STAFF PERSON:                                                                              MARGARET DOHERTY

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                          MAY 18, 2004

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                          JUNE 9, 2004

 

ZMA 03-12     STILLFRIED TOWNHOUSES

UPDATED:  The staff report has been updated to correct errors regarding references to previous plan.

Applicant’s Proposal:

The applicant and property owner, Weatherhill Homes, has proposed rezoning three, relatively small, adjacent properties from R-1 (Residential) to PRD (Planned Residential Development) to accommodate a 26-unit townhouse project at the end of Stillfried Lane (See Vicinity Map – Attachment A).  The applicant has provided a set of proffers (Attachment B) and conceptual architectural building elevations (Attachment D).

The applicant also requests a critical slopes waiver from the Planning Commission and the establishment of the internal setbacks by the Board of Supervisors.

Petition for Rezoning:

The applicant requests to rezone 6.652 acres from R-1 (Residential) to PRD (Planned Residential District) to allow up to 26 dwelling units.  The properties, described as Tax Map 60 Parcels 31, 32, 33, and 34, are located in the Jack Jouett Magisterial District on Stillfried Lane off Ivy Road (Route 250 West) behind the Kluge Children Rehabilitation Center. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Neighborhood Residential in Neighborhood 6.

Waiver and Modification Requests:

Critical Slopes

Under Section 4.2.5, the applicant has requested a critical slopes waiver.  This critical slopes waiver will allow for the construction of townhomes and accessways on those slopes.

Establishment of the internal setbacks

Under Section 19.9.1, the applicant requests a reduction of the internal setbacks.

Existing Conditions:

The site is situated behind the Kluge Children Rehabilitation Center at the end of Stillfried Lane, which is a private road (Attachment C, Sheet 1).  The site is on Lewis Mountain, which gradually slopes up from the Kluge Center and Route 250 West below.  The front (northern) portion of the site is an open lawn with numerous large poplar and oak trees.  The applicant’s plan seeks to conserve as many of these trees as possible.  The rear of the property is heavily wooded and rises steeply towards the top of Lewis Mountain.  The applicant’s proposal limits grading and construction in the rear of the site and the applicant has proffered to preserve the larger trees found in this area.  There is an existing house on one of the three parcels that will be removed. 

The following uses surround the property.  The Kluge Center and single-family home, which is currently owned and operated by UVA as an office, form the northern boundary.  Two vacant lots and another single-family dwelling that is used as an office form the eastern boundary.  The University Heights Apartments lie beyond these properties to the east.  To the south and west, the site is bounded by the wooded Lewis Mountain and the mansion that sits atop the mountain.

Subdivision and Zoning History:

There is no subdivision or rezoning history on this parcel. 

By-right Use of the Properties: 

The parcels total 6.514 acres of R-1 (Residential) zoned land.  With R-1 zoning, the applicant could build up to six dwelling units.  Using the Ordinance’s bonus provisions, an additional two dwelling units are possible.

Applicant’s Justification for the Request: 

The applicant has proposed a townhouse project that they feel provides for a high quality, relatively high-density project that does not impact the site’s natural resources.  The applicant is also designing several of the townhouses to be smaller than the others.  These smaller units will be offered at a reduced price and thus be available to a wider market.  Finally, the applicant intends to retain as much of the vegetation on the site as possible and provided an attractive architectural product.

Recommendation

Staff recommends approval of the rezoning (ZMA 03-12) with the attached proffers.  Staff also recommends approval of the critical slopes waiver and the internal setback modifications as proposed.

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STAFF ANALYSIS

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

This section assesses the ability of ZMA 03-12 to meet the goals set forth in the Comprehensive Plan’s Land Use Plan, Neighborhood Model Principles, Community Facilities Plan, and Open Space Plan.

Conformity with the Land Use Plan

The Land Use Plan calls for Neighborhood Residential (3 to 6 dwelling units per acre) on these properties.  With the proposed 26 units on 6.652 acres, the projects density is approximately 3.9 dwelling units per acre.  Thus, it is consistent with the Land Use Plan’s recommendation for density.

