Gaming the Rules for Greed
It’s time for the county to change its ordinance that allows developers to include unbuildable land in their density plans for their actually buildable land. Floodplain, stream buffers and critical slopes (those greater than 25 degrees) are considered “constrained land” but they still get to count when developers add up potential units.
The poster child for abuse of this policy is a new by-right apartment project called The Vue on Blue Ridge Avenue. On land zoned R6 and designated at that density in the Crozet Master Plan, Pinnacle Construction and Development of Charlottesville will build nine 14-unit apartment buildings, a clubhouse and swimming pool to create a total of 125 apartments with an effective density of R18. This cynical and exploitative move is an act of sabotage to the master plan and destroys a happy 125-year-old neighborhood.
This is possible because a parcel boundary line adjustment supported by former property owner Piedmont Housing Alliance attached 20 acres of floodplain along Powell’s Creek to the parcel facing Blue Ridge Avenue.
The location two blocks west of downtown, with about seven buildable acres, should properly have about 20 single-family houses on it to fill in vacant area in the existing neighborhood, or if the townhouse expectation held out in the master plan was followed, perhaps 40 to 50 units.
The project makes no attempt to offer road connections with adjoining parcels, and instead envisions its streets as one big parking lot. The plan seriously undermines the potential market for apartments on the Barnes lumber yard where the Master Plan calls for them and makes the prospect of finding investors in downtown buildings that will be partially paid for by apartment rents that much more difficult.
It is, in the opinion of your editor, whose has 25 years experience with Crozet development, the single worst plan ever advanced here. Execrable is the word that come to mind.
The county should promptly correct this loophole in policy before other neighborhoods are similarly destroyed. Unbuildable land is just unbuildable land.