Albemarle County Planning Commission

July 20, 2004 Partial Set of Minutes

CPA-03-02 Fifth Street Avon Street Mixed Uses

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, July 20, 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; Bill Edgerton; Jo Higgins; Cal Morris; Marcia Joseph and Pete Craddock, Vice-Chairman. 

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning & Community Development; David Benish, Chief of Planning & Community Development; Amelia McCulley, Director of Zoning & Current Development; Susan Thomas, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Thomas called the regular meeting to order at 6:20 p.m. and established a quorum. 

 

Public Hearing Items:

 

CPA-03-02 Fifth Street Avon Street Mixed Uses - Proposal to change the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan designation from Industrial Service to Regional Service, to allow development of a mixed-use complex including community and regional level retail and service, multi-family housing, industrial service, connector road, employment, and open space and park land uses.  The property, consisting of approximately 89.4 acres, is described as Tax Map 76M (1), Parcels 2A, 2B, 4A, and 11E, and located in the Scottsville Magisterial District between Rt. 631 (5th Street Extended) and Rt. 742 (Avon Street), immediately north of I-64 in Neighborhood 4.  Existing zoning is LI, Light Industrial, and EC, Entrance Corridor.  (Susan Thomas)

 

Susan Thomas summarized the staff report. This is a follow up to the June 8 Planning Commission work session at which staff’s preliminary language was reviewed. The Commissioners indicated that the Commission was ready to go ahead and have that language improved, flushed out and provided in a more final form, which staff has attempted to do.  The applicant has also provided some recommended language for two versions.  The first version is attached to the staff report as Attachment B.  The second more updated version was provided directly to the Commission because it was completed after the staff report had been distributed. Therefore, the Commission had that version to consider as well. There is some latitude in terms of the process, specifically the notification process, for Comprehensive Plan Amendments.  In this case, staff did not mail letters to adjacent owners. Staff has done that at times in the past, but other times they have not done it.  This would be going perhaps to a work session and definitely a public hearing with the Board of Supervisors, who is the final action authority on this.  Therefore, at that time the adjacent owner letters would be sent.  Staff just wanted the Commission to know that the adjacent owner letters were not sent this time. 

 

At this time staff has not received comments from VDOT on the updated traffic analysis.  VDOT, like other organizations, is suffering from a large amount of County projects and also a vacant staff position.  She pointed out that Chuck Proctor had intended to get that report to her, but he did not.  Staff met with VDOT on July 7 and Mr. Proctor indicated verbally that he felt that the update was adequate and that his questions could be addressed at the rezoning.  Mr. Proctor felt that his questions regarded nothing so fundamental that the issues could not be addressed at the rezoning.  Staff also met with Juandiego Wade, Transportation Planner, and he felt that the language was solid.  There is definitely some room for a difference of opinion in terms of how the splits are projected.  Currently, with two entrances to the site it was a little more complicated to decide what percentage of the traffic might go where.  But, both Mr. Proctor and Mr. Wade felt that if the Commission wanted to they could proceed with this impact analysis considering that some good base line work had been done and at the rezoning stage there would be a much more detailed traffic analysis.  At that time they would be considering actual uses.

 

Staff is open to addressing the Commission’s questions about the language to explain anything that was not clear. She noted that the old issue of the use of “shall” versus “should” seems to come up in lots of different kinds of language. Therefore, she asked for the Commission’s input. Staff pointed out that there was one correction under s) on page 4 that a town center design should be a feature of the “western” commercial area, and not the “eastern” area.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if there were any questions for staff. There being none, he opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to come forward to speak. 

 

Steve Blaine, representative for the applicant, stated that New Era Properties together with Enterprise Properties controls about 97 acres of the site shown on the model.  The Commission has held two work sessions.  Since the last work session, the applicant has met with staff a couple of times and talked about specific language recommendations.  He pointed out that they could make their work easier since they are not vetted to their version of the language.  There are some key or fundamental points that they want to go over tonight.  He asked to reserve some time for questions and answers, if that was the Commission’s preference as well.

