STAFF PERSON:                                                                  TARPLEY V. GILLESPIE

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                              August 10, 2004

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                              September 1, 2004

 

SP-2004-021 Margaret Engle Ballet School

 

Applicant's Proposal:

The applicant’s proposal is for a special use permit to allow a private school for ballet instruction.  The proposed school would be located within the existing Pediatric Associates building, just east of Piedmont Tractor on Ivy Road.  The proposed school would consist of 1-3 employees and an average of 12 students at any given time.  Classes would be conducted on weekdays between 9AM and 9PM and on Saturdays between 9:00 AM and Noon.  A special use permit for Bellair Animal Hospital was approved for this site in 2003, but that special permit has never been utilized.

 

Petition:

Request for special use permit to allow a private Ballet School in accordance with Section 22.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for private schools.  The property, described as Tax Map 60, Parcels 25A and 25B, contains approximately 5.6 acres, and is zoned C1 Commercial.  The proposed dance school is located on Rt. 250W (Ivy Road), approximately 1/10 of a mile west of the intersection of Ivy Road and the 29/Route 250 By-pass, in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property for Office Service in Neighborhood 7.

 

Petitioners:

The applicant is Margaret Engle and the owner of the property the Currell Corporation, represented by George Palmer.

 

Zoning History:

The proposed ballet school building was constructed in 1950, as a John Deere equipment retail sales and service establishment.  Zoning was B-1, Business, and Scenic Highway, and it changed to C-1, Commercial, with adoption of the 1980 Zoning Ordinance.  The building to the west (currently Piedmont Equipment Company) originally was a John Deere distribution center.  When the John Deere Company vacated the western building, the retail sales and service business moved there and the middle building was converted to a retail/office use. 

SDP 87-009    Piedmont Center site plan.  Withdrawn after zoning administrator determined that parking was adequate and site plan was not required.

VA 87-11        Variance approved: allowed reduced setback for gas station canopy, off-street parking spaces, and free-standing business sign; increased height and square footage of free-standing business sign.

SP 2003-44     This SP for Bellair Animal Hospital was approved with conditions in September, 2003, although the animal hospital was never actually located at this site.  (See Attachment B.)  The following condition was included in the animal hospital approval:

 

"A pedestrian path five (5) feet in width shall be constructed across the front of Parcels 25A and 25B in the area between the existing vehicular parking area and the public travelway, to a standard acceptable to the Departments of Planning and Engineering and Public Works (Department of Community Development), to be maintained by VDOT or by the applicant in the event the pathway can not be constructed to meet VDOT standards.  In the event that existing power poles or other obstructions make it impossible to meet the acceptable standard, this standard may be modified in the interest of allowing installation of the path."

 

Because the development of this site pre-dates the County's site plan ordinance, no site plan has ever been required for this site.  Because the current proposal is to be contained within the existing building, it does not trigger the requirement of a site plan.  However, should this site be redeveloped with any intensification of use, including new building construction or parking,  a site plan would be required at that time.

 

Background:

The Zoning Ordinance requires that, for school uses, the number of required parking spaces shall be determined by the Zoning Administrator.  In making the determination, the Zoning Administrator is to consider the recommendations of a parking study provided by the applicant as well as traffic generation figures, parking demands and any other relevant information. 

 

The applicant provided a parking study to the Zoning Administrator, which stipulates that there will generally be 12 students at any particular time, and that the general hours of operation of the instruction will be between 9:00AM and 9:00 PM Monday thru Friday and 9:00AM to Noon on Saturday.  Based on this information, the Zoning Administrator has determined that a total of 8 parking spaces will be required for this use.  Attachment A is a concept plan.  The plan shows that there are currently 37 spaces available on this site.  There is adequate parking available on site to serve this use.

 

Character of the Area:

This portion of Neighborhood Seven is best known for a series of historic estates occupied by institutional and residential uses to the west on Ivy Road, with office, residential, and institutional also present on Old Ivy Road to the east.  On this site there currently are a tractor equipment company, a health care office and a gas station/country market.

