ZMA 00-009 North Pointe Update

SP 02-72 Residential Uses at North Pointe



Worksession to review status



Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, Cilimberg, Echols





January 4, 2006


ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   X



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North Pointe came to the Board in December 2003 with a recommendation for denial from both staff and the Planning Commission.  Reasons for recommending denial included:


1.       Environmental features had not adequately been protected.

2.       The design and form did not: 

·         appropriately support pedestrians

·         sufficiently interconnect streets to adjoining properties

·         address the need for amenities in parks and open space

·         relegate parking

·         integrate different housing forms throughout the development

3.       Lack of opportunity for Architectural Review Board input on conformity with Entrance Corridor guidelines.

4.       Insufficient amount of affordable housing

5.       Missing information, including grading and lot standards.

6.       Proffers for streets were primarily VDOT requirements, not offers for mitigating additional impacts from the development.

7.       Proffers included dependence on the Board’s future creation of a Community Development Authority (CDA) for improvements which in other cases would be provided by a developer as standard development costs.

8.       Improvements shown on the plan could not meet County/state requirements for streets and stormwater.

9.       A proffer for a school site whose size was not acceptable to the School Board and with a sunset so short as to make the proffer meaningless

10.   Proffers were confusing and not provided in a legally acceptable form.

11.   Standard information requested by the Commission was not provided to adequately assess the proposal.

12.   Commercial square footage could not be reasonably absorbed over the next ten years.

13.   Lack of an appropriate and equitable contribution to a transportation study for Route 29.


Throughout most of 2004, the Board and a smaller subcommittee appointed by the Board worked with the applicant to try to resolve the outstanding issues identified by both the staff and the Planning Commission. The Board last reviewed this project on November 10, 2004 during a worksession.  Staff indicated that staff and the applicant were at an impasse on proffers.  Staff recommended that the Board vote the project up or down rather than continue to ask the staff and applicant to find mutually agreeable resolution to the outstanding issues.  The Board agreed with staff and advised the applicant to bring the project back when the applicant’s proffers were ready for a public hearing and action by the Board. 


Over the last 14 months, the applicant has resubmitted proffers and a plan three times.  The applicant has been working towards developing legally acceptable proffers which could be approved if the Board wished to approve the project   


The last submittal is attached to this staff report and is under review for the public hearing scheduled on February 8, 2006. At present, staff has not completed its review of the wording of the proffers submitted December 9, 2005 to advise on whether or not they could be approved in February.  Staff would like to focus the Board’s attention on the “big picture”

issues that will help instruct actions on the rezoning and special use permit in FebruaryIf the “big picture” issues are not resolved to the satisfaction of the Board of Supervisors, then whether the proffers are in an acceptable form may be a moot issue.




3.3  Develop and implement policies that address the county's growth and urbanization while continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the county




Between the Planning Commission’s public hearing in 2003 and now, many of the issues raised by the Commission have been resolved.  These include:


·         Identifying and protecting critical environmental features

·         Providing interconnections

·         Providing sufficient amenities for parks and area for open space

·         Integrating different housing types throughout the development

·         Proffering the school site for a period of 20 years

·         Proffering a library site

·         Removing the requirement for the Board to create a CDA for funding improvements to the project

·         Taking the project to the ARB for comment

·         Providing grading information


The major changes since the Board last saw the proposal include dropping the CDA from the proffers, increasing the donation of money for a transportation study from $25,000 to $100,000, providing a calendar date (5 years from approval of the first site plan) for construction of Northwest Passage to Route 29, and acceptable timing and improvements related to the dedication of land for a school site and library site.


From a staff perspective, the following issues have not been resolved:


1.   Form and design of project – The Planning Commission did not endorse the design or form of the project before Board review.  Changes were made to the design as a result of input from the sub-committee appointed by the Board and the sub-committee was satisfied that the design and form was adequate.  Staff, however, believes that the project relies largely on redevelopment of the expansive parking lots at a future date to achieve relegated parking.  The large commercial area does not promote a pedestrian orientation.


