STAFF PERSON:                                                                               Rebecca Ragsdale
PLANNINGCOMMISSION:                                                            March 1, 2005
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                        April 6, 2005


Applicant's Proposal: The applicant is requesting approval of SP 2004-059 to host horse shows at their 36.78-acre property known as Toad Hollow Farm. The applicant would use an existing 25,000 square-foot covered arena and an 80’ by 210’ outdoor arena for the horse shows. The applicant intends to host 6 horse show events a year for local participants and also host several smaller dog agility trials and clinics.  A full description of the proposal has been provided by the applicant in their special use permit application. (Attachment A) Horse show events would be attended by approximately 80 participants and spectators while dog agility trials would have approximately 30 people attend. There would be no new permanent facilities to accommodate the horse shows as arenas and parking areas are existing. Gravel parking is provided around the arenas and barn (see concept plan Attachment B) and pastures would also be used for trucks and horse trailers.

Petition: Request for a special use permit for horse show grounds, permanent, in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for horse show grounds, permanent in the RA (Rural Areas) by special use permit.  The subject parcel, described as Tax Map 41, Parcel 15A, contains approximately 36 acres and is located at 4333 Cannon Brook Way, on the east side of Browns Gap Turnpike (Rt. 680), approximately 2 miles south of White Hall.  The property lies within the White Hall Magisterial District, is zoned RA (Rural Areas) and is in the area designated as Rural Areas 3 by the Comprehensive Plan.

Character of the Area: Immediately surrounding Toad Hollow Farm are properties within the Moorman's River Agricultural and Forestal District. Adjoining Toad Hollow Farm is Indigo Ridge (Smith property) which also has a commercial stable use and horse farm. Some residential properties are within the vicinity of the site and front along Brown's Gap Turnpike; the Luxor Terrace subdivision is also located to the south of Toad Hollow Farm.

Site History: There has been no recent subdivision of the property and the parcel was in existence at least in the 1950's. The single family home on the property was constructed in 2002. A horse trainer, who lives on the property, was issued a home occupation for instruction and a zoning clearance was issued in October 2004 for a commercial stable use for lessons and/or private riding on the property. 

Comprehensive Plan: The site and surrounding area are designated Rural Areas in the Comprehensive Plan. The current Rural Area policy establishes that agricultural and forestry uses are the desired land uses in the Rural Areas. The proposed horse show use is considered a type of agricultural activity and is consistent with the policies within the Comprehensive Plan. Other RA policies such as watershed protection will not be adversely impacted by this proposal and there will not be increased service delivery to the Rural Areas as a result of this use. The Open Space Concept Map identifies the site as part of the major open space system of farmlands and forests to be protected for its environmental, aesthetic, cultural, agricultural/forestal and recreational value. The proposed horse show use would not be in conflict with this policy either.

As mentioned, the Moorman's River Agricultural and Forestal District surrounds the Toad Hollow Farm property and the Sugar Hollow AF District is approximately one mile to the west of Cannon Brook Way. The Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee reviewed this application at their January 10, 2005 meeting and recommended unanimous approval of the application, indicating that the proposed horse show use would compliment existing horse farms in the area. The Committee also offered the following comments:

These issues raised by the committee are addressed later in the report. The applicant has indicated they intend to notify neighbors as a courtesy prior to events. The Toad Hollow Farm property is not currently in the Moorman's River Agricultural & Forestal district but the property owners have applied to add their property to the district which indicates their interest in continued support of agricultural and forestal uses in the County.

The Economic Development Policy of the Comprehensive Plan notes that agriculture and forestry are an important component of the County's economy. Horse related industries have a longstanding history in the County and are a significant portion of that agricultural component of the economy. The 2001 Virginia Equine Report estimated that there were 7,000 horses in the County worth $90,886,000 and Albemarle ranked third in the state in the number of horses. Virginia is the 5th largest equine state according to this report. The horse industry and related activities such as horse show venues are also supportive of the policy goal of protecting Albemarle County's agricultural lands and forests as a resource base for its agricultural and forestry industries and for related benefits they contribute towards the County's rural character, scenic quality, natural environment, and fiscal health


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

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.

Possible detrimental effects to adjoining properties such as the potential for increased noise, lighting impacts, and traffic have been identified. As the applicant notes and the suggested conditions of approval reflect, these have been mitigated to the greatest extent possible. The proposed horse show venue is not located near residences and the property is quite wooded which creates a buffer. Conditions of approval prohibiting amplified outdoor sound systems and also one to address lighting have been recommended. Also, the applicant has indicated that they do not plan any evening events.

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

The horse show use is not expected to change the character of the area as it will utilize existing horse facilities and events will be limited in frequency. Some increased traffic in the area on event days may be expected.

