Planning Commission defers decision on Village Gardens

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna County Planning Commission deferred a decision on rezoning 122 acres for Southern Development’s proposed Village Gardens housing complex at its meeting on Wednesday (Sept. 14).

Village Gardens would bring 260 single-family homes, 95 townhouse units, and 9,000 square feet of retail space to a parcel on Rt. 53 and Garden Lane. It is located less than a mile from the site of the Colonial Circle development, approved in 2019, which will include 325 residences and 81,000 square feet of retail space.

To move forward into the next phase, the property would need to be rezoned from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-3 (Residential).

Residents along the Rt. 53 corridor have been critical of the project, saying that it will add even more traffic to local roads, put pressure on aging water and wastewater infrastructure, and continue the degradation of the county’s rural character.

All these arguments came to the floor on Wednesday night during a public hearing that stretched on for more than three hours, including two hours of public comment.


Community Development Director Douglas Miles gave a report on the most recent version of the development’s proposed master plan, which includes housing and standard amenities like walking trails, playgrounds, green spaces, and a clubhouse.

Southern Development has been working with Aqua Virginia, which in turn has already been working on plans to increase the water pressure of its system to meet the expected demands of Colonial Circle and — if approved — Village Gardens.

“Throughout the summer, they’ve been doing different studies of the entire Lake Monticello water system,” Miles said. “Due to [these] pressure concerns Village Gardens could connect into the higher pressure zone, working with them as part of their construction of a loop system.”

“My concern is, where and when Aqua is going to be held accountable for what they owe the residents of Lake Monticello and these folks that they’ve already serviced?” said Commissioner Gaquetta Murray-Key. “It almost sounds like Aqua was waiting on these developments to address issues about sewer and water, and I’m not really understanding why we are waiting on these developments and these different developers offering this seeming fix [to] an issue that many of us have been waiting on for a long time.”

Traffic is another potential issue. A 2017 VDOT study found that 7,000 vehicles per day use Rt. 53 from the Albemarle County line to Ruritan Lake Road. Village Gardens would bring the total daily vehicles up to 10,000-12,000 per day. Factoring in Colonial Circle, the amount of traffic on Rt. 53 could easily double from the 2017 study.

Miles said they were working with VDOT to study how to better manage traffic on that section of the road to cope with the influx, but no firm plan was yet in place.


Residents and business owners raised multiple concerns about the impact the development would have on the Rt. 53 corridor.

Traffic was a major concern. Lake Monticello residents say traffic volume around the gates on Rt. 53 and Rt. 618 is already bad and will only get worse with more development; residents of the Nahor Village also have concerns about speeding and congestion.

Because Village Gardens will run along the Lake Monticello boundary and even touches one edge of Tufton Pond, Lake residents shared their concerns about new neighbors crossing over into the gated areas to use Lake roads and amenities.

Others raised larger concerns about how development might strip the area of some of the quiet rural charm that have drawn so many people to call Fluvanna County home.

There are also worries about how more development might put a burden on the schools, first responders, and other county agencies. While new residents also bring the county more in tax revenues, there is a feeling that all taxpayers would one day have to pay more to support an increased population.


Commissioners had the option of approving, denying, or deferring the rezoning application, and as soon as they began their discussion, it was clear they were not going to vote to approve.

The motion to deny the permit was made, but before it was seconded, the developer asked if they could have a deferral to see if they could answer some of the concerns raised in the discussion.

After consulting with the acting county attorney to see if they could change the motion after it was entered, they agreed to defer any action on the application on a vote of 3-2.

Southern Development now has 60 days to address any outstanding issues. The motion will likely come back to the commission on Nov. 9.

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