Update on Avendale

Yesterday, both the School Board and the Planning Commission discussed the proposed Avendale development.

Brookfield Homes is requesting a change in the Long Range Land Use Plan and a rezoning, to bust the boundaries of the Rural Area so the developer can build 295 houses on property zoned for just 12 now.

The developer is probably happy with the County Attorney, but not so satisfied with the elected School Board.

The County Attorney Planning Director told the Planning Commission that, in the attorney’s interpretation, the Board of County Supervisors can still vote on the Avendale proposal.  More than 90 days have passed since the Planning Commission rejected the Comprehensive Plan Amendment/rezoning, and the supervisors made no decision – but the attorney claims the 90-day clock for a decision does not apply.

The School Board was not as supportive as the County Attorney.  The School Board took little time to dismiss the request of the chair of the Board of County Supervisors to change policy and support sprawl.

The School Board has opposed Avendale, recognizing that adding more students to an already-overcrowded area was unwise.   The developer has proffered a site for a new park or a new school, pushing development even deeper into the Rural Area, but the School Board did not swallow the bait.

So the behind-the-scenes jockeying continues.  There are obviously some supervisors – and many officials in the county’s Planning and Transportation departments – willing to bust the boundaries of the Rural Area.  The officials are perpetuating the “Prince Willian needs to settle for any growth” policy while mouthing platitudes about town centers and walkable communities.

On the other hand, the School Board members seem to be forward-looking in their efforts to build schools close to where students live, not out in the Rural Area.  That’s a tough challenge, as demonstrated last night in the School Board’s abandonment of efforts to build an elementary school next to Stonewall Middle School.

The close watch on the supervisor’s agenda begins again.  Will Avendale somehow appear without public warning, disguised as another topic, so supervisors can sneak in a quick vote?  Time will tell…

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