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Opinion/Letter: Overdevelopment puts Albemarle at risk

Opinion/Letter: Overdevelopment puts Albemarle at risk

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The remarkable and historic events of this year and last have naturally preoccupied us.

But we have critical issues right here at home that have the potential not only to harm the way we live, but to forever change the character of the place we call home.

We are at an inflection point of creeping overdevelopment, as exemplified by two massive developments on U.S. 29 North.

Brookhill is bringing up to 1,500 housing units, plus retail and more. And North Pointe has clear-cut a huge swath of acreage for what will become nearly a thousand new homes, plus other (mixed) uses.

Wow. This might mean 2,000 or more cars on the road, maybe a thousand new students in the schools (no one knows the exact numbers). Where are we going to put them all; how are we going to manage all this; what will it do for the quality of life around here?

Albemarle High School is over capacity, and several local elementary and secondary schools are, too.

Land has been proffered for at least one new school, but nothing has been planned or budgeted by the School Board. Is our policy just to worry about it later?

And now we learn about yet another development proposal. A Virginia Beach group plans to build 350 new units on U.S. 29 at Ashwood Boulevard.

Yes, this is part of Places29, designated by the county as a growth area designed for development in order to save the rural areas, which is laudable. And no doubt this area will eventually be developed. Eventually.

But how? Pray not at the expense of overcrowding it with buildings that are too tall and too massed together, putting too many cars on the road, leaving too few trees, and providing too few amenities and too few school seats for our children.

Dear neighbors and citizens, we need to take a pause — a full lockdown, in current parlance — in local development. Let’s go back to the drawing board to determine what we want this area to look like — with what features, support, look and feel — as well as what services, such as school and road capacity, are needed.

The long-dreaded concern of “starting to look like Fairfax or Loudoun” is taking place before our (distracted) eyes.

Remember: It was indeed just a single straw that broke the camel’s back. I fear we are right at that point.

Scott Elliff

Albemarle County

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