Planning Commission Ė June 8, 2004 Work Session
CPA 2003-02 5th Street/Avon Street Mixed Use Complex Ė 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 (Fifth Street Extended) and Rt. 742 (Avon Street) immediately north of Interstate 64, in Neighborhood Four. Existing zoning is LI, Light Industrial, and EC, Entrance Corridor. (Susan Thomas)
Ms. Thomas referred the Commission to the model that an intern had constructed of the site. She pointed out that it was such a good model that she wanted to use it at every opportunity. The model shows the topography of the site, which has been the subject from the very first discussion. She summarized the staff report. (See the Attached copy of the staff report.) This is the Fifth Street/Avon Street mixed use complex that was a Comprehensive Plan amendment. This is the Commissionís third meeting on this particular Comp Plan Amendment. There were a series of meetings between 1997 and 1999 on an earlier amendment that was ultimately withdrawn right before the Board was scheduled to act. In this case, the Commission met about eleven months ago for the first time and then jointly with the City Planning Commission in October. Currently there is a revised proposal by the applicant, which includes one item that was requested by the Commission that was the concept plan. It is somewhat minimal, but it is definitely more detailed than what they had previously.
The latest submittal contains several significant changes to the CPA application:
∑ Dominion Resources is no longer a part of the project, reducing the employment use by half. The Grand Piano Furniture Warehouse parcel, which would have been converted to the Dominion Resources use with some additional acreage, is now off the table.
∑ The existing Grand Piano road has been incorporated in the transportation network, as requested by the Planning Commission on October 14.
∑ Access from Fifth Street Extended to the site is via the existing Bent Creek Bridge exclusively, which was an earlier request of both staff and the Commission. Based on impacts from new bridges, our Engineering and Water Quality staff very early on said that if they could use the existing bridge they could certainly minimize detrimental impacts to the stream.
∑ The retail square footage has increased by approximately 50 percent in the latest proposal. There is no residential use included in this particular concept.
In staffís opinion the retail use is not particularly under contention. Since the earlier review between 1997 and 1999 there has been considerable support both at the Planning Commission level and really at the Boardís level as well for some retail use in this area. It is needed in the neighborhood. There are not a lot of opportunities for the larger footprint retail. Therefore, there is a fairly consistent level of support for that. There are issues related to the scale of it, the mix, how the road design and access should work exactly and probably most of all the site design in how should this site be handled in terms of a concept plan for this particular project. She stated that she would quickly run through a few of the key points in the staff report, take the Commissionís questions and then go to the preliminary language that was included to get them thinking about the different points that they find to be most important for discussion. In this revised submittal, which came in April of this year, the applicant is suggesting because this site is fairly central in location in Urban Neighborhood IV and V, that it could be a town center rather than attempting to be a full mixed use project. She felt that was a question for the Commission. If it was to be a town center, it should look and function as a town center. Staff does not think that the current concept plan does that. Staff feels that it looks like a very conventional shopping center. She stated that there were lots of things that could be done and room for improvement to make it a much more attractive, more functional and a more appropriate kind of town center. But, the Commission needs to decide, for instance, if they think that residential is an important part of this mix. Or, the Commission may decide to weigh in on the level of retail square footage since it has increased. Staff made some comments about that in the staff report. The Commission may want to say some things about whether this is a good site for a town center or not. It is an interesting site because of the natural and man-made features, which kind of cuts it off somewhat from the surrounding neighborhoods. If it did not have the creeks or the interstate, it probably would be more easily connected to what is around it. But, the reality is that it is sort of a unique situation. Staff has always maintained that its constraints offer some real opportunities. It has some amazing natural features and some interesting topography. It has a lot of natural amenities that many sites in the urban area donít have that staff felt could be used to their advantage in site design. She noted that she wanted to touch on a few comments from the other reviewers. David Hirschman under Water Resources is cautious about major improvements to the Grand Piano Road. He says this should not become the major road through the site simply because it was so close to the creek. He says that if grading can be minimized and they could work with what is already there. That was the concept that she thought that they had always had of not expanding the road, but working within the existing road bed and leaving the hill side largely intact, which would then protect Mooreís Creek from additional water quality impacts related to a lot of grading. He also notes that the tributary stream in the middle of the site, which was not shown