The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has voted 4-2 to approve the Pantops Master Plan, a Comprehensive Plan amendment that will guide planning of one of the County’s development areas. The County’s other approved Master Plan is for Crozet and that was adopted in 2004. Supervisors
(Scottsville) voted against the plan, in part, because it removes a 77-acre parcel of land from the growth area against the landowner’s wishes.
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The approval came following a March 17, 2008 work session at which the Supervisors reviewed three outstanding questions about the plan.
The Board reviewed the Plan on August 1, 2007 and held a public hearing on September 12, 2007. After the public hearing, the Vermillion family requested that their property be added to the development area. In order to do so, the Board would have had to have held another public hearing.
In the discussion, Supervisor
(Jack Jouett) asked staff when the master plan could be adopted. The County’s Chief of Planning, David Benish, told the Board they could adopt it immediately if they do not make any amendments. The Board decided to not include the Vermillion property at this time, but left open the possibility of amending the plan in the future. Benish said staff was concerned the topography of the site would not support a dense amount of population without steep slope waivers. Rooker suggested the Vermillions could return to the Board in the future with a request for a Comprehensive Plan amendment.
Many of the same arguments for keeping the Vermillion property out of the designated growth area were also made for removing the Wheeler property. Supervisor
(Rio) said taking the property out would help protect Route 20 as a rural road, and would prevent development along the Rivanna River. He acknowledged that Wheeler has publicly told the Board that she would like to keep her property in the growth area.
“That’s not unimportant, but we’re supposed to make the determination for the overall long term good of the community,” Slutzky said. Rooker said it made no sense to him to have her property in the growth area.
Boyd disagreed and said her property rights were being violated and that he respected Wheeler’s desire to keep her property in the growth area. Rooker responded that no one has a property right claim in a comprehensive plan designation. “There really have been a number of mixed signals from this property owner in the sense that they’ve talked about putting the property in conservation easement,” Rooker said.
The County does not accept easements on property in the growth areas.
The bulk of the discussion in the work session focused on the Hansens Mountain Road issue. The County was forced by a court decision to approve a site plan by developer Richard Spurzem to build a 180,000 square foot shopping center at the western corner of the road and Route 250. The Board of Supervisors is opposed to the Gazebo Place development, but has no authority to stop it because of the underlying zoning. VDOT officials have said they would close a crossing of the median at Hansen Mountain Road if the center goes ahead, given the proximity to I-64/250 interchange. That crossover is also the exit from the Ashcroft neighborhood and it’s elimination would force residents into a right turn only traffic pattern onto Route 250.
The Planning Commission recommended not including any recommendation about a proposed relocation of Hansens Mountain Road to address traffic issues associated with Gazebo Place, citing concern about increasing commercial traffic in the neighboring Glenorchy subdivision. Staff had amended their recommendation to read as follows:
“Relocate the Hansens Mountain Road from its current intersection with Route 250 to a new location that would utilize the Glenorchy Drive/Peter Jefferson Parkway crossover at the Route 250 intersection to align with the existing entrance into Peter Jefferson Place in a manner that avoids significant negative impacts to occupied dwelling units in the Glenorchy neighborhood. Several possible alignments are identified on the Pantops Master Plan.”
The plan states three possibilities for how the road might be built, even though staff acknowledged some of them might be difficult. Rooker said the developer has even purchased lots in the Glenorchy subdivision in order to build an alternate entrance given the limitations of Hansen Mountain Road. Slutzky suggested waiting until it was certain Gazebo Place could have some form of a public road built to serve it. “It seems silly for us to adopt a comprehensive plan that may or may not be implementable,” Slutzky said.
Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) asked if adopting the Pantops Master Plan would accommodate Spurzem’s plans for Gazebo Place. Wayne Cilimberg, the County’s Director of Planning, said Gazebo’s site plan has been approved, even through the Pantops Master Plan would not recognize the land use that Gazebo Place will employ. County Attorney Larry Davis said the Plan would allow the County to place restrictions on Gazebo Place should Spurzem seek a rezoning in the future.
Rooker moved approval of the Pantops Master Plan with the staff recommendations to keep Vermillion and the Wheeler property out of the growth area, as well as the staff recommendation on the relocation of Hansen Mountain Road. Boyd said his colleagues were forcing him to vote against the plan. Lindsay Dorrier joined Boyd in voting against the plan.
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