STAFF PERSONS                                                                 BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

ELAINE K. ECHOLS, AICP                                                WORKSESSION

MARK B. GRAHAM, PE                                                    JUNE 2, 2004                                    

 

ZMA 02-009:  North Pointe Development and

SP O2-072:  North Pointe Residential Uses and

Request for Critical Slopes Waiver

Request for Modification to Commercial District Standards

 

 

Background

 

On October 14, 2003, the Planning Commission held its final public hearing on North Pointe and on November 18, 2003 recommended disapproval of the rezoning to the Board of Supervisors.  The Board of Supervisors held a worksession on December 3, 2003 and sent the project to a committee made up of two Board Members and two Planning Commissioners.  The Board asked the Committee to see if they could work out design issues related to the Application Plan.  The Committee met several times and the plan was modified.  After viewing a redesign of the commercial area, the Committee generally sent a positive recommendation on the design back to the Board.  There were a few items related to the plan for which the Committee desired changes. The Board accepted the recommendation of the Committee regarding the desired changes to the plan.  Since that time, the Board has held three worksessions to discuss the other outstanding issues on the project.

 

Purpose Of This Worksession

 

The purpose of this worksession is to review the outstanding issues related to the project and come to agreement, if possible, on the next steps for the applicant.  This report is offered as the framework for the Board’s discussion

 

Petition

 

There are four petitions associated with North Pointe.  The first petition is a rezoning from RA Rural Areas to PD-MC Planned Development Mixed Commercial for 676,000 square feet of commercial and office space.  The second petition is for a Special Use Permit to allow a maximum of 893 residential units. The third petition is for a critical slopes waiver for the area to be rezoned.  The fourth petition is for a waiver of the commercial setback requirements from Section 21 of the Zoning Ordinance for the perimeter of the property.

 

The properties under consideration for the rezoning are described as Tax Map 32 Parcels 20, 20a, 20a1, 20a2, 20a3, 22h 22k, 23, 23a, 23b, 23c, 23d, 23e, 23 f, 23g, 23h, 23j  and 29I.  They are located in the Rivanna Magisterial District north of Proffit Road, east of Route 29 North, west of Pritchett Lane and south of the Rivanna River. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Regional Service, Office Service, Urban Density (6 - 34 dwelling units per acre) and Neighborhood Density (3 - 6 dwelling units per acre) in the Hollymead Community. The property is located within the Entrance Corridor (EC) zone.

 

Recommendation 

 

Staff has reviewed the proposals and associated proffers for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance and cannot recommend approval at this time based on the extent to which issues identified by the staff and the Planning Commission and more recently by the Board of Supervisors, have been satisfied by the applicant.

 

* * * * *

Application Plan

 

The current Application Plan is dated April 16, 2004 and is included as Attachment A.  Outstanding technical issues related to the Application Plan are included as Attachment B.  Design issues include the ARB recommendations as well as the need for redesign of the library area.  These items will be discussed in the “Outstanding Issues” below.

 

The Proffers

 

Attachment C contains the current proffers.  In both form and substance, unresolved issues continue to be problems, as indicated in Attachment D.

 

Staff recognizes that there has not been significant discussion with the Board on the substance of all of the proffers.  To help the Board systematically review the substance of the proffers and outstanding issues, staff will provide a table consistent with comments in this report at the Board meeting. 

 

For some time, the applicant has asked the Board to compare his proffers to the proffers of other recently approved rezonings.  Over the past several months, staff attempted to develop an “apples to apples” comparison in a consistent format with the applicant.  Resolution of differences was not possible so the Board of Supervisors asked for both the staff’s and the applicant’s proffer comparisons.  At the applicant’s request, staff is not including the applicant’s proffer comparison, which was provided April 21, 2004.  The applicant indicated he would provide a different comparison to the Board between distribution of this report and the Board’s meeting.  Attachment E contains the staff’s proffer comparison. Outstanding issues on proffers also are provided below.