very clearly on the concept plan, would be a major fill operation. Therefore, they need to be careful with that. Our engineers have speculated that might be where a major storm water management facility would go. If the road were to end up on the dam holding that wet pond or wet detention facility in place, then that was something that makes transportation people nervous. David also said that in addition to meeting the minimum requirements of the Water Protection Ordinance, the concept for the site should also promote some innovating and some creative ways of managing storm water. She stated that the applicant probably has some ideas on that. As per the Transportation Plannerís comments, the revised transportation impact analysis has not been submitted. She pointed out that the applicant was working on it and VDOT will have to evaluate it. She cautioned the Commission that this site may not be able to support unlimited retail square footage if they are going to use the Brent Street Road Bridge and have workable intersections on Fifth Street Extended and Avon. There is a limit to the kind of traffic that you can feed in either direction. VDOT noted right away that when you dramatically increase the retail square footage, you get a very heavy P.M. peak hour impact. It would not be such an impact in the A.M. because people are not shopping as much as in the afternoon. That is something that staff will be watching out for in the transportation analysis to be cautious about. It is an existing bridge. If the bridge gets rebuilt they would still have an existing intersection with businesses on both sides. Therefore, this site might not be able to accept an unlimited scale of retail. She pointed out that she was not weighing in on what that scale should be right now, but felt that was something they should look at carefully in the transportation analysis.
Mr. Rieley asked what the mechanism was to make the level of retail development a little more finite while still utilizing the Bent Creek Bridge.
Ms. Thomas stated that it may be that they might get a better response from the applicant. She felt what was going to happen was there was going to be a certain amount of volume that can pass through there all at one time. They might have to extrapolate from that what kind of square footages and mixes can really work on the site. She stated that mixing the uses up more would probably be more beneficial because of the opportunity for some complimentary peaks and uses for residential or something that would have an impact for something that is just not one big dominant use. She noted that it was very hard to talk about this right now because they donít have that analysis.
To summarize the discussion here, she pointed out that over the years of talking about and considering various changes to this site, staff has sort of created a series of informal guidelines. The guidelines have not been adopted, but have come up consistently in discussions. The first one is that there are some natural features on this site that deserve consideration in site development. There are also some limitations to this site. It has some real external constraints, such as the interstate, the creeks and the roads. Beyond that it is not the sort of site that is necessarily wide open to be flattened and developed without some consequences that might involve loses something valuable. There has always been a discussion about the scale of development on this site and what should be mixed in. She asked that the Commission weigh on that. The final point is that the property is designated for Industrial Service right now. It is zoned Light Industrial. They have seen that conversion happen throughout the County in areas like Sperry and the Hollymead area, which at one time were Industrial Service with the idea that they would be manufacturing or something that probably was quite outdated in our new economy. There is really a need to think about those employment opportunities and not give them all away. The Dittmer parcel is shown for future employment potential. In the questions that she asked the appraisers, the commercial realtors and the owners/developers about the flexible space that she got a resounding yes that they need it very much from all of them. Therefore, there might be a form of development that could fit on the site that would also provide some job opportunities for the future, which would be flexible in order that all kinds of jobs could go there. Therefore, that issue has kind of stayed with the site throughout the discussions as well. There are market factors, which the applicantís representative will probably talk about those tonight. It is expensive, which is the old land field that was not really closed like it would be done today. It is unconsolidated material. But, that does not mean that it is not usable. She suggested that it be considered how that fits with the pace and the phasing of development of the rest of the site. She pointed out that she did not think they had to have the graphics, but they do need to be able to describe their concepts. She suggested that they work on the language under transportation to say that they want the site to have multiple connections where possible.
Mr. Rieley stated that the staff report acknowledges the fact that this property is a good place for some regional service activity. It also makes the point that is not mutually exclusive with having some retail that is walk able and that is designed in such a way that it has a pedestrian component and scale to it. He felt that the challenge both for the developer and the reviewers is to figure out and to work towards a reasonable balance of those objectives. He stated that this staff report is a terrific starting place for that.
