Planning Commission – July 8, 2003 Work Session

 

CPA 2003-02 5th Street/Avon Street Mixed Use Complex – 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.  (Susan Thomas)

 

Ms. Thomas asked if everyone received a copy of the map.  She passed out extra copies.  She stated that the request was for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the Land Use Plan designation from Industrial Service to Regional Service to allow the uses described above.  She pointed out that the discrepancy in the acreage resulted because there was 89.4 acres in the County with the remainder located in the City. She pointed out that the old Brass project encompassed only two parcels.  The new proposal adds two new parcels that includes the Grand Piano site and the Dittmar parcel, which was on the far right along Avon Street.  The acreage that they were now looking at was just about double what was previously applied for under the Brass Comprehensive Plan Amendment.  At the time, staff and the Commission agreed that it would have been very desirable to be planning for the entire area because geographically it hangs together.  This way staff has the ability to look from major road to major road and not artificially because of ownership patterns cutting off the review and the recommendation right in the middle.  Therefore, this larger project, in staff’s opinion, is a much better way to be looking at the project.  About one-half of the Commissioners participated in the review of the previous proposal, which was the Brass Incorporated Comp Plan Amendment.  That project was reviewed over a period of two years with nine meetings with the involvement of the City Planning Commission and staff.  The review did result in recommended language in support of a redesignation in the Comprehensive Plan from Industrial Service to Community Service/Mixed Use.  The language was ready for adoption as a part of the Comprehensive Plan. It was not adopted because at the last moment the applicant withdrew the application as a matter of fact.  It has served as reference point, for staff in particular, during the review of this current proposal because it is really the most current and the clearest direction they have on the County side for this property.

 

There are a number of similarities between the original proposal and this one.  They include the following:

·         Regional Retail is still the desired dominant use.  There will probably be one or more big box users.  In this current proposal the applicant is asking for 220,000 to 240,000 square feet and last time it was 210,000 square feet.  Therefore, the request is very similar.

·         Some smaller commercial and service uses are included.

·         The two Brass parcels on the western end closer to Fifth Street still seem to be the heart of the proposal.  The parcels are undeveloped and appear to have the most useable acreage. 

·         The Grand Piano site would be an adaptive reuse of an old furniture warehouse by Dominion Resources.  That parcel will have its own use, which was an operation center for the Power Company.

·         The vision for the Dittmar property has not been very clearly articulated.  Therefore, staff was not sure what the applicant was planning for the Avon Street side.  Residential use has been mentioned, but there was not a clear vision in the application.

·         Staff still has access issues at Fifth Street, which was certainly an element of the previous proposal. 

·         The connector road concept was included in the previous request. However, in this proposal the applicant is actually offering to build it.  That is quite different, but the connector road issue is still in there.

·         One big difference is that they have a lot more property.  Some of the new property was a municipal landfill.  Of course, that brings its own issues with it and requires a special type of redevelopment.

·         Retention of the industrial use in the form of the Operations Center for Dominion Resources was a new element.  Last time there was no industrial use retained because it was all going to be a Community Service use.

·         The applicant has proposed a small amount of residential this time. It is a little bit unclear how strong the commitment to that residential is in the application.

·         Again, the connector road was planned to be built by the applicant.

·         Because of the new property extending all the way to Avon Street, they have the issue of the influence on Avon Street on the project and concurrently the influence that the project might exert on Avon Street. There is a whole new element on the eastern side.

·         The applicant is proposing a new crossing of Moore’s Creek, which was a difference in this proposal.  Staff so far is not supportive of that new crossing.

·         Last time Bent Creek Road was seen as the access to Fifth Street.

 

In staff’s review for this work session she deliberately tried to focus attention on the more fundamental questions.  Staff has received only general information from the applicant. In a sense she felt that was good because it forces us to talk about the building block issues, what is the appropriate land use, and does the Commission find it to be justifiable to consider the Comp Plan Amendment to change the designation. They have very specific guidance if they want to use it in the form of the previously prepared Comp Plan language, which certainly could serve for this proposal.  Staff would alter the language because they now have more property and more area to consider. She noted that staff would recap the comparison of the recommended language that was the outcome of the last review of the Brass, Inc. project with this proposal. This would bring the Commission up to speed on what the similarities and differences are between what the County was prepared to adopt and what the applicant has come forward with. Then she would move on to a brief summary of the questions that she posed at the end of the staff report.  She stated that she was not going to go through the body of the staff report because it was too lengthy and the Commission has it available.

