Staff Contact:                                                      Scott Clark

Planning Commission:                                        August 24, 2004

Board of Supervisors:                                         October 13, 2004


SP 03-053 Unity Church of Charlottesville




Request to amend a special use permit (SP 00-02) for a church (increasing from 200 to 250 seats) in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for "church building and adjunct cemetery." See Attachment C for the submitted conceptual plan.




The property, described as Tax Map 61 Parcels 4 and 4B, contains 4.44 acres, and is zoned RA Rural Areas. The proposal is located on Hydraulic Road (Route 743), approximately 0.25 miles north of the intersection of Hydraulic Road and Lambs Road  in the Jack Jouett Magisterial District. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 1.










The property is zoned RA Rural Areas. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area.




The applicants need space for a larger congregation.




Staff recommends approval of SP 03-053 with conditions.


STAFF COMMENT (Special Use Permit)


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


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


The expansion of the existing approval from 200 to 250 seats is not expected to create any significantly different impacts for the adjacent properties. However, the proposed sanctuary building is located several feet from the water lines serving the residential parcel to the west (Tax Map 61 Parcel 4A). The concept plan includes notes regarding both upgrading and adjusting the location of these water lines as necessary during construction, showing that the applicants are aware of this issue. This will be addressed in more detail during the site plan process.


The proposed parking layout does not meet the Architectural Review Board’s guidelines, due to the location of the 22-space parking area at the northeast corner of the site, which impacts the Entrance Corridor. This proposal was not subject to ARB review in 2000, but the area is now an Entrance Corridor. The ARB has considered earlier versions of this plan twice before the August 2, 2004 meeting at which they reviewed the current plan. The three members present at that meeting did not reach consensus on how to address this problem. Two of the three members present supported staff’s recommendation of the following conditions:


1.       Consolidate the parking areas by removing the 22-space parking lot and extending the lots at the west end of the parcel toward the rear of the site to accommodate the required parking.

2.       Provide plantings to the satisfaction of the ARB.


It appears that there would be sufficient space on the parcel to rearrange the parking on this site to meet recommended condition 1 above. Therefore, as the plan submitted by the applicant does not reflect the recommendations of the ARB, staff is including the Design Planner’s recommended conditions.


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


While this use would be located in the Rural Areas, the immediate surroundings are a mix of institutional, light industrial, and residential uses on the boundary between the Rural Areas and the Development Areas. An expansion of the approved church in this location is not expected to change the character of the surroundings.


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


Staff finds no conflict with the purposes and intent of the Zoning Ordinance in this expansion request.


with the uses permitted by right in the district,


Churches are a permitted use in the Rural Areas district, and this expansion request is not expected to create any conflicts with other permitted uses.


with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,


There are no supplemental regulations in Section 5.0 that apply to this use.


and with the public health, safety and general welfare.


The applicants have revised the conceptual plan for this use to meet the new VDOT requirement for a right-turn taper into the entrance.


The concept plan shows 82 parking spaces. The Zoning division had the following comment regarding parking:


The concept plan, revised on 7/14/2004 shows 82 spaces. The cover letter with the plan states the sanctuary will contain 250 seats.  A 250 seat sanctuary requires 83 spaces. The dwelling, daycare and office would require an additional 6 spaces. It is assumed that the daycare and office use will not occur during times of services. Therefore, based on a 250 seat sanctuary, this use will require 85 spaces. This appears to be consistent with the findings contained in the email from Mr. Gavel. This 3 space discrepancy can be resolved by adding spaces, reducing the seats or modifying the requirement. This can be resolved on the site plan.

Therefore, staff has recommended a condition below which will require this exact number to be resolved before site plan approval.


The concept plan shows water meters located within the entrance island. The Albemarle County Service Authority will require that this location be changed. The applicants can resolve this matter by consulting with the Service Authority before site plan approval; staff has recommended an appropriate condition.


Engineering staff has noted that approvals of drainage easements and channels, as well as of erosion-control and stormwater management plans, will be necessary. These details will be addressed in the site-plan review process.




This is an expansion request for an existing approval based on a very similar concept plan, and is not expected to create significant new impacts. The applicants have addressed VDOT’s traffic concerns, and staff is recommending conditions to address Architectural Review Board and Service Authority concerns.




Staff recommends approval of the site plan waiver request. Staff also recommends approval of SP 03-065 with the following conditions. These conditions are based on those in the original approval of SP 2002-02 and the recent time-extension of that approval in SP 2003-086.


1.      The church sanctuary shall not exceed 250 seats;

2.      Construction of the two hundred fifty (250)-seat sanctuary shall commence within thirty (30) months of the approval of this permit or it shall be deemed abandoned and the authority granted by this permit shall thereupon terminate;

3.      The site shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan titled “Unity Church”, revision 4 (“6/28/04 Comments”), prepared by Muncaster Engineering. Adjustments to the number of parking spaces approved by the Zoning Administrator shall be deemed to be in general accord with the conceptual plan. Any expansion of, or addition to, the uses, activities or structures must be determined by the Zoning Administrator to be in general accord with the conceptual plan and the staff report.

4.      The applicants shall consolidate the parking areas by removing the 22-space parking lot north of the driveway and extending the lots at the west end of the parcel toward the rear of the site to accommodate the required parking.

5.      The applicants shall provide plantings to the satisfaction of the Architectural Review Board;

6.      Location of water meters and water lines on the site shall be adjusted to the satisfaction of the Albemarle County Service Authority;

7.      The property may not be further divided;

8.      There shall be no more than one (1) residential dwelling on this property;




A.     Location Map

B.     Site Map

C.     Conceptual Plan for SP 03-053

D.     Staff report for SP 2000-02

Return to PC actions letter