Albemarle County Planning Commission

June 8, 2004 Partial Set of Minutes

SP-2004-008 Karin M. Gest



The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, June 8, 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 and Pete Craddock, Vice-Chairman.  Absent was Bill Edgerton.    


Other officials present were Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Juandiego Wade, Transportation Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Planner; Susan Thomas, Senior Planner; Tarpley Gillespie, Senior Planner; David Benish, Chief of Planning & Community Development and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Thomas called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.


Public Hearing Items:


SP-2004-008 Karin M. Gest (Sign #82) - Request for a special use permit to allow private school for classroom driver training in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for private schools in the PUD Zoning District.   This is an expansion of an existing classroom driver training use.  The property, described as Tax Map 61Z3, Parcel 202, contains .245 acres, and is zoned PUD, Planned Unit Development.  The proposal is located on Incarnation Drive, at the intersection of Rt. 1694 (Branchlands Boulevard) and Rt. 1427 (Hillsdale Drive) in the Rio Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Urban Density Residential (6.01-34 dwelling units per acre) in Neighborhood 2. (Tarpley Gillespie)


Ms. Gillespie summarized the staff report.  The applicant's proposal is for a special use permit to allow a private school for classroom driver training within the Branchlands Professional Center building on Incarnation Drive. The proposal would occupy units 202 and 202A. In December, 2003 the Commission reviewed a special use permit for the same driver training school in unit 202B of the building. The applicant is seeking to expand the school into the other two units and needs a special use permit to do that.  Although the applicant is not planning to increase the enrollment, staff or hours of operation, she simply has a lot of materials for each class. Ms. Gest teaches classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday to one group and Tuesday and Thursday to another group. She does not want to have to set up and break down the class every single day since the two classes might be at different points in the materials. She also wants to have an administrative area with a staff break room and an office for herself. As with all private schools, the applicant is required to submit a parking study to the Zoning Administrator in order to determine how many parking spaces would be required for this use. A special use permit was approved for a driver's training school in unit 202 and the applicant wants to increase the square footage


The Zoning Administrator has determined that there would be five parking spaces required for the proposed use, and there were five parking required with the last special use permit. Under the current proposal the school is required to have a total of ten parking spaces. There are ten parking spaces allocated to these three units within this building. Staff has highlighted the parking spaces that are already allocated to these units. The applicant has met parking requirement for this use. Staff reviewed this proposal against the Land Use Plan and the Neighborhood Model. Staff found this proposal to be compatible with the Land Use Plan designation of Urban Density Residential, which calls for some institutional uses such as schools. Therefore, staff feels that this is a compatible use for the Land Use Plan.


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

1.       The special use permit will not increase enrollment or staff to Gest Education Services.

2.       There is adequate parking available on site to address this use.

3.       The classroom driver training school will provide a service to the community.

4.       As the use will be located entirely within an existing facility, no new land use impacts are anticipated.


Staff finds no factors unfavorable to this request.  Therefore staff recommends approval of this request with the two conditions listed in the staff report.


Mr. Thomas asked if there were any questions for Ms. Gillespie.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked if the applicant wanted to address the Commission.


Robert Gest, III, stated that his wife and he owned Gest Education Services and Training that was a driver training school. They have been providing this service for eleven years, which was the only driver training school in this area. Virtually all of their business was by word of mouth. His wife has quite a reputation and performs a useful service since the high school cannot accommodate all of the needs in this area. He asked for the Planning Commission’s approval of the special use permit. 


Mr. Thomas asked if any Commissioner had any questions for Mr. Gest.


Mr. Rieley asked if most of the students were young people who have never driven.


Mr. Gest stated that most of the students were young drivers between fifteen and sixteen. He noted that his wife provides class room training which is followed up with behind the wheel training.


Mr. Thomas invited public comment. There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the request back to the Commission for discussion and possible action.


Mr. Morris moved for approval of SP-2004-008, Karin M. Gest, subject to staff’s recommended conditions.

  1. Maximum enrollment shall be 10 students;
  2. Normal hours of operation for the school shall be from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. provided that occasional school-related events may occur outside of these hours.


Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.


Mr. Rieley asked if SP-2003-074 was correct, and Ms. Gillespie stated that the correct special

use permit number was SP-2004-008.


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


Mr. Thomas stated that the motion carried to recommend approval of SP-004-008, which would be heard by the Board of Supervisors on July 7.


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