To:                  Members, Albemarle County Planning Commission                        

From:              Amelia G. McCulley, Zoning Administrator    

Date:               January 25, 2005

Subject:          ZTA 04-09 Transmission Lines, Gas or Oil



This item was deferred from the January 11th Planning Commission meeting to allow staff to have time to consider revisions to the definition which were proposed by the City of Charlottesville.  Staff has reviewed the revisions and supports the language which will essentially "grandfather" existing lines which would become nonconforming transmission lines as a result of the new definition.  However, we are not able to support the other revision which excludes from the transmission line definition those pipelines within 50 feet of an existing or approved public right-of-way or within an existing public utility easement.


As stated in the previous executive summary for this text amendment, the requirement of a special use permit for these pipelines will allow the County to consider both land use impacts and compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.  The Comprehensive Plan addresses:  adequate provision of natural gas services to the development areas, providing lesser levels of public service delivery to the Rural Areas and minimizing the impact on resources and the Rural Areas.  A special use permit involves a public process for review and may be approved subject to conditions for approval. 


Some of these potential land use impacts and the Comprehensive Plan implications would not be addressed by the language proposed by the City.  While the pending proposal for the main trunk line follows Route 29, if the text is amended as proposed by the City, future pipelines could cross the Rural Areas by-right with secondary roads or established utility easements.  They could potentially impact Agricultural / Forestal districts, historic resources and natural features such as streams. 


Land use impacts can be both short term and long term.  A short term land use impact would occur during the construction or installation of the pipeline.  Installation of a subsurface line to a greater degree than an overhead utility, can potentially impact Rural Areas uses, natural and historic resources.  The longer term impact is that the area will likely remain cleared of landscaping and limited as to other uses or structures, including agricultural buildings.


Staff recommends adoption of the revised text which includes "grandfathering" provisions (Attachment A). 


In the event the Commission and/or Board choose to support the language proposed by the City, staff suggests the ordinance language as found in Attachment B.  The revisions to that language recommended by staff will a) define an existing public utility easement as those existing on the date of adoption of this ordinance; and b) require review ( 15.2-2232) for compliance with the Comprehensive Plan for those pipelines excluded from the transmission line definition as a result of their proximity to right-of-way or their location within a utility easement.    


Attachment A:    Staff recommended draft ordinance

Attachment B:    Alternate draft ordinance

Attachment C:    City recommended draft ordinance

Go to PC actions memo and attachments

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