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County planners recommend approval of permit for 100-unit development

The Albemarle County Planning Commission on Tuesday gave the nod to a project that could bring 100 rental housing units near the National Ground Intelligence Center.

The county commission voted 5-1 to recommend approval of a rezoning and a special use permit for the project, River’s Edge, off of U.S. 29 north. Commissioner Rick Randolph cast the dissenting vote and Commissioner Jennie More was absent.

Half of the small, pre-fabricated units would be a maximum of 1,200 square feet, while the other half would be a maximum of 900 square feet. Project engineer Justin Shimp said the concept is being built off of accessory dwelling units.

“Places like Southwood, Riverside and Belvedere all have a carriage house or an accessory unit, it doesn’t count towards density,” he said. “So our idea of the smaller size of 50 units is not a new product in the development area.”

The project is on a bend in the North Fork Rivanna River, and Shimp said he wants to preserve trees and that the housing units would be stepped into the landscape.

The proposal is to rezone two parcels totaling 32.52 acres from Rural Areas to Planned Residential Development, which allows for residential of between three and 34 units per acre. The project would have a gross density of approximately three units per acre and a net density of 12 units per acre.

In Albemarle’s Places29 Master Plan, which is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the Parkway Place property is shown on the future land use map as neighborhood density residential, which is three to six units per acre, and private open space.

The Comprehensive Plan is the county’s guiding document for its long-term vision 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 Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.

A special use permit is also needed for the disturbance of preserved steep slopes for an accessway and stormwater management.

Randolph said he couldn’t vote for the application in this location.

“I just can’t in good conscience approve a project that in five years, two years, two months from now could turn out to be a flooded site, and especially with people living there,” he said.

County staff said the existing access way is in the stream buffer, the floodplain and the preserved slopes, but the proposed access way is in the stream buffer and slopes, but is not in the floodplain.

There are no buildings or parking proposed in the stream buffer, the floodplain or the steep slopes.

The proposal also includes natural play areas, trails and 15% affordable housing at 80% area median income. AMI in Albemarle is $89,600.

Some of the commissioners said they were concerned that there was only one way into and out of the development, but that they were still supportive.

“I am actually liking the way that the site has been designed,” Commissioner Karen Firehock said. “It’s not super, super creative but it goes much further than what we typically see.”

The proposal has not yet been scheduled for a Board of Supervisors meeting.


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