Mr. Thomas asked if there were additional questions for Susan Thomas. There being none, he invited the applicant.
Mr. Thomas asked if the applicant would like to address the Commission.
Steve Blaine stated that Frank Cox and Mike Fenner, from the Cox Company, were present to answer any questions. For the benefit of the Commissioners who did not have a chance to participate in prior work sessions, he pointed out that they have had conversations with various Commissioners about the underlying justification that the applicant has to make for this Comprehensive Plan Amendment. He pointed out that was to show why the land use map should be changed from Industrial Service to Regional Service. He stated that he did not want to presume, although what they had heard from the staff, and perhaps they have heard some consensus here tonight that the Regional Service Land Use Designation is appropriate and that the Commission would support that Land Use Designation. It seems that they have skipped beyond that determination or that justification and they were now talking about specific site characteristics in a concept plan that to be development must be zoned to a commercial zoning. He stated that he saw some heads shaking.
Mr. Rieley pointed out that was putting words into his mouth.
Mr. Blaine stated that he thought that he would be remiss in not supporting the justification. As the applicant, they do bear that burden, which was the reason for the submission that they received that was prepared by the Cox Company dated April 1. He stated that he would not take the time tonight to go through that, but he would direct their attention to the justification which follows the good old fashion policy considerations for changing a Comprehensive Plan Amendment. That is principally a change in circumstances. What has changed about the market place, the surrounding land uses, the transportation needs that justifies changing this from an Industrial designation that supports manufacturing, fabrication, contractorís offices and storage yards and warehouses to a Regional designation that would support the kind of uses that he had heard here tonight in addition to the commercial and retail, medical centers, mixed use development, urban density residential, professional and commercial offices. They donít get to those uses until they change the Comp Plan to allow a rezoning. The justification is well presented by the Cox Company in their presentation. Perhaps some of these justifications have been interpreted as a prelude to design features. A good example of that are the circumstances surrounding the property. There is some multi-housing at the southern end, which is very far away, with some affordable housing as you go into the City that surrounds this infill opportunity. To point that out does not say that this must be a town center. What they were saying was that the regional uses are justified by the proximity to the interstate and also the commercial neighborhood and community uses are well supported in this location because its central locations among these residential uses. That does not mean that it has to be a town center. He stated that they donít report to say that the concept plan that they have is a town center. They donít have to make it a town center to follow the Neighborhood Model. The Neighborhood Model applies to a rezoning in this property no matter what you do. As he understands the Comp Plan, the Neighborhood Model has been adopted been adopted in it. Rezonings and other land use determinations are considered under the Neighborhood Model. Therefore, he thought that they have gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves, but that was not to say that the applicant would not support the kind of textural approach that the staff report reflects in the sense of identifying the key characteristics of the site that merit reservation. As the concept plan and the justification that the Cox Company put together there is an opportunity to preserve this corridor of 12 to 15 acres of green way corridor and park opportunity. There are these natural features that can be incorporated into an overall concept plan. But it is not the mechanism or the forum to tie details in the Comprehensive Plan that may tie the future zoning application and considerations. An example of that would be the Hollymead Town Center where the Comprehensive Plan Amendment did have a fairly detailed concept plan. It was not intended to be an application plan, which is submitted with a rezoning request. But, some of the reviewers in the process and the Architectural Review Board in particular felt that their hands were tied because of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment. Therefore, they did not have the mechanism to impose the restrictions and conditions on an approval that you have at your disposal on a rezoning, but at the same time they had a Comprehensive Plan that said well this is what you are going to expect and this is what you need to support. He asked them to consider a better approach to address the key characteristics and the key features and leave the detail that requires Engineering, professionals and consultants to the rezoning stage. They have a mechanism like the proffer mechanism. The staff report mentions specifically in respect to transportation improvements that the applicant has agreed to make certain improvements. He pointed out that the applicant has not agreed to make transportation improvements. That would be in the nature of a proffer. As you know, a proffer is a