Albemarle County Planning Commission

February 17, 2004


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Rodney Thomas, Chairman; Calvin Morris, Jo Higgins, Marcia Joseph, Pete Craddock, Vice-Chairman; and Bill Edgerton.


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning & Community Development; Margaret Doherty, Principal Planner; Elaine Echols, Senior Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner;  and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Thomas called the regular meeting to order at 6:05 p.m. and established a quorum.


SP 2003-081 Crozet Commons (Sign #43) - Request for special use permit to allow a residential use in a commercial zoning district in accordance with Section and 18- 2.1.3. of the Zoning Ordinance which allow for residential uses in a commercial zone. The property, described as Tax Map 56A2, Parcel 1-31, contains 1.37 acres, and is located in the White Hall Magisterial District on Rt. 240 (Three Notch'd Road), approximately 1.2 miles from the intersection of Rt. 240 and Rt. 250. The property is zoned C-1 Commercial. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area.  The proposed master plan for Crozet includes this property within the Development Area. (Elaine Echols)


Ms. Echols stated that this request had been approved under an old special use permit, which has expired. Therefore, this was somewhat like a renewal of an old special use permit. The perspectives for the special use permit for this project is located on the bulletin board behind the Commissioners.  This was one of the first Neighborhood Model type developments that staff saw back in 2000.  Since the special use permit for the project has expired, staff did not review all of the issues again for the Commission because there has not been any significant change in circumstance which would suggest that it would not be reapproved.  The only significant change, which is actually in its favor, is that the property is now located within the development area of Crozet. Therefore, staff feels that it is appropriately situated. There is one item from staff’s analysis that was not included that the applicant brought to our attention. The applicant has asked for a five-year period in which to vest his special use permit. Staff has reviewed the request and found that the special use permits that the Commission generally extends are for things that have a volunteer aspect to them, such as a fund raising issue for churches and private schools. Those type of uses are the only ones that staff would recommend for that particular time extension because they operate differently than what we would normally see in a commercial site plan. Therefore, staff cannot recommend approval of a five-year extension for this project.  However, staff has asked the applicant to make his case to the Commission.  If the Commission feels that it is worthy of a longer approval period, then they should include that with the conditions of approval. Staff’s recommended conditions can be found on page 2 of the staff report. She stated that she would be happy to answer any questions.


Mr. Thomas asked if the Commission had any questions for Ms. Echols.


Ms. Joseph questioned recommendation #10 that talks about a condominium regime, and asked why they would care about that.


Ms. Echols stated that staff was looking towards making sure that the open space remained available for the residents who were part of the residential portion of the site. She noted that the applicant might want to speak to that.


Mr. Rieley asked if that condition was part of the original approval, and Ms. Echols stated that it was.


Mr. Rieley asked if the typical time period for special use permits was one year, and Ms. Echols stated that it was two years.


Mr. Rieley pointed out that the applicant was requesting an extension of time from two to five years.


Ms. Higgins asked if the adjacent parcel that belonged to Elizabeth Brown, which was zoned C-1, was a part of this application, and Ms. Echols pointed out that it was not.


Ms. Higgins stated that the plat showed a paved driveway in close proximity to the entrance. She noted that one of the conditions is that this site does not meet the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and that a site plan is required.  Whenever a plan like this is approved it needs to be in substantial accordance with the site plan.  Therefore, she questioned why the driveway was shown like that.  She questioned whether the applicant would have a problem with the entrance separation during the site plan review. She pointed out that there was a similar situation during the Blue Ridge Shopping Center review concerning Radford Lane.


Ms. Echols stated that staff had asked VDOT to comment on the entrance separation since the entrance location was next to a paved driveway.  VDOT did not provide any comments that said that driveway would have to be closed.  Staff has left the opportunity open for access for a driveway connection to this adjoining parcel during the site plan review. Potentially, this driveway could be closed when the adjoining parcel develops if it would work with this particular development.


Ms. Higgins asked if that driveway accessed more than one residence.  She noted that if that driveway accessed more than one residence that it would be a problem for VDOT.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it looked like the driveway goes across the property line.


Ms. Higgins stated that she realized that this request had been approved before, and assumed that it was one of the first requests that came through for a Neighborhood Model. She pointed out that on the plan the grading lines stop in the rear when meeting the property line without meeting up with anything.  Therefore, a grading easement would be required and the site plan was going to be very difficult because there was a lot stuffed on here.  She acknowledged that the applicant was trying to achieve a certain density, but that she did not want the applicant to be misled that all of these issues could be achieved due to the approval of the special use permit.