 

The previous land use designation, which was the one that the County staff, at the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission’s direction developed with Community Service/Mixed Use.  That was with the expectation that a large department or discount retailer could be developed within certain perimeters on this site.  The current proposal is for Regional Service, which is the most intensive commercial designation under the Land Use Plan.  The profile, which was the language that they previously developed, described the site as a series of very distinct linked components incorporating retail and office or light industrial and also requiring some Urban Density/Residential.  The applicant did not want to do residential on the site originally four years ago, but they were moving towards a new Urban/Mixed Use Form and staff felt strongly that this was a good site for housing and that there ought to be some mixed in.  There was a town center described, a mandatory 5-acre preservation tract that encompassed an area that includes some specimen trees, and a beautiful rock outcropping. There was a floodway/greenway area, a 10-acre residential area and a Regional Service District.  All of these areas were defined and described.  There were many limitations on the Regional Service, which probably complicated life for the applicant.  These limitations related primarily to building design and footprint. The total permitted square footage for mixed retail/office and retail was 250,000 square feet.  A single user could not occupy more than 160,000 square feet. At that time, there were many conversations about the different big boxes around town, and Lowe’s was the biggest at that time that had about the same square footage.  The ground floor of the big single user could not exceed 65,000 square feet.  They were looking at a multiple story smaller footprint big box user.  Each floor of that facility was to be designed so that it could stand-alone.  Staff was reacting with the vacancies that they have had with some of the big boxes in the County and the difficulty in using them for other users.  Finally, to minimize roof and foundation areas, the language required that a minimum of the roof and foundation areas of the nonresidential buildings had to be two-stories or greater.  In other words looking at the total footprint, at least a third of it had to be two-story.  Staff was looking for a urban form.  The Neighborhood Model was not adopted, but they were very aware of trying to achieve a more compact complimentary mix of uses.  That was certainly what motivated staff.  They do not know how the language would have worked because the County did not adopt it, but it certainly had a lot of thought and attention.

 

·         Going on to the new issues, she stated that because of the additional properties staff has the opportunities to consider some new issues such as the land fill.  Should it be developed, and if so how and what are the appropriate uses for an area that once was used for a municipal dump.

·         Other issues include the connector road alignment, the design and the engineering, the intersection location and traffic impacts. Staff was very involved with talking about a connector road, but last time they talked about it primarily as it related to the intersection with Fifth Street.  Since they only discussed reserving the right-of-way, they did not get down to the engineering of it. 

·         The reuse of the Grand Piano site and the relationship of the future power company operations center to the rest of the site were an issue. 

·         The fact that they now have a Neighborhood Model Comprehensive Plan Amendment as an element of our plan and they refer to that in our review of projects like this and other legislative acts.

·         Finally, the City has done a very extensive City Corridor Study that does talk about Fifth Street.  She noted that the staff report includes an excerpt from the Corridor Study. She pointed out that there is a meeting scheduled with the City staff on July 16.  Staff plans to discuss the Corridor Study in addition to lots of traffic and land use issues.  Staff will have more information to bring back to the Commission from the City at the next meeting.

 

Staff will briefly summarize the questions for the Commission as follows:

·         Does the Commission want to consider the Comprehensive Plan Amendment modifying or amending the Comp Plan to consider a designation other then Industrial Service?  If you do, staff has drafted a resolution that just simply says that you will undertake the amendment.  It does not say that it has to be Regional Service.

·         How should the Neighborhood Four Profile language previously developed for the Brass, Inc. project be considered as a part of this amendment request or should it be considered at all?  In staff’s opinion, there are many similarities and it offers some useful guidance.  She felt that they have come a long way since then and they understand and have adopted the Neighborhood Model and have worked with it a little bit more. Sometimes a new urban/mixed use form works well on a site and sometimes you have more of a special district that is dominated by a single use or a couple of uses.  Therefore, staff has learned that not all sites in a development area are created equal or should be handled in the exact same way since there is no cookie cutter approach.  There are also areas within the designated development areas that have unique characteristics and that is the reason, of course, for the principle that says site planning that respects terrain.  She felt that on this site they have the opportunity to preserve some of those features with careful site design.  There are so many areas within the development area that they do not have natural features remaining that have that kind of value.  She felt that part of this site was unique in that sense.