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan’s recommendations for Neighborhood 6

The following are the Comprehensive Plan’s general recommendations for Neighborhood 6 which are applicable to this project (in italics). 

·         “Development plans along Route 250 West and Fontaine Avenue are to be sensitive to their status as Entrance Corridor Roadways.”

While this project is not within the Entrance Corridor, it is visible from the entrance corridor because of the elevation difference between the site and Route 250.  The County’s Design Planner has asked that the applicant retain as many of the large trees as possible to minimize impacts to Route 250.  The applicant’s design responds to this request because it seeks to preserves the large trees in the area of the proposed townhomes, especially those trees along the common parcel boundary with the Kluge Center, and because the applicant has proffered to preserve the trees on the critical slopes in the rear of the site. 

·         “Consider the design and public facility recommendation of the City/ County/ university Planning and Coordination Council for the Lewis Mountain-University Heights ‘Area B’ Study.”

The Lewis Mountain-University Heights Area B Study makes the following pertinent recommendation:

·        Land Use Changes in the County: (on) Lewis Mountain:  Due to steep slopes and significant wood area, designate for low-density residential use. Clusters of higher net residential density may be allowable if natural environmental conditions are not adversely affected.

Staff believes that the applicants proposal represents a higher net density product that clusters the development, thus keeping it away from the critical slopes, preserving the trees on the critical slopes, and retaining many of the larger trees within the area of the proposed townhomes.  Therefore, this proposal satisfies this recommendation.

·        “Locate a new fire and rescue station in this area to service Neighborhood 6 and 7, the University and Ivy as response times require.  The station should be funded and operated jointly by the City, County and University.  The station should be staffed by volunteers to the greatest extent feasible.”

The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) calls for three new fire/ rescue buildings in the Development Area.  These stations are slated for Hollymead Community (in Fiscal Year 2005), for the Route 250 West/ Ivy Road Area (in Fiscal Year 2007), and in the Pantops Area (no implementation date).  While the Stillfried Lane site is in one of these three areas, and while the additional townhouses will intensify the demand for the new station, this site is an inappropriate site for a fire/ rescue station.  The applicant has proffered $10,000 towards any CIP project and conceivably, this proffer money could go towards the new fire/ rescue station.

Conformity with the Neighborhood Model

Below staff assesses the ability of ZMA 03-12 to meet the twelve principles of the Neighborhood Model. 

Pedestrian Orientation

Sidewalks are provided through out the project.  The applicant is also providing a sidewalk down to the Kluge Center.

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths

The project proposes relatively narrow streets (24’ wide) with curb and gutter and sidewalks.  These streets are in keeping with Neighborhood Model Standards being developed by the County.

Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks

The project is at the end of a private street.  Interconnections to adjacent properties are difficult due to terrain.  Staff does not believe that interparcel road connections are advisable with this application.  The applicant has indicated that they are investigating the possibility of a pedestrian connection to the University Heights Apartments that would follow the sewerline that they will need to install through an adjacent parcel (Tax Map 60 Parcel 35) in order to connect with the sewer which is located in U-Heights.

Parks and Open Space

The proposal retains woods in the rear portion of the site and provides a system of trails to allow the residents to access the woods. 

Neighborhood Centers

The project’s location and relative isolation makes it ill-suited for a mixed-use center.  The project is close to several smaller shopping developments on Route 250 that could, through time, redevelop into neighborhood centers.

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale

The applicant has proffered conceptual architectural plans (Attachment D and Attachment B, Proffer 3).  Staff believes that this will provide the necessary regulatory control to ensure that the buildings’ mass will be of an appropriate scale.

Relegated Parking

Almost all of the parking will be provide for in garages.

Mixture of Uses

The project does not provide for a mixture of residential and non-residential uses; however, staff believes that the project’s terrain and relative isolation makes it ill-suited for a mixture of uses.

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability

The applicant has proposed several smaller townhouse units that will be priced less that than the other condominiums.  However, these smaller units will be priced higher than what the County’s Housing Committee has deemed to the upper price limit of an affordable dwelling unit ($175,000).

