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85-unit development eyed for area of Mountain View Elementary elicits concerns

An 85-unit development proposed in Albemarle County is raising concerns among some neighbors.

James Moss and Victorian Properties II LLC is requesting a rezoning of two parcels totaling 3.6 acres on Avon Street Extended from R-1 residential to Planned Residential Development for a mixture of duplexes, triplexes and multi-family buildings.

Kelsey Schlein with Shimp Engineering, representing the property owner, said Moss currently lives in a house on the property, which abuts the Avinity subdivision, which abuts Mountain View Elementary School.

“He’s looking at how he could develop that and perhaps continue to live on the property in that community in some fashion in the future if this project is to be approved,” Schlein said.

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 proposal is for a density of approximately 24 units per acre.

The roads in the proposed development would be private, with emergency access connecting to Avinity Loop.

The property does not meet Virginia Department of Transportation entrance spacing standards for commercial entrances, and developers have applied for an access management exception request.

According to the application, traffic generated by the proposed development could add 35 trips during the morning peak hour and 45 trips during the evening peak hour, and “right and left turn lanes are not warranted by the proposed use.”

Schlein said that according to the Albemarle school division, an estimated 18 students would live in the proposed development, with about 10 of them attending Mountain View Elementary.

During a recent meeting of the 5th and Avon Community Advisory Committee, panel members and neighbors of the project asked about school’s capacity, traffic and plans for open space.

Paul McArtor, who lives in Avinity, asked Supervisor Donna Price and Planning Commissioner Rick Randolph about capacity issues at Mountain View, and questioned if it would be “responsible” to consider any rezoning that adds housing in that area.

Due to capacity issues, fifth-graders at Mountain View Elementary could be moving to Walton Middle School next year.

“Would it at least be fair to say that when you have a school so overpopulated that the number of students physically can’t be [in] the school, that any project that adds more students prior to an expansion or that solution being resolved, would it be safe to say that that would be … irresponsible and lack of judgment, as has been on previous approvals throughout this neighborhood, this area?” McArtor asked.

Price said she did not see that as a definitive conclusion.

“At the present, I can’t tell you what the answer on this or any other individual application may be, until the county staff has an opportunity to process it and report to the Planning Commission, the Planning Commission reviews it and reports to the Board of Supervisors,” she said.

CAC member David Storm questioned a traffic analysis that was done in October as part of the access management exception request.

“Can we rely on those numbers?” he asked. “Those were generated during a pandemic, when Mountain View wasn’t open, when most people weren’t traveling. Is it reasonable to say that you might need to redo those numbers as the emergency declarations expire and traffic approaches what would be a new normal?”

Schlein said if VDOT thinks the traffic counts need to be redone, it will ask the applicants to do so. She said the project was delayed because they were trying to wait to do the traffic counts.

“Ultimately, we just went ahead and did the counts after delaying for a number of months, just so the project could move forward and we could get [initial comments] back from the county and VDOT on this,” she said.

The site provides 25% of land as open space, but Schlein said the purpose of those spaces has “not been fully fleshed out at this point.”

“There are some county requirements for tot lots that we could adhere to, but as far as thinking through that a bit further … specific recreational amenities have not been proposed just yet with this application,” she said.

A meeting attendee who identified herself as Michelle B. asked what “assurances” would be put in place so future residents in the proposed development did not “encroach” on amenities in nearby Avinity.

“… With the dog park or the tot area and everything — to make sure there’s some kind of fencing dividing, to show that this is a separate community and they can’t encroach on ours,” she said. “I’m concerned with that little pathway there for emergency use only that anyone can walk [through] will and come into the Avinity community and do whatever they want, or come over to the dog park and use the facilities or whatever in our community,”

Schlein said that in an ideal world, these neighborhoods could coexist with one another and that it wouldn’t be an issue to use each development’s amenities.

“However, I do understand that especially for HOA-paying residents that definitely creates a little bit of heartburn,” she said. “Other than making it clear that the amenities on this property are intended for these residents and leases, I don’t think there’s much other [that can be done] than if there’s signage on your amenities, as well … But as far as anything to keep these future residents out, per se, I’m unsure of what that would be and I’m unsure of whether that would necessarily be a good thing overall for the community.”

Public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors have not yet been scheduled.


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