·         Can this amendment be adequately reviewed with the submitted information, or do we need more to complete the review.  Staff feels that more information is needed.  She felt that at this stage they had adequate information to talk about fundamental issues, but she did not think they could go too far without more information.

·         Is regional service-level retail appropriate and, if so, what form should it take in terms of what scale, how should the parking work and what design should be used?  Staff does not have any recommendations on that.

·         Should a redesignation from Industrial Service to Regional Service be evaluated for its implications on employment potential, both here and elsewhere?  Staff feels strongly that it should.  She felt that they were converting a lot of previously designated Industrial Service sites to essentially retail sites that is probably a sign of the times in a certain sense.  She noted that they do not want to forget that employment is very important.  Therefore, she suggested that they at least talk about it.

·         What is the appropriate mix of uses that should be provided as part of the amendment to the Comprehensive Plan for this area?  Staff feels that needs to be determined, but does not have any guidance on that.

·         What role, if any, should this area play in implementing the City’s fifth Street Corridor Plan?  Staff suggests that where feasible, this site should support the corridor plan due to the fact that the City is so committed to the plan.

·         What should the relationship of this site be to Avon Street corridor?  With its wide range of uses, the Avon Street corridor offers the eastern part of the site many possibilities.  They certainly want to enhance the positives on Avon Street and introduce some other positive change.  She pointed out that there was a lot of frontage and visibility on Avon Street because the land was completely flat.  She noted that it would have impact no matter what they do.

·         What is the Commission’s position on redevelopment of the former landfill?  What types of uses would be appropriate?  Staff advocates redeveloping the landfill, considering it to be valuable property given its size and location close to the City and County’s urban area.  Employment-generating uses might be located there, where structures with smaller footprints may be more practical to build given the unconsolidated state of the fill material beneath the surface of the land.  Under certain circumstances you could probably do the big box there.  If we were a typical city where land was in short supply, that would be a very valuable site for a redevelopment.  The County might not be at that point, but she imagined that it has been done some where.  Because of the environmental factors related to the former landfill use, it does not seem appropriate for residential use, nor would the existing uses near it on Avon Street seem to enhance the residential experience.

·         Are there any Architectural Review Board/Entrance Corridor questions related to the development of this site?  Staff feels that there will be many questions related to the Entrance Corridors, particular given the probable visibility of large retail structures from two corridors. She felt that this would probably come a little bit later in the review.  Although as you think about the organization of uses on this site, we should be thinking about the impacts on the Corridors too because some uses are much harder to mitigate than other uses.

 

Staff stated that was a brief review of the summary questions.  The Commission has some early comments from other reviewers in the packet.  Staff anticipates getting many more detailed comments from some of those same reviewers as additional information is supplied.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were questions for Ms. Thomas.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the property abutted right up to Avon Street and if it would be a good spot for the location of a big box.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that it did abut Avon Street and would be a location for a big box.  She pointed out that the applicant did not want to use that area for the big box.  She stated that in some circumstances a big box could be done on a site like that.  If you are in a situation where land is in short supply or if that appears to be the best place, there are technical ways of making that happen even on a former landfill.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were other questions.  There being none, he stated that he understood that the applicant has a brief power point presentation that he would like to share with us.  He asked the secretary to allow the applicant ten minutes for the presentation.

