County Defers Development Decision

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

October 10, 2006

It's a project nearly 10 years in the making, but tonight, developers and the County Planning Commission are no closer to a resolution.

"The southside of Albemarle County and Charlottesville needs retail space. I get tired of having to drive all the way up Route 29 North to get a 2x4," said one concerned resident.

Avon Center, a planned commercial development is supposed to be the answer to that problem. The plan calls for a big box store, a home improvement center, a grocery store, 2 restaurant sites, and smaller retail space. It is a proposal that has been stalled in the planning stages since 1997.

"A nice connecting road over to Avon is something we need out there not only for conveniences but for emergency purposes," said Gary Level, and Old Lynchburg Road resident.

The commercial center that spans nearly 90 acres north of Interstate 64 between Avon Street and Fifth Street would also feature a connector road. A road that could help move traffic in light of future development.

"That road connector is recognized as a critical component of the transportation improvements that will help in the southern end of the County," said Steve Blaine, a representative for the developer.

But not everyone spoke highly of the project. Some in attendance believe the area is getting inundated with retail stores and 400,000 square feet more is unnecessary.

"The County has already approved or is currently considering an amount of retail space that is two to three times, or about 2 million square feet beyond what would satisfy our needs over the next decade," said Morgan Butler of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The developer and the Planning Commission decided to defer the vote until after they meet in a worksession some time in December. By then, they hope to iron out the details and make a decision to see if the project will die or move on to the Board of Supervisors.

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