Albemarle County Planning Commission

December 2, 2003

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Chairman; Rodney Thomas, Vice-Chairman; Bill Edgerton; Jared Loewenstein; William Finley and Pete Craddock.  Pete Craddock arrived at 7:16 p.m.

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning & Community Development;  Stephen Waller, Senior Planner; Margaret Doherty, Principal Planner; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Rieley called the regular meeting to order at 6:08 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

Other Matters Not Listed on the Agenda from the Public:

 

Mr. Rieley invited comment from the public on other matters not listed on the agenda. There being none, he stated that the meeting would move on to the consent agenda.

 

Consent Agenda:

 

Additions to Batesville Agricultural/Forestal District - Requests to add four parcels to the Batesville Agricultural and Forestal District, in accordance with Section 3-203 of the Albemarle County Code, which allows for additions of land to Agricultural and Forestal Districts. (Scott Clark)

(Tax Map 71, Parcels 26B, 26B1, 26B2, and 26C) PLANNING COMMISSION MUST REFER APPLICATIONS TO ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

           

Mr. Rieley asked if any Commissioner would like to pull this item from the consent agenda for discussion.  There being none, he asked for a motion.

 

Mr. Thomas moved to approve the consent agenda as presented.

 

Mr. Edgerton seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of (5:0).  (Craddock – Absent) 

 

Items Requesting Deferral:

 

SP-2003-70 Gregory R. Galllihugh-Nextel Partners (Sign #59) - Request for special use permit to allow the construction of a personal wireless facility with a monopole, approximately 85 feet in total height and 10 feet above the height of the tallest tree within 25 feet.  The proposed facility includes flush-mounted panel antennas and ground equipment.   This application is being made in accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for microwave and radio-wave transmission and relay towers in the Rural Areas.  The property, described as Tax Map 74, Parcel 2C, contains 2.78 acres, and is zoned RA Rural Areas.   The proposal is located on Dick Woods Road (Route 637), approximately 1.25 miles south of the intersection of Dick Woods Road and Interstate 64, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Stephen Waller)  APPLICANT REQUESTS DEFERRAL TO DECEMBER 16, 2003.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that they have one item, SP-2003-70, Gregory R. Gallihugh-Nextel Partners, which the applicant has requested deferral until December 16, 2003.  He opened the public hearing and asked if there was anyone present who would like to address this item with the caveat that in all likelihood that it would be coming back before the Commission in a couple of weeks.

 

Mr. Loewenstein moved to approve the applicant’s request for deferral of SP-2003-70 Gregory R. Gallihugh/Nextel Partners to December 16th.

 

Mr. Finley seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried with a vote of (5:0).  (Craddock – Absent)

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the motion passes and that the Commission would take this item up again on December 16th.

 

Public Hearing Items:

 

SP-2003-73 Foundations Child Development Day Care (Sign #90) - Request for special use permit to allow a day care center in accordance with Section [16.2.2.7] of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for day care facilities in the R-6 Zoning District.   The property, described as Tax Map 45, Parcel 112F, contains 1.541 acres, and is zoned R-6, Residential.   The proposal is located on Rt. 1403 (Berkmar Drive), approximately .5 miles north of the intersection of Berkmar and Woodbrook Road, in the Rio Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Transitional in Neighborhood 1.  (Margaret Doherty)

 

Ms. Doherty summarized the staff report.  She stated that this was an application for a daycare center in an R-6 zoning district.  This is a vacant parcel on Berkmar Drive, which was just north of the SPCA site and across the street generally from Planet Fun.  This is a pretty straightforward special use permit request. The daycare use is in a residential zoning district and was in the transitional land use category in the Comprehensive Plan. It is surrounded mostly with commercial and vacant uses. Normally staff looks at a daycare use for impacts to adjacent residential properties, but that is not the case on this site and staff supports the use.  Staff requested and reviewed a fairly simplistic concept plan. The applicant was cautious about not spending too much money on a concept plan that might not get approved as they were looking for a use for this site.  Staff feels that the information they have is enough to say that the use can be accommodated on the site.  There are site specific issues that will have to be addressed at the site plan stage, but none of them have to be conditions of the special use permit.  The applicant has drawn out their play areas.  One of staff’s concerns about this site was that there might not be enough room for the play area, but the applicant can address that issue more in their presentation.  Other than that given the location and the fact that this is a tight site with the parcel being odd shaped, staff feels that it would be difficult to put a lot of different uses there particularly because the by-pass might be coming through the parcel. Staff feels that it is an appropriate use in a transition Comprehensive Land Use designation and that it will not have any impacts on the adjacent uses.  Therefore, staff recommends that the use be permitted by special use permit with the site specific issues being addressed at the site plan stage.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the obvious question that comes to mind is that staff is right that this is an oddly shaped lot because of the taking for the western by-pass. There has been a good deal of discussion at lots of levels of getting that right-of-way sold back.  He asked if there was anything about this application that would change dramatically if that right-of-way would become available in the rear of this property.

 

Ms. Doherty stated that the shared entrance would get utilized for some type of use on that new property.  Besides that, she pointed out that this use would not be affected much unless they wanted to expand their facility.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were other questions for Ms. Doherty.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Bob Kingrea, representative for Stonehouse Development, stated that he would like to thank Ms. Doherty and the Planning Commission for the opportunity to be able to work with the plan that meets their clients needs, which was for Foundation’s Child Daycare Center. He stated that they have spent a significant amount of time collaborating with the various departments of the County to come up with a plan due to the constraints on the property. He stated that their goal was to provide a site plan that meets their client’s needs specifically.  One of their most prominent needs as it relates to the staff’s review of this was their requirement for the playground to be in the rear of the building.  That requirement impacted a potential recommendation by Ms. Doherty for parking to be in the rear of the building.  Since those conflicts could not be resolved, they arranged to have the parking down along the side.  But other than that, he stated that Ms. Doherty has covered everything.  He stated that he was available if the Commission had any questions.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if anyone else would like to address this application. There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for discussion and possible action.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that the application meets all of the conditions in the ordinances.  Therefore, he moved for approval of SP-2003-73 Foundations Child Development Day Care subject to staff’s recommended conditions.

 

Mr. Davis asked for one revision to condition # 2 that it should be the Virginia Department of

Social Services so that it was clear that was what it was referring to rather than just Department of Social Services.

 

Mr. Thomas amended his motion to include Mr. Davis’ suggested alteration to condition # 2.

 

Mr. Loewenstein seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried with a vote of (5:0).  (Craddock – Absent)

 

Mr. Rieley stated that SP-2003-73 would go to the Board on January 14th with a recommendation for approval with the following conditions:

 

1.       The site shall be developed in general accord with the concept plan entitled, Foundations Child Daycare Center, dated September 25, 2003;

 

2.       The maximum number of children shall not exceed 125 or the number of students as approved by the Virginia Department of Social Services, whichever is less;

 

3.       VDOT approval of a commercial entrance;

 

4.       The remaining slopes should not be more than 3:1 to allow for re-vegetation and stability; and

 

5.       The following minimum setbacks shall be maintained:  30 ft building and 10 ft parking setback from Berkmar Dr and 15 ft building setback from the southern property line.

