AC44 Moves into Action Steps Phase

The following text was sent out via email on May 24, 2024. Sign up for PEC email alerts →

Dear Supporter,

It’s been since late March that we last sent an AC44 update so I dare say it’s time we gave you an update on Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan planning process.

An update on where we are in AC44:

Since then, the second phase of AC44 (Draft Goals and Objectives) has been completed! The final Phase 2 work session of the Board of Supervisors on April 3, focused on the last of what will become eight chapters in the new plan. Though outside of the context of AC44 (more on this below), Planning Commissioners also recently unanimously approved a rezoning application for the Rivanna Futures defense and intelligence campus in a public hearing on May 14

County staff have been preparing Phase 3’s Action Steps for future consideration by the Planning Commission, Supervisors, and the public. These steps will ground the goals and objectives that have been the focus for the last year and will give community members a better sense of how the comprehensive plan will come to fruition once completed. 

In addition to working on the draft Action Steps for each chapter, County staff are also working on drafting a multimodal transportation systems plan, a draft future land use map, prioritization of plan recommendations, and ways to incorporate metrics to measure success.

A rendering of the Rivanna Futures campus. Credit: Albemarle County

PEC’s Focus on the Future

In Phase 3, PEC remains steadfast in our commitment to promoting a stronger, more sustainable community and will continue to focus our efforts on protecting the resources in the Rural Area and prioritizing equitable revitalization and redevelopment in the Development Areas by promoting smart growth policies through an effective Growth Management Policy.

We also plan to place much-needed attention on increasing support for and strengthening Albemarle County’s land conservation programs – which are currently underfunded and understaffed or otherwise, completely inactive, despite their positive contributions to climate resilience, the local economy and their alignment with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. These programs are the Albemarle County Easement Authority’s donated open space easement program and the Acquisition of Conservation Easements (ACE) program.

This points to a concerning trend in Albemarle, where land traditionally utilized to support working farms and forests and natural resource protection isn’t being prioritized. To better understand how the County has shifted priorities, see the recently updated Growth Management Policy in the Rural Area Land Use and Transportation Draft Goals and Objectives under Topic Report. 

Land Use:
And finally, we are addressing initiatives that currently aren’t being discussed enough as part of the AC44 process but that will have an outsized land use, environmental, and transportation implications for our community, namely Rivanna Futures and Virginia’s Research Triangle tied to UVA’s Manning Institute of Biotechnology

Little is publicly known about what plans exist for these expanding biotechnology and defense and intelligence sectors. But the Rivanna Futures campus has been described by the Deputy County Executive as the catalyst for development from UVA’s “North Fork Research Park all the way up into Greene County, approximately eight miles, with the possibility of realizing a level of potential similar to Silicon Valley at its onset” – an initiative characterizing Rt. 29 as an “Innovation Corridor.”

PEC will be seeking to intentionally address these mentioned projects in the comprehensive planning process, especially if they could be leading to an expansion of the Development Areas. There will be a Board of Supervisors Public Hearing June 12 to finalize the rezoning.

Our Collective Impact So Far

In the face of this years-long process, PEC, along with many of you, have shown up in writing, in person, in knowledge-sharing to support better planning for this community. As a result, three of the seven recommendations PEC had for the Board of Supervisors to adopt into the plan have been in the current draft so far:

  • Include a Rural Area chapter – as 95% of Albemarle County is in the Rural Area, it’s important that it be planned for separately from the Development Areas, and have its own dedicated chapter
  • Include a Rural Area Plan – the Rural Area Plan would build on what is outlined in the Rural Area chapter, detailing specific plans for the future
  • Avoid mapping potential future Development Areas – we need to make the best use of redevelopment opportunities and smart growth policies within Albemarle’s existing Development Areas, without  bringing sprawl into the Rural Area. The possibility of expanding the Development Areas does not incentivize such redevelopment

Several other recommendations will be addressed now that we are in a creation of direct action steps phase. We’ll soon send out an updated list of recommendations to reflect these updates and our priorities.

And we hope to see you at a future meeting or community engagement advocating for this next round of issues. In the meantime, come talk AC44 and more with me, my colleagues and other local supporters and activists at PEC’s Annual Meeting June 1 at the CODE Building in Charlottesville.

Thank you!

Rob McGinnis, PLA FASLA
Senior Land Use Field Representative
Albemarle & Greene Counties
(434) 962-9110