By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Meteroic Ventures has been working with the Greene County Planning Commission for several months to modify their request for a rezone and a Special Use Permit that would allow an apartment complex for 55 (corrected 12/13) and older residents (Seminole Casa) on Route 29 southbound near the Albemarle County line. The request was heard by the Board of Supervisors at their December 10th meeting.
The two main issues that have been discussed are the height of the structure (vs. the sight line from Holly Hills subdivision) and the amount of traffic entering Route 29 South.
The process involved two steps, first rezoning the properties from R1 to R2, which would allow for a Special Use Permit to be an option for the properties. The second step is the actual request for the Special Use Permit to allow for the apartment complex to be built at a higher density than R2 allows by right.
Planning Administrator Jim Frydl reviewed the project with the Board of Supervisors. Currently most of the parcels off Route 29 near Albemarle County are zoned R2 in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan to locate growth in the Route 29 and Route 33 corridors near Ruckersville. The intent is to concentrate development in this area to avoid sprawl in the rest of the county.
Frydl said the county has been working with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to see if the addition of the 120 unit complex with other developments in the area would hit a threshold to require a Traffic Improvement Study by VDOT.
The homes in Holly Hills subdivision and the planned townhouses on Route 29 north in the same area added to the 120 apartments is below the number of units that would require the study. VDOT does recommend an extension of the left-hand turn lane into the Holiday Inn complex along with trimming trees in the median strip of Route 29.
The other point made related to traffic from this development is that since residents would be 55 (corrected 12/13) and older most of them probably wouldn’t be traveling during the peak morning rush hour to their job.
The applicant indicated that there is a high demand for residential structures on the Route 29 corridor. The development would keep a natural buffer between Route 29 and the complex. A key point is that since there are no children in the development there would be no demand on the school system which is a key factor on the financial impact to the county. The developer estimates a positive cash flow of $140,000 annual to Greene County.
Finally, the positioning of the structure has been relocated on the property so that the peak of the structure has been lowered and therefore less of a visual impact to the residents of Holly Hill.
The rezoning portion of the hearing to change the zoning to R2 began and only one speaker signed up for comments from the public but the speaker said that her questions had been answered during the presentation. With no other discussion the rezoning was approved on a 4-1 vote with Supervisor Marie Durrer voting against the rezone.
The hearing then moved to the request for a Special Use Permit to allow 120 apartments to be constructed on the 7+ acre parcels.
Supervisor Dale Herring asked for clarification about the sight distance and the applicant indicated that VDOT said the distance was within VDOT’s requirements. Supervisor Michell Flynn expressed her concern about the increase in traffic on Route 29 southbound coming out of the development.
At that point the hearing was open from Comments from Public of which there were none. Herring commented that the fact that there is no demand on the school system for the project was significant. He did have concern about the additional traffic but the fact that residents probably wouldn’t be in rush hour traffic minimized this issue. And the fact that the developer addressed the height issue of the building, Herring felt this was a good project for Greene County.
Chairman Bill Martin made the final comments on the Special Use Permit request. He felt that it is a good project, the location is where the Comprehensive Plan wants growth to occur and it meets a market demand. And there is no cost to expand schools given the age requirements – a big bonus for the project.
At that point the project was approved on a 4-1 vote,
Durrer again voting against the project.
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