By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
At their October 22nd meeting, Fluvanna’s Planning Commissioners agreed to vote on a Comprehensive Plan recommendation next January 14th.
After three years, and numerous iterations, the Commissioners settled on a January date for a public hearing and vote after learning that two members would be unable to attend a December public hearing.
Since there were no scheduled public hearings and only one presentation, Planning Director Darren Coffey highlighted several revised changes to the current draft. Two were particularly noteworthy:
· The Ferncliff area in the far northeast corner of the county reverted to its previous rural preservation designation. Planners had considered the rural residential designation area but, given the paucity of development in the area, ultimately changed their mind; and,
· Coffey also provided a suggested downzoning for residential dwellings in the rural preservation areas. The draft now proposes: “very low density residential development (i.e. less than one unit per five acres). … Large subdivisions that exceed this density should not be permitted by right, if at all, and may not be compatible even at low density due to the total number of lots.”
Mr. Coffey’s revised language did not define the term large subdivisions.
Commissioners had no immediate comment on the revisions, but will discuss them at one of several work sessions set at the meeting. Commissioners scheduled work sessions on November 5th, and December 3rd, and 10th; all of which will begin at 7:00 pm in the Administration Building.
Seven building permits for new dwellings were issued in September. Through the first three quarters of 2008, permits for new dwellings are down forty percent from the comparable period in 2007.
Subsequent to the meeting, Frederick Payne, the county attorney addressed the concern by a citizen regarding the size of the proposed Urban Development Area (UDA). Mr. Dennis Holder (Columbia) had repeatedly raised the possibility that the size of the UDA exceeded the state size requirements, subjecting the Comprehensive Plan to legal challenge.
Mr. Payne, stated that after reviewing the statute: “I am convinced that [the] recommended provisions would be defensible, even assuming (as I am not convinced is the law) that anyone were able to interpose a judicial challenge. [T]he mandate of the statute is to provide a minimum opportunity for development, not a maximum; therefore … it would be easier to defend the Plan (if we ever had to) against a charge that it provided too much land for development than too little.”