Pantops land will remain in growth area

Pantops land will remain in growth area

Last May, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution of intent 5-1 to move some 30 acres of Wendell Wood’s land from rural to development classification. It was a way of compensating him for selling 47.5 acres at less than market value to the U.S. government for a new intelligence facility to be built next to the current National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC).

Supervisor Dennis Rooker says that taking Clara Belle Wheeler’s 80 acres out of the growth area was a factor in his decision to approve a deal moving Wendell Wood’s 43 acres into the growth area, as part of the deal with NGIC.

Tucked into the resolution [a copy of the May 3 Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Resolution of Intent is available here as a PDF] was a reference to another nearly 80 acres in Pantops owned by Clara Belle Wheeler that she had asked Supervisor Ken Boyd to be moved from development to rural classification. One of the four “wheras”es in the resolution reads, “Whereas, there is currently under review a request to reduce the extent of the Development Areas designation in the Pantops Development Area by changing the designation of approximately eighty (80) acres of land from Development Areas to Rural Areas…” Altering the growth areas is unusual (see the recent denial of SOCA’s requested rezoning), and for certain supervisors, the fact that an additional parcel would become “rural” was a deciding factor in their vote for Wood. Maps for the Pantops Master Plan show Wheeler’s land as removed.

There’s a slight problem, however. According to Wheeler, she was unaware that her land was removed until the publication of C-VILLE’s piece about the circumstances surrounding Wood’s deal with NGIC and the consequent land adjustment. When informed, she balked and rescinded her previous application. Now there is no compensatory land adjustment, negating one element of the resolution.

“I will say it was a factor in my decision,” says Supervisor Dennis Rooker. “If in fact she decides not to go forward with it, I think that’s certainly something we need to consider.”
“It wasn’t a factor in this whole NGIC thing happening…at least with me,” Supervisor David Slutzky says. “The key here is that we won’t want to expand the growth area without an appropriate offset somewhere else.” Still, he downplays the existence of Wheeler’s land in the resolution. “I didn’t even know this was in the resolution,” he says. “I didn’t remember that it was in there.”

Chairman Ken Boyd says, “There was never any tradeoff, there was never any association between the two items. That’s what’s been wrong in your articles so far.” As only a resolution of intent, the vote was not binding and will not go before the Planning Commission again until the end of this year at the soonest. “All the resolution did was say we’re going to look at it,” Boyd clarifies, again quibbling with the tie-in of Wheeler’s and Wood’s land. “There is no connection between the two.”

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