After some procedural wrangling, a decision not to follow its own proffers policy and a 45-minute, closed-door meeting between the county attorney and developer Wendell Wood, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted to rezone a 15-acre piece of Wood’s property adjacent to the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) on Route 29N. The Board’s decision means that Wood can move forward with construction of 180,000 square feet of office space and 120 residential units, presumably for NGIC.
A 15-acre piece of property here was rezoned at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting to allow developer Wendell Wood to build offices and residential units.
This piece of property is separate from the 30 acres Wood wants the county to move into the growth area after he sold 47 acres to NGIC for $7 million, presumably under market value. The 15-acre parcel will hold three buildings—two office and one residential—that he hopes to lease to the federal government and its contractors.
At first, though, it appeared Wood of United Land Corporation would have to wait. After a contentious July 10 Planning Commission meeting, county staff recommended that the Board deny the rezoning. But two hours before the August 1 meeting, Wood gave the county a revised set of proffers. As the meeting began, the supes were still wary of the site plan. Because it was designed to meet federal anti-terrorism standards, it doesn’t conform to the county’s Neighborhood Model.
With no guarantee that a federal agency would indeed occupy the building, the Board flip-flopped its schedule, letting Wood speak before it opened the matter to public comments, avoiding a delay in a decision if the proffers changed. It then sent county attorney Larry Davis away with Wood to again revise the proffers. After adding a condition that a building permit be granted only after Wood proved that at least 40,000 square feet of office space was leased to a federal agency, the Board approved the rezoning unanimously.
By voting to approve, members went against a year-and-a-half-old policy that required proffers to be submitted nine days in advance of a decision. Wood revised his as the meeting took place. "We didn’t follow the rules that we set," says supe David Slutzky about the proffer policy. "But [the policy] allowed for the rare circumstance where there’s a public interest to be served."
The added condition requiring Wood to lease at least 40,000 to a federal agency seemed to ease Board members’ minds, though his plan calls for more than four times that footage. Wood says he’s speculating that landing the NGIC contract for the 40,000 square feet will bring in enough government contractors to fill the rest of the space. "That’s the only reason I would build more space," he says. "I’d be stupid to build it if I didn’t think that scenario would happen."
Also: Check out C-VILLE’s past coverage on NGIC.
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