Biscuit Run (development)

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Biscuit Run is a tract of land in Albemarle County's Neighborhood 5 designated growth area, once intended for a development of the same name with 3,100 homes on 828 acres, as well as some retail and office uses.

In December 2009 it was learned that the developer, Forest Lodge LLC, might donate the land to the Commonwealth of Virginia for a new state park,[1] and in January the land became the Biscuit Run State Park.

Impacts on infrastructure

The Board of Supervisors agreed in July 2007 to accept several key pieces of infrastructure that the developer offered,[2]

  • accepted $1 million as an up-front cash proffer to support a new City-County public transit authority;
  • accepted a 402 acre park proffer (the development is on 828 other acres);
  • determined water and sewer needs would be adequately addressed;
  • made recommendations for a future road connection to Mill Creek South;

Rezoning

A history of the project prior to the rezoning

The Albemarle County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the rezoning on March 27, 2007. About eighty-five people attended the public hearing and about twenty-seven of them provided feedback when the Commission took public comment. Two residents expressed optimism and a positive opinion on the Biscuit Run development. Two adjoining property owners, the Covenant School and Habitat for Humanity (who acquired the Southwood neighborhood), also expressed their support for Biscuit Run. The remaining twenty-three speakers expressed a variety of concerns including transportation needs and traffic safety, environmental degradation, water and sewer infrastructure, and the general need for more detailed information on the plan before a decision is made.

After the denial, the Board of Supervisors referred the development back to the Planning Commission on April 4, 2007.[3] They did so at the request of the developer who had expressed a preference for responding to the outstanding questions identified by staff and the Planning Commission before the project is considered by the Board.

The Albemarle County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on May 29, 2007.[4]

September 11, 2007 Public Hearing

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 to approve a rezoning for the Biscuit Run development on September 12, 2007. The approval came after 1:00 AM after a public hearing that itself only began at 10:00 PM. [5] This will be the largest residential development ever in Albemarle County.

The County accepted an estimated $41,150,000 in proffers in connection with the rezoning. Without the rezoning, Supervisors said the developer could have built between 1,000 and 1,400 homes on the property by-right.

"This will be the gold standard for the neighborhood model plan," said developer Hunter Craig during his public comment before the Board.

During the public meeting, many people requested that the Board postpone action until a full environmental impact assessment could be made. Many residents of the Mill Creek South neighborhood spoke in cautious support of the project, because a proposed connection between the two neighborhoods will now be built as a walking trail. Other speakers expressed concern about increased traffic on Route 20 and the adequacy of water and sewer capacity.

Several neighbors spoke in favor of the project, saying they look forward to using some of the shops, parks and trails that will be built as a result. Ron Sykes, the Headmaster of the Covenant School to the north of the development, said Biscuit Run would be "complementary to our campus."

"We don't have legal authority to require a developer to do an environmental impact study," said Supervisor Dennis Rooker. He added that the Neighborhood Model would help reduce the impact of the development on the region, while allowing residents to get to several destinations on foot.

Supervisor David Slutzky said he was pleased that transit became a major component of the proposal. "It's really a poster child for how a proposal can make its way through our process," he said.

Former Supervisor David Wyant said that the proposal is a good example of how a public-private partnership work. He added that the level of scrutiny that has gone into this proposal has improved the process by strengthening erosion-control requirements.

From development area to state park

In December 2009, the state of Virginia purchased the land from the developers, Forest Lodge LLC, for $9.8 million plus $11.7 million in tax credits. Forest Lodge had asked for $31.2 million in credits, pointing to an appraisal of $87.7 million for the 1,200 acres[6] However, the state only granted $11.7 million in tax credits, prompting Forest Lodge LLC to not get the amount they felt they deserved, they filed suit in November 2011 against the Virginia Department of Taxation in Albemarle County Circuit Court.[7]

In April 2013, Judge Paul Peatross ruled that the state undervalued the property, meaning that Forest Lodge LLC would receive an additional $20 million in tax credits. [8]

Map

References

  1. Web. Biscuit Run may become state park, Wheeler, Brian, Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center, Charlottesville Tomorrow, 9 Dec. 2009., retrieved 11 Dec. 2009..
  2. Web. Biscuit Run: A detailed look at the discussion on parks, transportation, and water needs, Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, Virginia, July 16, 2007, retrieved August 27, 2012.
  3. Web. Biscuit Run returns to the Planning Commission, Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, Virginia, April 8, 2007, retrieved February 27, 2009.
  4. Web. Biscuit Run approved by the Planning Commission, Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, Virginia, May 29, 2007, retrieved February 27, 2009.
  5. Web. 4,300 homes approved for Biscuit Run, Sean Tubbs & Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Charlottesville, Virginia, September 13, 2007, retrieved February 27, 2009.
  6. Web. State paid Biscuit Run one-third of what developers sought, Will Goldsmith, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, December 28, 2010, retrieved August 22, 2012.
  7. Web. Biscuit Run update: Forest Lodge takes tax department to court, Brendan Fitzgerald, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, November 7, 2011, retrieved August 22, 2012.
  8. Web. Judge says state devalued Biscuit Run property, Graelyn Brashear, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications, April 23, 2013, retrieved April 24, 2013. Print. April 23, 2013 .