 

Comprehensive Plan:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this area for Office Service in Neighborhood Seven.  Zoning is C-1, Commercial, and EC, Entrance Corridor.  The intent of the C-1 district is: "to permit selected retail sales, service and public use establishments which are primarily oriented to central business concentrations.  It is intended that C-1 district be established only within the urban area, community and villages in the comprehensive plan.”  Private schools are allowed in a C-1 district by special permit.

The 1996 Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan makes the following recommendations relevant to this request:

-     Development plans along Route 250 West are to be sensitive to its status as an Entrance      Corridor Roadway;

-     No Community Service and/or Neighborhood Service uses are recommended because the existing commercial services on Route 250 West and in the City adequately support the area             and are easily accessible;

-     Transportation Improvements include:

Widen Route 250 West (Ivy Road) to four lanes.  [This policy recommendation relates to that portion of the road lying east of the 29/250 By-pass, and is no longer supported by
 the City.] 

      Provide bicycle facilities and walkways in conjunction with road improvements. 

-     Utility Improvements include:

      Upgrades to the Meadowcreek Interceptor

-         Locate a new fire and rescue station in this area to service Neighborhoods Six and Seven, 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 possible.

The Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan, sets forth several General Principles for Land Use in Designated Development Areas which are relevant to this proposal and supported by it:

§         Accommodate new growth in the County within Development Areas.

§         Encourage greater utilization of land in designated Development Areas by achieving higher gross densities for residential and non-residential development than in the past.

§         Encourage infill development of vacant lands and development of under-used areas within the designated Development Areas.

§         Discourage extensive linear style development along major roads.

§         Plan for a system of transportation and community facilities and services that support and enhance the Development Areas.

The Neighborhood Model

Twelve principles of development are set forth in the Neighborhood Model, which is an adopted part of the Comprehensive Plan.  A staff analysis of the manner in which this development proposal addresses each principle is included below.

 

Neighborhood Model principles most strongly reflected by this proposal are:

 

Mixture of Uses - The site is characterized by a mixture of uses with considerable variety, a benefit to the neighborhood and the larger area.  A ballet school will provide a neighborhood service use to the area residents.

 

Neighborhood Centers - The Bellair Market, one of the uses on the site, seems to be a center for the neighborhood.  There is the potential for additional future uses in the unoccupied portions of the building to supplement the neighborhood center. 

 

Redevelopment - The new use in an existing building is a positive example of this Neighborhood Model principle. 

 

Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas – The parcel is located at the northern edge of the Neighborhood Seven, a portion of the Designated Development Area.  This boundary is reinforced by the presence of the railroad to the north, forming a clear edge for the site.

 

Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale -  Buildings and spaces on this site are of human scale, and if other principles such as Relegated Parking and Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths were represented, this principle could be achieved.

 

Principles of the Neighborhood Model that are not strongly reflected on this site are:

 

Pedestrian Orientation - Pedestrians are poorly accommodated on this site.  There are no pathways traversing the site, nor are their sidewalks adjacent to the buildings for access inside.  Staff is recommending that a pedestrian pathway be constructed along the public road frontage of the site to improve this aspect of site development.

 

Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths - This section of Ivy Road is very difficult from a vehicular and pedestrian standpoint.  Its regional primary road function and intersections conflict with the parcel sizes and orientations along the corridor, and the proposed ballet school use cannot remedy that situation.

 

Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks  - The fact that this property is "sandwiched" between Ivy Road and the railroad makes interconnections difficult.  A pedestrian connection to the east and west appears to be one way to incorporate this principle on the site.

 

Relegated Parking - Parking is located in front of and along both sides of the ballet school building, with a small number of spaces located behind the west wing.  Because this proposal is for a new use in an existing building there is little opportunity to incorporate this principle. 

 

Principles of the Neighborhood Model which do not apply to this site are:

 

Site Planning that Respects Terrain – No new construction is intended with this special permit.

 

Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability – There is no housing currently on this site, and none is planned.

 

Parks and Open Space – Since no new construction or rearrangement of uses on the site is planned as part of this proposal, there appears to be no opportunity to incorporate this principle.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval with conditions.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance:

 

The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder.  Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property. 