 

Design

 

Library block – The library block is located north of the lake shown on the plan.  Parking areas are the predominant feature in this block.  A park, “Park H” is shown in front of the library, but buildings 20 and 22 are surrounded by parking areas and do not create the “Main Street” which the Board requested at an earlier worksession.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the Board not accept the Application Plan until this element is changed to create a “Main Street” by showing buildings 20 and 22 adjacent to the streets or by modifying the parking area in front of the park in conjunction with changes to building 22 to give it a face to the street.

 

* * * * *

 

ARB – On April 19, 2004, the ARB reviewed the North Pointe project.  On a vote of 4 – 1, the ARB forwarded the following recommendation to the Board of Supervisors:

 

The ARB cannot support the request for the rezoning and the special use permit based on the plan submitted.  However, if the Board of Supervisors chooses to approve the plan, it is recommended that the plan not be approved until all of the changes listed below are made, because this proposal will have a significant impact on the County image, and because the preference for development in the Entrance Corridors is appropriately designed buildings enhanced by landscaping. Expansive buildings with box footprints are overtly inconsistent with the character of the significant historic buildings of Albemarle County.

 

The ARB’s Action Memo is included as Attachment F. 

 

If the Board of Supervisors chooses to approve the North Pointe Application Plan and accept the recommendations of the ARB, staff believes that three substantial changes must be made to the plan.  These include:

 

1.      Revising the footprints, size, and form of the big boxes to establish a form with a human scale, a streetscape of compatible architecture and to eliminate the box character of the buildings.

 

2.      Removing all rows of parking adjacent to the Entrance Corridor (Rt. 29).  The Design Planner clarified to the Board at their last worksession that this does not necessarily eliminate all parking between the building and the road.

 

3.      Providing substantial additional landscaping, including: interior and perimeter parking lot landscaping, landscaping along buildings and, in areas where existing wooded areas are not retained adjacent to the EC, a continuous planting area along the EC with a minimum width of 25’, with a wider buffer required to mitigate design as necessary, especially considering the topography.

 

Although the applicant said at the last worksession that all of the ARB items except the size and form of the “boxes” were acceptable to him, he later argued that the 25’ landscape buffer was excessive because of the grades.  It has been the staff’s experience, however, that, without changes to the Application Plan, conflicts are set up between the approved Application Plan and future ARB actions based on the Entrance Corridor guidelines. 

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that if the Board agrees with the ARB recommendations, the Board not accept the Application Plan until the applicant makes changes to it, which will ensure that all ARB conditions can be met.  Included with this recommendation would be addition of the list of ARB recommended conditions on the Application Plan to ensure that the ARB’s recommendations will be incorporated into future site plans.  If the Board of Supervisors disagrees with any of the conditions recommended by the ARB, staff strongly requests that the Board clearly identify each of those conditions for staff and ultimately for the ARB’s future review. 

 

* * * * *

 

Transportation

 

Internal Streets – The internal streets proposed for the project are shown on Sheet D2.  There are three issues relating to internal streets.  The first issue continues to be the question of whether or not North Pointe Boulevard will be a two-lane or four-lane street.  Secondly, Northwest Passage shows sidewalks on only one side of the street.  Northwest Passage is a major leg of the parallel road to Rt. 29 and leads to the school.  Another issue has to do with inconsistency between the proffers and the cross-section for Main Street shown on D2.  As shown on the plan, Main Street would have to be a private street.  The proffers indicate that Main Street will be public.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that North Pointe Boulevard be shown on the Application Plan and cross-section streets as a two-lane divided street with on-street parking between the southern property boundary and Northside Drive. This will allow for easy conversion to a 4-lane street should the anticipated regional transportation study warrant.  Between Northside Drive and Northwest Passage, staff believes a two-lane residential street, with width to be determined at time of road plans, will be adequate provided a seventy four foot right of way is provided to accommodate road widening that the regional transportation study might recommend.  The proffer, which restricts streets as “public only”, should be dropped or otherwise modified.  Finally, staff recommends that sidewalks be shown on both sides of the streets with planting strips between the sidewalks and curb, except at a bridge. 

