The Albemarle County Planning Commission reviewed current plans for Adelaide, a housing development project on Rt. 250 west of the Blue Ridge Shopping Center, at its February 22 meeting in what is called a workshop, meaning that no vote is taken but a developer can find out what the commission’s likely reaction will be. Developer Kyle Redinger learned that the 93-unit project he proposes needs to be “primarily” detached single-family houses. Currently his plan contains only attached units.
County planner Meghan Yanglos asked the commission to comment on three questions: what should the project’s density be; does the Crozet Master Plan call for lower density in this location; and what percentage of the project should be detached single-family houses. The plan calls for “neighborhood density residential,” which is ‘primarily detached single-family units’ for the site, she said.
She said that county planning staffers do not agree that the density should be low, but do think that at least 50 percent of the units should be detached.
Redinger introduced the project saying, “We need to create affordable options for hard-working families of Albemarle County.” He said the plan has 14 “affordable” units and 40 “villas,” essentially one-level cottages.
Redinger argued that because other developers have chosen to go with by-right zoning in projects such as Foothill Crossing and Westlake Hills, the county has not realized the greater density that the Growth Area concept aims at and therefore Adelaide should be rezoned for higher density. The two parcels involved are currently zoned R1, one residential unit per acre. Redinger is asking for R6.
Crozet Community Advisory Committee has had two meetings with Redinger to hear his plans. CCAC member John Savage presented the CCAC’s February 17 resolution on the project, which calls for the rezoning plan to be rejected.
The CCAC expressed concern over traffic impacts at the location, found the density to be incompatible with neighboring developments and with the guidance of the master plan, and called for detached single-family units in the project. Savage brought up the two pedestrian deaths very near the location. “Traffic is already a problem,” he said.
Recently retired commissioner Tom Loach said the planners’ first question should not be about density but about the integrity of the master plan. He said county police data show that the stretch of road between Harris Teeter supermarket and Western Albemarle High School experiences, on average, one accident per month.
Loach said, “The Crozet community has answered these three questions over and over again.”
CCAC acting chair David Stoner, speaking personally, said that “just because by-rights are elsewhere does not justify density at the wrong spot. If affordable needs to be dense, then it should be where that [zoning] density is in place.” He said “the term “primarily” should not be interpreted to mean 51 percent, but rather 70 or 80 percent.”
Tim O’Laughlin of next-door neighborhood Cory Farm said, “This is a significant departure from the Crozet Master Plan. We took the plan at its word when we bought. The project is not walkable—to nowhere. I say this borders on urban in feel.”
Michael Salerno of Cory Farm said a petition circulating in the neighborhood “echos the density issue. Most of us bought because the area is rural. This area is not walkable.”
Dan Rosensweig, representing Habitat for Humanity, said the organization would participate in the project if the rezoning is approved.
“I appreciate the colorful comments,” retorted Redinger when given a response opportunity. “Our traffic study shows minimal impact. With by-right you don’t get affordability. You don’t get a buffer on Route 250. You don’t get a trail connection. A very vocal minority from Crozet does not want change.”
“How do you justify going to the fringe [of the Growth Area] with density?” asked commissioner Mac Lafferty.
“I’ve done everything to achieve what the master plan says,” Redinger answered. “I’m not sure why we use a master plan if we don’t want to interpret it that way.”
Commissioner Karen Firehock said, “I’d like to challenge you to go back to the drawing board and squeeze out some more single-family. I would like people to be able to stay in that neighborhood. And squeeze in some more pocket green space. I support more density at the site.”
She agreed that 51 percent “is not ‘primarily’.”
Planner Elaine Echols said, “There is a need to get better compliance with Cory Farm as a type.”
Commissioner Jennie More said the lack of detached single-family units is “a misstep.”
Commissioner Tim Keller said, “I don’t think a developer needs to meld with what’s next door.” He said that in Portland, Oregon, high-rise buildings are next door to farmland.
“I think we should be aware of forms next to each other. We should be sensitive,” Lafferty said.
“I don’t think it should look like a little island,” said commissioner Bruce Dotson.
More said that on the second question, the master plan does not ‘mandate’ lower density for the location, but shows a preference for it.
“I agree that the master plan is clear the density should go down on the fringes [of the Growth Area]. The ‘center’ is center of Crozet. It can’t be moved to Harris Teeter. That makes this parcel on the fringe. I don’t want to come up with a number, but it should be low-end.”