When the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors took up Clara Belle Wheeler’s land a few weeks ago to consider moving it out of the development area, they also discussed another parcel in the Pantops area—one whose owner wants in to the development area. It was brought to their attention in late August when John C. and Judith Vermillion mailed a letter to Albemarle County Chief of Planning David Benish requesting that their 25-acre property be added to the Pantops development area.
Their request was an about-face from a previous one they made more than two decades earlier, when the Pantops development areas were being finalized and the Vermillion’s 25 acres were proposed as part of the growth area. Back then, the landowners asked to have their property removed and classified rural.
John and Judith Vermillion want their 25-acre property moved in to the Pantops growth area. County supervisors are considering it even while they also consider moving Clara Belle Wheeler’s 75 acres out of the growth area.
“The situation has changed now considerably,” John Vermillion explains. Located off Route 20 (Stony Point Road), the parcel is currently designated as rural but is bordered by growth area on three sides, with the Franklin Road subdivision to its north. “The county has surrounded us with development, and left us an island,” he says. “And when they first came up with [those designations] we were not. We were way out in the country, nothing was around us at all. It didn’t seem to make any sense at the time.”
On September 12, as the Board bandied their request about, one supervisor seemed to indicate his agreement with the Vermillions, although another wondered whether a stream that borders the Vermillions’ land would be harmed by any type of development. Supervisor David Wyant offered the most novel idea: “Is it better if we’re trying to protect the historic area of the Vermillions to have it within a development area?”
“That’s somewhat debatable,” says Benish. “Within a development review process, you might be able to set expectations for how to protect the historic character of the buildings on the site.” Still, there is a simple reality. “You have taken a step towards saying this is an appropriate area to develop at some point in time,” he says. “Whereas outside the development area, it really says it’s not intended for development.”
While it will be weeks until the Board next considers the request, the landowners say they have no plans to develop the land. “We don’t have any plans to do anything,” says John Vermillion. “We’re not planning on selling it but it is rather exposed with all the stuff going on around it. We thought it was time to be included. Who knows what will come up?”
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