SP 2005-005 PetsMart (Sign #35) - Request for special use permit to allow 2,000 square feet of a 23,000 square-foot retail building located in the Hollymead Town Center for a veterinary clinic, grooming facility and periodic pet adoption services in accordance with Section (s) 25A.2.2-1, 22.2.2-5 & 24.2.2-4 of the Zoning Ordinance, which allows for veterinary office and hospital use in a PD-MC, Planned Development-Mixed Commercial, C-1, Commercial & HC, Highway Commercial district (s). The property, described as Tax Map 32 Parcel 43, contains 2,000 square feet, and is zoned PD-MC, Planned Development-Mixed Commercial and EC, Entrance Corridor. The proposal is located on the west side of US Route 29 North, approximately 1/4 mile south of the intersection with Airport Road and across from the Forest Lakes Shopping Center, in the Rio Magisterial District. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Town Center in the Hollymead Community.  (Claudette Grant)


Ms. Grant summarized the staff report. PetsMart is requesting a special use permit to allow 2,000 square feet of a 23,000 square-foot retail building for a veterinary clinic, grooming facility and periodic pet adoption service on property owned by Hollymead Town Center, LLC.  It is located at Outparcel H of Hollymead Town Center on the west side of U.S. Route 29. The property is zoned PD-MC, Planned Development Mixed Commercial, which allows for a veterinary office and hospital with a special use permit.  The veterinary use will be located in a pet store that is a freestanding building.  Staff has reviewed the proposal for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval of the special use permit.


Mr. Edgerton asked if staff has any more information about where it will be located in this 23,000 square foot building


Ms. Grant stated that there was nothing specific about where in the building it would be located.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it would be any 2,000 square feet that they wanted to use for this purpose.


Ms. Grant suggested that the applicant might be able to be more specific.


Ms. Higgins pointed out that they donít have a copy of the application itself.  It says that the applicant wants a veterinary clinic, grooming facility and periodic pet adoption service, but they donít have any of the elements of Section 5 that talks about businesses next to residential.  As soon as they put a veterinary clinic in this there are other things that the Planning Commission has to look at to decide whether they meet the 200 feet from residential, the sound proof building and all of that.  She noted that was not addressed in the staff report at all.


Ms. Grant stated that the request meets all of those requirements.


Mr. Rieley stated that there was no residential any where near it.


Ms. Higgins stated that there was also the portion about whether they have a place to curb the dogs outside and to be 500 feet from the adjacent lot line if it is not soundproofed.  She pointed out that she did not think of PetsMart as a veterinary clinic.  Therefore, she was wondering if that use needed to be in that list at all.  If it was not a veterinary clinic, then she did not think these other regulations were a factor.


Ms. Grant stated that it was her understanding that this would be a veterinary hospital or clinic or a place where you could bring your animals to get checked.  It was her understanding that there would be an area within the PetsMart Store that will service this use.


Ms. Higgins stated that usually they have information about whether they need a separate outside area and if they keep animals overnight. She had assumed that PetsMart was more of a retail store, but you could bring your dog in on Saturday for a shot and the SPCA shows up once in the spring and has an adoption service.  But, a veterinary clinic opened it up a little bit more. 


Ms. Grant stated that it was her understanding that the applicant does not plan to have any open area space and the intent is not to have an area for dogs to be walked.


Ms. Higgins stated that they would need to have some conditions about that.


Mr. Benish stated that condition would be needed if the Planning Commission thinks it is applicable for a pet store.


Ms. Higgins stated that if it was purely a pet store, then she would not think it would be necessary.


Mr. Edgerton asked Mr. Kamptner for his comment because he felt that her questions were good questions.


Mr. Kamptner stated that there is a 500 foot standard that applies if the animals are not confined in soundproof air-conditioned buildings from an agricultural or residential zoned line.  It would be 200 feet when the building is soundproofed.  The regulations of Section 5.1.11 do not need to be included as a separate special use permit condition because for the use to exist the applicant has to comply with these requirements.  It is required by the ordinance.  But, regarding overnight stays and things like that, it would be appropriate.


Ms. Higgins stated that in other sections it talks about if there are issues that conditions could be imposed if necessary.  She asked if those apply to pet stores or just clinics.


Mr. Kamptner stated that it applies to commercial kennels, veterinary services office or hospital, animal hospital, and animal shelter.


Ms. Higgins stated that she did not think that PetsMart was any of those.


Mr. Kamptner stated that they are providing veterinary service as part of the commercial use.


