Albemarle County Planning Commission

May 3, 2005

ZTA-2005-002 and ZMA-2005-004 Airport Impact Area Overlay District


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, May 3, 2005 at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Rodney Thomas, Calvin Morris, Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair, Jo Higgins, Pete Craddock and Bill Edgerton, Chairman. Absent was David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia. Mr. Craddock arrived at 6:10 p.m.  Ms. Joseph left the meeting at 7:15 p.m.


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning & Community Development; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Development Process Manager; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; Stephen Waller, Senior Planner; Harrison B. Rue, Executive Director of Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization; Lee Catlin, Community Relations Manager;  and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.


ZMA 2005-004 Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA) - This proposed amendment to Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code, would amend the zoning map to change the boundaries of the Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA), and the Noise Impact Area and Airport Protection Area within the AIA.  The AIA exists for the purpose of minimizing the creation of physical, visual, and other obstructions to the safe operations of the airport facility and to minimize the adverse airport-related impact on persons and properties in the vicinity.  The amended boundaries of the AIA District and Noise Impact Area are based on new maps resulting from the update of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Plan, affecting the following parcels within Albemarle County, identified by tax map and parcel number: Tax Map 19, Parcels 19, 19B, 19C, 19D, 19E, 19F, 19I, 19J, 19K, 19L, 19W, 19X, 20, 20B, 22D, 22E, 23A, 24, 25, 29D, 30, 30A, 30B, 31B, 31D, 31E, 31E1, 32; Tax Map 20, Parcels 6A, 6A1, 6J, 6K, 6L, 6M, 6N, 6NN, 6Q, 6R, 6S, 6T, 6V, 6W, 6X, 13A, 15C, 15C1, 16, 16E, 16E1, 16E3, 16E4, 16E6, 16P, 18, 18A, 19, 19B, 19B1, 19C, 20, 21, 22; Tax Map 21, Parcels 3D1, 3E, 5, 11, 11A, 12, 12A, 12B, 12C, 12C1, 12C3, 12D, 13C, 13C1, 13C2, 13C3, 13C4, 13E, 14C, 15, 15A, 15B, 15C, 15D, 15E, 15F, 15G, 16, 16A, 16C, 16D, 18, 18F, 18G; Tax Map 31, Parcels 1, 56; and Tax Map 33, Parcels 1, 2, 2A, 4, 4A, 4B, 4C, 9, 9A, 10, 12, 12A, 12D, 12E, 21, 22B, 35A, 36, 37J and 37K. As a result of this proposed amendment to the zoning map, some parcels, or portions thereof, will be placed within the AIA, some will remain in the AIA but with the AIA’s boundaries changing, and some will remain in the AIA but with no boundary change.  The Comprehensive Plan does not address the general usage and density of lands within the AIA, but are determined by the underlying plan designation.  The Zoning Ordinance provides that the general usage and density ranges of lands within the AIA are as authorized by the underlying zoning district designation, except that buildings, structures, objects of natural growth and uses may not penetrate the AIA’s Airport Protection Area, generally only agricultural and open space uses are allowed in the AIA’s Safety Area, and buildings and structures within the AIA’s Noise Impact Area must be designed and constructed to meet acoustical performance standards.  A copy of the map showing the lands to be rezoned by this amendment is on file in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and in the Department of Community Development.


ZTA 2005-002 Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA) –  This zoning text amendment would update references to maps designating the Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA) and the AIA’s Noise Impact Area and Protection Area, and make other associated changes by amending section 30.2.1, Intent, 30.2.2, Application, and 30.2.3, Definitions, of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code.  The review and update of the Charlottesville–Albemarle Airport Master Plan has resulted in new maps that will establish revised boundaries of the AIA, the Noise Impact Area and the Airport Protection Area.  A copy of the full text of the ordinance is on file in the office of the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and in the Department of Community Development. (David Benish)


Mr. Benish summarized the staff report.  This is a request to amend the text of the AIA, Airport Impact Overlay District.  The District was established to minimize adverse impacts of the airport to persons and properties and to minimize also the creation of physical, visual and other obstructions to the safe operation of the airport.  As you may call, they recently adopted a revised master plan for the airport.  With that master planning process there is work that was done to establish areas of noise impact and also to provide for long term improvements in the airport.  Two of those actions with the adoption of the master plan have required the amendment of the Airport Impact Overlay District to ensure that the district remains consistent with the master plan that guides it. 