 

Frank Cox stated that he was representing Coran Capshaw and New Era Properties on this property that the former applicant would prefer that you not refer to as Brass, Inc.  He stated that it was now being referred to as the Fifth Street/Avon Street Project.  As they have had a chance to work with New Era Properties over the last seven or eight months, they have had a rewarding planning opportunities because they have been able to get together with both VDOT and the County and work on some things. Due to technical difficulties with his computer, Mr. Cox stated that he would have to save the slide show until next time.  While they were reviewing pieces of the former applications that took place in the 1998/1999 period, they tried to pull together a project to challenge all of us from a planning perspective.  They needed to decide whether or not it was advisable to move towards a Regional Service designation on this property.  The areas of Neighborhood IV and V really do in fact if you look at it at a macro scale represent a Neighborhood Model.  The only thing that is missing in the area is a center. One of the graphics that he hoped to show them was some fairly clear representations of the amount of significant infill land use that has occurred since the last time the Comprehensive Plan’s growth area boundaries for this area were adjusted.  What they have seen over the last a half a dozen years in particular have been three or four major apartment projects that have gotten underway. This was really the last undeveloped piece of property that was unzoned in the area that does not have a fairly significant zoning designation to it other than the Granger property.  This piece of property, the 89 acres, was comprised of three principle properties – the Brass site, the Grand Piano site, and the Dittmar property.  In unison they afford us the opportunity to do some things that they did not have the ability to do five years ago when they began a platting process for Brass when they were proposing a Walmart on the property.  The graphic behind you shows the general organization of the major transportation elements that would be implemented as a part of this.  He stated that they could call it the last remaining piece of the southern parkway if you want or give it another name.  This plan would provide a way to provide an Avon Street/Fifth Street connection, which in the event for what ever reason the extension of the southern parkway through the Mill Creek Subdivision never comes about, then this would be a very significant improvement to benefit regional transportation.  He pointed out that they have developed a fairly transportation analysis, looked at the regional impacts, and evaluated intersections further to the north and in the City that are now suffering the consequences of having no real connection through to Fifth Street or the University area until you get into the City proffer.  Therefore to have an opportunity to participate and provide a right-of-way as they do their planning on this, he felt that the applicant’s ability to pull these three properties together under a unified control is fairly significant.  The real issue is that of to be or not to be for the big box.  When they visited this issue last time, the staff and he agreed to disagree.  The Commission recommended adopted language that would restrict the gross first floor square footage on buildings to significantly less than a big user would demand. One of the things that they have done over the years has been to sample the attitudes of shoppers in this neighborhood as well as adding Fashion Square Mall.  They found that a significant portion of those surveyed that are now shopping at Fashion Square, Walmart and Kmart felt that from a time and distance standpoint from their place of residence, that this site would be as easy to get to as any other site. That gives a bit of a subjective market argument to promote the notion that they really want to get to the bottom of and that is whether or not the County feels that this is an appropriate regional service site.  The market analysis supports it. Based on the demographic and population growth alone there is going to be a demand between now and 2012 for upwards of 1.8 million square feet of significant retail space for stores from anywhere from 3,000 to 180,000 square feet in size.  These stores will have a measured desire to get into this market place.  He pointed out that he knew of 50 to 80 stores that were playing one site against the other trying to locate at essential locations in and around the region.  This is certainly a site that they have no end users except for Dominion Power that they were bringing to the table tonight.  This is a site that would serve well to have on the north side of the proposed connector piece a community level center of roughly 100,000 square feet that would provide an upscale grocery, drug and community level support that would undergrid the spaces that are now in the Foodlion Center and on the south side the interest has been in a large format building up to 160,000 square feet.  Without painting a specific picture of how the lines would be drawn on the page, the image of this 89-acre site is not one of a pristine Neighborhood Model, but it was being presented as a regional service model.  The committed use is that of Dominion Power under the existing Light Industrial zoning.  They have submitted a site plan and are proceeding through under the current zoning and conventional site plan review process. Dominion Power plans to support the employment goals in this neighborhood by providing as many as 100 to 120 employees at this location. The site is going to be for Dominion’s consolidation of their operations at Hydraulic Road as well as in Orange for a maintenance yard, an operations center and a communications center that will provide a maintenance facility for all power operations in and around Albemarle County.  That is one use that the applicant is moving ahead with.  This application is a regional service request and was a request that would introduce the ability to achieve a right-of-way that they understand the County would like.  They feel that in order to best represent the highest and best development potentials of this property, the program that they have outlined in the Comprehensive Plan Amendment is the one that they would like for you to give careful consideration to.  Given the fact that they have submitted a near concurrent zoning amendment application with this and how that correlates to Susan’s request for more information, the applicant would be more than willing and able to provide a very detailed master planning package on it if there was a way to bring the CPA and the ZMA process in to concurrency.  At this stage, they wanted to get the Commission’s direction as to what the most appropriate uses would be in this area.  In addition, they wanted to tackle the issues of building size irrespective of what market demands might be and how to best introduce a fairly important transportation issue. He stated that Susan’s inquiries are very appropriate and they would like to hear some of the answers.

