By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The

Albemarle County Planning Commission

will consider two items tonight that could affect the future of industrial businesses in the county. Commissioners will discuss the first of several expected zoning changes intended to encourage additional economic development and will also hold a work session on the

Crozet Master Plan

.

When Albemarle County rewrote its zoning code in 1980, two separate districts were created for industrial development.

“Heavy industrial” zoning was set aside for factories and other businesses “which have public nuisance potential and will therefore be subject to intensive review.”

“Light” industrial districts were specifically designated for the creation of businesses that could operate adjacent to residential and commercial zoning because of their lower impact on neighboring properties.

Tonight, the Planning Commission will consider a resolution of intent that would enable them to pursue an amendment to the county’s zoning that would allow for some heavy industrial uses in light industrial zoning with a special use permit.




Download the staff report for the zoning text amendment

The change was requested by the

Board of Supervisors

following the release in January of an

inventory of the county’s available land for industrial development

.

The survey concluded that Albemarle has less than 200 acres of vacant land zoned for light industrial uses, and only 40 vacant acres zoned for heavy industrial use. This land is almost entirely along U.S. 29 north of Charlottesville.

“We’re hoping to improve the distribution of uses and better disburse [them] throughout the county,” said Susan Stimart, the county’s business development coordinator.

Wayne Cilimberg, the county’s director of planning, said the distinction between heavy and light industry may have become somewhat dated because of new technology.

For instance, he said that in 1980, a concrete-mixing plant would have been considered heavy industry because all of the work was done outside, creating noise and dust for neighbors.

“Most of its operation [today] is inside buildings with not that much exterior activity,” Cilimberg said. “The special use permit [application] becomes a bit of a location-specific rezoning if you will,” Cilimberg said.”The commission can just deny it if it’s not in the right spot.”

Tonight’s discussion of the zoning change is only the first in a series of proposed changes to the county’s zoning code to boost industrial development.  Stimart said the second phase would involve redefining the light industrial classification to make it harder for businesses to build office complexes on land that is not intended for that use.

“That tends to raise the price of industrial real estate,” Stimart said.

Neither Stimart nor Cilimberg said they were aware of any specific individual or business who had requested the zoning amendment to allow heavy industrial activities in new areas of the county. Stimart said the change may help the county as it seeks to find ways to allow for private recycling facilities within its borders.

The commission will also hold a work session on the Crozet Master Plan, the first time the plan has been back before decision-makers following a

series of community discussions this winter

.

The work session will include a discussion of whether or not the county’s growth area should be expanded near Western Albemarle High School near Interstate 64. The Yancey family has requested the expansion so they can build a 184-acre business park for light industrial uses.

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