voluntary commitment to make an infrastructure, or a similar kind of improvement, as an induction for a rezoning. Therefore, it is inappropriate to have that type of language in the Comp Plan Amendment. It is not inappropriate to indicate that the Comp Plan should reflect a connector road and to spell out the characteristics and features of what you envision in that connector road. He pointed out that they believe that a connector road could accommodate a two-lane road without parking for example. That is a feature and is something that is helpful in this process and certainly appropriate in the Comp Plan Amendment. In terms of the transportation improvements and the study that has been submitted. There was a complete regional traffic study submitted with the Comp Plan Amendment in the original concept that included Dominion Resources. VDOT has no interest in reviewing traffic studies for Comp Plan Amendments. The applicant has volunteered because of the change in the uses in the proposal since they dropped Dominion Power to supplement that traffic study with the additional retail that would be used. The study has been done and the information is there, but they have not asked staff to review and comment on it. But, it is incorrect to state that the traffic has not been analyzed. It has been thoroughly analyzed and they were prepared to address it appropriately at the rezoning. Regarding Bent Creek Road Bridge, they anticipate because of the design that VDOT wants to incorporate a traffic circle will require a rebuild of the bridge. They know that, but would like to know if the Commission would support the traffic circle. If that is not a feature that you donít want to see, then they are headed down a whole another direction with VDOT and design decisions that could lead them off track. The justifications in terms of the change in circumstances, they have not for the first time a consolidation of parcels to give them some real critical mass to do a comp plan amendment to address all of these characteristics that you have heard about tonight including the connector road. They have not presumed to supplant the southern connector with this, but if this leads to a rezoning application in a real development plan, then the likelihood of that will provide some relieve for people who live in the southern area. There are no east/west connectors for commuters, pedestrians or shoppers. They can put in the pedestrian ways, but they cannot make the people walk there. In these designs and expectations they have to be realistic that people are primarily going to drive to this destination, but if they choose there will be pedestrian options for them. He asked for a reaction to that from the Commission. The concept plan is there to show that these principal uses can be accommodated on the site and if the Comp Plan is amended then the rezoning application will include those. But, it is not what they expect to be the final design. The sooner they can roll up their sleeves and get into the rezoning process where they can actually have a mechanism to make these commitments and design and engineer these key design elements the better. That is really what their client wants to do. They feel that this site has been pretty well looked over by from a public policy standpoint on this Regional Service, and they think it is time to move on. He pointed out that Frank Cox gave him a note, which he wrote in big letters, in response to the concern about the density of this proposed use. The FAR is a .16 and that is with a 47 percent land use. He stated that they can better address those design issues at the rezoning. He stated that the design that they submitted as part of an application plan may not meet all 12 of the criteria of the Neighborhood Model. In particular, if there was a use that is missing and it happens to be housing or residential the owner of piece on Avon Street is very keen on having that be designated residential, but it may be ahead of is time. The cost estimates to clean up that site are $2 to $3 a square foot. Therefore, it is not apparently affordable to build market housing for that location. Therefore, the concept plan and justification will have to address the mix of uses in a greater totality of the region. That is the purpose of the exhibit showing it surrounded by residential uses. It does not mean that it is a town center, but that it is surrounded by those uses. Those residents would be the workers, commuters and residents who use that site.
Ms. Higgins asked if there were any specific things that the applicant and staff needs comments tonight from the Commission to move this forward for the actual application for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment.
Ms. Thomas asked that the Commission weigh in on some of the concepts that she had placed in the preliminary language because there were probably some things missing. She pointed out that she had tried to be pretty concise about that and worked from Rivanna Place and Albemarle Place. She suggested that the Commission might like to add or delete some things from her suggestion.
Ms. Higgins pointed out that they were talking about possibly describing the elements in a more broad sense including the opportunities, but not being that detailed or specific.
Mr. Thomas asked if the entire Commissioners feel like there needs to be a discernable town center, which is listed under number one on page 4.
Mr. Rieley stated that he concurred with number one in its totality.
Mr. Morris and Ms. Joseph agreed with Mr. Rieley.
