Crossroads Tavern and Inn expansion to go before Albemarle PC

PC also to review rezoning on Avon Street Extended

The Albemarle County Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the county’s office building at 401 McIntire Road. They are still down a member with a vacancy in the Rio District. (meeting info)

There are two public hearings. The first is for a rezoning at 1906 Avon Street for 3.643 acres from R-1 to R-15. 

“A maximum of 38 dwelling units is proposed, with a mixture of single-family attached and multi-family structures, at a gross and net density of approximately 11 units/acre,” reads the staff report.

That’s above the three to six units per acre called for in the Comprehensive Plan under the Neighborhood Density Residential category. Staff recommends denial.  A community meeting for this project was held last June at the Fifth and Avon Community Advisory Committee and the video can be reviewed here.

The project is being guided through the review process by Shimp Engineering who argue the the development would fit into the emerging character of Avon Street Extended. 

“While the density is more than what was imagined when the Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2015, Albemarle County is slated to grow in population, and density where appropriate, would contribute towards housing supply aligning with the projected growth,” reads the narrative from Shimp Engineering.

Shimp Engineering put together a chart describing existing conditions in the built environment along Avon Street Extended. (Credit: Shimp Engineering)

The second public hearing is for a special use permit for the expansion of the Crossroads Tavern and Inn in North Garden at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Plank Road. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

“Crossroads Tavern was built sometime in the 1820s by the Morris family to serve travelers along the Staunton and James River Turnpike in Albemarle County,” reads an entry on the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ website. “An excellent representative of the simple vernacular hostelries that once dotted Virginia’s roadways, the brick building preserves the long front porch that was a common feature of these buildings.”  

Two hundred years later, the owners of Pippin Hill wants to expand the existing operation of seven guest rooms to 19 rooms while preserving the historic structure. There is also an existing 30-seat restaurant. The Agricultural-Forestal Districts Advisory Committee did not find a conflict with an adjacent district. Planning staff recommend approval despite one unfavorable factor.

“The additional water and sewer capacity needed to support the proposed use does not fully comply with recommendations for the Rural Area chapter of the Comprehensive Plan,”  reads the staff report

The property is currently served by well and a septic field and the applicants have indicated new wells and drainfields. If a central sewer system is needed, the Board of Supervisors would have to approve that use. 

The narrative from Pippin Hill  details what they plan to do.

“An engineered New Generation wastewater treatment system, already in use at Pippin Hill, will be installed that will exceed [Virginia Department of Health] current requirements with the removal of nitrogen, UV disinfection and anaerobic + aerobic field drip dispersal, treating wastewater to potable quality levels,” reads that narrative.

Access to the site would continue to come from the adjacent Pippin Hill property. 

There are 346 pages of correspondence related to the permit running the gamut from support from other wineries and those in the wedding industry to opposition from some who live in neighboring Bundoran Farm. The Bundoran Farm Community Association is opposed to the project because of the pedestrian connection between the tavern property and the winery. (see page 248)

One person opposed to the permit filed a Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between county staff and the applicant. In one of them, Dean Porter Andrews of the Easton & Porter Group seeks advice on how to avoid going to a public hearing.

“Also got a confidential email that the usual suspects at Bundoran are circulating ginning up opposition – so can’t really risk public hearings I fear,” Andrews wrote in an April 12, 2022 email to Economic Development Director Roger Johnson.  

Staff encouraged the project to go through the public process.

“Even if there are a few people who don’t like this proposal, I think staff supports it and most of the issues being brought up by the community members out there we can address with our report to the PC and Board,” wrote Principal Planner Kevin McDermott in an April 19, 2022 email to Johnson. “I just don’t think saying transportation will be an issue will go very far once we look at the actual trip generation numbers.”

Andrews agreed to go through the public process which continues with this public hearing. 

A conceptual site plan for the project (Credit: Easton Porter Group)

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 February 13, 2023 edition of the Week Ahead. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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