Redevelopment

This is an infill project, which utilizes and expands existing infrastructure.

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

Staff believes that the applicant has carefully situated the buildings in order to minimize the impacts to critical slopes and stepped the buildings up the slope to minimize the amount of grading required.  The applicant has also limited the use and height of retaining walls.  The largest walls on the site are below Building A and are primarily intended to protect several large Poplar trees that would otherwise be removed if the walls were not provided.

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas

The proposal does not have a common boundary with the Rural Areas.

Conformity with the Community Facilities Plan

As stated above, the CIP calls for a fire/rescue station in the Neighborhood 6/7 area to reduce response times and increase fire and rescue capabilities in the City, University and County.

Conformity with the Open Space and Natural Resources Plan

The Open Space Plan identifies “Important Wooded Areas” and “Mountain (Areas)” on this property.  As stated, staff believes that the applicant’s plan will effectively to protect these resources.  The Open Space Plan also identifies a large critical slope system on this site.  As stated above, the applicant’s application does not significantly affect the critical slopes.

Analysis of the Rezoning Request

Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district

The applicant is requesting a rezoning to PRD (Planned Residential Development).  The intent statement in Section 19 of the Zoning Ordinance for PRD district is as follows:

“PRD districts may hereafter be established by amendment to the zoning map in accordance with the provisions set forth generally for PD districts in sections 8.0 and 33.0, and with densities and in locations in accordance with the comprehensive plan.

The PRD is intended to encourage sensitivity toward the natural characteristics of the site and toward impact on the surrounding area in land development.  More specifically, the PRD is intended to promote economical and efficient land use, an improved level of amenities, appropriate and harmonious physical development, and creative design consistent with the best interest of the county and the area in which it is located.

To these ends, the PRD provides for flexibility and variety of development for residential purposes and uses ancillary thereto. Open space may serve such varied uses as recreation, protection of areas sensitive to development, buffering between dissimilar uses and preservation of agricultural activity.

While a PRD approach is recommended for developments of any density, it is recommended but not required that the PRD be employed in areas where the comprehensive plan recommends densities in excess of fifteen (15) dwelling units per acre, in recognition that development at such densities generally requires careful planning with respect to impact.  (Amended 8-14-85).”

In general, this proposal is in keeping with the intent statement.  It is sensitive toward the natural characteristics of the site and buffers the adjacent historic property.  The use of the PRD district also allows for the efficient use of land and a better development by allowing the developer to use reduced setbacks internally.

Anticipated impact on public facilities and services

Roads

VDOT has requested a turn and taper lane on Route 250.  The applicant has proffered to provide this as part of the site plan and the turn and taper is shown on the Application Plan. 

Stillfried Lane is a private road and the applicant will have to work out any maintenance and right of way issues with the owners of this private road prior to site plan approval.

Water and Sewer

There is sufficient water and sewer mains capacity in the area to accommodate this development. Water and sewer service is provided on a first come, first served basis.  In the urban area, water/sewer system capacities are shared with the City of Charlottesville and the City has equal access to the excess capacity in the systems.

Stormwater management

Staff has reviewed the applicant’s conceptual stormwater management plan and has determined it to be feasible from a conceptual standpoint; however, the issues of adequate capacity and downstream channel capacity may present problems at the final site plan stage.  Additionally, there are concerns that will need to be addressed at the site plan stage related to conflicts between proposed landscaping and stormwater maintenance easements with the location of the proposed underground detention facilities. 

Schools

Impacts to the school from the proposed 22 additional townhouse dwelling units will be minimal.

Fiscal Impact

A fiscal impact analysis has been performed for the project (Attachment E).

Anticipated impact on cultural and historic resources

The Lewis Mountain Mansion, which is directly behind this proposal, is identified by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources as a site with potential historical significance.  No adverse impacts to this historic property are anticipated because of the elevation difference between the two sites and the applicant’s proffer to preserve the woods on the rear portion of the Stillfried site.

Anticipated impact on nearby and surrounding properties

Staff does not anticipate significant impacts to adjacent properties.

Public need and justification for the change

This plan provides for a quality infill project that is in line with the County’s growth management policies and addresses most of the Neighborhood Model principles.

