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County planners approve mixed-use development proposal

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ABC rendering


An artist’s rendering of Albemarle Business Campus.

A housing and commercial development proposed for the Fifth Street and Old Lynchburg Road area received an initial approval Tuesday night.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a rezoning for Albemarle Business Campus, which includes a maximum of 128 residential units and 401,000 square feet of non-residential use on about 13.6 acres of land.

The proposal is to rezone two parcels of land and a portion of a third parcel from R2 residential, R10 residential, and commercial office, to Neighborhood Model District, which is intended to be a flexible zoning district that allows a mix of residential and non-residential uses on the property.

“I am in a much better place with this iteration of the proposal than I have been,” Commissioner Julian Bivins said.

Commissioners also recommended denial of a special exception to waive the requirement for a Neighborhood Model District to have a minimum of two housing types.

Commissioner Tim Keller asked county planning staff if they were concerned about “the public perception of this special exception as a form of economic segregation.”

The Board of Supervisors can waive the requirement for at least two housing types if at least two housing types are already present within a quarter mile of the proposed district. There are at least four housing types that are already present within one-quarter mile of the proposed district, according to staff.

“There is a wide range of different housing types in the nearby vicinity of this property, even if this proposed project itself may only be proposing one housing type,” said Andy Reitelbach, a county senior planner. “So I think it is important to look at each individual rezoning individually and looking at the specific circumstances of that rezoning request and the nearby property.”

Developer Kyle Redinger said he wants to be proud of the places he designs.

“I plan to put my office in this project in the future, and desire to attract other friends and businesses to the space,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved a public-private partnership for the project — contingent upon the rezoning receiving approval from the board — where Redinger would reserve 25,000 square feet of Class A office space for a primary business, which, according to a staff report, is a business that generates more than 50% of its revenues from outside of the region. Under the agreement, Redinger would receive $100,000 from the Albemarle Economic Development Authority through synthetic tax increment financing.

Originally, a proposed development on the site, called Royal Fern, had a maximum of 300 residential units and a maximum of 125,000 square feet of non-residential space, which the county Planning Commission recommended denial of in October. During a Planning Commission work session in February, Redinger presented a proposal for the Albemarle Business Campus, with a maximum of 128 residential units and a maximum of 225,000 square feet of non-residential use.

Out of that work session, Redinger said he switched the request to a Neighborhood Model District zoning, which allowed for a specific site plan and renderings for the site, and expanded green space on the site.

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 Community Mixed Use, which allows for residential up to 34 units per acre, community-scale retail, service and office uses, among other things, and Urban Density Residential, which allows for six to 34 units per acre.

The gross and net residential density of the proposal is approximately 9.4 units per acre, according to county staff.

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 Comprehensive Plan as part of the rezoning process.

The proposal also includes a bus shelter, bike racks, multi-use paths, trails and sidewalks.

No members of the public spoke during the public hearing. At previous community meetings, area residents expressed concerns about traffic, pedestrian access, open space, schools, affordable housing and the order of the partnership agreement ahead of the rezoning.

Redinger would also provide $500,000 for Albemarle’s Capital Improvement Program to use on infrastructure improvements in the area, such as schools or roads, and would dedicate a portion of the property for a roundabout at the intersection of 5th Street and Old Lynchburg Road.

“Even though the total cost of the roundabout is much higher than what’s being proffered, what the applicant has offered is enough to cover what their impact to that is to make it a reasonable proffer,” said Kevin McDermott, a county transportation planner.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal on Oct. 7.


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