You can have the most walkable neighborhood in the world, but if the only places you can walk to are your neighbors’, the neighborhood is not truly walkable; this seems to be something lost on Albemarle County, whether intentionally or circumstantially.
Now the County seems to be grasping this disconnect –
Having islands (neighborhoods) unto themselves does not provide what homebuyers – or home owners – are looking for if they are seeking to live in a walkable community. I could rattle off the number of subdivisions in Albemarle County that are very walkable – but to do anything other than walk to friends’ houses (even that’s not allowed due to today’s fear-centric society!)
The number of neighborhoods in Albemarle County from which residents can get to stuff – stores, coffee shops, schools, work – without having to resort to a car is much smaller. Further, the number of neighborhoods built since 2001 that meet even two thirds of the 12 tenets can likely be counted on one hand.
Six questions about Albemarle County’s neighborhood model:
1 – What does one say to those who buy in a neighborhood who don’t know that interconnectivity is one of the 12 tenets of the Neighborhood Model? (hint: this is part of the buyer agent’s role – to help educate as best possible that if they don’t own it it’s going to change)
3 – Who should pay for the infrastructure – developers, homebuyers (see previous choice), all property owners (via property taxes)?
4 – How are walkability and access defined?
5 – Has the Neighborhood Model been successfully implemented?
6 – Which are the most “successful” neighborhoods? How is “success defined”?
1. Accommodates walkers, bikers, and public transportation so that mobility can be a reality for the elderly, the young, and those with limited access to automobiles.
2. Makes open space integral to overall design so that residents and workers can walk to a public park, experience preserved natural areas, and enjoy public gathering places.
3. Keeps buildings and spaces at a human scale so that street views are attractive and pedestrian friendly.
4. Incorporates varying densities and gradually allows for an overall increase in density in the Development Areas to meet the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.
5. Contains a mixture of residential and non-residential uses so residents have convenient access to work, to services, and to entertainment.
6. Requires interconnected streets within developments and between developments so that pedestrians can walk easily to many destinations, traffic has alternative routes, and car trips are reduced in number and length.
7. Moves off-street parking out of sight and encourages on-street parking.
8. Mixes housing types and markets so that the full range of housing choices is offered within the neighborhood.
9. Emphasizes re-use of sites.
10. Adapts development to site terrain so that natural topography can be preserved.
11. Maintains a clear boundary between Development Areas and Rural Areas.
12. Provides for neighborhoods to have a designated center to bring diverse and continuous activity to a neighborhood.