immediately preceded the May 10, 2006 public hearing and which I think help inform the North Pointe discussion in advance of the next public hearing to be scheduled this Summer. Major outstanding issues involve transportation, the form or design of development, and the timing of this rezoning.
Additional North Pointe material of interest:
Posting with report/podcast on public hearing
Recommendations in staff report to Board of Supervisors for May 10, 2006 meeting
… approval of the rezoning is both premature and not recommended. Staff has analyzed the proposal for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and finds that the proposal represents a conventional suburban form with a segregated land use pattern that is not in keeping with the following principles of the Neighborhood Model: [abbreviated below, details here ]
The proposal does not appropriately mitigate transportation impacts because there is no calendar date for constructing the middle entrance or constructing a southbound lane within a reasonable period of time. Affordable housing is not provided in accordance with the County’s policy for 15% affordable units and the administration of the proffers for affordable housing will be problematic.
The proposed rezoning does not reflect trends in growth and the economic needs of the community. Retail space is proposed in excess of absorption within a reasonable amount of time, which staff believes will result in vacancies throughout the Route 29 corridor. Zoning property before the use is actually needed will limit the County’s ability to cause the owner to respond appropriately to a changed future condition. The County has recently dealt with this situation in Gazebo Plaza and Faulconer Construction.
“It’s an exciting proposal that reflects a new paradigm for creating communities in Albemarle County.”Chuck Rotgin, Applicant, Great Eastern Management
“We’re very excited about the North Pointe community. It is an exciting mixed use community where generations of residents can live, work, play, learn, worship, exercise, all in the same community. They can… ride their bike to their job at the UVA Research Park across Route 29 or perhaps at the [National Ground] Intelligence Center. Where they can live within walking distance of their grandchildren. Where Great Eastern will build walking paths for the public to access the Rivanna River ‘blue way’ trail system, and where it will donate land for the ‘blue way’ trail system. Where public transportation infrastructure has been designed into the road network. Where Great Eastern will financially support the provision of bus service to the community. Where there will be a dynamic mixed use area, including a library, and a park. The library block area will include three and four story buildings combining small stores, offices, and residences in the same building. And again, North Pointe will put the necessary infrastructure in place at the time the community is built…. North Pointe is consistent with the applicable portions of the Neighborhood Model.”Valerie Long, attorney representing Great Eastern Management
“In talking about the transportation impacts, for staff, the eight-hundred pound gorilla is Route 29. We’ve got the regional impacts [of this project to consider], this goes beyond what the applicant has proffered which deals with the immediate impacts associated with getting their entrances onto 29. This development could potentially drop up to 30,000 cars onto Route 29 and at this point in time we need to recognize… that 29 has no approved plans for how to deal with this additional traffic. Places29 [Master Plan] is working on that, we do have a transportation study that is trying to deal with it, but it is not addressed at this point.”Mark Graham, Director of Community Development, Albemarle County
“The big picture problem areas; there are four of them. The first one is the form of development. We just want to talk a little bit about why we can’t recommend approval. The form of development is fairly conventional.… What the Neighborhood Model is about is a more integrated development, one that brings the commercial and the residential in closer proximity to each other so people can feel comfortable walking in those areas [around retail establishments] and they are not having to walk across a vast expanse of parking lots. The integration is what is so important to the Neighborhood Model, not just the little pieces, not just the pieces of sidewalks and street trees, but how they all relate together to make a whole.”Elaine Echols, Senior Planner, Albemarle County
“I have [a question] for staff and the applicant. On the one side you feel like you have met the neighborhood principles, and staff says you haven’t met the neighborhood principles. Just curious, what is the dividing line? Is it the size of the stores? Is it too much commercial?”Supervisor Ken Boyd (Rivanna)
“It’s the fact that it is not integrated… In the southern part, this is all very conventional development. The only mixed use area is right here in the library area. When I showed you those pictures, which I got off the Internet… I was looking for some that conveyed the sense of place. The sense of a place where people could go and shop and they could feel a part of the community… The potential for that only occurs right here [in the library block]. All of this area [around large retail development] has large expanses of parking and there’s not really a good way that [the two areas] integrate… We think there are very appropriate ways it can happen, maybe with not so much commercial. But it’s the integration Mr. Boyd. That’s the issue, it is so segregated it gives us a lot of pause.”Elaine Echols
“We think it is very much a Neighborhood Model project. Sometimes, like everything, there is a difference of opinion. Whether something complies with the Neighborhood Model, you could have twelve people look at twelve principles, and twelve projects and everyone might come out with a different opinion or a different conclusion about something. I think that’s why the public process is so important and its so helpful to have such a large group of people look at projects and talk about projects…. The mixed use library block area is actually a little larger than what Elaine was showing… These buildings here are all within the library block, those are all two and three story buildings all with a mixture of uses. There is retail on the ground floor level, offices on the second floor and then residential on the third and fourth floors…. We think we have actually done a very good job integrating those uses, and to be fair, we’ve had a lot of help from [County] staff on that.”Valerie Long