Albemarle County AC44 Comprehensive Plan Rural Area Land Use & Transportation Goals & Objectives: Suggested Talking Points | 23 Feb. 2024

Contact: Rob McGinnis –, (434) 962-9110

The following are PEC’s recommendations for the Rural Area Land Use & Transportation draft Goals & Objectives, which will be presented to the Albemarle County Planning Commission Tues, Feb. 27.

Rural Area Land Use Goals and Objectives

PEC supports many of the draft Rural Area Land Use goals and objectives. However, though the protection of natural resources is addressed to some extent in the draft Environmental Stewardship goals and objectives, the focus is on the role and importance of natural resources relevant to climate action and resiliency. 

PEC strongly recommends that an additional goal be added to the Rural Area goals and objectives that fully addresses the importance of protecting natural resources. 

The proposed new goal should call for Albemarle’s ecosystems and natural resources to be thoughtfully protected and managed in the Rural Area to safeguard the quality of life of present and future generations.

Objectives should at a minimum include:

  • Support a strong agricultural, horticultural, and forestal economy.
  • Protect and preserve natural resources, which include mountains, hills, valleys, rivers, streams, groundwater, and continuous and unfragmented land for agriculture, forestry, biodiversity and natural resource protection.

PEC strongly supports the objective calling for the development and adoption of a Rural Area land use plan. However, that objective should be revised to indicate that the plan must be fully funded and must commence within one year of the adoption of the AC44 comprehensive plan.

The objective addressing a location siting policy for utility-scale solar energy systems in the Rural Area should also prioritize protection of not only the most exceptional resources, but all water resources and retaining all existing forest cover, including regenerating forestland (or early-successional forestland).

PEC strongly recommends that the County pause the process of identifying Crossroads Communities. Designating Crossroads communities should be undertaken as part of the process of preparing a Rural Area plan when sufficient community engagement is undertaken.

PEC is extremely concerned about Goal 4 that calls for planning for “unique locations in the Rural Area with established land-use patterns, zoning, and existing development that are inconsistent with Rural Area goals, including locations where development has already occurred that does not conform with Rural Area goals, locations with zoning other than Rural Area that are adjacent to the Development Areas, and the rural interstate interchanges.” This is calling for the Development Areas to expand after the AC44 comprehensive plan is adopted and is in direct conflict with the County’s prioritization of directing growth into existing Developments Areas.

Objective 4.2 calls for the evaluation of the potential opportunities for non-residential land uses at the Shadwell and Yancey Mills rural interstate interchanges. These evaluations should be through the completion of small area plans and the agricultural and silvicultural industries must be prioritized. Under no circumstance should sprawl be promoted for US250 east and west of the Yancy interchange and east of the Shadwell interchange.

Rural Area Transportation Goals and Objectives

Objective 1.3 calls for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Rural Rustic Roads program to serve as the basis for road paving in the Rural Area. PEC highly recommends that if House Bill 74 is signed by the Governor, the County should also include an objective that addresses repairs to unpaved roads as an alternative to paving. House Bill 74 would allow highway construction district grants to be used for improvements, other than paving, of gravel roads in the state. 

PEC greatly supports Goal 3 that calls for “improv[ing] Rural Area community members’ equitable access to walking and bicycling opportunities for transportation and/or recreation to support healthy, active lifestyles and create opportunities for social interaction.” However, these opportunities should not be limited to crossroad communities.