 

Ms. Hopper asked why he asked for regional service designation this go round instead of community service/mixed use. 

 

Mr. Cox stated that you could not do big boxes in Community Service.

 

Mr. Thomas asked on the road going through the property if Virginia Power would require access from both directions to Avon Street and Fifth Street.

 

Mr. Cox stated that dual access was highly desirable to Dominion Power.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the road would be put in before anything else would be changed.

 

Mr. Cox stated that the site plan that they have submitted for Dominion will utilize the existing road and bridge that was constructed in order to provide access to what was described as a regional industrial center 25 years ago.  The principle approach that Dominion has submitted would be along the existing road.

 

Mr. Finley stated that he talked about the survey that was made that indicated that the average shopper in the south would be well served here.

 

Mr. Cox stated that given the growth in the southern growth areas and all but one or two of the major southern urban tracts in Neighborhood IV and V are filling in or have plans on the boards to fill in that area.  Then the population density was going to be fairly significant and it could be one of the denser areas in the County over the next 10 to 12 years.  He stated that their evaluation of this seven years ago examined the demographic influences from Fluvanna, Louisa and Augusta Counties for regional level shopping opportunities.  There was a very direct correlation between this site and the ability to capture shoppers from those areas. He stated that since the Comp Plan was reviewed for this area, outside of the Rural Areas density, and is going to support a certain level for regional shopping demands for this site.  Within the County’s growth area there are several thousand units that are planned in this area that were not on the table five or ten years ago.

 

Ms. Hopper asked what designation was used for Albemarle Place.

 

Mr. Cox stated that Albemarle Place was regional, but applicant agreed to the smaller footprint.

 

Mr. Finley asked what he meant when he said upscale on the north side.

 

Mr. Cox stated that he was referring to the upscale grocery store, which would be larger than the existing one at that Food Lion Center.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that the alignment of the road and the numbers were not on the topo.  It appears that that center or traffic circle is almost on the absolute top of the hill.  He asked if he could tell him roughly how that corresponds to the topography of I-64.  He asked if this road would actually enter but appears that center or traffic circle is almost at the top of the hill.

 

Mr. Cox stated that they have developed sections through the site that show the relationships.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if there was a reason for going up to the top of the hill that he was missing.

 

Mr. Cox stated that the top of the hill was going to be coming down a bit in order to accommodate the earth work requirements.  He stated that the existing VDOT right-of-way along the southern property boundary was very heavily treed at this point. During nine months of the year there are very few penetrating views into the site.  That is what the sections that they have developed would show.  He stated that it would be a mistake to represent that there would be no views into the property.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked where the 5 acres of critical environmental areas located.

 

Mr. Cox stated that the area would be along the stream channel.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out the location of the preservation site.

 

Mr. Cox pointed out that there was over one mile of frontage along Moore’s Creek as well as the influx at Biscuit Run.  He noted that there was a stream enhancement habitat project currently being pursued that they planned to have some discussions with the group. He noted that the stream had some deterioration from section to section not from the dumping from the City but from some individuals.

 

Mr. Craddock asked if the part through the City between Moore’s Creek and Fifth Street was in the floodplain.

 

Mr. Cox stated that it was in the floodplain.

 

Mr. Craddock suggested that the old trees be protected and that the Meadowcreek Parkway follows the contours of the creek.

