Planning Commission denies Marina Point special use permit

By Heather Michon

Marina Point has lost in its latest bid to expand its Lake Monticello condominium complex, as the Planning Commission on Tuesday night (Dec. 12) denied approval of two measures designed to get the long-delayed project underway.

Developers had applied to the commission for a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) that would increase the dwelling density on land zoned as R-4 to 5.0 units per acre with the approval of a Special Use Permit (SUP). They separately applied for the SUP.

This would remove the zoning provision that has halted expansion since the mid-1980s: the ordinance currently limits density in R-4 zoning to 2.9 units per acre.

In August, the Board of Supervisors denied a ZTA that would have allowed 5.5 units per acre as by-right use in R-4 zoning areas on concerns that this might open the floodgates to multi-family units.

Ann Neal Cosby, the attorney for Marina Point, said this new plan would give the supervisors case-by-case control through the SUP process. 

In researching the history of the property, she noted that the original 1968 subdivision plan had envisioned over 40 apartments at Marina Point. Later, those were turned into condos, and only 15 units were built before a zoning change halted further growth. 

But in terms of whether it fits the county’s plans for growth and development, she said, “I think it’s very telling that this parcel was seen as appropriate for high-density, multi-family use” from its beginnings.

There are very few areas zoned as R-4 in Fluvanna County. Community Development Director Douglas Miles said only the five acres at Marina Point and a few acres in Columbia would be impacted by this revision to the ordinance.

This is at least the third time in four years that the issue has come before the county, and each time, there has been pushback from the public over the potential impact on countywide development. Some of those concerns were aired during the public hearing on Tuesday.

“I encourage you to consider how easily this may lead to more and more rural land being converted to areas like the early Pantops build-out,” said Sandy Radford. “And look where that’s at today.”

Tom Diggs argued that the Comprehensive Plan required zoning changes to be for the good of the community as a whole. “Nothing in Marina Point’s application or the staff report provides any reasons that are substantially related to the public welfare and necessity,” he said.

Most surprising was a statement by LMOA president Larry Henson. He told commissioners that, after a lengthy executive session the night before, the Board of Directors had voted to rescind its previous letter of support. He gave no explanation as to the reasons for the decision.

After deliberation, the commissioners denied both the ZTA and the SUP by a vote of 5-0.

Marina Point Board President Deborah Graham told commissioners, “we’re sort of taken aback by what has happened,” both in the denial of the motions and the LMOA’s last-minute removal of support.

Graham and other board members said the denial of the expansion meant the county was potentially losing $63,000 annually in tax revenues the 10 new units would have generated, and Lake Monticello would lose $10,000 annually in dues.

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