2.   Commercial absorption rate – As one of the matters to be considered with a rezoning, the Code of Virginia provides that localities consider “the current and future requirements of the community as to land for various purposes as determined by population and economic studies and other studies.”  Early in this project’s review, the County’s Fiscal Impact Planner performed a study which concluded that the County could not absorb the amount of commercial square footage proposed with Hollymead Town Center, Albemarle Place and North Pointe during a ten-year period.  The applicant disputed the County’s study with its own study showing that “leakage” was occurring in the market to Northern Virginia and Richmond that could be captured in Albemarle County.  When the discussion regarding oversaturation of the market took place with the Board of Supervisors, most Supervisors did not believe that this issue was as important as allowing market forces to determine the amount of commercial square footage developed over time.


Since that time, the County’s consultants with the Places 29 Master Plan study (ZHA) have also identified that the Route 29 corridor has significantly more available commercial space than demand over the next 20 years, suggesting that there is an excess inventory of commercial space even without North Pointe. Two consequences of zoning in excess of demand are stale zoning and vacancies. 


A.   Stale zoning – Zoning land before a particular use is needed can result in “stale zoning”.  Stale zoning occurs when zoning classifications on land no longer represent land uses recommended by the Comprehensive Plan. Undeveloped or underdeveloped land zoned industrially in the County’s designated rural areas represent one example of stale zoning.  Stale zoning inhibits the County’s ability to respond to changing conditions and desires of the community.  Staff believes this rezoning will result in stale zoning in the commercial portion of the project. 


B.   Overbuilding and vacancies – Zoning in excess of demand increases sprawl, with loss of “greenfield areas”, and vacancies in existing developed areas.  In Albemarle County, competition for commercial tenants is aggressive and vacancies already exist in shopping centers along Route 29.  An oversaturated inventory of commercial space will increase vacancy rates and limit redevelopment opportunities in the Route 29 corridor.  North Pointe’s location on the fringe of the commercial area raises questions on its ability to build out its commercial area over the next 20 years.  As noted above, staff believes the road improvement proffers that phase Route 29 improvements are structured to create an incentive to build no more than 290,000 square feet of commercial use in the foreseeable future.  That fact, combined with the oversaturated market, leads staff to believe it is likely that North Pointe will see no more than 290,000 square feet of commercial space for a prolonged period of time. 


3.   Places 29 Master Plan process – Staff believes that prolonged consideration of North Pointe is adversely impacting the Places 29 Master Plan process.  The consultants and the public do not know if the North Pointe property should be included for consideration and whether it can be considered in developing regional transportation solutions.  This rezoning was submitted in 2000 and has been before the Board for more than two years.  As a project on the fringes of the development area for which an acceptable plan and proffers have yet to be provided, staff believes that its future land use should be considered as part of the current master plan process. 


4.   Timing for southbound Route 29 improvements – Improvements needed in the southbound lane include a required third lane, turns and tapers for street entrances, and correction of a vertical curve in the highway.  Staff and the Board requested that these improvements take place by a specific a calendar date. The proffers, as written, would result in construction of a varying number of lanes with no date for completion of improvements. The applicant has not been willing to commit to a completion date for these improvements. Additionally, staff believes the road improvement proffers that phase Route 29 improvements are structured to create an incentive to build no more than 290,000 square feet of commercial use in the foreseeable future.  Once that threshold is reached, the proffers to address Route 29 impacts require that expensive road improvements be completed. Staff notes that a similar proffer for road improvements with the North Fork development has not resulted in Route 29 road improvements for over a decade and it is not anticipated those road improvements will be done anytime in the foreseeable future. Thus, staff believes the County would see only part of the road improvements within the foreseeable future.       