 

Mr. Cox stated that it was safe to say that in the area outside of the green that there will be very little opportunity for significant vegetative preservation.  He pointed out that in order to have any retail development, whether it is a neighborhood community or a regional center, there would need to be fairly extensive excavation on the property.  The contention that they have with staff’s opinion is that they feel that the bridge crossing at that point would be environmentally detriment, but he felt that there were some ways to mitigate that.  The primary reason that they selected that as an entrance location was that in prior years the City was not particularly keen on the notice of them using Bent Creek Drive. Staff’s recommendation is to use Bent Creek Drive as the primary entrance.  He stated that either entrance could be improved to the extent that it would satisfy any future VDOT recommendations as far as how transportation improvements would be implemented.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any further questions for Mr. Cox.  There being none, he asked if it would be helpful for the Commission to go through the questions for consideration raised by staff.  He pointed out that since the information was very general, he felt that the Commission’s comments should remain fairly in general as a result. The first question is does the Commission want to consider amending the Comprehensive Plan Neighborhood Four Profile designation for this property. Staff recommends that the Commission proceed to consider an amendment.  Staff has gone so far as to prepare a resolution to that effect.  He asked if they would agree with staff’s position.  He pointed out that when the Commission first started reviewing the Brass, Inc. amendment, they felt that the industrial service designation was not necessarily the most appropriate use for this property.  He stated that he still feels that way.  He asked if anyone not think that they should consider amending the Comprehensive Plan.  There being none, he asked that they mark question number one off of staff’s list and note that the Commission would come back to adopt the resolution before they leave.  The second question is how the Neighborhood Four Profile language previously developed for CPA-97-05, Brass, Inc., could be considered as a part of this amendment request. Staff has articulated that there are many elements of that language that they feel is still appropriate.  Staff has learned some things in the intervening six years and certain circumstances have changed a little bit.  He asked how the other Commissioners felt about that.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that they would be really useful as a guide, but he would like to see them as Commissioners massage it quite a bit.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that reflected his view of that.  He felt that it was a excellent place to begin.  He stated that he thought about that often when they have reviewed other projects.  He pointed out that he caught himself looking back to the discussions that they had then and he felt that they remain pertinent.

 

Ms. Hopper pointed out that they actually pulled the language from that proposed CPA to consider those other projects.  She stated that what they have learned from the language of the other projects would be helpful when they look at this.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if there were any other points.  He stated that number three, can this amendment be adequately reviewed with the submitted information or is additional information necessary to complete the review.  If additional information is necessary what information is desired.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that he would not want to require any additional information to go through the resolution.  He asked if anyone had any ideas on what they thought it might need.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that they feel comfortable with the resolution of intent.  The information that they have was close to a blank sheet of paper since it is a little green and a little pink with no design.  He felt that they have a number of examples that have been required in the past for CPA’s.  One example is Albemarle Place. The issue of the CPA not going to the design level without a concurrent ZMA is not one that he was personally sympathetic.  They need to resolve some of these issues at the CPA level and then resolve them further at the ZMA level. He stated that he did not see any reason why this CPA should be treated any different than the others since they have almost always been accompanied with a masterplan.

 

Ms. Hopper noted particularly on the recent ones.

 

Mr. Thomas pointed out that he heard Mr. Cox say that they would present that to us.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the difference is that when they get to that level of specificity they want to link the special use permit and the ZMA. Staff has been resistant to that and so has the Commission.  He stated that the answer to number three is a lot more information is needed. He noted that they need the design of this and need to be convinced that this is a proposal that will function and work well.

 

Mr. Finley stated that the last part of question # 3 included the alternative approach.  He asked if that should occur after the information has been received.

 

Mr. Rieley stated yes.

 

Mr. Finley stated that the developer should be involved with expectations and finding other perimeters.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that was a good point. He stated that staff has articulated that there are things that are different from both the size of the project and the adjacent conditions including many other things since this came to us in its scaled down form previously.  Therefore, we can begin to articulate the language that would address what those changes are during the time that a more specific proposal is being put together. That would be completely appropriate. In other words, these are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that the response to the second question addresses that.  The lessons learned in the previous exercise should be applied since it would be unfair to the applicant to hit him with a lot of concerns after the fact.  It would be developer and the staff working together to come up with the language that would be appropriate.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that question # 4 was is regional service-level appropriate, and, if so, how should it be provided in terms of design, scale, parking, etc.