 

Mr. Blaine asked to clarify one point in the staff report about the rationale for why they were trying to describe in a textual vision as opposed to a proposed plan. The applicant has had a number of proposals, interests, prospects, and letters of intent.  It was felt that really through a shared vision of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment that it would be a more efficient approach in dealing with what they ultimately envision to be a rezoning with a proffered plan once they arrive at that shared vision. That would allow them to present that vision to the prospects in order to find out who actually wanted to pursue the rezoning on that basis. 

 

As indicated previously, the action that they were asking for was simply a change in the Land Use Plan designation from Industrial Service to Regional Service.  The State requires us to have a Comprehensive Plan for twenty years.  The last time the Comprehensive Plan on the Land Use Plan was amended was in 1996.  Therefore, there is a policy in place for when applicants chose to seek an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan in an interim period.  That is the policy that they followed in submitting this April submission according to the policy adopted back in January, 2000. 

 

Mr. Blaine pointed out that they were here to answer any questions. There are two or three key points which he wanted to reiterate.  This goes to the philosophical approach as to whether this property should be designated Regional Service or Community Service as suggested by the staff.  He felt that was the largest gap that they had between the staff’s approach and the applicant’s approach.  He stated that they have come a long way. They have talked a lot about the characteristics of the site that are important and dealt with those in the language.  There is one fundamental approach or bias that they would like to try to bridge tonight.  The policy requires that they relate their justification to the basic growth management approach of the Comprehensive Plan. It is sometimes good to go back to fundamentals and remind ourselves that our fundamental growth management approach is to direct growth into the growth areas with the view that they can better conserve the rural areas.  That is how they actually had a thing called the infill policy. Before they had the Neighborhood Model there was actually an infill strategy.  One of the underpinnings of the infill strategy was to seek ways to more efficiently use the land within our growth areas.  A compliment of that would be to try to seek efficient and higher densities within those areas of the growth area.  These 80 acres within the County, with the total tract being 92 acres, is one of the last remaining undeveloped areas within Neighborhood Four and Five. He realized that there was the Granger property, which had some access limitations, but in terms of suitability for a Regional Service use there is probably no better location of 80 acres in the County right now for this land use designation.  That is because of this property’s regional access points and other points that they will address. 

 

The Community Service designation is appropriate for a smaller tract. Again, they were picking up these guidelines from the Comprehensive Plan.  He stated that he neglected to hand out the Comprehensive Plan’s guidelines for nonresidential uses, which was on page 31 of the Comp Plan, that was a chart which he was handing out now.  He stated in the chart it indicates that the Community Service designation really does not contemplate any more than a 250,000 square foot density. This property has 92 acres of developable land.  If there are 50 acres that is useable and they apply just a .1 FAR that would give them a density of at least 500,000, which suggests that the Community Service designation with a cap of 250,000 is not in pursuit of the fundamental growth policy of efficient use of the growth areas.  By contrast, if you take Albemarle Place, the recommended minimum density of the Albemarle Place project was .7, which would be 14 times the density suggested by the Community Service designation.  Therefore, the fundamental point here is not consistent with our underlying goals to try to maximum or try to efficiently use the growth areas. 

 

The next policy consideration is what changes have happened in the surrounding uses or the development patterns that would justify the change in the designation.  They have seen in the southern end of the County, and not just in Neighborhoods Four and Five, a rapid growth in residential and nonresidential use. For example, in the corridor for Avon Street Monticello High School has opened since the plan was adopted. In addition there have been some interesting and diverse commercial uses added, which includes a little shopping center with a Food Lion.  But, what is really missing in Neighborhoods Four and Five is a large scale commercial designation retail location for the residents in the southern sector of the County to utilize. Destination retail at this location would intercept some element of commuters and consumers traveling to the north.  There are over 35,000 residential units within a one mile radius of this location. There are 13,000 residential units in this County and 22,000 in the City. This is like a hole in a doughnut in terms of a commercial use that would be used by those residents.