5.   Limitations of Route 29 improvements to available right of way – Staff requested that the applicant unconditionally proffer Route 29 improvements similar to what has been done with Hollymead Town Center and Albemarle Place.  Instead, the applicant limits proffered improvements to existing right of way.  If the right-of-way is inadequate, the proffered improvements needed to address the impacts from this project will not be built.


6.   Library block design – Staff and members of the Board of Supervisors requested that the library block be designed such that more of the buildings faced the street to create a walkable downtown plaza around the library and to better relegate parking.  This change has not been made.


7.   Affordable housing --The County adopted an affordable housing policy in 2004 and since that time almost all legislatively approved residential developments have provided 15% affordable units or an equivalent.  While this project was originally designed and submitted before the policy was adopted, the project has now been under review for over five years.  The Board of Supervisors has not seen the project for over a year.  During the last year, two major rezonings have occurred approving 775 units and 2200 units, respectively.  Each of these rezonings

provided at least 15% affordable housing or an equivalent.  Staff believes this project should not be treated any differently.  The current proffer is for 8% affordable units – half for sale, half for rent; and $300,000 to the County’s Housing Initiative Fund.  If the Board were to use an equivalent of $20,000 per unit (as accepted for ZMA 04-02 Fontaine Ave. Townhomes), North Pointe would be providing the equivalent of 10% affordable units.  Staff notes that the Board used an equivalent of $1775 with ZMA 04-07 Belvedere; however, staff believes this equivalent recognized the by-right potential of Belvedere to be similar to the number of units rezoned.


8.   Overlot grading – The applicant originally proffered an overlot grading plan for the residential sections of the development.  Staff advised that the overlot grading plan was more appropriately contained in the special use permit conditions.  As a result of overlot grading requirements not being approved with the recent subdivision ordinance amendment, the applicant now opposes the inclusion of any overlot grading requirements in the special use permit conditions.  Although the issue of overlot grading in relation to subdivisions has not been resolved at the Board of Supervisors level, it is viewed as essential to this development because of the steepness of terrain and the need for consistency in grading where net density will be between 5 and 6 units per acre.


9.   25-foot landscape area and double rows of parking in Entrance Corridor -- The Architectural Review Board (ARB) requested that a 25 foot landscape area be provided on the applicant’s property between Route 29 and the parking areas.  The ARB also requested that double rows of parking adjacent to Route 29 be reduced to a single row of parking in front of the buildings.  The ARB asked for an integrated plan for the stormwater facilities and buildings so that the stormwater ponds are features rather than unattractive basins. 


The applicant had been responding to the request for the 25-foot landscape area by saying that part of the area could be accommodated in the Route 29 right-of-way and part on the applicant’s property.  The applicant has proffered that, if the right-of-way is ever needed by VDOT or the landscaping removed, the 25-foot landscape area would be established entirely on the applicant’s property.  Legally, the applicant can make this proffer; practically, it is unworkable.  Although the applicant has made the commitment in writing, in actuality, the future removal of parking and, possibly buildings, is very unlikely.  Staff does not believe this proffer appropriately addresses the ARB’s request.  Double rows of parking adjacent to the entrance corridor have not been removed from the plan.  Staff and the applicant agree to disagree.  The applicant did proffer that the stormwater management facilities would be integrated into the remainder of the development.  Staff believes that this proffer is appropriate and workable.



As presented in the December 2003 Board worksession, North Pointe can have a net positive fiscal impact when completely built out.  This situation occurs because of the amount of commercial space developed in relation to residential units.  The net positive fiscal impact occurs only at build-out, however.  As noted with the discussion on timing of improvements, North Pointe will have a disincentive for incremental increases in the commercial uses above 290,000 square feet.   As such, residential development is likely to precede commercial development and have a negative fiscal impact for some period of time.  



For all of the reasons listed above, staff recommends disapproval of the rezoning.  To address concerns with the Places 29 process, staff recommends North Pointe be scheduled for a public hearing at the February 8, 2006 Board meeting. 



Attachment A:  Application Plan dated 12-14-05

Attachment B:  Proffers dated 12-9-05

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