Specifically what has taken place are amendments to reference maps within the master plan that relate to areas that are referred to as the Airport Protection Area and Noise Impact Area.  The Airport Protection Area is primarily the circular area around the airport.  The Airport Master Plan calls for approximately a 1,000 extension of the airport at some point in the future.  Based on that future design the air space for the approaches and departures to that main runway has to provide for a certain area of protection.  That is what the Airport Detection Area does. It essentially protects the air space above the land, which is commonly referred to as the imaginary surfaces, which he could explain if the Commissioners need to know in greater detail.  There is an attachment on the wall and in the packets that shows the change to the Airport Impact Area boundary.  It is all to the north and it is again reflective of that potential future extension of 1,000 feet.  The implication to that change is that there are requirements to control the height of structures that may penetrate into that imaginary surface or air space that affects the approaches and departures from the airport runway. That is one change.  The text essentially refers to the maps attached to the staff report.  That is the update to the text.  Those maps also become essentially the map for the Airport Impact Area.


The second change is to the Noise Impact Area.  The Noise Impact Area is based on the average day/night sound levels emanating from the airport.  The 65 decibel range of average day/night noise level is the area in which the Airport Impact Overlay District requires the sound continuation on structures.  An attachment of that map is also provided as Attachment E in the staff report.  The entire boundary for that are lies on the airport property.  Right now the noise continuation only applies theoretically to any buildings or structures lying on the airport land.  That is the overview of the changes.  If the Commission has any particular questions, particularly in interpreting the air space, that he would be happy to answer them.


Mr. Edgerton asked if all of these property owners been notified.


Mr. Benish stated yes, that the property owners had been notified and the map was the basis for the notification.  There is a third area that he would also point out.  There is a text modification to it that is the Runway Protection Zone, which was actually just new terminology.  There is slightly different numbers used in the calculation of the location of that.  That is a fixed location on the ground, which starts at the end of the runway.  All of that area also lies on airport property. 


Ms. Higgins asked if all of the area was to the north.


Mr. Benish stated yes, because that was where the master plan called for the extension of the runway.  Therefore, it just pushed that arc 1,000 feet to the north.


Mr. Rieley asked why are there a 50 to 1 approach surface to the south and a 44 to 1 approach surface to the north.  He asked if it was related to the topography for the additional clearance on the northern side.


Mr. Benish stated that was not exactly correct. There are types of approaches that are required for airports.  There are precision approaches, non-precision approaches and visual approaches.  A visual approach is what it sounds like when the pilot looks at the ground and activates his approach or departure to take off or land.  The precision and non-precision are types of approaches that rely on visual and technological assistance.  A non-precision approach comes in from the north and has a steeper grade to it.  It is aided by satellite information.  The approach to the south is the non-precision approach and every airport is required to have a non-precision approach that meets inclement weather requirements. The precision approach requires them to be able to 4 feet above the ground to have visibility for 1 mile.  For inclement weather approaches you only need to be 200 feet above the ground for ½ a mile.  But that protection area is protected by a gentler slope and more technical equipment that assists them in landing with the lights that you see on the runway indication light with the strobe light and a localized antenna to give them localized information as opposed to satellite information.  That non-precision approach is based on those 40 to 1 and 50 to 1 approaches.  That is probably the more inclement weather approach, but that is all that goes into it. 


Mr. Rieley stated that they need the lower gradient and the lights to be able to land.


Mr. Benish stated that the air space that they are protecting if you look at the profile at the bottom of those two sheets you are really looking at the horizontal area that extends over the runway essentially and around the runway.  Then those conical zones are 20 to 1 and 34 to 1 at the runway.


Mr. Rieley asked what happens to the space between the 639 contour and the 780 because it is like 150 feet before you get to that level.