 

The last point that he wanted to make in relating their justification is the Comprehensive Plan’s element of assuring adequate infrastructure. In that sense the Comprehensive Plan can be used to plan for utilities and road infrastructure for projected growth.  The corollary, of course, is how we are effectively using our existing infrastructure. In support of the Regional Use they have three regional arterials in Avon Street, Fifth Street and Interstate 64.  The Fifth Street corridor, as the traffic study shows, is an under capacity utilized artery. The chief benefit, in terms of transportation improvements of this proposal, would be to provide the connector that they have talked about between Avon and Fifth Street, which would be another relief valve for those commuting and the consumers from the southern end of the County to be able to access Fifth Street as well as other commercial sites. In summary, those are their three justifications for the Land Use Change.  They would be happy to answer any questions.  They hope to have an opportunity perhaps later in the hearing to talk specifically about language proposals.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if they could accomplish the same end result with Community Service as Regional Service with proffers and conditions.

 

Mr. Blaine stated that if his question was whether there were particular uses that are a concern of the staff or the Commission that would be permitted in Regional Service that they determine not appropriate for Community Service, then yes.  But, he felt that the problem was that they were starting with guidelines and if the guidelines mean any thing, then why do they want to call it Community Service.  He asked why they would want to call it a duck if it was really a goose.  He asked that they get to what their real concerns are.  Through the environmental language, he thought that the two approaches perhaps came from different angles.  But, he felt that they have a shared vision on some of the characteristics that warrant preservation, such as the stream bed, the water ways and some of the vegetation that they have identified as unique to this site.  If they can accomplish that and still achieve the efficient use of the density, then that seems to be a win/win for the locality.  He stated that this relates to another area that has concern for them, which was an attempt to try to limit by specifically identifying particular uses to a square footage limitation. They have had this debate for some time.  This is certainly their vision or approach.  He felt that staff’s approach is a lay description of what they see as important elements for the development of this site. At the time of the rezoning the professionals, who have the economic and financial stake combined with the professional designers and engineers, can implement that vision in a rezoning application in the plan.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if there were any further questions for Mr. Blaine.  There being none, he invited any one else in the audience that would like to speak on this application to come forward.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back to the Commission for discussion and a possible action.

 

Mr. Rieley asked staff to address the issue of Regional versus Community Service and the limitations and rationale for the limitations on square footage.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that if they go to item o), the last sentence says, “Development of this site may involve an expansion of the customary building limitations associated with the Community Service designation. That is actually something that the Commission said way back when they came up with draft language.  There is no perfect category. Staff even considered coming up with a new designation, but did not think the Commission would want to do that. Staff has gone back and forth on this matter, but in the end was just not comfortable with calling it Regional Service because it did not distinguish it from other sites that are Regional Service that are just so different. She suggested that by using a Community Service/Mixed Use designation that it would alert everybody that this can definitely be a retail destination, a retail hub, and could have a big box.  Actually, it could probably have more than one big box. But, she would hope that it would not be just a conventional big box shopping center.  There is a little more of a crafting that has to go on.  The term might not be exactly right, but she definitely had a concept that she was trying to express.  The scale and mix are important. There is a balance that they are striving for on this site of different kinds of retail uses as well as other uses. The care and development of the site is very important. It seemed that the Community Service/Mixed Use designation might be one way to get at that. She pointed out that Mr. Benish had pointed out that under s), the large footprint retail of a regional nature may be appropriate in the town center if it is consistent with Neighborhood Model principles. There are a couple of places that staff tried to indicate that this is not conventional Community Service with the 250,000 square foot fixed limitation.  She pointed out that it could be more than that.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that b) actually has the stated maximum total square footage.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that was intended for the large footprint buildings. It is not intended for all square footage.  It would not bother staff if there were a lot of smaller footprint buildings mixed in an interesting way with 2-story or 3-story buildings.  She suggested that they could do a lot of things with it, which was why staff did not use the FAR route. With no plan to really chew on, staff did not feel that was enough to go on to get into that kind of discussion. She pointed out that Albemarle Place was very different because they talked a lot about that.  She stated that they did not get into the design aspects at the same level on this site.  She felt that it was important to define what she thought should be the ceiling for the biggest footprint, which was in u) and v).

 

Mr. Benish stated that u) is a footprint of 130,000 square feet, but the total square footage is in v).

 

Ms. Thomas agreed with the square footage of the big boxes of the large footprint retail uses, and that the smaller ones could be very open ended.  It is a design question. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that if you have a quarter of a million square feet in big boxes and another quarter of a million square feet in something else, then you were essentially in the same ballpark that Mr. Blaine was talking about .

