By. Neil Williamson, President
On January 16th, 2018, both the Albemarle County Architectural Review Board (ARB) and Planning Commission went into to closed sessions “to be briefed by legal counsel related to a zoning overlay district” — we now know what that was about.
The Free Enterprise Forum has learned that eight of Albemarle County twenty-one Entrance Corridors fail to meet the state requirements for such designation. Some of these have been in violation since inception in 1990. This revelation, made by staff, calls into question the legality and enforceability of any ARB conditions placed on properties along the eight illegal entrance corridors.
First a little background:
On October 3, 1990 Albemarle County held a public hearing on the proposed Entrance Corridor Guidelines [and the Architectural Review Board]. In that hearing, Mr. Andrew Dracopoli raised concerns about the proposed ordinance:
“is concerned that the ordinance has “sprouted wings”. It seems like almost every road in the County has become a part of this ordinance whereas when it originally came up, it had only five or six roads. He would like to see it scaled back to just major roads.”
Today, almost 28 years later, Mr. Dracopoli is proven correct.
According to county staff, during a routine preapplication meeting, a question came up regarding the posted speed limit on the entrance corridor. Staff researched the issue and determined both the speed limit and that the roadway was not an “arterial street”.
Virginia Code §15.2-2306 enables localities to establish entrance corridor districts encompassing parcels contiguous to arterial streets and highways found to be significant routes of tourist access to the county and to designated historic landmarks, structures, or districts within the county
This revelation, led staff to research each of the current twenty-one entrance corridor designated roadways and found eight did not meet the state “arterial” requirement.
To their credit, staff has prepared a resolution of intent the Board of Supervisors will consider in their February 7th meeting. The purpose of this resolution is to revise the Entrance Corridor Ordinance removing those roadways that do not qualify as arterials. The following roadways will no longer be under ARB jurisdiction (nor ever should have been)
Non-Arterial Corridors: Avon St Ext (Rt.742), Barracks Rd (Rt.654), Irish Rd (Rt. 6), Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Rt.53)
Corridors with mixed classifications:5th St and Old Lynchburg Rd (RT. 631), Louisa Rd (Rt.22), Richmond Rd (Rt.250), Stoney Point Rd (Rt. 20)
The Free Enterprise Forum has written extensively about overreach at the ARB – including our 27 page report: Eye of the Beholder – Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board’s Mission Creep. While we understand the goals and objectives of the ARB and the Entrance Corridors, we believe Albemarle has, since 1990, vastly exceeded the intentions of the enabling legislation.
Today we see many positive signs as Albemarle staff is looking to do the right thing by repealing the illegal designations. Perhaps now, as a community, we can look to limiting ARB purview to the five or six roads Mr. Dracopoli mentioned in his 1990 testimony.
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.
Photo Credit: vancouver.mediacoop.ca