TO:                   Albemarle County Board of Supervisors   


cc:                    Candy Smith

                        Margaret Maliszewski

                        Wayne Cilimberg

                        Larry Davis                                                        

                        Amy Arnold

                        Juandiego Wade


FROM:              250 West Task Force (by Kirk Train, Diana Strickler)

                        Scenic 250 (by Scott Peyton)


RE:                   Route 250 West – ARB scope of review


DATE:               August 17, 2005




            The Route 250 West entrance corridor is a County treasure.  The exceptional scenic, aesthetic, and historic characteristics of this roadway are valuable assets to the County, and its existing landscape features deserve the highest degree of protection.  Beginning with the establishment of US Route 250 West as an entrance corridor overlay district in 1990, the Planning Commission and the Board have continuously recognized the importance of maintaining the integrity of this roadway.   Five years ago, the Board unanimously adopted a Route 250 West Corridor Study Resolution in which, among other things, the Board committed the County to preserving the community, scenic, and rural character of the 250 West Corridor.  More recently, the Board considered the Crozet Master Plan, which again recognized the value of the Scenic 250 West corridor and designated the corridor for special visual treatment and preservation in and around the Crozet growth area. 


            Unfortunately, despite the nearly unanimous sentiment among the citizens of Western Albemarle County, the Planning Staff, and the Board that the integrity of the Route 250 West entrance corridor should be preserved, substantial development has occurred along the corridor which has continued to whittle away at the very characteristics that make the corridor such a County treasure.  Large subdivisions are easily visible from the roadway and significantly detract from the context of the rural countryside.  There is a lack of setbacks, buffers, and appropriate screening from the roadway.  Houses are sited in inappropriate locations, disregarding natural contours and blocking otherwise spectacular scenic views.  Existing natural trees and vegetation have been unnecessarily removed. 


            The 250 West Task Force and Scenic 250 have reviewed this situation with the County staff, and it is our conclusion that the County presently does not have the necessary planning and zoning tools in place to meet desired objectives with respect to the Route 250 West roadway and the surrounding countryside.  A new approach is necessary to preserve key viewsheds, soften the visual impact of new development, maintain natural buffers and historic features, prevent the destruction of natural contours, ensure proper setbacks from the roadway, and promote better landscaping and screening of new development that is inconsistent with the roadway’s character.


Request for Action


            One straightforward and significant first step that could address many of our concerns is to expand the authority of the Architectural Review Board to include residential subdivisions along the corridor.  This action would address a fundamental loophole in the current ARB review process.  Existing ARB jurisdiction covers all forms of development other than residential subdivisions.


Therefore, the Route 250 West Task Force and Scenic 250 hereby request the Board of Supervisors to take the necessary and appropriate action to amend the zoning ordinance for the Route 250 West entrance corridor and other similarly situated high-quality entrance corridors to extend and clarify the jurisdiction of the ARB to review all subdivisions for their potential impact on the surrounding countryside as viewed from the corridor.  It is our intention that this jurisdiction and any guidelines developed would address issues of placement of buildings, maintenance of natural features, proper setbacks from the roadway, screening, and overall landscape plans, but would not include review of building design of single family residences.


            Thank you for your consideration.  We all want our County to remain beautiful and scenic while we grow, and to retain the character that brings us to or keeps us in Albemarle.


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