Ms. Echols stated that the County’s Engineers have looked at this request. One of the things that they wanted to make sure of was that this concept plan was not called a site plan because there are things that need to be worked out at the site plan stage. Generally, the Engineers thought that the project could be accomplished, and therefore staff was looking at it as a concept plan for general conformity.  She pointed out that Ms. Higgins’ points were all well taken, but that those issues have actually been discussed internally.


Mr. Rieley asked if in fact that this was essentially the same site plan that was approved previously.


Ms. Echols stated that it is essentially the same plan, but that there have been a few very minor changes.  The changes include the addition of the detention and the area for the piping into the back towards a future detention area that would be placed on there.  She pointed out that the grading in the back was not shown on the previous plan. There have been some slight adjustments in terms of where the buildings are located with the central open area. The only thing that is truly different between the two plans is that the last time we saw this that it did not show that paved driveway on the adjoining property.  She noted that had just jumped at staff when they saw this plan.


Mr. Thomas stated that he remembered the project, but did not remember the paved driveway either. 


Ms. Echols stated that there was one way to remedy this particular issue to not have an expiration date, and that would be to rezone the property to a different district that would allow this use by right. She stated that there were ways that it could be vested perhaps by being done in phases so that the applicant completes one phase of the site plan and then have the site plan vested for five years. She pointed out that the Zoning Administrator or Mr. Kamptner could explain that further if necessary.  She stated that there could be two uses with the first part being to get the project under construction.


Mr. Thomas asked if there were any further questions for Ms. Echols. Since there were none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.


Cliff Fox stated that he represented Clayson Land Trust who owned the property. He pointed out that they have noticed some of the same issues and have tried to address those in the design. For example, they have been trying to eliminate the topo and grading issues in the back of the property, but that a lot of that relates to the parking requirements.  He noted that the applicant did not want to rezone the property in its entirety to PD-SC or PD-MC, which would have lowered the parking requirement.  The applicant wants to enable the site to have a restaurant for about 2,000 square feet, which creates a parking requirement in and of itself of 26 parking spaces for a standard sit down restaurant.  VDOT is not allowing them to create any on-street parking. But that there could be six parking spaces in front of the building.  He noted that going to 5.5 spaces in a PD-SC or a PD-MC regime would have reduced the parking requirements by 6 spaces.  Therefore, if they could have done that, then it would have eliminated the whole grading issue in the back. He pointed out that Crozet has been looking for some flexibility in parking regimes and parking requirements in Crozet for years, but that the County has not acted on any of those requests from the Crozet Community Association. As far as vesting, because this is a small site, they potentially think that it might evolve in phases. Typically it would be vested with the first site plan in turning the dirt and starting construction. While they don’t have to have that extension on the vesting period, it would just create flexibility over time especially as things happen around it.  The property to the west of 3.8 acres, which was between the shopping center and this parcel, could potentially evolve into this project and they would like the ability to flex with that. He stated that he would answer any questions that the Commission might have.


Mr. Thomas asked if there were any questions for Mr. Fox.


Mr. Rieley asked what is the best case that he could make for extending the normal special use permit time frame for 3 to 5 years.


Mr. Fox stated that they called the County about a month before the expiration of the special use permit and that the deadline had expired for submittals.  Therefore, even though they wanted to extend it and had actually talked about it four months prior, it would have been easier for them if they could have submitted something at the end of the expiration, but not at a submittal deadline.  Because they were past the submittal deadline and the special use permit had not expired there was no way to extend.  Therefore, it was their wasted energy. He pointed out that it also wasted the Commission’s energy in having the special use permit come back.  He pointed out that due to the number of small parcels that the Commission was going to see more and more of this.


Ms. Joseph asked Mr. Fox about the condominium aspect.


Mr. Fox stated that actually flowed into some of the existing regulations in the Subdivision Ordinance regarding setbacks and other things.  The easiest way to eliminate those concerns was to go directly to a condominium regime.


Mr. Thomas asked if there was anyone else present who would like to speak regarding this application.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and possible action.