 

Ms. Thomas stated that was correct.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the way that this was written that this was not allowed.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that it was allowed.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the only limitation was on the big boxes.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the largest single box footprint should not exceed 130,000 square feet and that there should not be more than one user on the site who exceeds 100,000.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that was correct.  Therefore, you could have a 130,000 square foot big box, then you could have a 99,999 square foot big box, and then you could have a multitude of smaller boxes, some of which could be pretty large.  They could have a 65,000 square foot grocery store, which was Kroger or Giant sized. Then, they could have more than one of those.  But, there is a limit to the size of any one single user.  Staff calculated it that way instead of getting into the stories specifically.  Staff tried not to go that route.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that staff did say that in the large footprint structures if they are developed into a two-story or greater configuration that the limitation also might be adjusted up.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if they were getting a mixed recommendation.  He asked how they could recommend big boxes over 130,000 square feet when in fact under Community Service we specifically stated and have maintained in the past the limitation of 65,000 square feet.

 

Mr. Benish stated that this language supersedes that.  This language establishes exceptions.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked why they should make an exception here that they have not made on the other commercial developments that they have looked at in the last few years.

 

Mr. Benish stated that staff does think that some scale beyond Community Service is appropriate here that would accommodate some of those regional needs in that area without committing the entire site for a Regional Service type of concept.  That is why they are trying to do this.  He stated that maybe it was a little bit more awkward than it should be because staff does not want to open the doors to an expectation that you try to take back at the rezoning level. Staff suggests that the Commission base it on more of a conservative standard, but reserve where the exceptions are appropriate.  What staff is saying is that this Community Service area could really accommodate some Regional Service and it can accommodate a larger scale than it normally would, but this should not be anticipated to be a standard sort of Regional Service area like they have had on the 29 North areas.  Staff tried to define sort of a middle ground.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the analysis doesn’t seem to be sensitive at all to the fact that it is zoned industrial right now, which in theory has no square footage limitations.  Industrial zoning has existed on this site for a significant amount of time, but has not been used.  She felt that from the Regional Service perspective that they would be better off to put it at a connection point between these two types of roads and at an interstate ramp where someone who is actually passing through the County could spend money and leave their tax dollars and not their children, and then get back on the interstate and continue on. She stated that the real issue here was that they were trying to control the concept layout of the development, which is really trying to make it look like Community Service versus Regional Service. She appreciated the great effort and detail that staff has gone to try to build into it because of not wanting it to look like the Regional Service that is out there now.  But, she felt that really this meets the true definition of Regional Service.  She noted that it would be a down zone from Industrial and asked what would be the comparative analysis if they looked at the traffic and impacts.  Industrial uses have all kinds of air, water and other implications.  There is no such thing as clean industry these days.  She pointed out that she did not have a problem with calling it Regional Service. She asked what she was missing.

 

Ms. Thomas suggested that the Commission discuss this among themselves.  She stated that 130,000 square feet is about the size, give or take 5,000 square feet, of the existing Wal Mart in our community.  Therefore, staff did not feel that it was such a small limitation because it was like the old Best building that was just not relevant in today’s economy.  Number two, she felt that if they put a building like the current Lowe’s on this site that you would lose the opportunity to do any kind of interesting mix because a use that big would be so dominant that there would be nothing left to work with particularly in using the unusual and attractive environmental fixtures.  Therefore, staff felt that a cap of some sort was necessary. She felt that 130,000 square feet was actually fairly big and had talked with the applicant about that.  At the time, the applicant did not give a lot of negative feedback.  Therefore, she felt that was quite acceptable.   She felt that when you read about big boxes and the multiple models that they are finding out that they actually have several models of a Wal Mart or a Target or many other natural franchises that could work on the site with these limitations.  Therefore, staff was not comfortable with the idea of a Lowe’s and she wanted to give them something that was really mid-range, and in her opinion this suggestion is mid-range.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the key point here is that they were trying to get at the big box issue.  She stated that they were back to the table about limiting and excluding big boxes over a certain size, which excludes a Super Wal Mart or any of the other large chains.  Therefore, they were back to the big box discussion.  She questioned if someone could make a big box not look like a big box.  She asked if there were other ways to do it.  She asked why in this location that was in close proximity to the interstate where actually people from other Counties might travel to come to was such a bad thing.  She stated that economically when compared to an industrial use she did not have any problems with it.