Mr. Benish stated that was below those lines so wherever the lowest lines are above that line is the point of penetration that needs to be controlled.  Below that point the height is building up to those heights that are acceptable.  There may be other FAA requirements in terms of painting, strobe lights and lighting.  But, in terms of height limitations everything below those 1 to 20 lines, the horizontal dashed lines comes across the airport and extends 10,000 feet and then those immediate approach 34 to 1 cuts in. The consultants told him a good way to visualize it by thinking of it like a football field.  Think of the runway as the football field itself and the top of the picture is the dorm and all of the angles of the seats at the side and then you can get a visual of a bowel.


Mr. Rieley stated that the airport always does a good job of putting these packets together.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any other questions for staff.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Mr. Benish stated that the County was the applicant and he had already spoken.


Mr. Edgerton stated that since they had already heard from the applicant, he would ask if there was any member of the public who would like to comment on this application.


Janice Haney Yager stated that she was present as the attorney-in-fact for Geraldine Gray Haney who was one of the land owners for tax map 20, parcel 16.  If you look on the map they are impacted on a portion of their property of about 100 acres.  She presented pictures of the property so that the Commission could see the topography.  She noted that she had done research with the FAA to find out how these things come about, but she found it difficult too see how an 800 to 1,000 foot extension of the runway would affect this property when it was 3.2 nautical miles from the airport.  It was interesting after having been to the airport and observing the airplanes as they approach northbound and southbound how it is that they would come to select this area.  Her thinking as a landowner protecting her interest and those of others is that they are already zoned as a RA district and they could not build anything over 65 feet. If she wanted to build a tower she would have to come and request a permit for that, which the County would most likely not approve.  But, she could look at towers located right behind her property up on much higher grade that would certainly be impacted if planes came from that direction.  She pointed out that planes do come from all directions.  It was just not logical that the planes were going to descend and then try to climb back up when you look at the terrain behind it that is going to the airport.  She felt that to over raise something that is already restricted through zoning does adversely impact the properties.  It is something that you have to put on every plat from what she understands if there is a transfer in the future.  This property has been in the family for over 100 years. The cattle are happily grazing at this time.  If safety is an issue why is it that the citizens were allowed to have those towers?  It just does not make a whole lot of sense.


Mr. Rieley asked what the elevation was of her property.


Ms. Yager stated that it was varies, but it is 521 and then it to 500 and then it rises up the back portion somewhat.


Mr. Rieley stated that it appeared that her property was located in excess of 1,500 feet away from the end of the runway.  Based on the elevation she said and the bottom of the conical surface it looks like this would only be an issue for her if she wanted to build something taller than 300 feet.  He questioned why she was concerned about it.


Ms. Yager stated that she did not want the overlay restriction on her property because it was overkill since the zoning already puts restrictions on it.  They have about 60 direct flights every day going to Philadelphia and Charlotte.  So they are not all coming my direction.  From looking at that it seems that they were the only ones impacted and there were planes coming in other directions.  They seem to be the ones picked on so to speak.  She felt that the current zoning of the property is quite adequate to address any concerns at the airport other than her trees growing to some height that might be unacceptable.  She stated that she did not understand this at all because it impacts the 118 parcels that were affected.


Mr. Rieley asked how it would impact them.


Ms. Yager stated that it impacts her because it designates my property as being in the Airport Impact Zone.  If you are buying property it would have an effect.


Mr. Rieley stated that it would only impact her property if she built a 300 foot building.


Ms. Yager asked what an airport would denote to him.  She felt that it meant instance noise.  She spoke with David Benish and he was kind enough to give me some information to indicate that there would not be any noise restrictions or any protection like that.  She pointed out that she was just staying that planes are noisy and certainly someone rightly or wrongly that is going to be interested in a nice pastoral setting that they certainly are not going to want to think planes necessarily, even though you have limited planes going in and out of that airport.  As a landowner it certainly does nothing to appreciate my property.  A few months ago they had the flood maps revisited and now they have this.  It is just like one overlay to another overlay.  In looking at the topography she could just not see that this area would be where it is that they need to extend this zone.


