Overlot Grading



Report on committee recommendation for overlot grading




Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham






January 4, 2006


ACTION:     X                           INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                                INFORMATION:   











In April of 2005, the County adopted amendments to the Subdivision Ordinance.  One of the proposed amendments that was not adopted was new provisions to regulate lot grading.   In recognition of concerns expressed by the building community over the lot grading provisions, staff advised the Board that a working group of staff and building community representatives could work on these provisions to see if consensus was possible.  The Board agreed with this proposal and Supervisor Wyant agreed to represent the Board on this working group.   While the recommendation was scheduled to be brought back to the Board in July 2005, the work required more time.  The proposal before you today represents the compromise reached between the development community and staff with Mr. Wyant’s assistance. 




Enhance the Quality of Life for all Albemarle County Citizens




In discussing this recommendation, it is important to recognize both what it does, and what it does not do.  This recommendation does not implement the recommendations of the Neighborhood Model principle of “Site Planning that Respects Terrain” or address any aesthetic quality of design.  It does address the long standing County issues of drainage across lots, stabilizing slopes, and safe and convenient access to property.   Of these three issues, only the drainage across lots is a new issue.  Stabilizing slopes and “Safe and Convenient Access” are both existing County requirements and the efforts of the committee were focused on agreeing to formalizing expectations.  Formalizing the expectations reduces the uncertainty for the builder/developer and expedites the approval process.  That language is included in Attachment A.   These changes are administrative policy and as proposed, do not require ordinance amendments.   


With regard to lot drainage, the County has experienced numerous complaints from homeowners over the years and the emphasis of this section focused on addressing the reasons for those complaints.  That recommendation is included in Attachment B.  This provision eliminates large open ditches on the smaller residential lots and assures drainage ways are created such that dwellings should not flood.  Perhaps the most important part of this recommendation is that it effectively defines when the County will get involved in drainage complaints and when the County will consider the drainage complaint a private matter for homeowners to resolve.  If a future complaint relates to what the County approves with the grading plan, the Board should anticipate there is an expectation that the County will provide some assurance to that part of the drainage. Conversely, if the drainage complaint relates to things not considered as part of this grading plan, staff would presume this to be a private matter.  Through this approach the County would have a role in assuring that new lots are graded to prevent the flooding of new homes.  Before approving a house for occupancy, County staff would verify that the grading plan was followed.  The County’s role is not anticipated to extend to drainage modifications made by homeowners through home improvements such as fences, planting beds, and grading changes.   




The grading plans are intended to reduce future County expenditures by assuring that proper grading is in place.  This should reduce the number of drainage complaints the County responds to on an annual basis and result in a long-term

reduction in drainage expenses for the County.  There are front-end expenses for the review of grading plans.  It is estimated this will affect reviews of approximately 15-20 subdivisions per year, with each grading plan requiring approximately 1 day of staff time to complete.  That is roughly equivalent to 1/12 of a FTE.  However, it is anticipated this additional review time will be offset by a reduction in time spent on drainage complaints.  




If the Board finds these provisions acceptable, staff will bring forward a resolution of intent to amend the subdivision, zoning, and water protection ordinances to include requirements for the drainage grading plan.  In addition, staff will use the attached description of safe and convenient access as an administrative policy for guidance.




Attachment A – Safe and Convenient Access

Attachment B – Overlot Grading and Drainage

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