Ms. Higgins asked when they talked about the Neighborhood Model and the mixed use expectations if they were saying that those expectations are all encased on this site or could it be as the applicant had discussed that they look at the neighborhood as being bigger than the site. The way that this reads she would agree that it is very site specific. She asked if the neighborhood was just larger when you talk about the neighborhood character as being regional. The neighborhood would still be walkable and pedestrian accessible. Again, she pointed out that she went back to the small shops, main street kind of look versus regional. She noted that it seems kind of contradictory.
Mr. Thomas stated that the mixed use does not necessarily mean residential. Therefore, it should come back to the Commission at the rezoning stage so that they could be more detailed and more demanding on what they wanted to require regarding the Neighborhood Model.
Mr. Rieley stated that they needed to figure that out before the CPA. He pointed out that they have some fairly decent models to go by, which includes Albemarle Place and Rivanna Village that were good models. He stated that Mr. Blaine and staff were right that they donít want the illustrations to be so prescriptive that it does not allow any flexibility as you get to the rezoning level and as you get to the site plan level. Nevertheless, they need enough in the way of an illustration to show the intent and to show that these words have a meaning on this site. It needs to have a physical manifestation and it canít be simply overlooked. He stated that they needed to give guidance to the applicant and to staff at what level of expectation that we have for that illustration. From his perspective he would expect something along the lines of Rivanna Village and Albemarle Place as examples. He felt that in both of those cases there was flexibility. In the case of Albemarle Place, for example, there were drawings showing the street network that were inconsistent with the development plan that attached it. There was an acknowledgement built into that that these were things that had not been worked out at the CPA level. But there needs to be a better representation of what is articulated in the staff report even for the design in his view.
Ms. Higgins stated that he was basically saying that having the street network and realizing that it was not going to be designed that way at the rezoning stage was better than not having it.
Mr. Rieley stated that they have to show the intention and show that it can be done. It is not simply enough to articulate in text in his view. He felt that they need to have a physical representation and that is why the Commission required it in the other CPAís. He stated that anything less than that is taking a step backward.
Ms. Higgins stated that her struggle with this is that if they started out with the Comp Plan as it is, and it is not on this property but some other property, that in the Comp Plan it is shown as Regional Service. Then would the resulting rezoning be any less quality than one done from an illustration.
Mr. Rieley stated yes. For instance if this were zoned Regional Service now, then they would have absolutely no mechanism to encourage this connection from one street to another.
Ms. Higgins stated that would be done through the rezoning process. The interconnectivity would have road plans that have shown similar alignments and they would have guidance on how a Regional Service Development is done and also they have the Neighborhood Model.
Mr. Rieley stated that if it was Regional Service and it was designated that way, he did not believe that you would ever get that road way proffered in order to get the rezoning.
Ms. Higgins stated that it would get proffered in the rezoning itself and not in the Comp Plan amendment.
Mr. Benish stated that to the extent that can be a point that is a basis for evaluating the rezoning consistency with the Comp Plan. If it was not identified in the Comp Plan, they may have some difficulty utilizing that as a measure by which the rezoning could be considered.
Ms. Higgins stated that is a key element. She asked what the other key elements were. That means if something else comes before the Commission and there is an area in the Comp Plan for Light Industrial and someone comes in with a Light Industrial rezoning, then they have to compare that rezoning with what the Comp Plan shows. But they donít have the level of detail that he was suggesting that they do with this.
Mr. Rieley stated that they have to work with what they have and that was the reason they have been working with a base that has required them to essentially accept less than what they should have been getting in lots of cases. It is the reason that they have increasingly insisted in recent years in having more detail at the Comp Plan level. It is because they have gotten to the rezoning level time after time again and wished that they had it.
Mr. Morris asked if this is an example of the transportation layout that he was talking about.
Mr. Rieley stated that he thought that this is a real important step in the right direction to articulate a connection that has different kinds of roads in different kinds of places. This kind of illustration accompanied with the kind of text that they have in the staff report is really helpful when you get to the rezoning level. Similarly, when they start talking about neighborhood scale streets and making this kind of connection between regional service and the more local service and perhaps residential and that is what is missing. What we have now are boxes in a sea of parking and they need to bring that to the same level of resolution that this is.
Mr. Benish circulated copies of the Rivanna Place and Albemarle Place Comp Plan Amendments so that the Commission can see what they look like. (See Attachments)
Ms. Thomas pointed out that it was a copy of her working copy so it had some scribbles on it.