Analysis of the Waiver and Modification Requests

Critical Slopes Waiver

Section 4.2.3.2 of the Zoning Ordinance restricts earth-disturbing activity on critical slopes, while Section 4.2.5.2 allows the Planning Commission to waive this restriction upon finding that a strict application of these provisions would not forward the purposes of the Zoning Ordinance.  The applicant has submitted a request and justification for the waiver, which addresses the five health, safety and welfare concerns that are set forth in the Ordinance.  Staff has addressed those concerns both directly through the analysis provided herein, and with the standard process for administrative review that is applied to all site development proposals.

According to the Engineering Department’s analysis, critical slopes are spread throughout the site.  The proposed forms of critical slopes disturbance varies from the construction of the buildings, parking lot and amenities to site grading and the location of stormwater management facilities.  The development of this site, as shown on the site plan, would result in the minimal disturbance of the critical slopes.  Staff has reviewed this waiver request with consideration for the five concerns that are set forth in Section 4.2 of the Zoning Ordinance, entitled Critical Slopes.

Because this site will be served by public sanitary sewer services, there is no concern that the proposed disturbance would increase the potential on the travel of septic effluent.   The Engineering Department’s analysis addresses the concerns for excessive stormwater run-off, increased movement of soil and rock, and siltation.  During construction, this site will be subject to regular inspections for adherence to an approved erosion control plan.  In addition, the applicant has indicated that they will phase the construction of the development so that Building A is the last building to be constructed.  During the construction of Buildings B and C, the area under Building A will be used for the erosion and sediment control structures.   According to the Engineering analysis, certain techniques for slope construction, drainage control and vegetative stabilization on the finished slopes will be required to properly address the concerns large-scale movement of soil and rock and siltation.  Additionally, Engineering staff has recommended approval of the requested waiver with a condition requiring the stabilization all finished 2:1 slopes with a certain type of low maintenance ground cover.

The Department of Planning and Community Development’s analysis of this request gives consideration for the concern with the possible loss of aesthetic resources.  Staff recognizes that this site has critical slopes and mountains delineated on the Open Space Plan Map.  Although this request would result in the removal several individual trees and small groups of trees that are spread through out the site, this tree removal is limited to the less steep section of the site.  Therefore, Planning staff finds no significant concern for the loss of aesthetic resources that would result from this request. 

Modification of Internal Setbacks

The applicant has proposed to meet the building setbacks from all adjacent properties as required under Section 19.9.1.  Internally, the applicant requests that the Board of Supervisor establish the following minimum setbacks and yard requirements:  4-foot front setbacks, 6-foot side yard setbacks, where the units share a common wall, the side yard setbacks will be 0-feet, and 15-foot rear yard setbacks.

The Engineering and Planning Departments have reviewed the proposed setbacks and have no objections.

Private Roads

Because Stillfried Lane is private and because the applicant wishes to sell the townhouses as individual units, they will have to request Planning Commission approval for private roads under Section 14-232, subsection A (1 & 4).  A private road waiver request can only be processed with a subdivision plat, which has not been submitted.  However, staff has reviewed the rezoning application with the knowledge that private roads will be necessary to support this rezoning.  staff will support an eventual private rezoning request if it is accompanied with a plat that is in general accord with the rezoning.

 

Summary

Staff has identified the following factors, which are favorable to this rezoning request:

  1. The proposal meets all applicable principles of the Neighborhood Model Principles.
  2. The applicant has provided cash to assist the County’s Capital Improvement Program implementation.

3.      The proposal ensures building massing and architecture that will create a human-scale development.

Staff has identified the no factors, which are unfavorable to this request:

Recommended Action

Staff recommends approval of the rezoning (ZMA 03-12) with the attached proffers.  Staff also recommends approval of the critical slopes waiver and the internal setbacks as proposed.

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Attachments:


 

A.  – Vicinity/ Tax Map

B.  – Proffers

C.  – ZMA 03-12 Application Plan

D.  – Proffered Building Elevations

E.   – Fiscal Impact Statement
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