 

* * * * *

 

Regional Transportation Study – A regional transportation study is needed in order for the County and VDOT to know how to deal with future impacts to Rt. 29 as a whole and other streets feeding into Rt. 29.  In part, the impacts will result from new commercial developments on the corridor.  Other impacts on Rt. 29 will result from anticipated County growth and increasing regional traffic, which uses Rt. 29.  The study is expected to cost about $1 million.  During the Hollymead Town Center project, the Board supported a cost sharing plan to pay for the study.  The County would pay 1/3 of the cost; VDOT would pay 1/3 of the cost; and the developers of the large commercial projects would share the other third of the cost.  The three large commercial projects – Hollymead Town Center, Albemarle Place, and North Pointe – were expected to cover this third of the cost.  The proportionate share from North Pointe was approximately $100,000.  To date the applicant has proffered only $25,000 towards the regional transportation study.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the applicant commit $100,000 to the regional transportation study in order to find ways to mitigate the impacts of the development on Rt. 29 North.

 

* * * * *

 

Rt. 29 – The applicant has proffered two sets of improvements on Rt. 29.  The first set of improvements actually reflects requirements of VDOT.  These proffers include a third lane on Rt. 29 northbound and right turn lanes; relocation of a crossover, turn lanes on Rt. 29 south, and correction of the vertical curvature in the southbound lane.  The second set of improvements includes portions of a third lane on Rt. 29 northbound, which VDOT cannot require, but which help to mitigate the impacts of the development. 

 

Staff’s three concerns have to do with dedication of additional right-of-way if it is necessary for construction of the improvements, use of a CDA for the second set of improvements identified in the paragraph above, and phasing of the improvements to Rt. 29.  Concerning the necessary right-of-way, the applicant continues to say he will not widen Rt. 29 if the existing right-of-way is inadequate for widening.  About the CDA, the applicant will not make the off-site improvements whose need substantially is generated by the development, unless the Board approves the CDA. 

 

Regarding phasing of improvements to Rt. 29, the applicant has not adequately addressed staff’s previous comments. While he has proffered completion of improvements based on levels of project completion, there is no assurance that those improvements will be in place within a known period of time.  It is possible that some of these improvements might never be completed or might not be completed in time to address the need.  It may even be possible that the property owner could find it advantageous to withhold certain project phases until the road improvements are completed by others.  In addition, in the last proffers submitted, the applicant has modified the size of the commercial area allowed with initial Rt. 29 improvements from 290,000 square feet (SF) to 331,696 SF.  That is inconsistent with prior agreements made with the County and VDOT regarding the maximum commercial area before subsequent Rt. 29 improvements  are required.  No explanation has been provided as to why this was increased. 

 

Recommendation:  Staff believes the Route 29 improvements proffer should be offered without consideration of the CDA.  Additionally, staff believes the Route 29 proffers should not be conditioned on the availability of right of way or the applicant should offer to reimburse the County for the cost of condemnation if adequate right of way is not available.  Staff recommends the allowed commercial area allowed with the initial Rt.29 improvements be returned to the agreed upon 290,000 SF.  Finally, staff believes the applicant should proffer completion of the Rt. 29 improvements within a fixed period of time.  Staff has previously suggested five years, but has also asked the applicant to state what they believe is a reasonable period of time. 

 

* * * * *

 

Leake Road – Leake Road is the entrance to the development from Proffitt Road.  It is a privately held easement which the developer has the right to dedicate to public use.  It is 50 feet in width.  Leake Road is important because it helps to create one of the parallel streets in the Rt. 29 North corridor and provides an important access to the commercial property.  The outstanding issues related to Leake Road are inadequate right of way for the completed roadway and Proffit Road entrance improvements as shown on the application plan. 

 

Recommendation:  Staff believes that a commitment for completion of a reduced section street with the first site plan or subdivision plat is appropriate.  This street section should be designed so it can be easily converted to match North Pointe Boulevard in the future.  Finally, staff believes a proffer to complete the improvements related to the entrance at Proffit Road with approval of the first site plan or subdivision plat is appropriate. 