Mr. Blaine proposed that they move to public hearing with a conceptual plan that shows the key road network and incorporating, not a main street but that central local connection and the location of the Avon to Fifth Street connection and just a general land use description that should actually just say regional service or regional retail.
Mr. Rieley stated that was not enough information.
Mr. Blaine stated that they would supplement that with the text which would identify key features such as the area of desired preservation, the greenway and some of the others that Ms. Thomas as identified. That should be sufficient.
Ms. Joseph stated that she understood that this was what was going into the Comprehensive Plan. It was a description.
Ms. Thomas stated that was right because it was suppose to describe the end result in very broad or conceptual terms.
Thomas conceptual terms
Ms. Joseph stated that they would not be showing a layout that shows a sea of parking and where the buildings are located next to I-64. What they were doing was using that as a guide of helping us describe maybe what we donít want to see on this site.
Mr. Benish noted that he viewed this as the perimeters of what it is that you do not want to take place within it and what you do want to achieve.
Mr. Rieley pointed out that this was what some of the Commissioners do not want to see take place.
Ms. Thomas felt that there was a question for the Commission and they may feel differently about this. If the description is adequate in words maybe it is better to have no drawing. She stated that she did not know. She suggested that possibly a broad drawing of what the applicant is talking about or an improvement of what Mr. Rieley just held up with words that you like puts it together in enough of a picture. She felt that what they all agree is that what they donít is a tremendously detailed design that just ends up being a big limitation to creativity at the rezoning.
Mr. Thomas pointed out that they wanted some flexibility.
Ms. Thomas stated that on the other hand they donít want a drawing to go in with the Comp Plan Amendment that is not what the Commission wants. She stated that they could either make the drawing more of what you want, make it more general or you donít have a drawing and just rely on words.
Mr. Rieley stated that the issue was not what was in the document itself. The issue was seeing a representation of what it is that these words mean. When you talk about preserving that hilltop, for instance, the only document that they have shows that completely wiped out. Therefore, the only representation of the intention of the applicant is a direct contradiction to what is in text. He pointed out that was troublesome to him.
Mr. Benish stated that trying to bring this back to productivity today that they have laid out some issues about the mix of use and how important is residential on site and how important is nonresidential mix and there is sort of an implied priority or emphasis in this thing as it is written giving us some qualitative comments on the direction that this goes allows us to draft that language and work with the applicant to try to come to a mutual understanding of what that means and how they can address that. He pointed out that was what they really need to do. They need to sort of take this, which was not intended to be final language for a comp plan amendment, but to sort of set out the direction that they were going and see where they were off base and where you want us to de-emphasis or emphasis certain things. Ms. Thomas has laid out some basic questions.
Mr. Thomas asked if staff would work with the Commissionís comments and also work some more with the applicant.
Mr. Benish stated that when they get the Commissionís comments that he was sure that there would be some interaction with the applicant as well. He stated that he looked at these comp plan amendments as staff setting direction for future developers. These applicants are obviously are the property owners, but staff does not have any submittal in place for any actual applications. Therefore, this has to stand the test of what we want as a community in the area. He pointed out that staff would certainly work with the applicants to try to get a mutual understanding of where they were going.
Ms. Joseph agreed with staff for a lot of reasons about seeing something like this in this detail, but she also thought that if the owner New Era wants them to believe that this is a new era that it has to look a little bit different. But, she also thought that when you have a piece of property and you are going for a comp plan you have an idea of who you want to go there and what you want it to look like. Therefore, she felt that the applicant was being honest with the Commission and she felt that the Commission was being honest in return saying that they donít want to see something that is laid out like this even though they are at the comp plan stage. She felt that it was helpful to the applicant, too.
Mr. Rieley stated that putting to side what ends up in the Comprehensive Plan Amendment; there is a relationship between the physical configuration and the numbers and capacity. So when they talk about the square footage of retail, for example, it depends upon whether you wipe out the top of hill. It depends upon how much protection you give to the roadway along the stream. That is why he felt that in order to get to that language and get it to the point in which it is meaningful it needs to have a physical representation. Once again they would require that for other CPAís and he did not know why they would not require it for this one. He pointed out that he did not think that they would get the information that they need to make a sound decision unless they do.
