Albemarle Planning Commission to select officers, review Misty Mountain campground expansion

There are supposed to be seven members of the Albemarle Planning Commission, but there’s been a vacancy in the Rio District since last summer. That’s a long time to go without representation on this advisory body. The six members will gather in Lane Auditorium at 6 p.m. (meeting info)

The first item on the agenda is the selection of chair and vice chair. Karen Firehock of the Samuel Miller District was the chair in 2022 and Corey Clayborne of the Rivanna district was vice chair. Both have the claim to fame of also having served as members of the Charlottesville Planning Commission. 

After officers are selected and in place, there are three public hearings.

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont has spent many years doing the legwork to get a facility off the ground in McIntire Park. Three of the 14.7 acres of the proposed public garden are located within Albemarle County. That means the Planning Commission will be asked to weigh in on whether this will be consistent the Comprehensive Plan. 

“Public uses are permitted by-right in all zoning districts,” reads the staff report. “However, if the proposed facility/use is not specifically identified in the locality’s Comprehensive Plan, a review for the facility’s compliance with the Comprehensive Plan is required by Virginia Code.” 

When opened, the garden will be free to the public and open seven days a week. They anticipate four events a year including a winter light display. The nonprofit organization will be responsible for paying for the public buildings on the site including a visitors center. 

“Our founders recognized that Central Virginia area lacks a central, well-planned, natural area,” reads a letter from BGP officials to the county. “They also recognized that modern botanical gardens have evolved and can actively help communities deal with community challenges by creating food forests, working with schools and camps to develop curricula, partnering with senior centers and providing green industry job training programs for at risk and challenged adults.”

Location map for the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont (Credit: Albemarle County)

The second public hearing is for a special use permit for Appalachian Power Company to rebuild a six-mile transmission line between Esmont and Scottsville. This will “replace existing power-line support poles with an average height of approximately 40 feet with new poles with an average height of approximately 60 feet in order to install a new 46-kiloVolt powerline.” 

The third is for a proposal for Misty Mountain Camp Resort to amend an existing special use permit to add 53 campsites for a total of 158, to increase the number of cabins to 18, and to allow the resort to operate year-round. Guests would be restricted to 30 days stay. 

The county’s Agricultural-Forestal Districts Advisory Committee found no issue with the expansion and neighbor concerns about noise and trespassing are to be worked out on site. 

“The existing campground contains six wells, and a new seventh well has been drilled at the southeast corner of the property,” reads the staff report. “The applicants have stated that the new well yields seven gallons per minute, which is sufficient for the new camping area.”

This is the kind of sign that will be installed to keep guests on the resort’s property (Credit: Line + Grade)

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 January 9, 2023 Week Ahead. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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