Albemarle County is starting the update of the long-term planning document that will guide land use growth and development for the next 20 years and has launched a website for the plan and the process.
The comprehensive plan guides county decisions for long-term planning including transportation options and resource protection. The plan is to be complete by fall 2024 and will set the county’s vision of itself for the next two decades.
County residents and others interested in the plan, the process and participating can keep up with meetings and events and take occasional surveys on the website, engage.albemarle.org/ac44.
The county is also accepting applications for a Comprehensive Plan update working group, which are due Feb. 28.
Last month, the Board of Supervisors agreed to pay working group members for their time. Officials hope to attract members of historically underrepresented groups in planning processes, including younger than 35; over 65; renters; those with less than a bachelor’s degree; multi-lingual; Black, Hispanic or Latino; foreign-born or non-U.S. citizens; or those work in Albemarle and want to live in the county.
Localities are required by state law to review their comprehensive plans every five years. Albemarle’s Deputy Director of Community Development Charles Rapp said the upcoming review will be the first since 2015 that reviews the framework and composition of the whole plan.
“Over the past several years, there have been reviews and updates through other long range planning efforts, including Housing Albemarle and the Rio/29 Small Area Plan, as well as the Pantops Master Plan and Crozet Master Plan updates,” he said. “These reviews and updates satisfy the requirements under the state code.”
County staff has recommended moving through the update in four phases. The first phase will work to update the county’s growth management policy “through the lenses of equity, climate action and capacity projections.”
The county’s current policy directs development into specific, identified growth areas “while conserving the remainder of the county for rural uses, such as agriculture, forestry, resource protection, and others that rely on these uses.” Development areas make up about 5%, or about 35 acres, of the county’s land.
According to the website, the policy update includes an updated capacity analysis to estimate the potential for the existing development areas to accommodate the demand for housing and business growth in the county.
A 2019 capacity analysis report estimated that the development areas had the capacity for around 13,000 more units on the low end and about 24,630 more units on the high end.
“We will also be listening to community priorities and lived experiences under the current growth management policy,” county staff wrote on the website.
Ultimately, final recommendations will be presented to the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final decision on the updated policy.