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Galaxie Farm residential development approved with fewer units

A proposed residential development along Route 20 near Cale Elementary School has been approved by the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

The request was to rezone about 13 acres from R1 Residential to Planned Residential Development, which allows residential with limited commercial uses.

The developer, Nicole Scro, originally proposed a maximum of 72 units, but the Planning Commission in October recommended approval of a maximum of 65 units, citing concerns about setting a precedent for future developments.

At the time, she said she was asking for the additional units in order to provide likely lower prices for the market-rate houses. No matter the number of units, Scro proposed that 15% of the units would be affordable at 80% of area median income.

Scro in November submitted a revised application plan that reduced the density from 72 units to 65 units.

“We had preserved a small bit of maybe 10 or 11 smaller units in the previous plan, so now it is all larger units,” she said Wednesday night. “So while the affordable housing number doesn’t change, the market rate units change in their price point.”

In the Southern and Western Urban Neighborhoods Master Plan, part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the area is labeled on the future land use map as Neighborhood Density Residential, which recommends primarily residential uses with densities between three to six dwelling units per acre. This development is in that range.

The Comprehensive Plan guides the county’s 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 plan as part of the rezoning process.

During public comment, one county residents spoke and said it looked like a good design, but said he was concerned about its impact on the nearby elementary school.

“So my rhetorical question to you is, what are you going to do with 100 or so children that are going to live there, where they’re going to go to school?” he asked. “You need to plan the infrastructure to go along with the development.”

A proposed expansion of Cale, which will be considered as part of the county’s Capital Improvement Program in the upcoming budget process, would address current overcrowding at the school by adding six classrooms in order to serve an additional 100 students. There are not yet plans to address future growth at the school.

“My only observation would be that we’ve got to get better at projecting, given the development proposals, redevelopment proposals, what the educational capacity needs are and get them parked in the CIP,” Supervisor Rick Randolph said. “Because if we’re able to get authority to move over, away from proffers, to impact fees, then we have a basis to be able to collect money from development and redevelopment that can be applied to infrastructure in the community, benefiting the community.”

Randolph and other supervisors expressed concerned about a future homeowners’ association maintaining the sole private road in the development.

“Every time we get one of these, we say, ‘Oh well this one is a little different,’ but at some point, in my opinion, we really do need to talk about that as a board,” said Supervisor Diantha McKeel.


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