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

The Rural Areas zoning district provides for the preservation and protection of agricultural and forestal lands and activities; provides for water supply protection; provides an area of limited service delivery; and provides for the conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources.  Staff has reviewed the purpose and intent as contained in Chapter 18, Sections 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6 of the Albemarle Zoning Ordinance.  In the opinion of staff, the proposed use is supportive of the purpose and intent as described in the Zoning Ordinance.

with the uses permitted by right in the district,

This use would not prevent by-right use of the adjacent properties.

with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,

There are no additional supplemental regulations for horse show grounds in Section 5.0. Since the applicants have a commercial stable use on the property already, they must comply with the supplemental regulations for that use:

                                5.1.03 COMMERCIAL STABLE

a. Riding rings and other riding surfaces shall be covered and maintained with a material to minimize dust and erosion; (Amended 11-15-95)

b. Fencing and other means of animal confinement shall be maintained at all times. Stable, Commercial: A building, group of buildings, or use of land, or any combination thereof, where, for compensation, whether monetary or goods, provision is made for horses or ponies for hire or instruction in riding. (Amended 11-15-95)

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

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. With this request to host horse shows at Toad Hollow Farm, the primary safety concern is vehicular access to the farm. Specifically, the inadequate width of Cannon Brook Way for two-way trucks with horse trailers to pass each other and the sight distance looking south on Browns Gap Turnpike from Cannon Brook Way. (Please see Attachment F)

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has recommended the following:

VDOT has indicated that in order to remedy the sight distance problem that tree removal and a permanent sight distance easement is needed across Tax Map Parcel 41-14, which the applicant does not own. That property owner has been very cooperative with the applicant thus far regarding tree removal but the possibility of a permanent easement has yet to be resolved. It has been noted that a permanent easement is the best way to ensure that the sight distance is maintained.

Engineering concurs with VDOT's comments regarding the need for improved site distance, an improvement needed in order to provide safe and convenient access from Cannon Brook Way onto Route 680 (Browns Gap Turnpike). Regarding access from Cannon Brook Way to Toad Hollow Farm, Engineering initially recommended widening Cannon Brook Way but is agreeable to the applicant's proposal to add strategically placed gravel pull-offs along the drive large enough for trucks with trailers to pull over. (Suggested dimensions are those for loading spaces) To further improve safety of vehicular traffic along Cannon Brook Way, Engineering has recommended directional signage, specifically two DO NOT ENTER SIGNS and one ONE WAY sign, on both sides of the one-way split portion of the drive. (Attachment G)  The applicant has been working with property owners along Cannon Brook Way and these requirements are acceptable to them.  To prevent erosion issues, Engineering has suggested events and pasture parking be limited.

Zoning, has determined that this use is an agricultural activity and is exempt from the Site Plan requirement (Section 32.2.1 of the Zoning Ordinance). However, it is the Board of Supervisor's prerogative with their review of the special permit criteria to require a site plan. The applicant has provided a fairly detailed conceptual plan that adequately shows proposed uses of the site of existing facilities for events. Engineering comments can be reflected in the same conceptual-type plan and the VDOT sight distance requirement would ultimately be addressed on a plat.


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

  1. The proposed use is supportive of Agricultural and Forestal policies.
  2. Adjoining property owners and the Agricultural and Forestal District Advisory Committee have expressed their support of the use.

Unfavorable factors identified:

  1. Existing conditions of Cannon Brook Way are inadequate for increased truck and horse trailer traffic and improvements are needed to make it safer and more functional for the horse show use.

Recommendation: Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP 2004-059, subject to the following conditions:


1.      The horse show use shall be conducted in general accord with the concept plan, titled “Toad Hollow Farm” and labeled as “Attachment B”.

2.      There shall be no outdoor amplified sound system for events.

3.      There shall be no overnight camping.

4.      All exterior light fixtures shall be full cutoff luminaires and fully shielded and arranged or directed to reflect light away from adjoining properties and away from adjacent roads.

5.      Prior to the issuance of a Zoning Clearance for the horse show use, the applicant shall provide sight distance at Cannon Brook Way and Route 680 (Browns Gap Turnpike) to the satisfaction of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

6.      Subject to the approval of the county engineer, prior to the issuance of a Zoning Clearance for the horse show use and to provide safe and convenient access to the site, the applicant shall provide a minimum of two gravel pull-offs along Cannon Brook Way to allow two vehicles to pass safely. The applicant shall also provide two DO NOT ENTER signs and one ONE WAY sign placed at locations specified by the county engineer along Cannon Brook Way.

7.      The number of horse show events shall be limited to 6 per year. The maximum number of participants and attendees at any single event shall be 80.

8.      The number of events, other than horse show events, shall be limited to 3 per year and the maximum number of participants and attendees at any single event shall be limited to 40. These events shall not utilize the pastures for parking.

9.      Seating provided for spectators shall be limited to 50 seats.

10.  The applicant shall obtain Health Department approval prior to all events.


A-  Special Use Permit Application
BConcept Plan
CLocation Map & Tax Map 
DCovered Arena                                                                                                              
-  Overview of Cannon Brook Way                                                                                    
-  Intersection of Cannon Brook Way/State Route 680 (2 Photos)                                                   
- One Way Split of Cannon Brook Way with suggested signs (2 Photos)
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