 

Return to PC actions letter

 

SP-2003-68 Northridge Community Church Amendment (Sign #7) - Request for an amendment to a special use permit, SP 00-58 Northside Community Church, to allow a pre-school/day care and an after-school program, in accordance with Section 10.2.2.7 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for "Day care, child care or nursery facility."   The property, described as Tax Map 21, Parcel 11A, contains 9.92 acres, and is zoned RA Rural Areas.   The proposal is located at 5100 Rt. 606 (Dickerson Road), approximately 1,200 feet miles from the intersection of Dickerson Road and Rt. 20N (Seminole Trail), in the White Hall Magisterial District. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as RA Rural Area.  (Joan McDowell)

 

Ms. McDowell summarized the staff report. The church was originally approved in the year 2000 under the name of Northside Community Fellowship Church and it has been changed to North Ridge.  It is a church located on the west side of Route 29 at 5100 Dickerson Road.  The request is for an amendment to SP 00-58 (a special use permit to construct a 11,200 square foot church) to be allowed to operate a pre-school/day care for a maximum of 80 children and an after school program for a maximum of 60 children in the existing church facility.  Five classrooms with a total of 2,630 square feet would be used for these purposes.  There will be no changes to the exterior of the building.  There have been no problems noted about the entrance of the driveway.  Therefore, our Engineering Department and VDOT have not offered any recommendations or requirements for changes to the roadway or the driveway.

 

The Comprehensive Plan has designated this area as Rural Areas. Staff recommends approval of SP-03-68 subject to the conditions within the staff report.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for Ms. McDowell. 

 

Mr. Craddock arrived at 6:12 p.m.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he had one question regarding the exterior changes to the building.  In light of the fact that no changes to the exterior of the building are anticipated as a part of this special use permit, what is driving the condition to prohibit changes to the exterior of the building.

 

Ms. McDowell stated that the

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for staff. There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Ms. McDowell stated that at the time that the staff report was written the applicant was bonded to finish some landscaping that was required with the conditions of the special use and the site plan.  This special use permit has already received ARB approval and the landscaping was covered under that approval.  This is a safeguard condition regarding the landscaping written by the absent attorney.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that this was essentially an additional enforcement mechanism for the requirements of the ARB.

 

Ms. McDowell stated that was correct.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any other questions.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if they were going to covert the church into a daycare center.

 

Ms. McDowell stated that some of the classrooms within the church will be used.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if they would still be using the church, and Ms. McDowell stated that was correct.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if they were planning on building another structure because in the plan it says phase 1.

 

Ms. McDowell stated that it was clear with the original plan, and that is just a copy of what was approved, that they have intentions with time and number of congregation members that they would expand the church at some time.  They will have to come back with another special use permit to do that. She pointed out that the day care use was not requested during the original request.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were other questions for staff.  There being none, he opened the public

hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Reverend Ray Stark, Pastor of Northridge Church, stated that the ARB and all of those site plan landscape issues have been resolved.  Currently they were under a landscape maintenance bond and all of those concerns had been taken care of prior to this meeting.  He clarified that as far as the expansion and future phases on the plan were just put on there to give a designation that as the church grows what areas that they would be planning. As far as the pre-school and aftercare program, there will be no further buildings designated to that.  They were just using the current facilities in a multi-use road with church and Sunday school on the weekends, etc. and then adding a pre-school within that same fabric around their schedule.  There will be no changes to the building or exterior or interior since everything is suitable to cover both.  They feel that they have built a nice size building out there and want to make it available to the community seven days a week the best that they can.  They are a polling place for the County to come and vote, which was another need which they had sensed.  They want to try to help meet the need in the area for daycare and after school care.  The reason that it was not put on the plan initially by staff was that they were not looking at that point to move into starting a daycare of after school situation.  Therefore, it was just put in as exclusion by the staff that if they would want to do that in the future that they would need to come back.  He pointed out that was why they were here.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were questions for Reverend Stark.  There being none, he asked if there was anyone else who would like to address this application.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and possible action.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated that this seems to be a perfectly reasonable application and actually pretty straightforward mostly making the change to the activity that was not anticipated at the time when this originally came before them.  He moved for approval of SP-2003-68 Northridge Community Church Amendment with the 3 conditions recommended by staff in the staff report.

 

1.       Exterior changes to the building and site depicted on and approved as part of the final site plan, SDP-2001-022, are prohibited unless authorized by an amendment to this special use permit.  Prohibited exterior changes include changes to any architectural feature, color, texture or materials, play area, and landscaping, but do not include repairing or replacing any portion or element of a building provided that the repaired or replaced portion or element has the same architectural feature, color, texture and materials approved as part of SDP-2001-022.

 

2.       The maximum enrollment for the pre-school/day care shall be restricted to 80 children and the maximum enrollment for the after school program shall be restricted to 60 children.

 

3.       The hours and days of operation shall be restricted to the following: 

day care/pre-school program 7:30 AM to 2 PM Monday through Friday;

after school program from 2:30 PM - 6:00 PM Monday through Friday.

 

Mr. Finley seconded.

 

The motion carried by a vote of 6:0.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the motion passes and SP-2003-68 would go to the Board of Supervisors for their January 14th meeting with a recommendation for approval.

 

Return to PC actions letter

 

SP-2003-64 Verulam Farm-VA32344 Omnipoint (Sign #12, 13, 14) – Request for special use permit to allow the construction of a personal wireless facility with a monopole, that is approximately 101 feet in total height and 10 feet above the height of the tallest tree within 25 feet.  The proposed facility includes flush-mounted panel antennas and ground equipment.   This application is being made in accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for microwave and radio-wave transmission and relay towers in the Rural Areas.  The property, described as Tax Map 74, Parcel 17, contains 356,26 acres, and is zoned RA, Rural Areas.   The proposal is located on Rt. 677 (Bloomfield Road), approximately .75 miles from the intersection of Route 637 and Route 677, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Stephen Waller)

 

Mr. Waller summarized the staff report.  The applicant’s proposal is for the installation of a personal wireless service facility, which would include a wood monopole, approximately 101 feet in total height, and with a top elevation of approximately 1077.3 feet Above Mean Sea Level (Attachment A).  This would result in a monopole that is approximately 10 feet taller in height AMSL elevation than a nearby 91-foot tall tree identified on the applicant’s construction plans at the same base elevation as the proposed facility.  The applicant, Omnipoint Communications, is in the process of expanding its services for T-Mobile Communications in this region along I-64 west of Charlottesville. The monopole would be equipped with an array of two 6-foot long, 8-inch wide, flush-mounted panel antennas at the top and supporting ground equipment would be contained within three 4.7-foot tall by 4.3-foot wide cabinets.  The site of the proposed facility is a 750 square-foot lease area on property described as Tax Map 74 - Parcel 17, and containing approximately 356.36 acres, zoned Rural Areas (RA) and Entrance Corridor, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District (Attachment B).  Access to this site is taken from Bloomfield Road [State Route 677], approximately 3/4-mile from the intersection with Dick Woods Road [State Route 637].  The property lies within the area designated as Rural Area 3 by the Comprehensive Plan.

 

Staff observed a balloon test for this facility and noticed that the balloon was visible, but it was amongst the trees that are also located in the ridge area of the site.  That point of visibility was located within the boundary of the property that surrounds the site.  When staff went onto the nearby public road and also one nearby residential development that was currently in the process of being constructed, the Rocks Development, staff noticed that the balloon was not visible from that development or from any of the nearby public roads including I-64.  The ARB has also reviewed this request and the Design Planner also observed the balloon test. Because of its invisibility from I-64, they recommended some of the standard ARB conditions that are applied as a result of the Design Guidelines that support our overlay districts. 

