Albemarle Supervisors kickoff Comprehensive Plan review

Albemarle County has formally begun the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan. The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution on November 3 that kicks off a multiphase process and public engagement plan for the first round. But let’s get a reminder on what this is from planner Tori Kanellopoulos. 

“The Comprehensive Plan is a guiding document for the county and is a twenty year plan which includes housing, transportation, land use, economic development, natural and historic resources,” Kannellopoulos said. 

The plan influences everything from the Capital Improvement program to decisions on land use such as rezoning. Supervisors last adopted a plan six years ago.

“Since the current Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2015, there have been a variety of new policies and plans adopted by the Board including the Climate Action Planan updated housing policyProject ENABLE and an updated Strategic Plan,” Kannellopoulos said. “Additionally the Office of Equity and Inclusion was created and the Board adopted the new organizational value of community.”

Learn more about the Comprehensive Plan process in the presentation (download)

Since 2015, Kanellopoulos said 4,000 new dwelling units have been built and the population is expected to continue growing. With that comes increased demand for urban services to be delivered by the local government.  

The first phase will take a look at the county’s growth management policy, which has been embedded in the Comprehensive Plan for decades. That will include a capacity analysis for the county’s ability to provide new housing, as well as the needs of economic development. 

“Phase 2 will identify the main topics of the Comprehensive Plan, evaluate existing conditions for each, and provide updated frameworks using the lens of equity and climate action,” Kannellopoulos said. “Phase 3 will identify recommended action steps to implement the plan and metrics to track progress. And Phase 4 will finalize the document for adoption.” 

At the same time, Supervisors have asked for some changes to the zoning ordinance to happen concurrently with the Comprehensive Plan review.  The winter holidays are approaching so there will not be a public kickoff for this process until January. Between now and then, a working group of community members and other stakeholders will be assembled to oversee the process. 

Supervisor Ann Mallek said the process to update the Crozet Master Plan at times was more difficult due to the lack of institutional memory and history about how that area has been a designated growth area. 

“There was a real challenge to help people to get enough background to be able to understand what they were being asked,” Mallek said. “And I think getting that knowledge base will prevent a lot of frustration that happens when people are asked to respond to a survey about which they’re given no information. And they just get mad.” 

Mallek also wants more public meetings in places that aren’t government buildings. 

Supervisor Ned Gallaway said he wants to make sure that the public knows the review is underway.

“It can be frustrating I would imagine for everybody involved where community members maybe come late to the game,” Gallaway said. “We do our best effort to put things out there that this is going to be worked on and the ways to participate are there. And then if they are missed, we get ‘Well, where is this coming from?’ at the 11th hour. Whatever we need to do [public relations] wide to engage the community, we’ll have to do.”

The Albemarle Planning Commission will have a work session on the Comprehensive Plan review at its meeting on November 16. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the November 9, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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