Mr. Edgerton stated that if they are providing limited veterinary service if from a legal point of view do they need to clarify what that limitation is.  He asked if there were no overnight stays.


Mr. Kamptner stated that they are limited to the 2,000 square feet that they are asking for.


Ms. Higgins stated that she was just looking for parity between the different veterinary clinics that they have been reviewing.  Honestly, she read it and it did not click that it was a clinic until earlier today or she would have called staff earlier.  Grooming and pet adoption did not bother her, but the clinic raised some questions.


Mr. Kamptner stated that Section 5.1.11.d says in areas where such uses may be in proximity to other uses involving intensive activity, such as shopping centers or other urban density locations, special attention is required to protect the public health and welfare.  To these ends the Commission and Board may require among other things such as separate building entrances and exits to avoid animal conflicts and area for outside exercise to be exclusive for an access by the public by fencing or other means.  He stated that he did not think that the applicant has proposed any outdoor exercise.  But, the Commission could impose a condition that says no areas for outside exercise.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it was a little hard to know, but his recollection of what was suggested when they saw this before was that this was going to be a restaurant.  He questioned if that was something that the Commission should be concerned about.  He pointed out that maybe this would be clearer after the applicant speaks.  He asked if there were any other questions for Ms. Grant.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and asked the applicant to address the Commission.


Tara Boyd, representative for the property, stated that the use that they were applying for is actually for a tenant of the property who will be PetsMart.  There is a representative present for the property owner and PetsMart in case the Commission has some veterinary oriented questions that she is not qualified to answer.  When their client was originally looking for tenants for the building there were a couple of different pet supply stores who were in the running for it. They had originally gone to the zoning administrator and said that it was only going to be a veterinarian coming in ever so often and giving vaccinations.  Ms. McCulley gave them an opinion that is consistent with the existing zoning.  Therefore, they thought that they were okay.  But, the tenant that they ended up with to their delight was PetsMart. 


PetsMart actually contracts with a full scale veterinary group that comes in and puts a practice within the retail store itself.  Therefore those folks who come to PetsMart to adopt animals can also come back there for vaccinations, routine care and even surgery.  The proposed use will not extend to a boarding facility.  Overnight stays will be limited to sick animals that are visiting the veterinary clinic for treatment and the occasional animal that is waiting for an adoption or to be picked up after an adoption. But, overnight stays in terms of routine boarding is not included in our request.  Consequently, there are no outside runs or play areas included on the plan for the property.  As you can see from our site plan, it is one big indoor building.  The veterinary clinic or the places where the animals are examined and stay are all indoors in a sound proofed air conditioned building, which is consistent with how PetsMart does their interior veterinary clinics in their other stores.  Therefore, they feel that their applied for use, which they originally thought was going to be completely permitted under the zoning even though they are having to come for a special use permit now, is very consistent and harmonious with the PD-MC zoning for the area.  They sort of looked at it originally as an accessory to the retail pet supply store, but it turned out to be a little more.  Therefore, they were here to get their special use permit. 


In terms of the conditions that Ms. Higginsí referenced in 5.1, those talk about where there are outside runs that are proposed to be provided and that there be sound proofed fencing and screening and limitations on the hours.  Again, due to the limited nature of the services we donít feel that those are necessary.  The tenantís leased area is not going to include any outdoor areas.  Therefore, they donít feel that those conditions would apply here.  But, they are certainly opened to their concerns.


In terms of the advantages, they feel that this use would bring a lot to the area. It sounds like some people are familiar with PetsMart.  This is not the type of pet store that she remembers going to the mall as a kid to see where there were rows of animals that they were selling along with some pet supplies.  PetsMart sell animal supplies but instead of selling animals there they bring in community groups, such as the humane society, SPCA, etc, to adopt animals that are strays or otherwise unwanted.  To date she understands that they just pasted their 2.2 million animal adoption mark.  So they have been very successful with coupling with local community groups to adopt animals.  In terms of impacts of this, she did not know if they go to Harris Teeter on Saturday and see the animals out front, but this is not going to be anything near that kind of impact.  It will all be inside.  That is where all of the adoption and all of the veterinary services take place. 


One other benefit that she has come to learn that PetsMart will bring to our community in addition to partnering with local community groups is they also have a charitable arm, which further supports animal related programs that has donated over 35 million dollars in funds to support animal rescue type of programs.  So they feel that there are sufficient benefits to the community with our application with pretty minimal impacts. Therefore, they hope that the Commission will recommend approval to the Board. 


