STAFF PERSON:                                               Francis H. MacCall     

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                      September 28, 2004

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                     October 13, 2004


SP-2004-030 Old Mill Trail


Applicant's Proposal: The applicant is requesting approval to complete the installation of a greenways trail along the Rivanna River near Pantops.  The existing trail needs to be upgraded to provide a more solid and defined path for pedestrians by constructing bridges, culverts, and retaining walls and providing the necessary cut and fill necessary for the construction. The Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Department will be doing the trail installation.  (Attachment A, B & C)


Petition: Request for a special use permit to permit fill in the floodplain and allow for bridges and culverts for the purpose of constructing a Class A greenways trail, in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for fill in the floodplain and Section which allows for installation of bridges and culverts.


The properties, described as Tax Map 77 Parcel 41 and Tax Map 78 Parcel 58L, contain a total of 26.213 acres, and are zoned C-1 (Commercial) and EC (Entrance Corridor) and RA (Rural Area) and EC (Entrance Corridor), respectively. The trail will be located within the floodplain of the Rivanna River south of Richmond Road (US Route 250 E) from Free Bridge to the southeast side of the Riverbend Garden Apartments and just north of Richmond Road along Free Bridge Lane almost up to Elks Drive.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Parks and Greenways in Neighborhood 3. (Attachment A & B)


Character of the Area: This trail is in a developed urban portion of the County.  It is on the County side of the Rivanna River and on both sides of Route 250 East, Richmond Road, in the Pantops area.  Even though it is in an urban area the trails location along the river is a natural setting removed from the developed areas of Pantops.  The setting is so protected that you may not realize you are a few feet away from large residential and commercial developments.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff has reviewed the proposal for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and with Zoning Ordinance Sections,, and and recommends approval of the special use permit with conditions. 


Planning and Zoning History:


September 1999 - SP-1999-044 -- Riverbend Gardens Apartment is approved with conditions that greenway is dedicated to the County when the site plan is approved for the apartments.

January 2001 - SDP-2000-097 -- Riverbend Garden Apartments is approved with dedication of greenways.

May 2002 - SUB-2002-057 -- Plat is approved dividing parcels to create what is now Tax Map 77 Parcel 41.






Comprehensive Plan and the Neighborhood Model: Requests for special use permits in the Development Areas are assessed for conformity with the Neighborhood Model and the Land Use Plan. This portion of the Greenways Trail is specifically identified in the Comprehensive Plan under Natural Resources and Cultural Assets, with the location and type of trail identified (Page 209).  There currently is a portion of the trail built and maintained as a Type B trail. (Attachment E)  It should be noted that County staff has received a grant to complete the construction of this portion of the trail to the appropriate Class A standard identified in the Comprehensive Plan.

After analysis of the twelve principles of the Neighborhood Model with regards to the greenway trail staff has found that ten of the twelve principles are not applicable to this proposal, those principles are, Neighborhood Friendly Streets and Paths, Interconnected Streets and Transportation Networks, Neighborhood Centers, Buildings and Spaces of Human Scale, Relegated Parking, Mixture of Uses, Mixture of Housing Types and Affordability, Redevelopment Rather than Abandonment, Site Planning that Respects Terrain, Clear Boundaries with the Rural Areas).  The way in which the proposed project meets the principles for development in accordance with the Neighborhood Model is provided below:

Parks and Open Space and Pedestrian Orientation These trails are intended to be an integral part of the development areas.  This trail will connect a large residential complex along the Rivanna River to commercial areas, Route 250 and Darden Towe Park.


Engineering Analysis: The County's Engineering staff has reviewed this request for engineering issues related to health, safety, and welfare requirements. The Engineering staff is recommending approval of the special use permit with conditions as outlined in the attachment and below. (Attachment D)




Section of the Zoning Ordinance below requires that special use permits be assessed as follows:


Will the use be of substantial detriment to adjacent property?

No.  The use will actually enhance the area with the expanded recreation provided.


Will the character of the zoning district change with this use?


No.  An informal Class B type trail is already in place.  The applicant is looking to upgrade the actual pathway to the standards that the County has established for this use.  The standards for a Class A and Class B trail are outlined in Attachment E.


Will the use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance?


Yes.  The development of greenways trails meets the purpose and intent of the ordinance by improving public health via the recreation it will provide and the potential educational experience gained by the community exploring the riverside habitats.


Will the use be in harmony with the uses permitted by right in the district?


Yes.  The use of the trail is a permitted use in the floodplain overlay district.


Will the use comply with the additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance?


No regulations in Section 5.0 apply specifically to this site.


Will the public health, safety and general welfare of the community be protected if the use is approved?


The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community are protected through the special use permit process which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested.



It should be noted that the use of the trail is permitted by right within the floodplain but the construction of a trail involving fill needs a Special Use Permit for fill in the floodplain.  The County has proposed the construction of an extensive greenway and trail system much of which is located adjacent to or within floodplain areas.  If the greenways and trails are constructed as proposed by the County, this application represents the first of many special use permits.  Staff encourages the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to consider possible zoning text amendments or changes in process to efficiently review what will likely become numerous applications, for greenways previously established by proffers and/or development applications.  Current regulations require the Board to review a special use permit for each property on which fill is involved or structures are necessary for the construction of the trail.  This process requires the owner of the property to complete a special use permit application, submit a fee and undergo a public hearing process.




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


1.      The trail provides a needed recreational amenity for the community.

2.      The trail exists and this approval will allow it to be upgraded for expanded usage by the public.


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


1.      None identified.




Staff recommends approval of SP-2004-030 with the following conditions:


1.                  Approval by the Service Authority of the grade changes that may affect the sewer lines located within the greenways trail.

2.                  County Engineer approval of the construction plan.




A Vicinity Map/Location Map

B Map of Parcels (includes aerial that does not include all current improvements)

C Applicants Trail Information/Description

D Engineering Analysis and recommendations w/photos

E - Standards for Trails

Return to PC action letter