 

* * * * *

 

Proffit Road – Proffit Road requires lane improvements in order to address the anticipated traffic with North Pointe.  The applicant has previously proffered to contribute money to the design and construction of these improvements.  Staff believes it is more appropriate for the applicant to proffer completion of the improvements with the first site than to offer cash contributions.  

 

Recommendation – Staff believes a commitment to complete the Proffit Road improvements with the first site plan or subdivision plat is appropriate.  Staff would find it acceptable for this commitment to be satisfied if VDOT has constructed the needed Proffit Road improvements prior to them being required by North Point. 

 

* * * * *

 

Access to Adjacent Parcels in Commercial Areas –  The Application Plan shows two points to access to adjacent parcels through commercial areas.  The access points to the commercial areas are entitled, “r.o.w. access easement” and “potential access easement”.  Use of the term “easement” rather than “reservation” sets up conflict in terms of how access ultimately will be provided to adjacent parcels.    Also at issue is the applicant’s “proffer” for architectural and land use control on adjoining properties.  Although staff has repeatedly requested the applicant to remove this language, provide for consistency in terms, remove the term, “easement” where a “reservation” is actually proposed and make terms consistent on the Application Plan, the applicant has declined to do so.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends against accepting this proffer until this language satisfies staff concerns.  Staff also recommends that the Board not accept the Application Plan until terms on the plan are consistent with the proffers.

 

School

 

The applicant has proffered a school site of 12.85 acres, as shown on the Application Plan.  The Schools Division retained an engineering consultant to find out if a school and fields meeting their requirements could be constructed on the site.  The Parks and Recreation Department has looked at the recreational fields and determined that, while the size is acceptable for use with recreation programming, irrigation is needed.  The consultant for the Schools Division provided alternatives for the school to confirm that the site could be used if stormwater management and auxiliary parking for 20 – 30 spaces be provided off-site.  They also stated that fill on the site would need to be compacted to meet current specifications to support a building.  The School Board has endorsed the site with these conditions.  Because the School Board could not approve the layout shown by the applicant, the Schools Division has asked that the layout be removed from the Application Plan.

 

Issues of stormwater management and off-site parking have not been resolved.  The proffers only provide for mains for an underground irrigation system. There is still no commitment to complete necessary access and stormwater improvements for use of this site by the County within a fixed timeframe.  Without these improvements, it is possible the school site could not be available when needed, which greatly diminishes the value of the site. 

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the applicant resolve issues related to stormwater management, provide complete irrigation of the ball fields, ensure street design allows for on-street parking on both sides of street in front of school and remove the building and parking lot layout from the Application Plan.  Staff recommends that the Board not accept the Application Plan until these items are resolved satisfactorily.

 

Residential Uses

 

Mix of Residential Uses --   The Application Plan and land use breakdown shown on the title page show the following mix: 228 single family detached units (26% of the total), 101 attached units (townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, quadruplexes) for 11% of the total, and 564 multi-family units (in apartment buildings or above commercial space in buildings 18, 20, 22, and 37 which are located near the library) for 63% of the total.  This mix is not consistent with previous Planning Commission recommendations or verbal commitments of the applicant to the Committee of the Board.  The Planning Commission recommended a range of 23% - 43% of each unit type. 

 

Concerning the proffers, Proffers 3.1 and 3.2 say that the developer either reserves the right to do the mix shown on the Application Plan or do a mix of 23% - 43%.  The proffer has little meaning if the applicant can either do 64% multifamily or 43% multifamily.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the mix described in the proffers be removed from the proffers and that a special use permit condition be attached which conditions the mix to 23% - 43% of each dwelling unit type.  Additionally, staff recommends that the Residential Land Use Breakdown on the title page be removed and a total number of dwelling units be noted. 

