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Wood controls 317 acres of land south of Interstate 64 on the eastern side of Route 20 between Carters Mountain and the neighborhoods of Mill Creek and Lake Reynovia. However, the land is just outside the county's designated growth area. In 2011, Wood submitted requests to the county to have the comprehensive plan amended to expand the growth area.
In June 2011, Wood told the Albemarle County Planning Commission he would seek to build up to 1,902 homes at the location, as well as 350,000 square feet for commercial use. This land would need to be added to the county's growth area in order for Wood to legally build this many homes and to build commercial property at this location.
The commission was asked in October 2011 to weigh in several requests to expand the growth area, including one from Wood for Somerset Farms. Staff examined the proposal and listed several pros and cons for the request.
On the pro side, staff pointed out that Somerset Farms would be close to Interstate 64, would be close to water and sewer lines, and that the county would have some amount of control over the shape of the development because it would be rezoned as planned residential development, or PRD.
However, staff said Somerset Farms would have several negative impacts, including disturbance of natural resources and cultural assets the county has pledged to protect. Route 20 and other roads would need to be upgraded, and existing trails on the site would be closed.
The overall staff report for the expansions calculated that the Albemarle County population will increase by 34,000 citizens by the year 2030. In order for this growth to accommodated, between 1,770 and 7,438 new units would need to be built. Somerset Farms would help contribute to these needed homes if brought into the growth area, but staff said that other sites might be more suitable and have less impact on natural resources.
However, in October 2011, members of the planning commission voted against the growth area expansion 4-2. Their reason was that the county already had enough new units approved (about 8,000), but not yet built, to accommodate the county's expected population growth through the year 2030. Although the growth area expansion was denied it does not mean that Wood can't develop this land. He still has the opportunity to build-by-right but he may have to alter his plan to include less homes and no commercial property.
- Web. Albemarle planners look favorably on expansion of growth area along Route 20, Charlottesville Tomorrow, June 8, 2011, retrieved January 5, 2012.
- Web. Albemarle planning commission votes against growth area expansion, Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow, October 12, 2011, retrieved January 5, 2012.
- Web. Avon-Fifth connector, Wood development focus of meeting, Aaron Richardsono, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, April 2, 2012, retrieved April 10, 2012.