 

Mr. Benish stated that through the work sessions staff has defined a number of features that some of the Commissioners felt were important to protect. The property is located on three Entrance Corridors and has a level of visibility to the interstate. Staff felt that the size of the development of the site, limiting it to more of the moderate sized big boxes and limiting the number of those would provide the best opportunity both at the Comp Plan level, where they were trying to indicate what their expectations are, and then to be worked out more fully at the rezoning level.  The industrial component of the discussion of this use was very important to staff, too.  It was one of the reasons why they were emphasizing that it was also a mixed use area.  It is also one of the last employment opportunities. Therefore, staff was trying to seek a balance between retaining some of that employment that they feel is important and the industrial opportunity.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if anyone else has any questions.  Concerning the discussion of the Regional Service, he stated that it could still be designated as Regional Service to go along with the Comp Plan because of the way it was laid out here with the acreage and the size.  But, it was his understanding that they could live with a 130,000 square foot building and possibly live with 350,000 or 400,000 square feet of building on the ground.  But, then if you go to Regional Service on the Avon Street property what would happen to that.  He asked if they could condition it so that they would not be able to put certain things on the Regional Service property or is it just wide open to put anything that they want to put up.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that as Mr. Benish said, this language supersedes those guidelines.  The other thing they could do, which is not what the applicant asked for, is continue to designate the Avon Street side Industrial Service and just change this.  Staff likes the idea of leaving it open enough that they might be surprised by some creative ideas that staff can’t think of right now that the professionals will think of down the road by keeping all of the property under the one designation.  That was one good thing about the mixed use.  She stated that you could probably achieve these goals through the Regional Service designation, too.  It is just maybe a little bit more open ended.

 

Mr. Benish stated that they started with a basis that was on a more conservative level and then expanded on the opportunities thinking that it would send a more conservative message of our caution about the site.  You could approach it in reverse and say that this is Regional Service; however, we have these limitations that we want.  From staff’s and the community’s perspective, it was easier to be more conservative and be more careful about telling people what we don’t want and have them try to address the ways in which they achieve those concerns and issues as opposed to hindsight saying that we wish we had of said that we really did not want that and then backing into those corrections. Those perimeters and limitations are very important.  Whether the property is designated Regional Service or not, those directions are really going to set the limitation and perimeters. If the Commission was uncomfortable with the 130,000 square feet or 230,000 square feet total for the big box, regardless of whether it is called Community Service or Regional Service, those are the expectations and if they are adopted they would be sent to the next step of the process. 

 

Mr. Morris stated that it seemed that this fits more smoothly into the Regional Service model as opposed to Community Service with stipulations.  If he were the applicant trying to put together something as the professionals are going to have to do, Regional Service would provide more guidelines rather than having to figure out exactly what the County wants them to do.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if Community Service is actually included in Regional Service. 

 

Mr. Benish stated that there was a pyramid effect to this.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that they would actually be capturing the opportunity to leave the Avon Street side in Community Service if they go with Regional with some stipulations.  She noted that they have not excluded it.  She asked if they were not excluding the elements of Community Service on a portion of the site.

 

Mr. Benish stated not necessarily, but what she would be opening up would be interpretation for hotels, motels, hospitals and mobile homes sales.  They would be working from a broader packet of what is available.  He suggested that they might want to articulate the things that they don’t want or they would be looking at the standard as what the limit was for the extra things that they could do.  Again, they could attack it either way.  If they were more comfortable working back from it, but staff did not anticipate taking out the things that are Regional Service.  He stated that they might want to if there is anything.  Staff took the approach that they were working from the Community Service basis and then these were the things beyond Community Service that were considered