Mr. Higgins asked what the area was for Rivanna Village.
Mr. Thomas stated that it was 67 acres.
Ms. Higgins stated that without acreages there was not way to look at it comparatively size wise. She stated that when going over the description they talked about what the Water Resource Manager talked about in the different areas. She asked what the significance of the rock and the trees was.
Ms. Thomas stated that was a feature that staff has consistently identified with some response from the Commission as a valuable feature on the site. It is beautiful and the trees are specimen quality trees. It is a natural green buffer from Fifth Street so that as you look east you see this ridge that has got tremendous vegetation and it is very scenic. It is also a way of preserving a remnant of a natural environment and incorporating it as an amenity on the site. It does more than one thing. The trees drove it initially, but then staff then began to see that it was really part of the system that goes with Mooreís Creek and has a big water quality role to play, which was where David Hirschman chimed in.
Mr. Thomas stated that there was a lot of outcropping of rocks all through there.
Ms. Higgins stated that was an element in itself, but sees the protection of stream banks and water quality but did not agree about value in order for a ridge like that to be worked into the site. There is another principle about the development areas in that if they are going to look at land use designations about using the land within the development to its highest and best use so that it does not put pressure to create other areas of that. If they look internal to every site and identify sensitive areas, she guessed that saving the rocks and those trees would have a much more expansive impact than just those rocks and trees. The rocks themselves might want to be avoided because of the cost of removing rock, but she had not seen in anything where some rocks and trees in the middle of an industrial use site because if it came in under an industrial use it just is leveled.
Ms. Joseph pointed out that these were old growth trees and has been estimated to be about 300 years old.
Ms. Higgins pointed out that the trees were about to die. She stated that it was obvious if the trees were of a certain age that if the trees die then they would have built everything
Mr. Rieley pointed out that if it was an industrial use that they could not do anything about it, but in this circumstance they could do something about it.
Ms. Higgins questioned if they wanted to save the rock and the trees.
Mr. Rieley asked if she had seen them.
Ms. Higgins pointed out that she had visited the site numerous times.
Ms. Thomas stated that she would make two responses. First of all one of the twelve principles is site planning that respects terrain. On many sites there is not really an interesting creative valuable way to put that in to practice because the site has already been graded. For example on the Dittmer parcel, she would never employ that particular principle because the terrain is completely gone. That is not true on this part of the site. Secondly, on any development that has any kind of design quality to it, there are going to be areas of open space and public use. She noted that her concern was recognized early on, and the Commission seemed to feel that it was supportable that this could be one of those sites. She felt that there was an additional environmental value.
Ms. Higgins stated that she was not trying to make staff feel defensive, but she looked at the 12 to 15 acres of a creek and a green way that has been in a plan. The City has a plan for the greenway and this is part of the Cityís connection between points. It has been on both sides and has all kinds of natural elements that are probably more important if you categorized them. But to identify something right smack in the middle of what potentially could be the most usable and actually if that was the road network. She stated that she did not see where that compares to the 12 or 15 acres of linear greenway and an old road bed that is worth protecting. She noted that she was just making a priority call and that was all.
Mr. Rieley pointed out that he did not think anybody had said that it was mutually exclusive either. In other words, you donít give up the old road bed along the stream in order to get that.
Mr. Thomas suggested that they leave it flexible like they started out. He asked that they move on to number 2.
Ms. Thomas stated that she did not know the best way for the Commission to weigh in on this language. She asked if there was a way other than at the meeting tonight to work through it. She stated that she would be happy to take edits. She stated that she had about two pages of language. They can go down a through u and the Commission can weight in or whatever was the most efficient way.
Mr. Thomas asked what the Commission would prefer to do. He asked if they should go through them one by one.
Mr. Rieley stated that from his perspective that time was an issue, but that he endorsed this language and he really felt it was an outstanding articulation of what the key issues are. Ms. Higgins has raised some concerns about protecting the trees and rocks. He stated that if they wanted to get through this tonight that the best way to do it was to find if there were areas in which there is not agreement and then they can see whether or not there is consensus on that point.
