Faulconer foiled: Defers plans for Ivy move

Ivy residents turned out 200 strong February 4 to testify to the Albemarle Planning Commission why Faulconer Construction should not be allowed to set up shop down a narrow country road from a preschool and elementary school.

After hearing 52 speakers, the planning commission voted to deny three waivers Faulconer had sought for its site plan on the 27 acres it owns in Ivy Industrial Park.

In particular, it was a "critical slope" waiver that concerned commissioners the most, and they voted 5 to 1 to against it. Commission vice-chair Tracey Hopper, who made the motion to deny, says she went through the ordinance on granting waivers. One consideration is "if the waiver makes things better for the community." She didn't think that was the case for the Faulconer plan.

Commissioners were split 3-3 on two other waivers for "curvilinear parking" and one-way circulation on the property.

"We asked the applicant to agree to a deferral," says Hopper. "The applicant agreed and will come back to us."

Had the planning commission voted to deny the site plan, Faulconer could appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

One option is that Faulconer could change its site plan so it won't need waivers, says Hopper. "I think they could if they scaled back."

Others aren't so sure. "They're trying to squeeze a very large operation on a relatively small parcel," says Ivy Community Association president Tom Hutchinson. "That's the perception of all of us who have walked the property."

The Association staged a demonstration in front the County Office Building before the meeting, and presented a tour de force of speakers, including experts such as a toxicologist.

Seven children spoke, and Hopper mentions one "adorable" first grader.

"He brought his Lego set and said, 'This road is 18 feet wide. This bus is nine feet across. This [construction equipment] is 11 feet across. These two vehicles are not going to pass on this road,'" she recounts.

Faulconer's attorney, Rick Carter, says he's disappointed with the planning commission's decision, and expects the company will submit a new site plan "in the next month or two."

Hutchinson prefers a different option for the property for which Faulconer paid $335,000. "Our hope is [Faulconer] decides this land is not suitable and goes some place else," says Hutchinson. "We'd like to raise money to pay what they paid for it and make it a park."