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that staff pointed out that they don’t want to commit to anything right now in the CPA, which wording indicates that the applicant continues to assert no identified tenant involved in the development of the site and it was neither appropriate nor possible to provide the Commission with a more detailed site concept.  He pointed out that he was having a great deal of difficulty with that. The Commission has never looked at a CPA since he had been on the Commission with as little commitment as this has.  Therefore, that put an enormous burden on staff to try to come up with language that will be clear enough that it will not leave the door ajar for something that would be inconsistent with what our philosophy is on how the County should be developed.  This has been a very sensitive property.  The applicant has taken a very appropriate business approach here, but he did not think it was benefiting the staff or the Commission.  He felt that staff’s decision to go with the Community Service designation and open it up to quite a bit more than the typical Community Service allows is a more responsible approach.  If they want to consider Regional Service then he would suggest that they ask the applicant to come back with a little more definition of what they intend to do because it does open up a whole lot of uses that would not be allowed under Community Service.  As Ms. Higgins points out, if they amend the Comprehensive Plan to call this Regional Service and it is rezoned that way, that would allow for Community Service but it does not go the other way.  He stated that he would be more comfortable understanding what they were approving before they opened the door wide open.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the language about the connector road going through the property was part of this. 

 

Ms. Thomas pointed out that she borrowed the applicant’s language for h), which was the first letter under transportation because she felt that it was a good summary of how many people have to work together and it was not just one party.  Jay says, concurrent with development of the site a connection from Fifth Street Extended to Avon Street Extended via the Bent Creek Bridge should be constructed and this is the original alternative d) in the Southern City’s report.  That would probably be the key area. The word concurrent means that at the same time or you can’t do the development until you’ve got that connection.  She felt that they would run into real trouble with just one access in and out when you get into the higher levels of development.   One thing that she neglected to mention at the beginning of the evening was that the plan on the wall is one that the Commission got in the mail, which staff got after the distribution was made.  Staff did not include anything in the staff report about that plan because she did not have it at the time.  She felt that it was helpful in some areas, but she was not entirely comfortable with it because she was not sure how rigid the chunks are intended to be.  But, as a general concept it might be okay.  She asked how the Commissioners felt about that because it is a new piece of information.  It is not totally different, but it was more general than what they saw last, which had building footprints. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he was very uncomfortable in referencing that plan because of what it leaves out and what it puts in.  Normally, he would argue hard for graphic representation, but this one is a twitch in between and he felt that it leaves it open to difficulties.  He suggested that they would be better off not to reference the graphics in his personal opinion. 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if he was comfortable considering a CPA without some graphic description. He agreed with what Mr. Rieley just said because he did not think the graphics told them anything that would protect the County from a lot of uncertainty.  The burden has been shifted to the staff here. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it was a good point because he had repeatedly argued for a fairly specific graphic representation of the intentions, if not the specific ultimate design at this level of change.  However, they would play the ball where its lies. While they have always had illustrative plans, the CPA’s themselves were text and sometimes referenced in oblique ways in graphic materials that went along with them.  He felt that if they end up in the right place that they should not get too obsessive about what the documents are that get us there.  The other thing was that he felt there have been some excellent points raised in the relationship of whether this should be Regional Service or Community Mixed Use.  He stated that the title was not as important as the substance of the text itself.  Relative to Mr. Morris’ point, which is a good one, the proposal does in deed seem to fit the existing Regional Service designation better just on the basis of scale.  But, in fact, since the proposed language is far more detailed than the language that is in this and the fact that it supersedes it to the larger extent answers that.  In fact, they were setting up a category that is specifically tailored to this site and this proposal in trying to address the initiatives of the developer as well as the limitations of the site.  He stated that his opinions about this have shifted over the years.  At one of the earlier work sessions when this first came before the Commission, he was an ardent supporter of the 65,000 square foot footprint limitation, and he has come to the view that a larger footprint is reasonable on this site because of the location of large scale retail in our area.  As Mr. Blaine pointed out, the proximity to the off-ramps of Interstate 64 and the connections to the City as well as to the County was significant.  He applauds staff’s efforts to reconcile all of these things. This does not seem to be an effort at jamming something down anybody’s throat. It seems to be taking what the proposal is and framing it in a way that works with the objectives of the County. After reading the applicant’s counter proposal, he asked staff if there are pieces of that which staff would feel comfortable incorporating into the language to address specific concerns that the applicant has raised, which are not addressed one way or another in the staff report.

