Even with on-going school capacity concerns, a rezoning that allows an 85-home development at 1805 Avon Street Extended to move forward was approved Wednesday night by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
The board unanimously approved a rezoning of two pieces of land totaling 3.6 acres from R-1 residential to Planned Residential Development. The zoning change will allow for a mixture of duplexes, triplexes and multi-family buildings.
Currently, school-age children in the area attend Mountain View Elementary, which the Albemarle County School Board considers to have capacity problems. Previously approved developments are going up in the area, adding more homes and more families to the school.
During the public hearing, Paul McArtor, who lives in the adjacent Avinity subdivision, which abuts Mountain View Elementary School, questioned supervisors about long-term plans for school capacity issues.
Due to overcrowding, the school division considered moving fifth-graders at Mountain View Elementary to Walton Middle School for this current school year, but decided against it after outcry from parents.
“The schools need to be treated with the same level of concern with infrastructure that we would treat roads, that we would treat water, that we would treat electric,” he said.
Supervisor Ned Gallaway said there is a plan to address the capacity issues at Mountain View.
“If there was no game plan for Mountain View, part one or part two — and there has to be a part two for this neck of the woods — then I might be thinking differently about this application,” he said. “I don’t think supervisors think that’s all on the school board [to figure out]. It’s for them to decide which projects go when, but we work together with them to determine the allocations of funds to meet the highest priority that they suggest.”
In Albemarle’s southern and western Urban Neighborhoods Master Plan, which is part of the county’s comprehensive plan, the property is shown on the future land use map as urban density residential, which recommends density between six and 34 units per acre.
The Comprehensive Plan is the county’s long-term vision document for land use and resource protection, and includes master plans for the designated development areas of the county. County staff and the Board of Supervisors look to the plan as part of the rezoning process.
The project will have a density of about 24 units per acre.
In December, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning.
Also in December, the county’s Capital Improvement Plan Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations about new projects to the county executive for consideration as he prepares the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, included a new elementary school in their plan recommendation.
The county has approved a six-classroom expansion of Mountain View school, which could cost more than the $6.2 million allocated because of current market conditions and inflation, the school division has said.
The new elementary school project was listed as a placeholder for either a 400 to 500 student elementary school or for a project recommended by the School Board to address long-term capacity conflicts in the Mountain View Elementary School area.
The property’s entrance onto Avon Street Extended does not meet Virginia Department of Transportation entrance spacing standards for commercial entrances, but the developers have received an access management exception.
The roads in the proposed development would be private, with emergency access connecting to Avinity Loop.
Justin Shimp, the project developer, said most of the homes on the site will be efficiencies, one- bedroom or two- bedroom units. Some of the homes will be townhouses over apartments
“What that does is it essentially creates an efficiency or a one bedroom in the first floor, and It’ll make it part of the affordable units on this project,” he said.
Toward the center of the project will be three three-story apartment buildings with 12 apartments in each.
McArtor said Avinity has amenities such as a dog park, a playground and common spaces.
“The fear is not that neighbors are going to walk on our sidewalks,” he said. “The fear is that unnecessary and additional wear and tear is going to happen to our amenities that then come out of the pocket of the residents. We’re already having that problem with our dog park.”
The project meets the zoning requirement of a minimum of 25% of open space and recreational amenities. Shimp said the specifics of the amenities will get finalized during the site plan process, but they have enough space for a playground.
“We have a little picnic shelter, then because the site has some grade, we’ve created a terraced garden in the middle and that helps create a little more space, in that if somebody is using one space, you’d go up a terrace and you’d have your own separate private space,” he said.