 

Staff recommends approval of this request with the standard conditions and a few modified conditions that additional information shall be submitted showing more of the trees surrounding the site even though there was low visibility at the site. It is staff’s opinion that more of the trees need to be shown in order to complete an assessment of the vegetation that is in the area.  The rest of the staff report covers a couple of issues regarding this request.  He stated that he would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated that he had one question. He stated that he was out at the site the other day trying to orient himself as to where the balloon would have been. He asked staff to comment on the visibility from Bloomfield Road.

 

Mr. Waller stated that they actually road on Bloomfield Road and because of the topography and the distance to the road, there are a number of trees between the site and Bloomfield Road where you view back towards the site.  Staff could not locate the site where the balloon should have been.  On page C1D of the plans, you will notice that before you get to the large dwelling that was shown on the property you will see that there is a road that goes off in to two directions.  In one direction there is a farm building on one portion of the road.  Then the other portion of the road terminates shortly.  Staff stopped at that point, which was the only place that they could even see the balloon.  At that time the balloon was bouncing between the trees, and they tried to view it when it bounced at its highest point.  He pointed out that the balloon does not even show up clearly in the photographs.

 

Mr. Craddock stated that in the opening paragraph there are two antennas discussed, but the drawing on C3 has 3 antennas.  He asked how many antennas they would actually have.

 

Mr. Waller stated that in this case there were actually 3 antennas, but they would all be considered to be within one sector.  He stated that it should be corrected to be three as shown on the plans.

 

Mr. Craddock stated that on page 7, number 8 it says no antennas not to exceed 12 inches in height and then on page 9, number 22 it says certification that it does not exceed 2 feet.

 

Mr. Waller stated that this says no antenna or equipment, with the exception of the grounding road not to exceed 1 inch in diameter and 12 inches in height.  That was speaking directly to the grounding road and its location. With this condition, the 12 inch grounding rod would be the only equipment attached to the pole that could extend above the height of the pole.  This means that none of the antennas can extend above the height of the pole.  The top height of the antennas would have to match the top height of the pole itself.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that this was the exception for the grounding rod and on page 9 it was about the grounding rod.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated to follow up to Mr. Craddock’s question, in 22A then only to assume that the height of the grounding above the monopole in fact has to be as much as 2 feet or it would be possible to limit that to a foot if it was the only thing that extends above the antenna.  How far above that monopole does it need to extend.

 

Mr. Waller stated that in some cases they have seen a request for them to extend up to 2 feet, but in some cases they have seen it for 12 inches.  He stated that he did not think that there would be a problem with that either.

 

Mr. Loewenstein pointed out that he was just looking for consistency.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for staff. There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Amy Blatter, representative for Omnipoint or T Mobile Communications, stated that they were before the Commission tonight with a proposal for a tree top tower at 99 Bloomfield Road. The proposal is for a tower that will be at 101 feet in height. The material will be encumbered of wood. It will be a natural brown color. The antenna placement at the top will be three antennas.  The antennas will be painted to match the pole and well as the equipment located at the ground that will also be painted to match pole.  She presented a power point presentation to show the site layout of the area. She pointed out that I-64 was the area which they wanted to cover with the signal penetration of their antennas.  She pointed out the location of Bloomfield Road and the private drive that would take them to the McGuire property and residence.  From this location they would utilize an existing logging road that would bring them to their site.  This is a closer look at the site, which shows that this area is heavily wooded and surrounded by trees.  She pointed out the reference tree that was 91 feet in height which was why they were proposing the 101 foot pole to allow for a 10 foot clearance above the tree line. The lease area was 20’ X 35’ and would not be fenced.  It is a small lease area so that the tree removal will be as minimal as possible.  Therefore, they would like to maintain as many trees as possible to help shield and camouflage the tower from view.  She displayed a photo of the actual balloon test.  She pointed out that the area was heavily wooded.  As Mr. Waller mentioned, it was very difficult to see the balloon.  They were able to get a glimpse of this at Bloomfield from one particular location.  As you drive by, you would never see it.  But if you were to stop and look, you would be able to see it in one location.  From I-64 you would not be able to see the view of the tower.  She pointed out that the balloon was actually flown at 10 feet above the tree line.  She zoomed in ten times in order to be able to see the balloon as a dot.  She pointed out that the visual impact would be very minimal which was their goal and objective here.  She pointed out that zooming out ten times that the visual impact would even be less. They feel that this is a good location in that it not only meets their needs and their guidelines for coverage objectives, but stays within the recommendations of the County as well.  She stated that she had the opportunity to review the conditions and would like to respectfully request one change to condition # 3 that states that the tower shall not exceed 7 feet above the top of the tallest tree within 25 feet.  The guidelines do allow for us to be 10 feet above the tallest tree within 25 feet.  Given that they were trying to shoot their signal in a clearance of a 10 foot limitation, that does leave a very narrow window for our engineering team to work with.  In fact, given those narrow limitations the additional 3 feet will help our signal strength and impact the network.  She asked to leave that for their consideration and discussion. She stated that she appreciated the Commission’s time and would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for Ms. Blatter.  He stated that he had one question on her last point.  Their normal guideline is 7 feet above the top of the nearest tallest tree within 25 feet. In this case your tower is actually skylined from that particular vantagepoint.  But there is another condition that they typically don’t like. What is there about this application that makes it unique in asking for the additional 3 feet.

 

Ms. Blatter stated that if she takes them to her next slide, this is what they call propagation maps.  This indicates their signal strength and their coverage objectives for this area. The red indicates where they currently have sites because that is their strongest signal.  As the color fades into the yellows and the green so does the strength of their signal.  The white indicates no signal whatsoever.  The area that they are trying to close in is right here which was I-64.  As you can see they have coverage until you get to this point and then you drop the call for 5 to 7 miles and then you pick up the coverage again.  With the addition of this site what they were gaining is a seamless band of coverage.  Now this prorogation map was run at 10 feet.  You can see as they try to connect to this site here, their coverage was very narrow.  Limiting the signal to 3 feet does impact, which becomes very crucial here that affects the narrow limitations of the coverage.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any other questions for the application.  He asked if anyone else would like to address this issue.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and possible action.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that the staff report condition should have been 10 feet and not 7 feet and it was an oversight. One of the reasons was that the only spot that it was observable was skylighted within the property boundaries. That photograph shown was taken within the boundary.  The 10 feet in height was not visible from any of the surrounding areas or public roads. In this case this condition should have been 10 feet due to those circumstances.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he remained concerned about the upward drift. He stated that pretty soon that there would be an argument for every tower to be 10 feet instead of 7 feet. He stated that you could certainly show propagation charts that will say that you can get out further with 15 feet than with 10 feet.

 

Mr. Craddock asked if it would be 10 feet to the top of the grounding rod.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it would include the grounding road.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated that it was true that the taller you make it the better the propagation date would become.  He stated that they don’t have a lot of hard evidence on how of that they would lose by dropping it from 10 foot to 7 foot in this case.  He felt that was a reasonable thing to consider.  

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it seems that once you clear the trees that are around it, it was hard to imagine that 3 feet of having much of an effect when you were one-half a mile away.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that the 3 feet would give them a play period for the trees to grow because if it does it could cut into their application.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that would be true with every application that comes before them.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that all of them would be allowed to be adjusted basically as the trees grow.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that one would be amazed at the amount of conversation that they have had over that very point.

 

Mr. Thomas moved for approval of SP-2003-64 with the corrected footage for condition # 3 to be 10 feet instead of seven feet.  He asked Mr. Cilimberg if that was correct.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that the Commission’s discussion was for 7 feet and they needed to decide which they wanted to use.

