Charlottesville Planning Commission supports Kroger’s move

The proposed relocation of the Kroger grocery store from Hydraulic Road to the former Giant grocery site in Seminole Square shopping center cleared a procedural hurdle this week.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission recommended approval of a critical slopes waiver to allow for the expansion of the back of the store and the construction of a place for trucks to turn around.

The recommendation came with a list of conditions for the visual impact, connectivity, lighting, noise, maintenance and an existing conservation easement.

Kroger also must construct a retaining wall behind the store for elevation and safety purposes.

Michael Barnes, president of the Greenbrier Neighborhood Association and a former Albemarle County planner, said visibility of the 30-foot retaining wall behind the store should have an adequate buffer to mitigate impacts to the Meadow Creek Stream Valley Park.

Heather Poole, a planner for the city of Charlottesville, said Kroger’s plans include additional trees on its landscape plan and a structure to promote vine growth to make the retaining wall more aesthetically appealing.

Barnes said the Meadow Creek Stream Valley Master Plan calls for the facility to have multiuse trails, which he says is an important linkage for community to get to get to various destinations.

“Since the applicant is taking down a few existing stores [to make room for the grocery], a pedestrian connection should be made from the trails to shopping center,” Barnes said.

“The intent would be to have a multiuse trail behind the shopping center that goes to Hillsdale,” Poole said.

Poole said a conservation easement held by the city and The Nature Conservancy behind the shopping center covers a portion of property off Michie Drive where a pond exists and an adjacent property where a portion a Kroger’s proposed storm water management would go.

Lisa Robertson, deputy city attorney, added that any work done on the existing conservation easement should protect and restore Meadow Creek.

Commissioners said the city parks and recreation department also should be involved because the construction work will be visible from the park. Kroger officials said they will work with parks and recreation and The Nature Conservancy.

Commissioner Lisa Green added that lighting should be consistent with the city’s dark skies ordinance to reduce light pollution and limit spillover to nearby properties.

Ali Daughtry, an engineer with Robertson Loia Roof Architects and Engineers, said Kroger also is willing to limit delivery hours to lessen noise on nearby residents.

“We will have no deliveries past 11 p.m. and nothing before 6 a.m. to minimize noise in the back,” Daughtry said.

If approved, construction on the new location is planned to start this summer.

The City Council is scheduled to take up the slopes waiver at its April 6 meeting.