Places29: Planning Commission to Hear Public Comment Tuesday

On Tuesday October 27, 2009, the Albemarle County Planning Commission will hold a public meeting to hear comment on the Places29 Draft Master Plan. The Plan covers the four Development Areas north of the City of Charlottesville: Neighborhood 1, Neighborhood 2, the Community of Hollymead, and the Community of Piney Mountain. When adopted, the Master Plan will be a component of the Land Use section of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. The draft plan, including the Vision and Guiding Principles, has been developed with extensive citizen input, starting in 2005 with a series of public workshops and open houses. The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in Lane Auditorium in the County Office Building with an open house from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. prior.

To obtain a better understanding of how the plan will affect Woodbrook residents; we spoke with Judy Wiegand, a Senior Planner for Albemarle County. Ms. Wiegand’s primary job responsibility is to coordinate the Places29 Master Plan.

Listen to our interview with planner Wiegand. (18m)

“Basically Places29 is a vision plan,” said Ms Wiegand in a telephone interview with this blog recorded on October 22, 2009. It’s expected to take decades before the plan is fully implemented. “Parts of the master plan, like the recommended transportation network, which is also shown in the plan, are based on a 20-year population estimate,” said Wiegand.

The plan has not yet been adopted and is currently under review by the Planning Commission. “We hope the Commission will be ready to make a recommendation on the plan, to the board of supervisors, by the end of this year,” Wiegand said.

When asked about specific elements of the Plan that might affect Woodbrook residents Wiegand said, “There are plans, in the Master Plan, to extend turn lanes that are on US 29 that feed into Woodbrook”. On the issue of neighborhood connectivity she added, “The Places29 Master Plan doesn’t have any specific direction about connectivity in the Woodbrook neighborhood,” then added, “We don’t have any [neighborhood] connections that are proposed”

The Plan does include requirements that will affect the way Woodbrook residents travel to and from the neighborhood. “It’s going to provide some alternate routes, so that once Woodbrook residents come out of – get out on to 29 – they would have some alternate routes to get to different parts of the area,” said Wiegand.

When asked about the Tuesday Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting Wiegand said, “[Woodbrook residents] will be able to speak to the Commission directly – and give their opinions – to ask questions – and we would really like to have them do it because we want to know what they think about the plan.” “We do definitely encourage people to come, we would very much like to have them there.” There will also be an open house prior to the meeting where maps and copies of the plans will be available for viewing. County staff will be present to answer questions about the plan.

The Albemarle County Web site has an impressive, if not overwhelming, collection of documents for the plan. “I would recommend, if people go on to the Web site, that they look at chapter four, which is the meat of the plan, it’s the future land use and transportation chapter, and then they can also look at chapter eight which talks about implementation,” said Ms. Wiegand. She¬†went on to offer this invitation to all County residents, “I would be happy if people want to call with questions or if they want to e-mail me with questions – I can also direct them to particular parts of the plan where they can find answers to more specific questions.” You can e-mail Ms. Wiegand at .

But don’t expect a quick fix to the County’s traffic problems. “One of the problems we have right now is funding, because there simply isn’t any funding for transportation projects,” said Wiegand. But once funding becomes available Wiegand sees a bright future for Woodbrook commuters. “What Woodbrook residents will see as they drive out of their neighborhood is they will start seeing that certain places where they were used to getting stuck in traffic – they won’t,” she said.