By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Preddy Gables, LLC came before the Greene County Planning Commission at their September meeting (9/20/17) to file a rezoning application to amend the proffers approved on July 13, 2004 (RZ#04-152). The goal of the proffer amendment is to remove the proffer regarding tying the number of apartments to be developed to the development of retail space.
Currently the property located on Terrace Greene Drive / Seminole Trail, due to the ratio in the existing proffer, can only develop 276 units of which there currently are 260 units in existence. Under the new proffer, the total number of units would remain unchanged but the development of those units would no longer be tied to the construction of additional commercial space. In addition, the proffer amendment increases the amenities and restricts the size of units in the last phase to be no larger than two bedroom. units.
This would be the last phase of the development and was displayed to develop the property that is lower in elevation and closer to Route 29.
Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda presented the project to the Planning Commission (less Chairman Jay Willer who was absent from the meeting). Svoboda indicated that there were no concerns from any of the agencies reporting and that all of the infrastructure was done originally to accommodate the full development.
Chris Gordon, a representative of the management firm working of the project, reviewed a conceptual rendering of the project. It showed the new section would be below the existing section and he also indicated that the existing structures are fully occupied.
Gordon continued on to explain that the new structure would have several different features – parking would be underneath the structure rather than surface parking, this would require elevators to be used rather than staircases. While not specifically built for older populations, it would be more convenient and easier to access the units in the new structure.
In addition a new pool, work out room and – something that existing renters have requested – a dog run to allow tenants to let their dogs “off-leash” to exercise are all part of the proposal. Gordon stated that the developer has not contacted adjoining landowners yet, as they wanted the feedback from the Planning Commission before taking their idea to the “neighbors”.
As a public hearing, the meeting was opened to the public and there was no one to comment.
In conjunction with this public hearing there was a second public hearing to address revising the height limit in Residential District (R-2) in Article 6 from 40 feet to 50 feet.
This change would allow the new structure to raise up the 42 feet planned (2 feet in excess of the current height allowed).
The height discussion among the commissioners was mixed. While the feeling was that this particular project would use this higher limit to benefit a hillside, however other future projects may not have this topography and therefore it would actually rise 50 feet up from the sight line.
The Planning Commission approved the request to amend the proffers 5-0 and approved the change to the Residential District height by a vote of 4-1 with Commissioner Frank Morris voting against the change in height.
Based on the change in State law, the commissioners completely ignored the issue of the original proffer ratio of residential vs. commercial property. They did not ask the developer about any future plans for commercial development. The law, known as Senate Bill 549, was signed by Governor McAuliffe in March, 2016. It restricts both the subject matter and manner in which localities may accept proffers in residential zoning actions.
Instead, the commissioners discussed the existing units being “sold out” and that this would bring more additional housing to Greene County. By itself that is good, but that opens the question of the increased demand of infrastructure on the county, especially schools.
In their letter supporting the rezoning the applicant provided evidence of limited impact on schools:
The existing apartment units at Terrace Greene are home to school teachers, policemen and countless other residents who contribute to the local community. Terrace Greene’s 260 apartments currently have only twenty (20) children residing there, and developing the last 90 units within an elevator building having no three-bedroom units is less likely to appeal to families with small children than the existing 90-unit plan being amended–meaning that these amended proffers are likely to reduce school impacts. Given that, the economic development and other benefits, this new concept for the final project phase will, like the existing units at Terrace Greene, have a net positive impact–fiscally and more generally –for Greene County.
Balancing the need for housing in Greene and the cost of providing government service to the new housing is an important consideration; as is protecting property rights.
Interestingly, many potential business expansions use the number of “rooftops” in determining the viability of new locations. One need only look to the recently released Sales Tax data from the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce to see how the commercial landscape of Greene County has changed. In 2006, the total sales tax revenue was $867,433. In 2017 (January-June) the amount was $934,396 in just six months.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credit: http://terracegreene.com/photos.html