Sheila McClung stated that she was also a landowner. They purchased 35 acres and it is adjacent to their property.  She urged the Commission to come visit her property and they could see the investment that they made to have a rural setting. They have cows and a creek.  They are located on top of a hilltop where they built a house.  When they bought the property three years ago there were not many planes going over.  Recently planes have started coming in right over their homes.  After asking about that they were told that it was only temporary because they were doing all of this construction on the airport.  They were not notified that there was a recent master plan that would then affect this outward zoning just a few weeks ago.  The first letter that they ever received was just one dated April 15.  This is the only letter that they have received.  They have not received all of the information that the Commission has received.  The only person she was able to talk with was Jan when she called.  That was all of the opportunity that she was afforded at that time with everybody’s schedules.  But, if she had of know that there was a proposed change in the master plan she would have probably come to that meeting also to understand because it would have affecter her area.  What truly is happening is that a lot of planes are flying over their house very lot making a lot of noise.  They purchased the property with a creek and cows because she grew up on a farm and just to enjoy the out of doors.  The number of planes seems to be rapidly increasing.  She questions what will happen twenty years from now.  Once they give one easement, then more can come.  She stated that she could not see how this would benefit her as a homeowner, particularly due to the noise level.  She purchased the property because it was the rural areas and had an agricultural use.  She encouraged the Commission to come to her home and see the impacts on her property.  Since this is a beautiful agricultural area, she asked the Commission to reconsider approving this until they visit her property and think about what is actually happening here and what this would mean twenty years from now if they grant this.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there was anybody else who would like to address the Commission.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for action.  He stated that it would be helpful in order to be able to respond to some of the concerns being expressed if knew who determines this arc.  It appears that any property that touches it that their entire property is hatched in.  He asked Mr. Benish if he could respond to his questions.


Mr. Benish stated that the yellow arc is the boundary.  Only a portion of the first speaker’s property falls within that area.  The northern two-thirds of the property fall outside of the Airport Impact Overlay District.  The overlay district is again based on these approach requirements for those precision, non-precision and visual approaches and perimeters that are required for meeting the safe approaches to that area.  One thing to keep in mind is the basis for those limitations are not just normal landings and take offs.  They are their procedures for emergency landings.  The example that the consultant gave him to think about is on an approach to an airport if something is all of a sudden discovered on the runway, such as deer or a stray automobile based on something that has taken place, then emergency perversion procedures need to take place.  You are talking about planes traveling at a high rate of speed and they will need a large protected area to make those moves.  So the boundary for this airspace that is protected is not really based on just normal operations of airports. It is also covers those sorts of perimeters.  That is why the circular zone is parallel to the runway.  No one approaches a runway perpendicularly.  But, if you have to do those basic maneuvers you need the same protected area.  Those are based on perimeters based on standards set by the FAA.  This extension is based on a presumed expansion to the runway.  So it is an extension that the airport would desire to have because it protects the ultimate area that they feel would be the runway location.  As an overlay district the application of it is more simply addressed by applying the overlay. There are certain areas that are zoned where practically speaking the perimeter of uses limit most of the activity that could be in conflict, but the overlay district as you can see on the map covers a lot of the development area and any in close proximity within the airport there may be certain sensitive issues to the intensity of the developments. It is sort of left to the application of the overlay district with the underlying zoning.  That is why they don’t have a spotty for the zoning district that just covers certain areas. 


Ms. Higgins stated that it looked like the parcel owned by the second speaker was in the affected area in the 1994 plan.


Mr. Benish stated that he believed that it was partially in the area in 1994, but that more of the area was now in because of the extension of the runway.


Ms. Higgins stated that it would completely take the property in now.  But, that there should have been a note on the plat if it was transferred some time since 1994 to say that it was in that overlay district. That is another whole issue, but the property should be aware of it if a property is purchased.


Mr. Benish stated that he could not speak to the specifics of that particular plat.


Mr. Kamptner stated that may not have identified the zoning of the property.