 

Mr. Thomas withdrew his motion to discuss this issue a little bit further.  He stated that the guide says 7 feet.  He asked what their policy says.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that the policy says 10 feet, but the Commission’s practice has been for 7 feet.

 

Mr. Thomas moved to approve SP-2003-64 Verulam Farm – Omnipoint with the conditions as recommended by staff with condition # 3 to be 7 feet.

 

The facility shall be designed, constructed and maintained as follows:

1.                   With the exception of any minor changes that would be required in order to comply with the conditions listed herein, the facility including the monopole, the ground equipment building, and any antennas shall be sized, located and built as shown on the concept plan entitled, “Crown Communications CAP Operations, LLC (McGuire #2)”, dated July 24, 2003 and provided with Attachment A.

2.                   The calculation of pole height shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing, natural ground elevation.

3.                   The top of the pole, as measured Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL), shall never exceed seven (7) feet above the top of the tallest tree within twenty-five feet.  In no case shall the pole exceed 98 feet in total height at the time of installation without prior approval of an amendment to this special use permit or personal wireless facility permit.

4.                   The monopole shall be made of wood and be a dark brown natural wood color.

5.                   The ground equipment cabinets, antennas, concrete pad and all equipment attached to the pole shall be the same color as the pole and shall be no larger than the specifications set forth in the application plans.

6.                   Only flush-mounted antennas shall be permitted.  No antennas that project out from the pole beyond the minimum required by the support structure shall be permitted.  However, in no case shall the distance between the face of the pole and the faces of the antennas be more than 12 inches.

7.                   No satellite or microwave dishes shall be permitted on the monopole.

8.                   No antennas or equipment, with the exception of a grounding rod, not to exceed one-inch in diameter and twelve (12) inches in height, shall be located above the top of the pole.

9.                   No guy wires shall be permitted.

10.               No lighting shall be permitted on the site or on the pole, except as herein provided.  Outdoor lighting shall be limited to periods of maintenance only.  Each outdoor luminaire shall be fully shielded such that all light emitted is projected below a horizontal plane running though the lowest part of the shield or shielding part of the luminaire.  For the purposes of this condition, a luminaire is a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply.

11.               The permittee shall comply with section 5.1.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.  Fencing of the lease area shall not be permitted.

12.               The plans shall be revised so that information identified as APN# on the cover sheet of is labeled as the tax map and parcel number.

13.               The electrical transformer and telephone pedestal shall be located within the confines of the lease area.

14.               The locations and heights of all trees within 50 feet of the facility that are relied upon for screening and camouflaging shall be shown on the plans.

15.               Size specifications and other details, including elevation drawings of the antennas and ground equipment and concrete pad shall be included in the construction plan package.

16.               Site grading and all construction around the facility shall be minimized to only provide the amount of space that will be necessary for placement of the monopole and equipment cabinets.

17.               Details and cross sections for any plans to upgrade the existing dirt logging road shall be provided in the construction plan packet and is subject to review and approval by the County’s Engineering Department

 

Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the following requirements shall be met:

 

18.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the reference tree that has been used to justify the height of the monopole shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

19.               Prior to beginning construction or installation of the pole, the equipment cabinets or vehicular or utility access, an amended tree conservation plan, developed by a certified arborist shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator for approval.  The plan shall specify tree protection methods and procedures, and identify any existing trees to be removed on the site - both inside and outside the access easement and lease area.  All construction or installation associated with the pole and equipment pad, including necessary access for construction or installation, shall be in accordance with this tree conservation plan.  Except for the tree removal expressly authorized by the Director of Planning and Community Development, the permittee shall not remove existing trees within two hundred (200) feet of the pole and equipment pad.  A special use permit amendment shall be required for any future tree removal within the two hundred-foot buffer, after the installation of the subject facility.

20.               With the building permit application, the applicant shall submit the final revised set of site plans for construction of the facility.  During the application review, Planning staff shall review the revised plans to ensure that all appropriate conditions of the special use permit have been addressed.

 

After the completion of the pole installation and prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or to any facility operation, the following shall be met:

 

21.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the pole, measured both in feet above ground level and in elevation above sea-level (ASL) using the benchmarks or reference datum identified in the application shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

22.               Certification confirming that the grounding rod: a) height does not exceed one foot above the monpole; and, b) width does not exceed a diameter of one-inch, shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

23.               No slopes associated with construction of the facility shall be created that are steeper than 2:1 unless retaining walls, revetments, or other stabilization measures acceptable to the County Engineer are employed.

 

After the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, the following requirements shall be met:

 

24.               The applicant, or any subsequent owners of the facility, shall submit a report to the Zoning Administrator by July 1 of each year.  The report shall identify each personal wireless service provider that uses the facility, including a drawing indicating which equipment, on both the tower and the ground, are associated with each provider.

25.               All equipment and antennae from any individual personal wireless service provider shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use is discontinued.  The entire facility shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use for personal wireless service purposes is discontinued. If the Zoning Administrator determines at any time that surety is required to guarantee that the facility will be removed as required, the permittee shall furnish to the Zoning Administrator a certified check, a bond with surety satisfactory to the County, or a letter of credit satisfactory to the County, in an amount sufficient for, and conditioned upon, the removal of the facility.  The type of surety guarantee shall be to the satisfaction of the Zoning Administrator and the County Attorney.

 

Mr. Loewenstein seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried with a vote of (6:0).

 

Mr. Rieley stated that SP-2003-64 would be heard by the Board on January 14th with a recommendation for approval.

 

Mr. Thomas agreed with Mr. Rieley that they need more consistency in the conditions.  He felt that for the Commission’s purpose the condition needed to be for 7 feet.

 

Mr. Rieley agreed, but stated that the circumstances in this situation were that unusual since the balloon was not visible at all.

 

Staff recognizes that the policy says no more than ten feet above the tallest tree within 25 feet.  But in the end what the Commission would get with staff’s review is based on what they have observed in the field that is based on staff’s request.

 

Return to PC actions letter

 

SP-2003-71 Vernon or Jackie Shiflett-Alltel (Sign #56) - Request for special use permit to allow the construction of a personal wireless facility with a monopole, that is approximately 85 feet in total height and 10 feet above the height of the tallest tree within 25 feet.  The proposed facility includes flush-mounted panel antennas and ground equipment.  This application is being made in accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for microwave and radio wave transmission and relay towers in the Rural Areas.   The property, described as Tax Map 87, Parcel 7A, contains 3.038 acres, and is zoned RA Rural Areas.   The proposal is located on Route 29 South, approximately 1 mile north of the intersection with Route 692, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Stephen Waller)

 

