By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
On Wednesday, the Greene County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a proposed four-story, age restricted apartment complex on the west side of Route 29 just north of the Albemarle County line .
At the August 21st Planning Commission meeting, Meteoric Ventures, LLC approached the commission for two actions rezone from R-1 to R-2 and then a Special Use Permit to allow 120 apartments on just under 8 acres on southbound Route 29, a quarter mile north of the Greene/Albemarle county line. The proposal includes a resident age restriction of 55 and older which would eliminate any negative economic impact on county schools.
Planner Stephanie Golon reviewed the rezoning request which is just south of Holly Hills housing development on Route 29 southbound.
The transportation concern is access to and from the development off Route 29. While crossovers exist at at Holly Hills and at the Holiday Inn Express/Anytime Fitness development, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) does not propose a new crossover for this new development. Public water and sewer are available and the estimated monthly rent would about $1,500 for a one bedroom unit and $1,700 for a two bedroom unit.
The final point that Golon made before recommending approval of the rezoning request is that this development could provide for interconnectivity to the south at the Holiday Inn Express crossover in the future. Unfortunately, the street layout of Holly Hills would prohibit interconnectivity with that development.
Two primary concerns were brought up by the commissioners – the height of the proposed buildings of 4 stories and the proximity to the homes in Holly Hills.
Two speakers from the public addressed the commissioners – both residents of Holly Hills – with concerns of traffic, the height of the structure, the visibility from Holly Hills and overflow lighting form the parking of 240 vehicles in the development. Those issues really relate to the second action for the commissioners to consider.
The commissioners voted 3-1 (Bill Saunders was absent from the meeting) to rezone the two parcels from R-1 to R-2 with Steven Kruskamp voting against the rezone.
The agenda then went on to the second public hearing, a request for a Special Use Permit to allow up to 120 apartments on the property – more units than are allowed by right. Golon explained that there is proposed one four story building housing the 120 units – 30 per story. There would be one bedroom and two bedroom units for rent and the developer plans on offering only to 55 and over tenants. The outdoor lighting would be 25 feet high and would point downward, with the apartment property being below Holly Hills, there should be little light leakage reaching the housing development.
Chairman Jay Willer received confirmation from the applicant that two parking spaces would be provided for each of the 120 units for a total of 240 spaces. Commissioner John McCloskey expressed concern over the runoff from the large parking area.
Only one resident spoke on the issue – one of the residents that spoke in the first session – and expressed concern over the growing developments that will add more and more traffic on Route 29 going south in the morning. This would potentially be another 240 vehicles either going south or having to go south and get into the outside lane by the Holiday Inn Express crossover to make a U-turn to head north on Route 29.
The applicant, Jonathan Feldmann, addressed the parking of 240 vehicles and stated that parking under the structure could be reviewed to minimize the impact. Further discussion went on to discuss a three story vs. a four story structure – the height of the Holiday Inn Express is three stories.
The commissioners weighed the pros and cons of this type of a development off Route 29. 120 units generate a lot of traffic onto Route 29 but there is a need for additional housing in the growth area of Ruckersville.
Willer pointed out to the commissioners that it wasn’t their job to redesign the project but to point out concerns to the developer and either approve, reject or defer the project that is presented to them. With that, Willer asked the developer if they would like to request a deferral to address the concerns brought up by the Planning Commission. The developer agreed that they would like a deferral but requested that the commissioners give a specific list of issues to be addressed. Willer outlined the following issues:
- Height of the structure
- Runoff issues
- Set back issues
- Traffic concerns, especially the U-turn movement
- Visibility looking north on Route 29
While the number of units may be impact of several of these issues according to Willer, a change in the number of units may not be the only solution to addressing the five issues listed.
With the above issues identified, the developer requested a deferral and the Planning Commission voted to defer the request and will review the modified request when it is resubmitted.
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 http://www.freeenterpriseforum.org