 

Ms. Thomas pointed out that she borrowed pretty literally from the first draft. Since she had gone on vacation, Mr. Benish and Ms. Echols did some last minute editing and added back in the last sentence under j) that the road should be designed for speeds of less than 40 miles per hour and provide improved inner neighborhood access within the southern urban development areas.  She noted that staff and the applicant had previously agreed to drop all reference to right-of-way widths or speeds.  This should not be much of a problem because there was not much chance that it would be higher than 40 miles per hour.  They had mutually agreed to get more general and less specific because they had been going in a specific direction.

 

Mr. Benish pointed out that amendment was made to describe an expectation just in case this proposal was dropped and someone else comes in and had no definition of what a median speed was.  Staff was just trying to establish some range for what the expectation was. There is no strong feeling about that change.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that Attachment B has 35 miles an hour, and he would not have any objection to adding the more specific language.

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that if it was designed at 35 miles per hour, then it would be posted at 30 miles per hour.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that would actually make it perfect because the speed at which traffic moves most efficiently was about 30 miles per hour on a small roadway. More cars can be moved at 30 miles per hour on a small roadway than on an interstate at 70 miles per hour.

 

Ms. Thomas noted that what worried her about this new concept plan was that there is really a whole natural system that starts with the bluff at the end of the bridge and drops to the south and curves around to the north.  She pointed out that she was not saying that they had to preserve every bit of that northern bluff as it curves to the east, but it will be interesting to see at the rezoning level what design can do to incorporate enough of it to preserve the creek. David Hirschman’s comments very much reflected the preservation of that bluff as an important buffer.

 

Mr. Rieley agreed that was one of the areas of his concern and was one of the reasons why it would be better not to reference this plan. What is shown here as true preservation area was going to be the cut slope for this round-about. There is just not enough room in there to do anything.  In some ways he felt that this is a case in which the language would be more useful at the rezoning if they were not going to get any more specificity than this from the applicant.  At this stage of the game they were better off having strong language to work with at the next level.  It is going to delay a lot of decisions and a lot of tough design issues to the rezoning level.  At the same time he felt that it was important not to get too hung up on what they have before them.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she would hesitate to make the plan part of the Comp Plan Amendment also because of the labels placed on things because they have not been defined and they don’t know what it means.  There is nothing within the Comp Plan language that has been proposed that really explains to us what they expect to see on there such as employment.  

 

Mr. Thomas asked if any other Commissioner would like to weigh in on it.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the transportation corridor, the definition of the linear park and the protection of those areas can be written in the language just as well.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that the other aspect of this is that staff has not had a chance to look at the plan.  Therefore, it was not something that she would want to do either.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he wanted to make a proposal that relates to Ms. Higgins suggestion. On the Albemarle Place Comp Plan Amendment, staff did a diagram of a road network that was somewhat different than the road network that was on the illustrious plan done by the applicant. The Commission asked staff to do a diagram of this without the open space and so forth, which simply shows the transportation network. They could do that and simply call it that as Ms. Higgins has suggested and attach that. Then they would not have the other things attached to it.

 

Mr. Benish pointed out that what Albemarle Place plan did was to just show the grid concept with the general intersecting points schematically.  But, that plan did render the expectations for the connections.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that essentially what it would do in this case would be create the things that they think are important from the framework perspective, but leave out the things that the Commission was not comfortable with.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that it would be a black and white plan with dashed lines.

 

Mr. Rieley moved for approval of CPA-03-02, Fifth Street Avon Street Mixed Uses, based on staff’s recommended language with the inclusion of the 35 miles per hour design speed taken from the applicant's language and the suggested changes made by Mr. Kamptner.  The modifications to be made are as follows:

 

1.       Inclusion of the 35 miles per hour design speed.

2.       Remove Y. altogether noting that affordable housing would be dealt with at the rezoning level.

3.       Change the reference from eastern commercial area to western commercial area.

4.       Staff to provide a black and white point to point diagram of the transportation network in lieu of the concept plan.

5.       The language in U. and V. should be made consistent as per Mr. Kamptner’s suggestions, which includes eliminating “mixed use” in V and if “large footprint” is used that the minimal size be clarified.  Staff should work on this language before it goes to the Board. (Note: Added in the following amended motion.)

 

Mr. Morris seconded the motion.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if they voted against it, if they were saying Regional Service, but if they were voting for it they were saying Community Service.