Mr. Waller summarized the staff report.  The applicant’s request is for the installation of a personal wireless service facility for a wooden monopole that would be allowed to extend no more that 10 feet above the tallest tree within 25 feet.  This would result in an 85-foot monopole with a top elevation of approximately 900 feet above MSL.  In this case, that would only be 6 feet taller in elevation than the tallest tree within 25 feet that was identified in the plan. Staff has reviewed this request and identified that there is an existing facility at this site that has visibility of the top half of the facility.  It is not skylighted against the backdrop of the trees that are located behind that facility. You can see nearly one-half of the existing monopole. Because this monopole would be comparable in height to that facility and because this request originally showed an extensive amount of grading up to 30 feet into the existing tree line behind the existing and proposed facility, staff has recommended denial.  He also noted that the applicant has recently submitted some revised plans showing a smaller amount of grading around the facility and the reduction in the size of the ground equipment.  Instead of a shelter that was originally proposed with this request, they are now proposing to install the equipment cabinets on a concrete pad, which would require fewer disturbances.  Staff has only had a little amount of time to look at this situation.  With this request for this facility, staff still thinks that the monopole in such close proximity to the existing one that already has a large amount of visibility a large portion of that monopole would still be visible in front of the backdrop.  In this case all of the trees in front of the facility are much lower in height than the ones that are behind it.  In most case they have seen a better level of screening for these facilities.  He pointed out that there were some photographs in the Commission’s packet that shows just how visible the existing one is.  You can also see the balloon test to the left of the proposed facility.  The ARB has reviewed this request and recommended approval with some conditions, which were the standard conditions that are usually recommended as a result of the ARB Guidelines. There were also some additional conditions recommended such as revising the proposed grades to ensure the health of three significantly sized trees in the area identified as trees 340, 344 and 346.  Another condition was to revise the plans to show that all of the grading would be held outside of the drip lines of the trees that would be elected to be saved on the site. Based on the visibility of the existing facility and the fact that there were some issues that were recognized regarding the visibility that was expected for that existing facility, staff has recommended denial.  He stated that he would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for Mr. Waller. There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Peter Caramanis, attorney for Alltell, stated that the two applications before them tonight are part of a larger project that he discussed with them last time as far as Alltell trying to provide coverage along Route 29 south of Charlottesville. This is an area where there is no coverage right now.  It is a difficult area to provide coverage given the hilly and curvy of the nature of the road in that area.  This site was chosen, noting that there was an existing facility on site that has existed harmonious in the area.  Alltell planned to locate their tower 15 feet away from the existing pole and take advantage of the same benefits that the existing tower that includes the backdrop of trees, its location on Route 29 and it minimal visibility. Staff has taken another perspective on the visibility saying that this facility is very visible.  When they went out for the balloon test they walked up and down the road to try to find a point where it was visible.  As you know every tower is going to be visible from some where.  As you are walking on Route 29, you are going to be able to stop and find a location where you could get a picture that makes it appear that it is visible, which was what was done in this case. Actually driving along the road, as any person would be, this facility would not be visible.  It is not visible traveling southbound on Route 29 at all.  But traveling northbound it is potentially visible for about 100 yards looking off to the left.  During the part where the 100 yards is located the road was curving around to the right and really takes your attention away from looking left. Nobody driving that road would be able to do that.   In addition you would be looking over the southbound lanes of travel over the front part of the parcel where the house is located and then behind that was where the tower was located.  There are a lot of these things that would draw your attention, but not the tower.  When this application went before the ARB, the request went with a recommendation for denial as well.  The ARB members had not all had a chance to go out and visit the site and asked for deferral for two weeks to allow them to do so.  At that meeting there were three ARB members present and if the vote had taken place at that time it would have been 2:1 to deny the application.  Since they asked for deferral, they were happy to grant that to give them the opportunity to go out and look at the area.  They did that and they went back to the ARB two weeks later and was unanimously approved because they found that the visibility was very minimal and almost nonexistence. Alltell has made efforts to address the County’s concerns for this application.  As Mr. Waller mentioned they changed the equipment shelter to two cabinets that lessens the footprint to the site and alleviates the grading concerns.  They have used smaller antennas and have agreed to the new and original proposed fencing.  As far as the recommended conditions of approval, there were two which he would like to mention being # 2 and # 4 requires tower to be wood.  They have proposed the monopole in this case and prefer them not to be wood for structural reasons and the fact that the cables can go inside the pole rather than on the outside.  He noted that it protects the cables as well.  If there was no preference, they would prefer that it not be wood.  If there is, that is something that they had agreed to do.  The other condition was #16 in the last two sentences that refer to the 200-foot conservation area.  Last month the ARB chose to address the issue in condition # 17. The trees within that 200 foot radius would have gone outside the property lines and would also affect trees that would not be necessarily screening this tower or to help provide a backdrop. The ARB felt that there might be adequate backdrop existing on the site and they came up with condition # 17 which he felt was significant and the last two sentences of # 16 basically do not need to be there because # 17 takes care of that.  He asked that the Commission not follow staff’s recommendation in this case for the reasons, which he stated, and the reasons that the ARB used when they went out and looked at the site and determined that it was not visible.  One other thing, as staff as noted was that the only grounds for the recommendation of denial on this site is the visibility.  There is a recent US District Court case that says that the zoning cannot be based solely on those grounds of visibility of aesthetics.  He stated that visibility was not an issue for the reasons that he had stated.  He stated that even if that were that could not be the sole basis for denial. He asked that they approve this application with the changes to the conditions that he suggested. He stated that he would be happy to answer any questions.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for the applicant. There being none, he asked if anyone else would like to address this application.

 

Kenneth Vaughan, an adjacent property owner to the Shiflett property where the Alltell application was pending, stated that he felt compelled to come and speak to the Commission this evening about a concern about the addition of an additional tower to the property and the effect it has on the character of the neighborhood.  He stated that had not had the opportunity to review the revised application.  He stated that he did not know exactly how much that has changed.  It was the nature of the structure in sighting apparently has reduced the nature of it.  But it would appear to some one who lives in the area that there is not adequate screening on the property to eliminate the visibility of such a larger footprint than only the existing structure. He stated that they were concerned that there was too much concentration telecommunication facilities in one place.  It is not in character with the rural area of the area and he just wanted to express that.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if anyone else would like to address this application.

 

Mr. Caramanis asked to make a rebuttal.

 

Mr. Rieley asked that he make his rebuttal.

 

Mr. Caramanis stated that the regarding the character of the area, that the role of the Zoning Ordinance is to protect that.  That is the whole purpose of having the treetop tower requirements.  So that the tower was not just some big obtrusive thing, but they were designed in accordance with that tree top ordinance to be hidden there.  By putting the tower where there was already another tower was a location that he had just went through that it was a good location based on the visibility and other characteristics.  It actually affects the character of that area less because there is an existing facility there than it would to put another tower in another location thereby affecting another location that does not already have a tower.  As far as it not being in character with the rural area, he pointed out that a lot of towers have been placed within the rural areas and shown that can be done successfully.  Obviously, this entire section of Route 29 that they were trying to provide protection to was a rural area and so the tower would have to go in a rural area some where.  That is not a consideration except that it has to comply with the ordinance and they feel that this does comply with the ordinance as stated.

 

Mr. Rieley closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and possible action. He asked to begin by asking Mr. Davis to address the issue of the legality of regulating mass and scale, as he understands as their basis for their action

 

Mr. Davis stated that clearly the Fourth Circuit has looked favorably upon regulation of towers and the concept of the zoning regulations.  He stated that visibility was certainly a factor that could be reviewed in determining whether or not the tower was consistent with the visual quality and rural character that was called for in the Comprehensive Plan. He stated that it was certainly one of the powers that zoning could use to regulate the height and mass of structures specifically enabled by the Virginia Code. He pointed out that he was not familiar with the District Court case that Mr. Caramanis mentioned, but the Fourth Circuit certainly did not recognize it at this time.  He asked that Mr. Caramanis provide his office with a copy of the court case.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if anyone had any thoughts.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated that he was somewhat trouble by this by more than simply the issue of visibility.  He was concerned first of all about proliferation of tower sites in a single location like this one.  He felt that co-location was something that they have worked very hard at to achieve in order to prevent any more sites than was necessary.  Co-location may not be possible in this particular case.  That does not necessarily mean, as far as he was concerned, that another facility adjacent to an existing one was necessarily the only means of doing it, especially since it means proliferation of these things in a small space.  That makes it harder to say that a third or fourth one that comes along and wants to stand-alone.  So that initially is a concern.  Furthermore, they don’t have any hard evidence that he could see that the area was so exhausted for other alternatives in terms of siting.  Therefore, it is not clear at all that something like this could not have been 100 feet away or 100 yards away.  He stated that he was troubled by the present application.