 

* * * * *

 

Access to Adjacent Parcels in Residential Areas -- The Application Plan shows access from residential areas to adjacent parcels zoned RA in six locations.  Staff believes that the addition of four new points of access to adjacent parcels is a positive change to the plan last seen by the Planning Commission.  At issue is the fact that there are four different notations for access to adjacent parcels on the plan or in the proffers.  These notations include the phrases, “public access easement”, “emergency access easement”, “r.o.w. access easement”, “future public access easement”, and “temporary reservation”.  For all items but, “public access easements”, the proffers allow for reservation for dedication on demand of the County.  Use of the term “easement” rather than “reservation” sets up conflict in terms of how access will ultimately be provided to adjacent parcels.    Also, at issue is the applicant’s “proffer” for architectural and land use control on adjoining properties. 

 

As stated in the previous section regarding access to adjoining parcels through commercial areas, staff has consistently requested the applicant to remove this language, provide for consistency in terms, remove the term, “easement” where a “reservation” is actually proposed and make terms consistent on the Application Plan.  The applicant declines to do so.

 

Recommendation – Staff recommends that access to adjacent parcels be made a condition of the special use permit.  Staff also recommends that the Board not accept the Application Plan until terms are made consistent with either proffers or special use permit conditions.

 

* * * * *

 

Overlot grading plan – The applicant has proffered an overlot grading plan for the single-family residential portions of the site.  Staff is satisfied with the proffer; however, staff believes that making it part of the special use permit condition could simplify the proffers.

 

Recommendation – Staff recommends that the overlot grading plan be a special use permit condition.

 

* * * * *

 

Phasing with Commercial – The Board of Supervisors has been concerned that residential uses be built in the development sooner rather than later.  To address this issue, the applicant has proffered that no more than 50% of commercial square footage will be started until at least 25% of the residential units have building permits.  Staff recommended this amount to the developer who has now provided a proffer.  Since the concern is for the residential use, staff believes that a special use permit condition would be more appropriate than a proffer.  Adding the restriction as a special use permit condition could simplify the proffers.

 

Recommendation – Staff recommends that the a special use permit include a requirement that at least 25% of the residential units will be started before more than 50% of the commercial square footage is started.

 

* * * * *

 

Buffer along Pritchett – The Application Plan shows a 50 foot heavily vegetated buffer along Pritchett, which the staff and Planning Commission recommended last year or the year before.  Staff and the Commission both were concerned, though, about a portion of the buffer – twenty feet – being placed on the individual lots.  Private property owners rarely review covenants concerning existing vegetation on their lot prior to removing it.  For that reason, the Commission and staff strongly recommended that the 50-foot buffer be placed in common open space.  The applicant has expressed a different opinion and has continued to show the buffer split between thirty feet as common area and twenty feet on the individual lots backing up to Pritchett.  Slight changes to the proffers have resulted in contradictions between the plan and the proffers.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the Application Plan not be approved until it shows a 50-foot buffer in common open space.  Staff also recommends that the 50-foot buffer be included as a condition of the special use permit.

 

* * * * *

 

Open Space and Amenities for residents – The plan shows many areas of open space and several areas for amenities.  The Application Plan now indicates that 44% of the residential area is provided as open space.  Although this figure looks extremely high, it should be noted that all but five of the ten park/open space areas are proposed in steep slopes or wetlands.  Of the 44%, only 3% is not in steep slopes or wetlands. 

 

The amenities include areas for passive recreation, with trails and benches and areas for active recreation, including two swimming pools with clubhouses, tot lots, basketball and tennis courts.  Sheet G of the Application Plan shows the open space areas and calculations.  Missing information from this sheet was provided on May 19 and has not yet been analyzed.  Staff hopes to be able to complete its analysis before the Board worksession to see whether previous issues related to the size of the swimming pools and the population to be served have been satisfied.

 

An extensive trail system is shown on the application plan for North Pointe.  Some of the trails proposed would be primitive and others would be improved.  Some of the trails would be public and others would be private.  If the Board of Supervisors decides to accept dedication of the lake, staff believes the trails around the lake and trail connecting the lake to the school should also be public.

