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Rio Point public hearing delayed due to public notice issue

A Wednesday evening public hearing before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on a proposal for 328 apartments at the intersection of the John W. Warner Parkway and Rio Road now needs to be rescheduled due to a public notice error.

According to the county, the sign notice posted at the property referred people to Albemarle’s zoning notices search webpage, where an outdated notice was posted for the proposal.

Albemarle Spokesperson Emily Kilroy said someone notified the county shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday about the outdated information, which led county staff to request a deferral of the public hearing to a later date.

“We felt like on the fly, without time to do a full proper analysis, it was better to defer and make sure that everyone felt really strong about being in compliance with the requirements for advertising then to go forward and have [the public hearing] not count or have that question hanging,” she said.

It’s unclear when the public hearing will now be scheduled, but the earliest it could be is the board’s Dec. 15 meeting.

The public hearing was for a rezoning application for a development called Rio Point, formerly called Parkway Place, to change the property’s zoning from R-4 Residential to Planned Residential Development.

Rio Point LLC purchased the 27.3-acre property from the Wetsel family for $7.5 million in January. Chris Henry, president of Stony Point Development Group, has resubmitted a rezoning application, and said at a community meeting that the LLC is a group of investors led by Stony Point.

The proposal has been moving through county processes since 2019. The Board of Supervisors accepted a deferral request from the initial developer in June 2020, when the board was seemingly split 3-3 on the proposal.

At that time, county staff and supervisors were concerned about the proposal’s potential impact on traffic, and cited a then-unfunded corridor study of Rio Road. That study was later funded and is currently underway.

A roundabout at Rio Road and the John W. Warner Parkway was awarded state funding earlier this year in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale process, and the corridor study preliminary recommendations also found that a roundabout would help that intersection. A second portion of the study will look at Rio Road East, from the parkway to the city limits.

If approved, Rio Point LLC still would provide $750,000 toward road improvements, a transit stop and space and amenities for a trailhead park. About 15% of the units at Rio Point will be affordable for 10 years to those who earn 80% of area median income or less.

According to the staff report, county staff are now recommending approval of the rezoning, as Albemarle has been able to “evaluate the larger transportation network in the vicinity of this project over the past year,” and “solutions have been identified and significant progress has been made toward implementing transportation improvements that would alleviate traffic issues.”

Residents of Dunlora, a nearby subdivision containing mostly single-family detached homes, have spoken out against the proposal, as have residents of more recent developments Dunlora Park and Dunlora Forest, citing traffic concerns and concern about how apartments will fit in the neighborhood.

“The county should figure out how it wants to grow and plan ahead,” said Judy Kittel, a Dunlora Park resident, in an email to The Daily Progress. “Right now it is trying to figure out what to do about the traffic on Rio East. That problem for this area takes precedence to affordable housing.”

In the Places29 Master Plan, which is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, the property is shown on the future land use map as predominantly Urban Density Residential, which recommends between six and 34 units per acre, while other parts of the property are designated as Neighborhood Service Center or public and private open space.

The Master Plan was adopted in 2011, and the Places29 Rio Community Advisory Committee, which provides input over the area, has asked for the Master Plan to be updated.

With 328 apartments proposed, Rio Point would have a gross density of 12 units per acre and a net density of 16.2 units per acre.

If the property is developed by right, or without approval from the Board of Supervisors, county staff previously have said that up to 109 dwelling units would be allowed before bonuses, and a developer could build up to 163 units if the land were to be developed as a cluster development.


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