 

Mr. Finley asked why the ARB did not have a visual problem with this site.

 

Mr. Waller stated that in speaking to the Design Planner that she had indicated that a lot more of the leaves had fallen off the trees at the time that the ARB visited the site as opposed to when they did the balloon test.  It seems like when staff took the photographs of today, they had a brown monopole in front of the trees with all of the leaves on them, but when the ARB visited the site there was a whole lot more brown.  Therefore, they had a brown monopole with a brown backdrop as opposed to a green backdrop.  That was the basis difference between the photographs taken with the ARB visit and his visit.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that was interesting. He felt that this single pole was a good example of the impact of having a backdrop and the importance of having the backdrop and how much it helps.  He agreed with Mr. Loewenstein’s point that when you add a second or third pole it is a geometric rather than an arithmetic perceptional increase.  It is more visible for two poles rather than just for one.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that that the two poles does make a big difference, but his main concern was the distance of 15 feet a part.

 

Mr. Craddock questioned the change in the size of the lease area and whether there was a lot more equipment to put in that area.

 

Mr. Waller stated that when people have requested a certain lease area size they have never looked at it as far as what they will be able to do in the future.  He stated that if there was an approved monopole or one that they would look to recommend approval of they would look for the least amount of disturbance of the surrounding trees or any of the natural surroundings.  In the future if there was a situation where someone could do a future by right co-location at the height that has been approved, he felt that it would be like some of the recent Triton amendments where the only reason that they had to do the special use permit amendments was that they were increasing the disturbed area by increasing the concrete pad or increasing the size of the antennas from what was already approved.   They were replacing their own antennas, but their antennas were approved at a certain size and they were increasing those sizes from what was shown on the approved plans.  If someone were able to put a second or third array of antennas on this by right without any further disturbance of the area that had already been disturbed, it would be allowed by right. If they were to increase that area they would probably have top amend the special use permit. That is not to say that a company might come in and ask for an additional height knowing that they could possibly add future antennas. He spoke with Mr. Caramanis earlier and he thought that they had just shown that on the plans.  Even for the 1-foot above the tallest tree within 25 feet and also showed a possible future carrier.  He stated that he was not able to say the size of a lease area with the expectation of a future antenna, but he knew in this case that a lot of the grading that staff was concerned about was even shown outside of that 30 X 30 foot l lease area.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the grading behind the existing pole was problematic because it was taking away from the backdrop.  For the record he stated that wooden poles blend in much better than metal ones.

Mr. Cilimberg asked that the Commission take a separate action to recommend the conditions to the Board if they choose to approve the special use permit request.

 

Mr. Edgerston stated that it was most convincing concern that he had was from the view by the Zoning Administrator about this site being within 200 foot of the conservation area. Any clearing of this site would compromise the exiting tower site. Mr. Edgerton moved for denial of SP-2003-71 Vernon or Jackie Shiflett.

 

Mr. Loewenstein seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of 6:0.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that if this was to go forward with a recommendation for denial that they needed to send a message to the Board of Supervisors that if they don’t agree that they had several conditions to recommend on this request.

 

Mr. Thomas moved that they change the condition that the monopole shall be a wooden pole and in condition # 7 that the pole be 7 feet above the top of the tallest tree and recommend in the event that the Board of Supervisors does not agree with them that the Commission recommends these modified conditions.

 

Mr. Edgerton seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of 6:0 to sent the following recommendations to the Board if they chose to approve the request.

 

The facility shall be designed, constructed and maintained as follows:

 

1.                   With the exception of any minor changes that would be required in order to comply with the conditions listed herein, the facility including the monopole, the ground equipment building, and any antennas shall be sized, located and built as shown on the construction plans entitled, “Alltel - Crossroads Site”, last revised September 25, 2003 and provided herein, with Attachment A.

2.                   The calculation of pole height shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing, natural ground elevation.

3.                   The top of the pole, as measured Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL), shall never exceed seven (7) feet above the top of the tallest tree within 25-feet tree, identified as 338 on Sheet C6 of the construction plans.  In no case shall the pole exceed 85 feet above the existing ground elevation at the time of installation without prior approval of an amendment to this special use permit or personal wireless facility permit.

4.                   The monopole shall be made of wood and of a color that is consistent with the trees surrounding the site.

5.                   The ground equipment cabinets, antennas, concrete pad and all equipment attached to the pole shall be the same color as the pole and shall be no larger than the specifications set forth in the application plans.

6.                   Only flush-mounted antennas shall be permitted.  No antennas that project out from the pole beyond the minimum required by the support structure shall be permitted.  However, in no case shall the distance between the face of the pole and the faces of the antennas be more than 12 inches.

7.                   No satellite or microwave dishes shall be permitted on the monopole.

8.                   No antennas or equipment, with the exception of a grounding rod, not to exceed one-inch in diameter and twelve (12) inches in height, shall be located above the top of the pole.

9.                   No guy wires shall be permitted.

10.               No lighting shall be permitted on the site or on the pole, except as herein provided.  Outdoor lighting shall be limited to periods of maintenance only.  Each outdoor luminaire shall be fully shielded such that all light emitted is projected below a horizontal plane running though the lowest part of the shield or shielding part of the luminaire.  For the purposes of this condition, a luminaire is a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps, and to connect the lamps to the power supply.

11.               The permittee shall comply with section 5.1.12 of the Zoning Ordinance.  Fencing of the lease area shall not be permitted.

12.               The plans shall be revised to show the relation ship of the proposed and existing treelines.

13.               The existing site grading shall be revised to ensure the long-term health of the trees identified as number 340, 344 and 346 on the plans, and to show that all disturbance will be held outside of the drip lines of the trees that are to remain.

14.               Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the following requirements shall be met:

15.               Size specifications and other details, including elevation drawings of the antennas and ground equipment shall be included in the construction plan package.

16.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the reference tree that has been used to justify the height of the monopole shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

17.               Prior to beginning construction or installation of the pole, the equipment cabinets or vehicular or utility access, an amended tree conservation plan, developed by a certified arborist shall be submitted to the Zoning Administrator for approval.  The plan shall specify tree protection methods and procedures, and identify any existing trees to be removed on the site - both inside and outside the access easement and lease area.  All construction or installation associated with the pole and equipment pad, including necessary access for construction or installation, shall be in accordance with this tree conservation plan.  Except for the tree removal expressly authorized by the Director of Planning and Community Development, the permittee shall not remove existing trees within two hundred (200) feet of the facility.  A special use permit amendment shall be required for any future tree removal within the two hundred-foot buffer, after the installation of the subject facility.

18.               The applicant shall provide significant evidence to demonstrate that the trees located on the subject parcel can provide sufficient backdrop for the facility or obtain the necessary easements on adjoining properties that will provide for an adequate backdrop, up to a distance of not more that 200 feet.