 

Specific recommended changes to the trails shown on the Application Plan are included with the comments in Attachment B.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the Board accept the applicant’s offer to dedicate trails near the school for public use.  Staff will provide additional recommendations on the parks, trails, and open space amenities at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting, if needed.

 

Library

 

A fully-graded library pad of 15,000 square feet, graded and with utilities is proffered if a CDA is approved by the Board of Supervisors.  Also proffered is, “a nonexclusive easement to the adjacent common area for ingress, egress, and sufficient Ordinance required parking”.  Additionally, the applicant has proffered a financing mechanism for the County or Library Board to construct the library.

 

The library is viewed as a key element to the Application Plan and an anchor for the center of the development.  If the applicant wishes to provide the library site as a way to mitigate impacts, the offer should be made free and clear of the CDA.  There is no alternative use of this area shown on the Application Plan and a conflict will exist if the CDA is not approved.  It would be preferable to have an alternate County use available, such as a recreational area, community center, or County satellite office if needed in a future CIP.   In addition, the shown library pad is not consistent with the area shown on the plan.  In addition, this proffer provides no assurance that this pad, road and utilities will be available to the County when needed. 

 

Recommendation:  Remove the condition of CDA for the library site or provide for an alternative use if the CDA is not approved.  Make the area for the library pad stated in the proffers consistent with the area shown on the plan.  Ensure that the pad, road and utilities will be available to the County when needed and allow the County to use this site for other County uses. 

 

Affordable Housing

 

The applicant has proffered 3% of the residential dwelling units as affordable which translates into nine single family detached, nine single family attached, and nine multi-family units.  At least five units will be provided each year until the commitment has been satisfied.  He has also proffered a contribution of $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity, $100,000 for Piedmont Housing Alliance, and $50,000 for Albemarle Housing Improvement Program over five years, provided, that each of these charities matches the amount dollar for dollar and matching funds have been raised from new donors or as increased contributions over the prior year from existing donors.  This proffer is also dependent on use of a CDA.

 

Staff continues to make the positive note that the applicant is the first developer in many years to proffer affordable housing.  Staff also notes the positive aspect of mixing units with a contribution to different organizations which help to meet affordable housing needs.

 

There are a number of problems, however, with the proffer.  First, the matching grant offer could not be enforced by the County and should be removed from the proffers.  Any matching grants to these organizations should be made outside of this rezoning.  Second, no commitment to affordable housing exists without the CDA.  This lack of commitment runs contrary to the County’s affordable housing goals for new residential development.  Third, the “programmatic aspects” of providing affordable housing are still sketchy.  With regards to this third aspect, staff is working on language to recommend to the applicant to be used with the proffer of the affordable units.

 

Recommendation:   Staff recommends that, if the applicant wishes to proffer affordable housing, it be made unconditionally and not part of a CDA.  If the applicant wishes to commit to 3% of the units as affordable, staff requests that the percentage be replaced with an actual number (27 in this case) and that the units be comprised of a mix of housing types.  Staff further recommends that these units be available for sale as affordable housing to eligible first-time buyers approved by the County’s Office of Housing.  At least five affordable dwelling units should be made available for sale each year until all 27 offered.  Affordable rental units need not be proffered.  It is also suggested that the annual cash contribution described above be made directly to the County and applied to the Albemarle Housing Initiative Fund for funding affordable housing programs, including those provided by nonprofit housing agencies within Albemarle County.  The cash contribution should not be contingent on matching funds.  Final language for this proffer needs to be developed.  Because this proffer pertains to the residential areas, it could be replaced by a special use permit condition.    