Mr. Thomas asked that they start with Ms. Joseph.
Ms. Joseph stated that she did not have any problems with this as she read through it.
Mr. Thomas stated that he did not have any problems either other than the ones that he had heard voiced.
Ms. Higgins pointed out that there were some things about the way it is worded, but she did not know if it had something to do with the crafting. When you go into a recommendation for transportation, for example, it says that the applicant has agreed to construct a connection.
Mr. Benish stated that it would be reworded and it will be drafted.
Ms. Higgins stated they needed staff to make it in more general wording. She noted that there were a lot of them worded that way.
Mr. Rieley agreed that was a legitimate concern.
Mr. Benish stated that this report was crafted in part to tell you what is on the table. It will not be constructed in this way because it should be written generically to the site. Staff will take those and convert it to the site.
Ms. Higgins suggested that they ask the applicant if he wants to work with staff.
Mr. Thomas asked if she wanted to ask him to come up and speak to the Commission.
Ms. Higgins stated that this is work session and felt that he should come forward to answer the question.
Mr. Blaine pointed out that they received this late last week and have not gone over it with their client. There are a number of things that they know they canít do or they know they wonít work legally so they might be able to save you some time by having a sit down session with Mr. Benish and Ms. Thomas and may be they could reach agreement on the majority of them. He stated that they could not say tonight that they were in agreement with this proposal. He noted that he would leave it at that.
Ms. Higgins asked if that was satisfactory to staff.
Mr. Blaine stated that they could meet tomorrow.
Ms. Joseph stated that she wanted to make it clear in her mind what is going to happen next.
Mr. Thomas asked if staff would report back to the Commission in another work session.
Ms. Thomas stated that they have been responding to the applicantís message of urgency. She felt that the idea was that the next meeting would be a public hearing. She noted that she did not know what she would hear from the applicant.
Mr. Benish stated that if the Commission was comfortable enough with the perimeters here then they could try to put it in the best language for public hearing and you could receive public comment. You donít have to act, but it would keep the process going. He noted that staff wanted to be done with it by the summer, too. Staff has some things on their plate that they need to get to.
Mr. Blaine stated that they don't want to delay the scheduling of the public hearing by any means.
Mr. Benish stated that you wonít have a work session to kind of go through what is being submitted to the public. But if you are kind of okay with the overall theme here that is what they are going to represent.
Ms. Higgins suggested that maybe the need the public input to even discuss this
Mr. Thomas asked staff if they had gotten everything they needed from the Commission before they closed this discussion. Consensus of pc
Ms. Thomas asked if there is a hanging issue on residential.
Mr. Benish stated that it is an issue for staff because there is a viable issue on the table here and they are still pushing the residential. Staff feels pretty adamant about having an employment and retail mix. He felt that the second tier is how important residential is.
Mr. Rieley stated that he still thinks it is important to consider residential as part of the mix. He felt that the issue of the proximity of surrounding residential should play into the degree of what the mix is.
Mr. Craddock asked about the future possibility of what the cost justification is.
Mr. Thomas asked if everybody agrees with that.
Ms. Higgins stated that she was interested in looking at it, but she still thinks that there is a lot of multi-family and a lot of services from there to the southern part of the County that this needs to serve and to take into consideration.
Mr. Thomas stated that they would still be looking at whether there will be housing on this piece of property. He asked if there were any other disagreements on the alphabetical list. He asked if staff had enough information.
Ms. Thomas stated that she thought she had enough information to work on the proposal.
Ms. Higgins stated that the staff report was well written and very in depth and she was just questioning the depth.
Mr. Thomas thanked staff for her presentation.
In summary, the Planning Commission held a work session on CPA-2003-02 5th Street/Avon Street Mixed Use Complex to provide guidance and direction regarding the upcoming review of the CPA and ZMA. The Commission, staff and the applicant discussed the key elements of the proposal. The Commission provided comments and suggestions and requested staff to work with the applicant in order to come to a mutual understanding. The public hearing for the CPA will be scheduled. The following comments and suggestions were made by the Commission:
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