19.               With the building permit application, the applicant shall submit the final revised set of site plans for construction of the facility.  During the application review, Planning staff shall review the revised plans to ensure that all appropriate conditions of the special use permit have been addressed.

20.               After the completion of the pole installation and prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy or to any facility operation, the following shall be met:

21.               Certification by a registered surveyor stating the height of the pole, measured both in feet above ground level and in elevation above sea-level (ASL) using the benchmarks or reference datum identified in the application shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

22.               Certification confirming that the grounding rod’s: a) height does not exceed two feet above the monopole; and, b) width does not exceed a diameter of one-inch, shall be provided to the Zoning Administrator.

23.               No slopes associated with construction of the facility shall be created that are steeper than 2:1 unless retaining walls, revetments, or other stabilization measures acceptable to the County Engineer are employed.

24.               After the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, the following requirements shall be met:

25.               The applicant, or any subsequent owners of the facility, shall submit a report to the Zoning Administrator by July 1 of each year.  The report shall identify each personal wireless service provider that uses the facility, including a drawing indicating which equipment, on both the monopole and the ground, are associated with each provider.

26.               All equipment and antennae from any individual personal wireless service provider shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use is discontinued.  The entire facility shall be disassembled and removed from the site within ninety (90) days of the date its use for personal wireless service purposes is discontinued. If the Zoning Administrator determines at any time that surety is required to guarantee that the facility will be removed as required, the permittee shall furnish to the Zoning Administrator a certified check, a bond with surety satisfactory to the County, or a letter of credit satisfactory to the County, in an amount sufficient for, and conditioned upon, the removal of the facility.  The type of surety guarantee shall be to the satisfaction of the Zoning Administrator and the County Attorney.

 

 

SP-2003-72 Linda Vest – Alltel (Sign #87) - Request for special use permit to allow the construction of a personal wireless facility with a monopole, approximately 85 feet in total height and 10 feet above the height of the tallest tree within 25 feet.  The proposed facility includes flush-mounted panel antennas and ground equipment.  This application is being made in accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for microwave and radio-wave transmission and relay towers in the Rural Areas.   The property, described as Tax Map 109, Parcel 43C, contains 2.16 acres, and is zoned RA Rural Areas.   The proposal is located on Rt. 718 (Murrays Lane), approximately 1 mile north of the intersection of Murrays Lane and Route 29, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 3.  (Stephen Waller)

 

Mr. Waller summarized the staff report. He asked the Commissioners to check to make sure that they had received a copy of the revised plan. He stated that this proposal was for the installation of a personal wireless service facility, which would include a metal monopole that would be 85-feet in total height with a top elevation of 879 feet Above Mean Sea Level. The monopole would be equipped with one array consisting of three 6-foot long by 1-foot wide, flush-mounted panel antennas at its top and supporting ground equipment contained within a 184 square-foot shelter.  He noted that the revised packet showed the placement of the shelter with cabinets, which could be contained, on a smaller area of gravel.  It also shows a relocation of the monopole and the corrected height of the revised monopole for this facility would now be 78 feet from the ground to the top.  Since it would be 2 feet higher in elevation, it would be 5 feet lower than the original height above sea level and would 873 feet Above Mean Sea Level.  The top height would be 5 feet above the tallest tree within 25 feet of the revised tree number 262, which was on page C7 of the plans. Staff’s original review contained a recommendation for denial based on the fact that a large portion of the pole was visible above the top of the trees from portions of the public road on Murray’s Lane, which was State Route 717.  Also, with this request there is a significant amount of grading and much of that comes within the drip line of several of the existing trees that have been identified to remain on the site.  The plan actually shows that those trees would be removed, but because of the extensive amount of grading it looks like there could be some significant damage some of the trees surrounding the site including tree number 280, 282 and 292.  At the time of the Architectural Review Board review they also noticed the substantial amount of grading and reflected it in their recommended conditions of approval. One of the ARB’s recommended conditions of approval was to revise the proposed grading to ensure the health of those three trees that were identified as 280, 282 and 292.  In addition, the applicant was to show protective fencing around trees 292, 219 and 266. In the photo, staff noticed that the balloon was visible below the tree line in a space surrounded by trees from Route 29.  Those photos are found in Attachment C.  In addition, the balloon was visible over the top of the trees from Murray’s Lane.  In staff’s opinion, this is like the last situation in that the top portion of the tower would be much higher than the trees that are in front of it and then as you fall back away from the site it will be skylighted because the trees that would provide a backdrop from Route 29 are farther away from the facility site based on the balloon test. Therefore, those trees would not provide a substantial amount of backdrop from Murray’s Lane.  Staff also recognized with the original proposal that none of the trees that are shown on the plan are actually within 25 feet of the monopole. With the revised plans the applicant is now within 25 feet of tree #262 and #260.  The applicant would like to base their height on tree #262.  If the request were passed with the recommendation for approval it would take in to account the shorter trees that are in front of the facility.  That recommendation would be that the height of the monopole be no more than 10 feet taller than the tallest tree within 25 feet which was down slope from the facility.  This would be as opposed to the tree that is now being proposed to be used with the base of the height actually being up slope from the monopole.  He noted that he would be happy to answer any questions regarding the staff report or relating to the new set of plans.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for Mr. Waller. He asked staff how long he had to look at the new plans.

 

Mr. Waller stated that the new plans were received yesterday afternoon and he had just had a chance to get them out of his mailbox this morning.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if he felt that he had adequate time to evaluate the differences between the two plans.

 

Mr. Waller stated that because staff’s recommendation was mainly based on what was observed with the balloon test and also because of the amount of grading that is still being shown in relationship with those trees that his recommendation would remain the same.  He pointed out that just from looking at the information, it does take 5 feet off the top of the monopole and that would mitigate visibility to a certain extent.  He noted that also the monopole would be even closer to the taller trees that are providing the backdrop, which might also be helpful. 

 

Mr. Rieley asked if it was his feeling that this proposal could be modified through the grading and the elevation of the top of the pole to make it acceptable or is this just a tough site.

 

Mr. Waller stated that he was really not sure if it was a tough site. He pointed out that staff’s review was based on what they saw at the beginning, but also because of the trees that would be in the front of the facility are so much lower.  He stated that it was probably a workable site particularly because of the backdrop that was given.  He pointed out that when staff looked at the site from Route 29 that the design and the amount of impact that was being proposed did not fit within the policy.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were other questions for Mr. Waller.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.

 

Peter Caraminis stated that as Mr. Waller said, they were not able to get these revised plans to him before yesterday, which was as a result of only getting the staff by email late last Wednesday.  He pointed out that there were some things in the staff report that had not been discussed with them previously.  He agreed with Mr. Waller that they could work on this site to hopefully they could get a staff recommendation for approval.  He stated that for those reasons, if the Commission is willing to grant it, that he would like to request a deferral. He pointed out that a deferral would allow them to work a little more with staff on the revisions that they have made so far and any other changes that staff thinks would make this a more favorable application.  He stated that if the Commission does not want to grant that approval, he was prepared to give a presentation on the site, but he would just like to request a deferral at this time until the next Planning Commission meeting.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that it would not be possible to defer the request to the next meeting.  He pointed out that since they were talking about conducting another balloon test to prepare another staff report that it would be at least the end of January before it could be rehear.

 

Mr. Caramanis requested a deferral for one month.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that the hearing would the second Tuesday in January since that was their first meeting in January.