 

Bus Stops

 

The applicant has proffered to provide ten bus stops in the development and $25,000 for bus shelters.  Staff strongly supports the provision of the bus stops in the development but continues to have problems with the cash proffer.  As worded, the applicant seems to be giving money to the County to build the bus shelters.  On numerous occasions, staff has asked the applicant to commit to building the shelters or be specific as to whom the cash proffer is made and for what purpose.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the applicant commit to building the bus shelters or be specific as to whom $25,000 is proffered and for what purpose.  At this time $25,000 would provide for two bus shelters

 

Park and Ride

 

The applicant is proffering a park and ride facility for up to 100 spaces if the Zoning Administrator will approve shared parking.  Staff believes that this is not a valid proffer because the applicant is not offering a minimum number of spaces and because it is contingent on the Zoning Administrator’s approval.

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the applicant proffer a minimum number of park and ride spaces, and a maximum number if the applicant wishes, that are not contingent on Zoning Administrator approval or remove the proffer.

 

CDA

 

A CDA is proposed as a proffer to be used as a funding mechanism to provide several of the improvements identified in the proffers.  Because the approval of the CDA is a separate and distinct legislative act from the zoning decision, the zoning decision cannot be dependent in any way upon the future approval of the CDA.

 

Recommendation:  This type of CDA should not be included as a proffer.  If the applicant’s CDA application is considered in the future by the Board of Supervisors, the Board can consider the projects that are appropriate for the CDA to fund and how the CDA will be obligated to do so. 

 

Retail Absorption and Stale Zoning

 

Commercial/office square footage proposed has increased from 664,000 square feet to 676,670 square feet.  Some of the additional square footage has been removed from the “commercial” use category and added to the “office” use.  This change has resulted in minimal impact to the rezoning.

 

The Board-appointed committee, which worked on design, also discussed the issue pertaining to retail absorption. The committee did not take issue with the applicant’s proposed commercial square footage based on an acceptable overall plan for development.

 

Both the Planning Commission and staff believe that the square footage for retail use seems excessive in relation to the need for additional commercial area on Route 29 North.   The retail absorption analysis provided by staff earlier in the rezoning resulted in statements that the market cannot absorb this amount of additional commercial square footage in a reasonable period of time.  The result of having commercial zoning placed on land so far in advance of its actual development would be stale zoning.

 

Recommendation:  Staff acknowledges the Committee’s conclusions; however, it cannot recommend approval of the rezoning with the amount of commercial square footage requested.

 

Stormwater management

 

The applicant now has demonstrated the proposed stormwater management could satisfy ordinance requirements with no modifications.  He will be expected to comply fully with ordinance requirements at time of site plan or subdivision plat.   Two issues remain that the applicant has not adequately addressed.  First, staff has repeatedly requested that grading for stormwater management facilities not extend into conservation areas.  Two facilities continue to show grading in the conservation areas despite repeated requests to modify the shown facilities such that grading does not require clearing and grading of conservation areas.  Second, staff has requested a firm commitment to construction of the street and associated storm drainage in front of the school site.  Without completion of this infrastructure, the school will need to complete the storm sewer for the street in order to use the proposed basin.     

 

Recommendation:  Staff recommends the applicant revise the application plan to remove all stormwater facility grading from the conservation area.  Additionally, staff recommends the applicant provide a firm commitment to the timely completion of the necessary infrastructure to allow the school site to use the stormwater management facility. 

 

Waivers and modifications

 

Critical Slopes Waiver Request 

 

The Planning Commission reviews and acts on all of the critical slopes requests from developers.  The Board of Supervisors makes decisions on critical slopes only when an applicant appeals the decision of the Commission or when the Planning Commission has not taken an affirmative action on a rezoning or special use permit that includes a critical slopes waiver.  In this case, the Planning Commission denied the critical slopes waiver request as well as recommended disapproval of the rezoning and special use permit.

 

Page I of the Application Plan (Attachment A), shows that critical slopes exist in several areas of the site.  Critical slopes information requested by the Engineering Department was provided late in 2003.  The slopes that are important environmental features on the Open Space Plan are now shown in preservation areas and conservation areas.  An overlot grading plan has been proffered for the single-family areas and the proffers contain commitments to regrade slopes to no steeper than 3:1 and limit the size of retaining walls.  Because of additional information provided after the Planning Commission meeting, staff now believes the critical slope waiver is appropriate for the residential areas where an overlot grading plan has been proffered, if the rezoning is approved. 