Mr. Rieley stated that he would like to ask staff a question regarding the issue of parking.  He noted that he was sympathetic with any applicant that wants to reduce on site parking and get more of the parking in a more urban pattern on the street.  He asked what if any flexibility does the Commission have in trying to help the applicant in that way.


Ms. Echols stated when a site plan was brought in and they know exactly what the uses are that are going to be on the site, then the Zoning Administrator can review a parking study for potentially approving shared parking.  There are opportunities in the future once they know what those particular uses are going to be.  Therefore, there is a possible remedy there.  She pointed out that she was not sure about the on street parking on Three Notch’ed Road.


Mr. Rieley stated that it was an expression and sentiment of the Commission to work with the applicant as much as possible to reduce the amount of on-site parking since they had done all that they could at this stage of the game.


Mr. Thomas asked staff if the on-street parking was prohibited because of the State highway.


Ms. Echols stated that she did not know the answer to that, but that her impression was that it was not wide enough to accommodate on-street parking.  She pointed out that there was an existing sidewalk.


Mr. Rieley asked the applicant if he would like to address the issue of on-street parking.


Mr. Fox stated that he would like to address the issue of on street parking again.  He stated that about 300 feet from this property at the Fire Station that the road width narrows down and that on-street parking extended all the way down to ConAgra.  He pointed out that the on-street parking was not marked, but it was there. The idea was in the context of the whole strip over whatever period of redeveloping or just changing was to allow on-street parking along that whole area.  He pointed out that VDOT did not want the on-street parking because they are looking at trying to improve the entrance into the Crozet Shopping Center and wanted a long turn and taper there.  He pointed out that actually they wanted from the centerline a 24-foot wide pavement that actually does nothing for this immediate parcel. 


Mr. Thomas asked if there were any more questions for staff.


Ms. Higgins stated that regarding Mr. Rieley’s question about the 2 to 5 year extensions, that she was in support of not having this request come back ever 2 years. She noted that would give the applicant more flexibility because it looks like there would not be that much of a change on this kind of limited parcel.  But, at the same time it does not meet any of those criteria and she was concerned about the precedent that could set. She suggested that if the Commission recommends approval that they request that some notation be placed on the document that the parcel next to it is clearly not a part of the special user permit.


Mr. Morris supported what had just been said since this has been on the books for 3 ˝ years and that the extension to 5 years just seems a little excessive.


Ms. Joseph stated that she could not support the 5-year extension, but that now that the applicant knows the process.  Therefore, if it gets to be 4 months before the expiration, then the applicant can come in and ask for an extension then.


Mr. Edgerton stated that the arguments go both ways.


Mr. Rieley moved for approval of SP-2003-081, Crozet Commons, with the conditions as staff recommended in the staff report:

1.       Residential uses shall be allowed in a mixed-use development as generally shown on the concept plan entitled, “Crozet Commons Concept Plan” dated 2/3/04.

2.       In keeping with the illustration entitled “Crozet Commons (color rendering)” dated 3/22/00, the following features of the development will be provided: 

a.       a sidewalk and street trees shall be provided across the public road frontage.

b.       a “downtown” type streetscape shall be provided that includes the scale and alignment of building shown in the illustration.

3.       A maximum of 10 dwelling units shall be allowed in the mixed-use development.

4.       Residential uses may be mixed with other C-1 uses within buildings or may be in separate buildings.

5.       If residential uses are mixed with other C-1 uses within a building; there shall be no commercial uses on floors above residential uses other than home occupations.

6.       The following uses shall not be allowed on the parcel because of incompatibilities between residential and nonresidential uses (See Section 22 of Albemarle County Zoning Ordinance in effect on 2/17/04, attached):

a.   funeral homes

b.   movie theaters

c.   automobile service stations

d.   fire and rescue stations

e.   automobile truck repair shop

f.    medical center

7.       A medical office may be allowed provided the office hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

8.       A convenience store may be allowed provided the hours of operation are between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

9.       Interparcel vehicular and pedestrian access to the adjoining parcels shall be provided at locations shown on the conceptual plan or otherwise approved by the director of planning within the department of community development.

10.   A condominium regime will be established for unified ownership and maintenance of the real property.

11.   The concept plan referenced in these conditions is not considered a “site plan” meeting the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance; therefore, a subsequent site plan is required.


Mr. Morris seconded the motion.


The motion carried by a vote of (7:0).


Mr. Thomas stated that SP-2003-081 would go to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation for approval and would be heard on March 3rd. 



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