Getting in on the plan
City, county to take part in U.Va. planning
By Dan Heuchert
If there’s one truism
about master plans, it is this: they change.
In an effort to better inform the community about its master planning
efforts, the University has pledged to formalize the way that
the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County participate in
its planning process. Specifically, U.Va. has reconstituted its
Master Planning Council — charged with advising the University
president on long-range physical planning issues — which
includes nonvoting representatives from the city and the county.
The University will also send any modification to its master plan
to a group made up of city, county and University planners for
review and public comment before making final decisions.
“I think it’s a good step forward,” Charlottesville
city manager Gary O’Connell said. “It’s one
more step that the city, county and University are taking to help
each other understand what we are doing.”
Albemarle counterpart, county executive Robert W. Tucker Jr.,
agreed. “This change in process will enhance the working
relationship that we, the University and city already have in
regard to substantive development proposals planned for our respective
areas,” he said.
T. Casteen III and executive
vice president and chief operating officer Leonard W. Sandridge
presented the University’s pledge Nov. 20 to the Planning
and Coordination Council, made up of representatives from the
city, county and University. It was part of a three-party “proposal
to improve communication and information sharing … as it
pertains to physical planning and development,” which council
members adopted by a unanimous voice vote. It will be forwarded
to the city and county governments for their approval.
Sandridge stressed that the proposal was consistent with the 1986
Three-Party Agreement, which calls for the city, county and U.Va.
to circulate their land use, construction and development plans
among one another. The University has freely shared its master
plan — available online at www.virginia.edu/architect office/masterplan.html
— and has recently improved its communications with its
neighbors, Sandridge said, but had only informal processes in
place to share changes in the master plan.
The new process will address that more formally, he said.
“The University has committed to keeping the community informed
about changes to the master plan,” Sandridge said. “This
is one more step in our efforts to improve the current process.”
of Visitors approved the current University master plan in
Mary Hughes, the University’s landscape architect, noted
that the University’s planning has become less predictable
in recent years, as state capital funding has fallen off and the
University has become more dependent on private fund raising.
Major gifts may accelerate the timeline for some projects, while
others may be delayed if fund raising is slower, she said.
The Master Planning Council, chaired by the University architect
and including the nonvoting city and county representatives —
county planning director Wayne Cilimberg and city planning director
James Tolbert — will now be charged with reviewing “any
building or site improvement that is not officially recorded on
the current master plan,” including an examination of alternative
sites for such projects. That body’s recommendation will
then go to an executive committee, made up of Sandridge, vice
president and provost Gene Block and vice
president for management and budget Colette Sheehy.
Before the executive committee takes final action, it will share
the proposed master plan changes with the Planning and Coordination
Council’s technical advisory group, made up of planning
staff from the city, county and University. At that group’s
quarterly meetings, members of the general public would be able
to comment on the projects, according to the proposal.
The changes in the University’s planning process were actually
put into effect in the spring, Hughes said. “Most people
feel it to be working pretty well,” she said.
The University’s master plan will be reviewed in the near
future, Hughes said.