 

Staff has not identified any detriment to adjacent property that would result from the ballet school use. 

 

 

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby,

The proposed use is a relatively small instructional facility to be located entirely within the existing building.  The proposal is compatible the site and surrounding areas. 

 

and that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

The proposed school use will provide a service to families in a location serving Neighborhood Six and Seven, and the western Rural Areas district.  Its introduction further mixes uses on the site, one of the principles of the Neighborhood Model.

 

 

            with the uses permitted by right in the district,

This should not impact any other uses in the district.  Building Code and Zoning Services has determined that sufficient parking exists on the site, and the use of a separate entrance to the ballet school portion of the building will help to avoid conflicts with other resident uses. 

 

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare. 

Staff does have concerns that the proposed ballet school will further intensify activity on what is already a very busy commercial site characterized by several different kinds of uses, and thereby negatively impact the public health, safety and general welfare.  Although mixed use is one of the principles of the Neighborhood Model, and a positive feature from the standpoint of providing goods and services close to residential areas on a primary road, there are disadvantages to such a wide mixture of activities on a site that does not have the infrastructure that would typically be required at this level of development.  The equipment dealership may not be as compatible with its neighboring uses as it once was due to the fact that it mixes larger vehicles, often hauling tractors on trailers, with private vehicles patronizing the other uses in the adjacent building, all through one rather complex access point.  However, it is a legal non-conformity and thus is expected to continue operating on the site. The Bellair Market has become a highly popular source for gasoline and carry-out items, and attracts lunch-time business from the nearby National Legal Research Center.  It is likely that it could attract additional pedestrian patrons as White Gables is completed and other historic properties to the west develop in a residential pattern.  Finally, Ivy Road has become a complex thoroughfare, on which volume, turning movements, and access/egress on Ivy Road have become on-going and problematic transportation issues.

 

Staff‘s primary concern relates to the safety of pedestrians on the site.  The absence of sidewalks adjacent to the buildings or along the public frontage forces those traversing the site to find their own way across, which may lead to conflicts with vehicles entering, exiting and parking in the same area.  There appears little opportunity to create a pedestrian network around the building because this would erode parking spaces and travelway dimensions, but construction of a pathway along the public road frontage would at least organize and separate pedestrian and vehicular travel.  Although there appears to be sufficient width to locate this path within the public road right-of-way, the presence of utility poles, landscaping and other partial obstructions may make it impossible to meet VDOT standards in path construction.  Therefore, maintenance of the path may need to remain a responsibility of the applicant.  If the special permit is approved, these issues can be resolved at the time of concept plan amendment.

 

 

SUMMARY

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

1.                  The building is existing;

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

3.                  This proposal reflects several principles of the Neighborhood Model, among them Mixture of Uses, Redevelopment, and Neighborhood Centers.

4.                  The ballet school will provide a neighborhood service to surrounding residential areas.

 

 

Staff finds the following factor unfavorable to this request.

1.                  The proposed use increases the level of activity on a site which does not have the supporting infrastructure which would normally be required to support such a mixture of uses, leading to staff concerns about vehicular circulation and pedestrian safety. 

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions set forth in Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval with conditions.

 

Recommended conditions of approval:

 

1.      Maximum enrollment shall be 12 students per class, with class start and end times staggered on minimum of 1/2 hour increments.

 

2.      Normal hours of operation for the school shall be from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM provided that occasional school-related events may occur outside of these hours.

 

3.      A pedestrian path five (5) feet in width shall be constructed across the front of Parcels 25A and 25B in the area between the existing vehicular parking area and the public travelway, to a standard acceptable to the Departments of Planning and Engineering and Public Works (Department of Community Development), to be maintained by VDOT or by the applicant in the event the pathway can not be constructed to meet VDOT standards.  In the event that existing power poles or other obstructions make it impossible to meet the acceptable standard, this width standard may be modified in the interest of allowing installation of the path.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

A.                 Concept Plan

B.                 SP 2003-044   Staff Report
View PC minutes

Return to executive summary