Albemarle releases new AC44 documents on growth area expansion criteria

This summer, Albemarle County continues to go through the second of a four-phase process to update a Comprehensive Plan that for many years has set aside roughly five percent of the locality’s land area for development. 

This week the county’s engagement team released a document intended to guide the next round of conversations. One of them sets criteria for how that growth areas might be expanded in the future. 

“We need to consider the possibility that at some point the current Development Areas may no longer have sufficient capacity to accommodate future housing and employment needs,” reads the website for the draft document.

Those criteria are contained in a 40-page document titled “Drafting Recommendations to Implement the Plan Framework.” This is based on information that came out during Phase 1 such as analysis of how dense Albemarle’s growth area has been developing to date. 

(Credit: Albemarle County)

In general, the criteria for how and where expansion might occur include transportation capacity, school capacity, access to public water and sewer, access to public safety resources, and environmental features. 

“Areas with no existing development or underlying by-right zoning that would allow development should be avoided if there are feasible alternative locations,” reads page 24 of the report

The “when” of expansion depends on that land use buildout analysis and is based on a projected 2044 population of 143,379, about 31,000 higher than the 2020 Census. 

“Based on the buildout analysis, there appears to be sufficient land available to accommodate 20 years of growth and demand in the existing Development Areas when considering the land uses recommended in the Comprehensive Plan,” reads page 27 of the topic briefing. “However, achieving ‘full buildout’ is dependent on development at the high end of recommended density and intensity of uses.”

However, the report concludes that rezonings between 2016 and 2021 only utilized about 58 percent of the total possible development. It also found that only about seven percent of the development area has capacity for new development. That’s 0.3 percent of total county land. 

“Not realizing full buildout of the Development Areas and limiting the supply of available housing can drive up costs and push new residential growth into surrounding localities,” reads page 28 of the report

In addition to the expansion topic, county engagement staff seek feedback on:

What do you want to know? What do you think? Tell the county in the links above. 

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 June 7, 2023 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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