Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Development Rights in Albemarle County

In yesterday's Daily Progress, Brandon Shulleeta reports (the article is here) that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors denied a property owner's request for an additional development right in order to subdivide a 4.9-acre parcel. The property owner had previously used all development rights associated with the property.

According to Shulleeta's article, the subject property is zoned RA ("Rural Areas), and the owner requested that the additional development right be granted pursuant to the County's mechanism for family subdivisions.

By a 4-2 vote (with Ken Boyd and Lindsey Dorrier in the minority), the Board refused the request -- notwithstanding County staff's recommendation that it be approved.

Shulleeta includes a quote from David Slutzky explaining that the Board is focused on the "big picture" of rural area protection and is therefore wary of making special accomodations for individual property owners:
Slutzky said that he wouldn’t want to make special accommodations at the expense of the county’s rural protection strategy. “We on the board are responsible for thinking about these things, not just at the individual property level, but as a matter of county policy,” Slutzky said in a recent interview. “The big question we have here is: Is the county serious about protecting the rural areas and limiting development activities to the development areas or not?"


Shulleeta's article highlights the importance of development rights: the number of development rights associated with property in Albemarle County's Rural Areas can be an absolutely critical factor in negotiating real estate transactions between buyers and sellers -- oftentimes, it can be even more important than the acreage or number and condition of the improvements.

That being the case, prospective buyers should do their due diligence in determining the number of development rights, including in some cases requiring the seller to produce an Official Determination of Development Rights, which is a binding letter that can be requested from the County's Office of Community Development.