 

Ms. Hopper stated that regional service is appropriate if the level of detail in the CPA is specific enough.  She felt that was one of her concerns that if the ZMA was abandoned and you were left with a very general CPA that designated retail service, then you could have planning effects that you would not want to have.  She felt that if the design issues are resolved enough for the CPA level, that regional service could be appropriate.  She pointed out that it would not just be the design issues, but the whole package.

 

Mr. Thomas, Mr. Craddock and Mr. Rieley agreed that was a good way to put it

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it could be appropriate, but it depends on all of the other associated things, particularly design.  He stated that # 5 was should a redesignation from Industrial Service to Regional Service be evaluated for its implications on employment potential, here and Countywide. He stated that Ms. Thomas persuaded him that the overall effect of this was an important issue that he would like to know more about.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that they would want to look at other existing employment opportunities or reservoirs in this area.  But also they should include within the greater designated development area because they have so many things occurring at the same time that are all converting industrial to some kind of retail or other use.  She pointed out that the new economy did take a different form, and therefore she felt that their discussion would benefit from digging in a little bit.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it was an important piece of the puzzle and was one of the things that they do not know enough about yet.

 

Mr. Thomas pointed out that County wide they may need more Light Industrial rezoning so that they can act rather than react when someone comes on board that needs some industrial property.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the next question is what is the appropriate mix of uses that should be provided as part of an amendment in the Comprehensive Plan for this area.  He felt that this was a difficult one to put your finger on.  He noted that he would like to put this in context with a couple of things that Mr. Cox said earlier.  Mr. Cox mentioned that Neighborhoods IV and V essentially constitute a neighborhood, but that the center is missing.  He felt that it was a good point.  He stated that there was a lot of residential development that has occurred within that area and that there is more that will likely occur.  The commercial and business element to support that residential was an appropriate context to evaluate this proposal.  He pointed out that it is important to remember that they have been within DISC identifying neighborhoods that are essentially walking distance, which would draw a much tighter circle around these. Nevertheless, when they were talking about the mix of uses and the residential component of this, he felt that they should have it.  However, he also felt that they should take into account the fact that it was surrounded by a lot of existing residential both in the City and the County.  He asked if they have a consensus that it should be.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that Mr. Cox’s point is well taken that there would be some relief from having some type of retail experience between these two neighborhoods. He pointed out that he was having a lot of trouble seeing that as part of the Neighborhood Model because that was more focused on sustaining the Neighborhood. The proposal would be retail focused on the regional level.  Therefore, in addition to supporting Neighborhoods IV and V, it is going to be bringing in traffic from the entire central Virginia area.  That will have a very positive economic effect in certain ways.  He felt that it was more of a suburban sprawl model.  He stated that DISC has been trying to direct the development patterns. There would be no way to take these neighborhoods and reconfigure them at this point into the Neighborhood Model.  So may be this is an appropriate response, but at the same time they need to have their eyes open that the attractiveness of this market is not just for the Neighborhoods IV and V because the retailers will be bringing in a lot of people into the community.  He pointed out that their decision would have a tremendous effect on I-64 and all of the roads in this area.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that was a good point.  He stated that he was happy to concede the point that Mr. Cox made that this is not a particularly appropriate site for a pure Neighborhood Model.  The other side of the coin is that neither is it a site for a pure regional service designation.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that what they want to have is regional service, and then if they could mix in community service in with the regional and gradually bring it back to maybe some residential.  He stated that the regional service would benefit the City and surrounding Counties.  He felt that if the Regional Service were mixed a little bit that it would be appropriate.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that they all had opinions about what that mix of use should be.  The next questions were what role, if any, should this area play in implementing the City’s Fifth Street Corridor Plan.

 

Ms. Hopper and Mr. Craddock agreed with staff.

