North Town Center Development (Part 2 of 2)

The Gander Mountain store in the new North Town Center on US 29 just north of the Woodbrook Subdivision in Albemarle County.

In part two of this two part series we look at the story of one family whose lives were so profoundly affected by the North Town Center development that they no longer call Woodbrook their home. When Steve Vondra and Bonnie Morgan moved to Woodbrook in October 2009 they expected it to be their last move. It didn’t turn out that way.

New to Charlottesville, Steve and Bonnie immediately fell in love with their new home in the 2700 block of Brookmere Road in Woodbrook. “It was so quietly settled in the back there,” said Vondra. “It was just where we wanted to live,” he added. “We had the woods in the back which was beautiful,” said Morgan recalling their early days in their new Woodbrook home. “It was tucked away in the woods there, and that was perfect for us,” she said.

Listen to our interview with Steve and Bonnie. (8m)

Just a year later, Steve noticed surveyors working behind their home. A trip to the County office to view the site plans for the area confirmed that things were about to change in a big way. “After looking at those plans we started making plans to move the very next day,” said Vondra.

Like many of their Woodbrook neighbors, Steve and Bonnie watched the forest behind their home disappear as construction began. “Every day we could see more change to our beloved back yard,” said Morgan. “The trees just disappeared, the noise was horrendous, we could hear the bulldozers and the logging,” she said. “We could see that our quiet little piece of paradise was gone,” she added.

As the forest disappeared so did the noise and light buffer between their home and US 29. “Every night as more and more trees went down it was definitely noisier and we had a lot of light coming in our bedroom up on the second floor,” said Vondra.

While they are very happy with their new home, Steve and Bonnie regret leaving Woodbrook. “If [the development] wasn’t there we’d still be there,” said Vondra. “I’d love to live in Woodbrook still,” said Morgan. “Woodbrook would still be our first choice if it hadn’t been for [the development],” she added.

We asked Mark Graham, Director of Community Development for Albemarle County to speak with us about the North Town Center development for this story. After initially agreeing to do so, Mr. Graham did not respond to our several email requests to establish a date for the interview.

Our interview with Steve Vondra and Bonnie Morgan was originally recorded on January 19, 2013.