The process of creating a master plan for the Village of Rivanna advanced a little further this week with a work session held September 23, 2008 by the Albemarle County Planning Commission. The Village of Rivanna, which includes Glenmore, is one of the County’s designated growth areas, and the master planning process is being undertaken around the County to plan in greater detail future development in these areas.
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During the work session held on September 23, 2008, many Commissioners expressed a desire to find a way to make sure that necessary improvements to Route 250 are in place before new development occurs. Commissioners also heard details about the format for a public meeting on the master plan that will be held later on this year.
In her staff report, County Senior Planner Elaine Echols said Glenmore itself is zoned as a Planned Residential Development, Rivanna Village at Glenmore is zoned as Neighborhood Model, but the rest of the area under consideration is currently zoned as Rural Area.
A previous work session was held before the Commission on June 17, 2008. After that meeting, the Commission decided not to expand the boundaries for the master plan, and settled on an average residential density target of 3 to 6 units per acre. However, the Commission requested to see options of how that density could be concentrated away from the Running Deer subdivision, a portion of which is within the master planning area.
Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
(TJPDC) is assisting with the development of the Master Plan. County and TJPDC staff sought the Commission’s input on three potential designs for how the master plan would accommodate that desire. TJPDC Planner Bill Wanner presented the three designs to the Commission.
Design 1 envisions higher residential density clustered around two “centers” that would be organized around “civic greens.” This center would not feature commercial uses, according to County Chief Planner David Benish. Design 2 only features one “center” allowing for a greater dwelling-units-per-acre. Design 3 lacks a “center” and instead shows residential density decreasing in intensity away from the Village Center which is shown in all three designs. Under all three scenarios, there could be 800 to 1,600 units of new housing, according to Wanner. However, a population estimate based on full build-out has not yet been calculated.
Commissioner Tom Loach (White Hall) asked why the community was not given an option to feature lower density. Wanner responded that his work has been guided by the Comprehensive Plan, which designates the Village of Rivanna as one of the areas designated for growth. Echols said that the existing zoning would not allow for the density recommended in the Comprehensive Plan.
Commissioner Jon Cannon (Rio) said he could not give staff the feedback they wanted, because he felt staff were separating the form of the development from the density.
“For me, the big implications of these different forms is where the density masses, and where it becomes proximate to areas that have expressed sensitivity about higher density,” Cannon said. Echols instructed Cannon to not consider specific numbers of units at this time, to instead think of gradations of density. The Commission spent several minutes discussing the finer points of what this actually meant.
Only one person spoke during the public comment period. Village resident Neil Means asked for information on the transportation plan in the master plan. He expressed his concern that Route 250 will not be able to handle the additional capacity.
Commissioner Marcia Joseph (At-Large) wanted Means to know that transportation decisions will come as each portion of the Village of the Rivanna comes back for a rezoning. She said that the Commission’s job during the work session was to provide feedback on the form the master plan should take.
However, Eric Strucko (Samuel Miller) pointed out that the Commission had spent time talking about sewer capacity [see summary below], and that he did want to have a discussion about the Village’s transportation infrastructure. Benish tried to refocus the Commissioners back to a discussion of form, and said whatever form of density Commissioners chose would inform questions of transportation capacity. But Loach said that he too wanted to discuss transportation capacity.
“If we are going to make assumptions on density, we have to know if based on that
density, there’s going to be either enough transportation capacity or [that] there will be when this is built,” Loach said.
Joseph pointed out the Pantops Master Plan does not fully address that area’s transportation issues, but the master planning process allows the Commission to develop a vision for how the growth areas should look as they are built out.
Loach, who disagrees with the County’s interpretation of the population build-out numbers provided in the Crozet Master Plan, said there can be dire consequences of not taking existing conditions into account when creating a new plan. He singled out the Crozet Master Plan’s reliance on an improved Jarmans Gap Road to serve as a major transportation corridor. However, despite the Plan’s approval in 2004, the County cannot sufficiently fund improvements to Jarmans Gap, so it remains a two-lane street without sidewalks, bike lanes, or any of the other amenities called for in the plan.
“Every development put on the road was predicated on improvements to the road,” Loach said. “Every improvement on the road [has been] delayed. So what I worry about is that we put this vision of the density, it’s considered then that’s what [developers] are allowed and [they] can go ahead no matter what the roads are because that’s what’s coming.”
Joseph said rezoning is when transportation decisions should be made. “If we know that existing conditions are not what we need to do the development, then certainly we need to put that verbiage within the master plan, but I can’t see us just deciding to stop right now with planning into the future because we don’t have the infrastructure.”
Strucko called for language that specifically lays out what upgrades need to happen with Route 250 before development occurs.
Jon Cannon (Rio) said he heard one important question while listening to the discussion. Should a rezoning go forward if the planned infrastructure is not in place?
“Typically in a rezoning we take into account the impact of the rezoning on the highway or on the school system and we’re able to extract a proffer that represents the incremental impact of that development but that does not ensure that an adequate transportation link is going to be available…. Tom [Loach] is saying that there ought to be a mechanism to ensure as a condition of a rezoning under a plan like this that the 250 improvements have been made.”
Loach asked if rezoning approval could be tied to hard data, such as a transportation level of service. Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner said that such language in the plan would require specific criteria. He pointed to a situation in Loudoun County where a court upheld that county’s comprehensive plan requirement that shopping centers only be built in areas with a specific population in a given radius.
“The more specific and the more objective the comp plan is, the stronger the basis it is to support a particular action on a rezoning,” Kamptner said. Benish added that the Southern Urban Area B study established specific road standards before expansion can take place.
SETTING UP A PUBLIC MEETING
County Community Relations Manager Lee Catlin suggested the Commission sponsor a public meeting where the TJPDC could present the options to the public and would feature break-out sessions where details could be discussed.
Commissioner Joseph suggests keeping all three design concepts on the table for the public to weigh in on. Strucko agreed, and suggested the community should come up with their own vision. Catlin cautioned that the Commission should establish clear parameters under which those visions could be developed.
Bill Edgerton (Jack Jouett) suggested that the public be given clear reasons for why the comprehensive plan calls for a certain targeted density for the Village of Rivanna. He also urged that the ultimate design should include transition zones so that high-density areas do not directly abut lots with single family homes.
The Planning Commission will sponsor the public meeting later this year. Catlin said it would likely take place before Thanksgiving. Staff will come back to the Planning Commission with a plan for the public meeting sometime before then.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON SEWER CAPACITY CONCERNS
Officials from the
Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA)
Albemarle County Service Authority
(ACSA) were on hand to answer questions about sewer capacity for the Village of Rivanna.
“The Service Authority has told us that the treatment plant was sized for 385,000 gallons per day for the overall Village, and that now only 120,000 gallons per day are being used,” Echols said.
ACSA Executive Director Gary Fern told the Commission that under the terms of the four-party agreement, the ACSA owns the Glenmore Wastewater Treatment Plant, but the facility is operated by the RWSA. He said the ACSA is currently evaluating the treatment plant to examine the possibilities for expansion if necessary in the future, with results from that study due in three months. ACSA Engineering Director Pete Gorham told the Commission that he felt the plant could handle the additional capacity when the Village of Rivanna is fully built-out.
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