 

Mr. Davis suggested that they close the public hearing before they deferred the request so that the request would not have to be readvertised.  He suggested that the Commission give the public an opportunity to speak if they chose to, but with the understanding that the application was going to be significantly changed and they might want to wait until the next meeting when this was on the agenda.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that the public would be allowed to speak, but with the understanding that the public hearing would be reopened at the next meeting.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that the public would still have the opportunity to come back and comment on this application.  With that with that caveat, he asked if anyone would like to speak on this request.

 

Odell Vest, wife of Carl Vest, stated that they lived at 5471 and that their only concern was that they did not see the new application either.  She pointed out that they did not get that.  She stated that if they looked at page 27 on C2, that their property was located at the top. She noted that the tower that they were proposing was on top of them.  She noted that number 1 on the bottom was Linda Vest and the existing trailer on the right hand side was another Vest. She pointed out that they were the Vest family located at the top where the tower would be located.  She noted that they were very concerned about the tower location. She stated that the new proposal for 75 feet versus 85 feet is still dropping in the driveway if you look on page 28.  She stated that hopefully they would get a copy of the new proposal so that they could look at those before the next meeting.  She pointed out that they just wanted those concerns to be looked at now.

 

Mr. Rieley asked Ms. Vest if the access for the new tower would be served off of her driveway.

 

Ms. Vest stated yes that it was their existing driveway.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any questions for Ms. Vest.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the tower would be within 80 feet of her house and if she was saying she was concerned if the tower fell in that direction.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it was 85 feet and that there was a dotted line that shows the fall zone. 

 

Ms. Vest stated that the 85 feet would be in the driveway and even if they take off 5 feet it would be within the embankment of the driveway.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he had a question for staff.  He pointed out that there was a note on the plan about a variable width fall zone easement and he would presume that was an easement that adjacent neighbors would have to give to this property.

 

Mr. Waller stated that was correct.  He stated that the language for that easement starts on page 20 and that the applicant was to supply that information with the application.  He pointed out that staff was under the impression that this language was already being worked on with that adjacent property owner.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the point was that if they were not happy with that potentially falling on their property, then they were no under any obligation to grant the easement.

 

Ms. Vest stated that they understood that.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if anyone else would like to address this application.  Since there was none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission. He asked if any Commissioner had any specific concerns that they would like to pass on to staff before they acted on the deferral.

 

Mr. Loewenstein stated that it was pointed out in the staff report and there was an attachment with the original report that talked about the fact that an adjacent parcel and other nearby parcels are under easement at this present time.  He stated that this was an unusual situation in connection with the general area in which this facility would be located.  Although it has been pointed out in the staff report, he just wanted to get that into the record tonight as a point for further thought and perhaps discussion.

 

Mr. Edgerton seconded the Mr. Loewenstein’s concern.  He stated that when he read Mr. Stokes comments that he realized the impact of the their decision in areas where easements have been granted, which may in fact be working against our stated desire to preserve the Rural Areas.  He stated that unknowingly they were doing this because if an easement prohibits this sort of use of property by somebody who does not put their land in easement adjacent to somebody who was being concerned with an easement that it could discourage an open space easement.

 

Mr. Waller stated that he had told Mr. Stokes that based on their balloon test that staff had some idea on what type of impact that the tower would have on views from his property, which was in the easement on the other side of Route 29. He stated that includes the other property that is on the East Side of this property and farther up the mountain. He stated that if the applicant agreed that he would like to notify those neighbors when they do the next balloon test so that they could see what these type of facilities actually introduce into the Rural Areas as opposed to some other types of uses that are considered commercial uses or uses of higher impact.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he had a concern that staff pointed out very clearly about the limits of grading relative to those trees.  He stated that those trees were critical to the success of this application.  There are two pines that looked like they were really in jeopardy and one large 85 foot maple that is probably going to have a third of its roots or more affected with the grading coming that close.  He suggested that the County have their soils and landscape architect who knows about tree protection and possibly enlist their Ace Director’s assistance to figure out what the impact would be on those trees and work that into the next round of this.  He stated that he hoped that a solution could be worked out in this general area because it does have a backdrop, which was something that this area has going for it.

 

Mr. Caraminis asked to speak because he had a couple of questions.

 

Mr. Rieley asked that he come forward to the public microphone.

 

Mr. Caraminis stated that he realized that conservation easements were areas where they were not suppose to go into to put their towers.  He stated that obviously because they can’t go in those areas since those were areas were they were limited.  Therefore, in order for them to go in the general area, then the only ones that they could look at were the other parcels in the area.  He stated that he was a little bit concerned because the character of Route 29 south was rural and they need to provide coverage to that road.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that was a broader discussion that he did not think they would take up with this action tonight.  He stated that Mr. Edgerton’s point was that when adjacent landowners put their property under easement, then they expect for that to be taken into consideration on applications that affect their property.  He pointed out that was the nature of it, and obviously they realize that if they can’t put them on property that has easements on them, then they have to put them on property that doesn’t have easements.

 

Mr. Caraminis stated that the easement was to preserve the land so that when you look at the property from anywhere else that it looks in its natural state.  He stated the question was what would the tower look like from their property.  He pointed out that he was not sure that he agreed that was what the question should be rather than if their property is going to look like it does now and how does the tower blend with it.  He stated that he was trying to make sure that he was hearing the questions that they were asking property.  He asked if the issue was how the tower looked from their property.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that easements are not just for people to look at.  He stated that easement are something that an individual decides that they are going to do as a land use that they are contributing towards a greater good and that they have some expectation about what would be taken into consideration as other land use activities occur around it.  He stated that it has not been unusual for staff to look at tower sites based on how they might be visible from historic property and property under conservation easement.  He pointed out that it was relevant and was a reciprocal kind of thing and was not just what you are looking at. He stated that it was what those people feel they have invested in and have a part of that they expect some level of acknowledgement for other uses that might occur around them.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it has been a conversation about lots of areas under conservation easements and towers as long as he had been on the Commission.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that Mr. Waller’s idea about having the owners be able to see what that impact may be is a practical way of dealing with that issue.

 

Mr. Caramanis stated that they would like to be able to engage with these folks too and hear their concerns.  He stated that they were hearing their comments for the first time.  He stated that the other question related to the grading.  He stated that obviously it was on a steep slope and was put there so that they could have the backdrop, which has to be level with where the tower is.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he had a problem and that it was up to him to solve it.  He stated that if he could not get access to that site without endangering the trees that are offering the screening that makes it acceptable, then he did not have an acceptable application in his view.

 

Mr. Caramanis asked if there was at least an understanding that the area where the tower goes at least needs to be graded to be flat for the tower to be there.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he did not necessarily think that was an absolute given.  He stated that if they had a steep site and their solution to that was to make it flat over a large area, and then in the process of doing that they either take out or endanger the trees that are giving the screening, then it was an unacceptable application.  He pointed out that then they would have established a given that puts them in a corner that they cannot get out of.  He asked for a motion.

 

Mr. Finley made the motion to defer SP-2003-72, Linda Vest – Alltel, until the second Tuesday of January as requested by the applicant.

 

Mr. Edgerton seconded the motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of (6:0).

 

Mr. Rieley stated that SP-2003-72 was deferred to the second week in January.

 

Old Business:

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there was any old business.   There being none, the meeting proceeded.

 

New Business:

           

Mr. Rieley asked if there was any new business.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that there would be no Planning Commission meeting on December 23rd.

 

Adjournment:

 

With no further items, the meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m. to the December 9, 2003 meeting.

 

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