 

Mr. Thomas stated yes, that they would be saying that they don’t agree with this staff report.

 

Ms. Joseph asked why the provision of affordable housing was not essential on this site because the near by neighborhoods provide different housing opportunities.  She stated that she was not sure if she could go along with that because a lot of the surrounding residential opportunities are in the City.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that our affordable housing goals are community wide since they are recognized as County/City.  All of the different entities that support our affordable housing are across that jurisdictional area, and she never perceived it as County/City.  There is more affordable housing within the range of this development than possibly any place else that you could locate such a development.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she felt that affordable housing was an issue that the County should consider on this site.

 

Mr. Rieley asked staff’s view about the reference to affordable housing.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that in writing in the staff report staff felt that there might be an opportunity for a contribution to affordable housing that could happen here or could happen somewhere else. Staff’s concern was that she was not sure that they would want the only housing on the site to be affordable housing. There should be some kind of contribution towards affordable housing because of the significance of the site and the size of the site, which was something that should be discussed at the rezoning level.  Whether it happens here or not was questionable to site because she was not sure how the Commission felt about the residential on the site.  That was an issue that some feel is more important than others.  If it ended up not being a component of the mix, except for the affordable element, staff was not sure whether that would be good or bad. 

 

Mr. Thomas stated that personally he did not think it should be put in, but if it was put in that it should say “may” and not “shall”.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the Commission had a discussion about pedestrian connection and the difficulty to access this site, but that this proposal actually gives a level of service to people who may be are on bus transit or walking.  She pointed out that the people in that region are currently under served in the area of the City/County combined.

 

Mr. Benish pointed out that when the Commission previously discussed affordable housing that there was no consensus to emphasis affordable housing on this site. Staff talked about the possibility of providing a small area for affordable housing on the site.

 

Mr. Thomas asked how the Commission felt about Ms. Joseph’s concern.

 

Mr. Morris stated that he thought it was said that this proposal was aimed at commercial for this entire area.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that the applicant wrote a letter that said that added residential is an appropriate use.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that did not exclude it.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he has always argued to get these types of issues settled at least as a target at the Comp Plan level.  But, this is really an issue that they can deal with at rezoning.

 

Ms. Joseph suggested that the language in y) be deleted altogether and then they could deal with it at the time of the rezoning.  She pointed out that y) says that the provision of affordable housing on this site is not essential on this site. 

 

Mr. Rieley asked if staff was comfortable with taking out the language of y).

 

Ms. Thomas stated that she had no opposition to deleting y).

 

Mr. Rieley amended his motion along those lines.

 

Mr. Morris seconded the amended motion.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the Regional Service designation with stipulations makes more sense than to stretch the Community Service designation.  She preferred that the Commission extract some of the uses rather than to try at the rezoning stage to justify why they added the uses back in. 

 

Mr. Morris stated that he supported the motion simply because the staff is saying that they started at this and added it.  If they go to Regional Service, then they would have to modify the Regional Service to make it fit.  It has already been done here and was the reason why he was shifting.

 

Mr. Kamptner asked staff to clarify the language in on u) and v).  The language in u) and v) should be made consistent, which includes eliminating “mixed use” in v), and if “large footprint” is used that the minimal size be clarified.  Staff should work on this language before it goes to the Board.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he felt comfortable with the modifications that Mr. Kamptner has suggested.  If staff wants to add additional clarifications by the time it gets to the Board that would be fine also.  He amended his motion to include Mr. Kamptner’s suggestion.

 

1.       Inclusion of the 35 miles per hour design speed.

2.       Remove Y. altogether noting that affordable housing would be dealt with at the rezoning level.

3.       Change the reference from eastern commercial area to western commercial area.

4.       Staff to provide a black and white point to point diagram of the transportation network in lieu of the concept plan.

5.       The language in U. and V. should be made consistent as per Mr. Kamptner’s suggestions, which includes eliminating “mixed use” in V and if “large footprint” is used that the minimal size be clarified.  Staff should work on this language before it goes to the Board.

 

Mr. Morris seconded the amended motion.

 

The motion carried by a vote of (5:2).  (Higgins, Edgerton – No)

 

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