Ms. Higgins stated that the permit is 2,000 square feet of a 23,000 square foot building.  She asked if PetsMart was getting the whole 23,000 square feet, but the 2,000 square feet is the part that the special use permit applies to. 


Ms. Boyd stated that was correct, and she was glad that she had asked about that because they had a clarification from their tenant, PetsMart, that the use will actually be 2,061 square feet. Therefore, if a condition is placed on the special use permit that talks about square footage, she asked if they could make it for 2,100 square feet to be on the conservative side.


Ms. Higgins pointed out that she had made the statement for PetsMart, but the special use permit runs with the land. Therefore, if PetsMart were to vacate the building and there was some sort of retail with a sublet to a veterinary clinic that they really do need to have the conditions that are associated with the things she was saying like no boarding except for the adoption of animals or no overnight stays.  That is PetsMartís way of doing things, but they are just leasing the building.  She asked Ms. Boyd if they would have any problems with those conditions.


Ms. Boyd stated that they would definitely be open to a condition regarding overnight stays as long as it was clear that animals who are being treated at the veterinary hospital could stay overnight with their associated care and animals that were waiting for adoption could stay overnight.


Ms. Higgins asked where those animals would be allowed to go outside.


Ms. Boyd stated that they would stay totally within the cages.


Ms. Higgins asked where the 2,000 square feet would be located in the building.


Ms. Boyd stated that it was her understanding that it would be towards the rear, although with the caveat that the interior floor plan has not been totally agreed upon. Therefore, that may change.


Mr. Kamptner stated that the use itself would be allowed on the parcel. The condition would limit it to the 2,100 square feet.


Ms. Boyd stated that the tenant would like to have the ability within the building if they did some remodeling or up fit during the term of the lease to move that around as long as it stayed within the total permitted area.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any other questions for Ms. Boyd.  There being none, he invited public comment regarding this application.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for action.


Mr. Thomas asked if the square footage could be split up anywhere within the store with 500 square feet here and another 500 square feet in another area.


Mr. Edgerton stated that was the way that it explained.


Mr. Craddock stated that he had been in a few PetsMarts and they have been very clean and this area had been near the main entrance.  He pointed out that it was just a small part of their whole operation. 


Mr. Rieley stated that the special use permit does go with the land and the tenants that will be there ten years from now may be entirely different.  Therefore, the points that Ms. Higgins raised were correct.  From his perspective he felt that a veterinary clinic, particularly when they are allied with a pet store, seems to be a compatible use.  While twenty years ago he would have thought that it was a surprising thing to do, but that there are a number of them in shopping centers today that are successful. He pointed out that he would like to limit this as little as possible because he felt that a veterinary clinic is compatible and there are a lot of things that are within the current zoning.  He suggested that they give them maximum flexibility and make it 2,500 square feet so that if they expand the veterinary component of this a little bit that they donít have to come back in to amend the special use permit.  The other thing that he was concerned about because of the potential conflicts is the outside runs, but they have no intention of doing that.  He felt that the special use permit should be amended if another veterinarian comes in sometimes in the future and wants to have outside runs. He did not think that they should preclude it, but he felt that it should require a separate review under the special use permit.


Mr. Edgerton stated that they could make a condition that there be no outside runs or no curbing of the dogs outside.


Mr. Edgerton pointed out that Ms. Boyd said that the building was soundproof.


Ms. Boyd agreed that the building would be air-conditioned and soundproofed.


Ms. Higgins stated that it could then be reduced down to the 200 feet.  She suggested that they condition it to that particular building.


Mr. Benish stated that if the Commission decided to include that as a condition that staff would clean up the language to include the 2,500 square feet and the reference to that site plan and that building.


Mr. Rieley suggested that they exclude outside runs without a review of a special use permit.  But, beyond that he was happy with the veterinary clinic.  He moved for approval of SP-2005-005, PetsMart with the following conditions.


  1. The veterinary services shall be limited to not more than 2,500 square feet, and
  2. There shall be no outside runs or kennels.


Mr. Morris seconded the motion.


The motion carried by a vote of (6:0).  (Joseph Ė Absent)


Mr. Benish clarified that when staff references the 2,500 square feet they would also reference the specific building and plan.


Mr. Kamptner asked that staff be reminded to please be certain that the public notice for the Board meeting identifies the increased square footage.


Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2005-005, PetsMart, would go to the Board of Supervisors on June 1 with a recommendation for approval.


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