 

Major disturbance and, in some cases elimination of the remaining critical slopes is shown on the conceptual grading plan.  In the remaining non single-family residential areas, given the scale of the application plan, there is not enough detail for staff to determine what conditions might be appropriate for the critical slope waiver.   

 

Recommendation:  If the Board chooses to approve the rezoning, staff recommends that the critical slopes waiver for the single-family residential areas be approved.  Staff recommends that the critical slope waiver for the areas other than that covered by the overlot grading proffer not be approved and be considered as part of the site plan submittal.

 

If the Board wishes to grant a critical slope waiver for the entire site, staff would recommend the critical slope waiver be conditioned on these items:

 

1.      All proposed grading shall be shown with contour intervals not greater than 2 feet and all drainage swales shall be clearly indicated

2.      Graded slopes of more than 5 feet elevation change shall not be steeper than 3:1 (horizontal distance: vertical distance) , except the Agent may allow grades up to 2:1 when satisfied the landscaping will assure the slope is acceptably vegetated and the size of the slope is not considered a barrier to use of the property

3.      Retaining walls must be no higher than ten feet (10’) and provide safety rails if any part is over four feet tall.

 

Modification to Setback Requirements of Section 21

 

Section 21 of the zoning ordinance provides setback and buffer requirements for commercial districts.  It requires that buildings be set back 50 feet from residential zones, which includes RA. 

 

The proposed setbacks at the perimeter of the site are considerably less than 50 feet.  The applicant has requested a modification to this section; however, the request is actually at odds with the distances shown on the plan.  Section 8.2 of the zoning ordinance allows for modifications or waivers of these setbacks.

 

If the Board chooses to approve the rezoning, staff recommends that the Board approve a modification of the 50-foot requirement in Section 21 be for North Point and that only a 20-foot setback be required at the perimeter of the district.

 

Summary and Recommendations

 

North Pointe originally was submitted in August of 2000.  After the first set of review comments, the applicant deferred indefinitely.  He submitted a traffic study in late 2001, which was reviewed by VDOT and the County.  By mid-summer of 2002, the applicant had satisfied all of VDOT’s issues regarding the traffic study and in September of 2002, the applicant resubmitted an application plan and proffers.  Since that time, the Planning Commission held four worksessions on the application, held two public hearings, and met two additional times to take action.  Twice the Planning Commission recommended denial of this application.  The Board of Supervisors has held two worksessions on this project and a Committee appointed by the Board worked met three times on the project in an attempt to see if the design issues could be answered. 

 

The committee found a compromise design but advised staff to seek ARB comments on this design.  The compromise design and ARB comments are now before the Board.   Staff has also reviewed three versions of the proffers since this application came before the Board in December 2003 and many of staff’s concerns, including those of the County Attorney, Engineering, Planning, and Zoning, remain unaddressed.   With the current plan and proffers, staff would recommend denial of this application.

 

At this juncture, staff’s recommendations for changes to the plan and proffers have been provided several times to the applicant, but many remain substantially unaddressed.  Thus, it appears further applicant requests to address staff’s recommendations will be fruitless.  Therefore, once the Board provides guidance to staff on any changes the Board believes are appropriate, it appears this application is ready to be scheduled for a public hearing.  If a July 14 public hearing is desired, staff would need the application plan and proffers no later than June 11 in order to complete the review and staff report.  If a later date is preferred to provide the applicant time to address those recommendations, staff would need to have the application plan and proffers no later than four weeks before the public hearing. 

 

ATTACHMENTS

 

Attachment A – Application Plan Received April 16, 2004

Attachment B – Staff Comments on Application Plan submitted April 16, 2004

Attachment C -- Proffers dated May 2004 Received 4/29/04

Attachment D – Comments on Proffers dated May 26, 2004

Attachment E – Proffer Comparison from Staff dated May 25. 2004

Attachment F – Action Memo from ARB dated April 28, 2004

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