By Brent Wilson, Field Officer
Ruckersville, especially near the intersection of US 29 and Route 33, is one of Greene County’s designated development areas. The northwest corner of Ruckersville has developed with Walmart and Lowes. The newly redeveloped Market by Tiger Fuel opened its doors late last year on the Southeast corner. Last night (12/11) the Greene County Board of Supervisors heard a rezoning request that could eventually add residential uses and lead to a solution to efficient access to the northeast corner of Ruckersville.
For over a decade, Frank Eways has tried to develop a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on his property on Moore Road off Route 33 East with no success. So he has now partnered with Denstock, LLC from Charlottesville to develop an apartment complex on the property.
Planning Director Jim Frydl presented the rezoning request. The Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) would provide water and sewer to the site. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) traffic impact study for the apartment project indicated the traffic created by the apartment use is close to the traffic predicted by the existing PUD.
The school impact data indicated these apartments would have less impact than other development types. The average number of students per Single Family Home is .56 students/house, a Multi-Family Unit – townhouse/condo – normally is .32 students/unit. However, Terrace Greene apartments in Greene County near the Albemarle County line have produced .14 students/unit. In addition, Terrace Greene low vacancy rate indicates a strong demand for high end apartments.
Denise LaCour from Denstock, LLC has significant local development experience. She was the head of the Kessler Group that developed Forest Lakes and in 2013 she started Denstock. Currently Denstock has developed 965 high end apartments in central Virginia with another 224 units in process
Denstock’s plan is to develop the Eways property and hopes that the county will approve a connector road to US 29 at the intersection where the road from Lowes intersects US 29. The connector road is not part of the rezoning application however it is on the agenda for the Planning Commission next week as a Special Use Permit.
LaCour addressed the markets the project is trying to serve – millennials and baby boomers – both with disposable income and without families. In broad strokes she described millennials as mobile and not wanting to be tied down to owning a property. She also indicated Baby boomers don’t want the maintenance that comes with ownership. They want to be able to travel for weeks at a time without worrying about mowing the yard.
In the public hearing portion of the meeting three citizens spoke about Moore Road being a rural road.
Supervisors Chair Michelle Flynn pointed out that the area being considered is not zoned agricultural but is being considered to rezone from PUD to R-2, Residential with basically the same density. She also highlighted that the demand for this project is confirmed by Terrace Greene being full.
Supervisor Bill Martin indicated this property is in an area that is planned to grow but that the existing PUD zoning has not been successful. The presentation clearly demonstrates there is a demand which is supported by Terrace Greene’s success. He also appreciated the explanation of the connection to US 29 – although it was not part of the rezoning being requested – it demonstrates a long term solution to getting traffic onto US 29.
Supervisor Marie Durrer clearly stated that she was against the rezoning request prior to the meeting but, now understanding that the plan is to eventually connect to US 29 where the Lowes intersection is located, has changed her mind. Supervisor David Cox also agreed that the connector road was a major factor in his supporting the rezone request.
Although the connector road will be addressed as a Special Use Permit and is not part of the rezoning application, the applicant clearly stated that the connector road is a critical piece to the success of this development. With that, the Supervisors unanimously approved the rezoning request.
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
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