 

Mr. Finley stated that it would be more feasible.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he was happy with that.  The next question was what should the relationship of this area to be to the Avon Street Corridor.  He stated as articulated there is a wide variety of things that could work well on that side.  He noted that he did not know the technical issues and challenges of developing on top of an old landfill.  He stated that they were formable, but thought that there was a range of things that can happen there, which would all depend on how it was designed and how it fits together. He noted his struggle with the Avon Street Corridor and the transportation pattern in general.  He stated that the connection between these two properties should be not perceived of as a parkway, but as an urban boulevard.  The boulevard is going to serve not only people coming form all kinds of directions who may live on this property who come here to shop, but it will also serve as a major road as a way to get around within this area.  He pointed out that he would use this road to take his children to Monticello High School.  He felt that there was going to be a tremendous amount of use of this major connection, which was one of the chief benefits of this proposal.  Therefore, he felt that it should be perceived as a major connection from the very beginning.  The next question, # 9, was what is the Commission’s position on the redevelopment on the former landfill and what types of uses would be appropriate.  He stated that they do not know enough yet to know.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that because of the increased concern about this, there are people who specialize in what can and cannot be done safely.  He pointed out that there was an environmental group in town that does this all over the world.  He stated that personally he was worried about residential being incorporated on this because of problems in other areas.

 

Mr. Finley asked how many acres were involved.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that the Dittmar parcel was about 22 acres.  She pointed out that at first the landfill went all the way south of the interstate and encompassed the Regional Jail Facility.  She pointed out that the County learned some interesting things about the landfill when they were building the jail.  She noted that she had discussed this with Ron Lilly, Project Manager for the Jail, and found that the outcome was quite good from our standpoint because we were able to develop the jail on the property partly because they already had a jail facility there.  They were able to scoop the fill out where the jail building went and compact it under the parking lot associated with the jail.  Mr. Lilly had indicated that everybody was surprised how well it compacted at 95 percent.

 

Mr. Edgerton pointed out that he was worried about the health impacts.

 

Ms. Thomas stated that her point was that it turned out to be a usable site at the southern end.  After talking with Mr. Hirschman, she found that the most hazardous material that they found on that was medical waste, which was literally a physical hazard.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that question # 10 is are there Architectural Review Board Entrance Corridor questions related to the development of this site.  He stated that clearly there would be a lot of questions and issues related to the Entrance Corridor. He stated that the applicant was going to have to wrestle with the question of what is the scene that they would be left with from I-64.  He feared that they would see the loading docks of a big box.  He asked if there were other general thoughts that anyone would like to pass on.  He stated that he agreed with the comment that Mr. Cox made about the significance of bringing these three parcels together.  He stated that gives us a tremendous opportunity to have a success for everybody including the community.  He stated that he looked forward to see what happens at the next level of resolution to this.  He pointed out that they have a resolution before the Commission to consider changing the land use designation.  He asked that they take a few minutes for everybody to read the proposed resolution before they voted on it.

 

Mr. Thomas moved for approval of the resolution of intent with the recommended alterations as follows:

 

RESOLUTION

 

            WHEREAS, the Development Area Profiles section of the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan sets forth recommendations related to land use, public utilities, transportation, public facilities and other elements related to land development within the designated Development Areas of Albemarle County. 

 

            WHEREAS, upon a request by the County or a property owner, the Comprehensive Plan may be amended by the Board of Supervisors, acting upon a recommendation by the Planning Commission, in response to criteria first adopted by the Board of Supervisors on April 17, 1985, and amended December 11, 1991, effective April 1, 1992;

 

            WHEREAS, under the above-referenced criteria, the Planning Commissions finds that a change in circumstance has occurred relative to property located within Neighborhood Four, a designated Development Area, described as Tax Map 76M(1), Parcels 2A, 2B, and 4A, and Tax Map 77, Parcel 11;

 

            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT for purposes of public necessity, convenience, general welfare and good zoning practices, the Albemarle County Planning Commission hereby adopts a resolution to consider amendment of the Neighborhood Four Profile, a portion of the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan.

 

            BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment, and make its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

 

Ms. Hopper seconded the motion.

 

The motion was unanimously approved (6:0). (Loewenstein – absent)

 

James Savage, of 1203 Foxhorn Court, spoke in opposition to the big box being located off of Fifth Street because of the significant impact on the traffic in the area.  He suggested that the development be respectful of the historic elements of the community.

 

In summary, the Commission held a work session on CPA-2003-02, 5th Street/Avon Street Mixed Use Complex.  The Commission discussed the issues involved, discussed staff’s list of questions and took action to approve a resolution of intent to consider amendment of the Neighborhood Four Profile, a portion of the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan. 

 

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