Ms. Higgins stated that it might have just been a transfer without a plat being done.


Mr. Edgerton stated that the plat might have been done prior to 1994.


Ms. Higgins stated that her understanding with the FAA is that even if there is an elevation difference and it appears as if the property may be by some virtue of being unique could be excluded they are pretty inflexible.  Because they are the FAA they are one of the most difficult governmental agencies to deal with is why she thinks they have this perfect line which does not flux rate based on it.  If there had been a mountain in that area there might have been some special provision that would have been taken and probably the airport could not be there at all.  But, given that even if the property is far away beneath the conical shape it does not mean that they will change the line and exclude an area.  But it potentially could be any individual property owner could pursue that.  But, it would be a FAA mitigation measure on their part to amend that line.  Because all they were doing was to make their master plan to be in compliance.


Mr. Benish stated that the Airport Overlay District refers to these maps and they define the Airport Import Overlay areas.  So what this amendment is doing is referring to the new maps.  Those new map changes are based on the proposed extension of the runway. The arc is designed based on FAA requirements for approaches to airports.


Ms. Higgins asked if they have a procedure for the excluding a particular property.


Mr. Benish stated that he honestly did not know.


Mr. Rieley stated that the Commission has already approved the adoption of the Airport Master Plan as a part of our Comprehensive Plan the extension of the runway because that was a component of that plan.


Mr. Benish stated that they have approved a plan that calls for in the long term that extension. When that extension takes place he would have to find out if additional approvals are necessary.


Mr. Rieley stated that they have adopted a plan that included that as a component.


Mr. Benish stated that was correct.  Again, that is the twenty year plan for the expansion. 


Mr. Craddock stated that it was right there in that sentence about the FAA requiring the airport to maintain a master plan to receive grants and aids. Therefore, the airport has to have this plan to get their money and that is why the circles are as they are.


Mr. Benish stated that is primarily the teeth of the federal regulations because they obviously have to comply with the land use regulations. 


Mr. Rieley stated that while he was sympathetic with the concern that somebody could misinterpret what this really stipulates he does not find that this action is not going to create any more air traffic or any more planes.  This action is not going to prohibit anybody from doing anything that they could do anyway unless it is for buildings in excess of 300 feet.  It seems that this is a necessary overlay district and it goes hand in hand with action that they have already taken. 


Mr. Benish stated for the record he did not want to belabor this, but some of you might have realized that the height of this is set by mean sea level elevation.  So it affects particular properties are based on that topography of that particular property.  Most of this area does fall in the 500 to 600 foot contour.  As you approach Piney Mountain there are portions that actually go up to about 1,100 feet.  But, he just wanted to make sure that they understood the fixed height for this is in the air and you measure down to each particular property to determine the height restrictions. Most of the properties because of the general elevation at 200 to 300 feet of area before you hit the area in the line of penetration, which is what they call it.


Ms. Higgins stated that it does not impose a fixed height limitation on a particular parcel, but it is an elevation space and up to that you run into the zoning limitation before you would hit the airport overlay district limitation.


Mr. Benish stated that was correct.  The way the zoning department enforces this basically is with the assistance of the FAA and the airport to ensure that they are picking and judging the right height for that fixed area.  It is easy in the horizontal plane to know what that height is. It is 789 feet, but as you reach the 20 to 1 conical angle that has to be calculated.  This map does give you a real good sense based on this one cut of the type of area you have.  But it does depend on the ground elevation.


Mr. Edgerton asked if these property owners were notified of the master plan process.


Mr. Benish stated that the airport process was dealt with by the Airport Authority.  They did a number of public meetings out in the area. He pointed out that he had attended two of those meetings, but he did not know how they did property owner notification.  He felt that there was some, but he did not know how extensive they were because the County was not involved in that.


Ms. Higgins stated that this was another somewhat indirect impact to the rural areas that they had a master plan to continue increasing service to the community.  As the community grows, the need for the air transport is growing too with additional runways and traffic.  This is not part of this action, but it is an implied indirect impact on rural areas, which having residential in rural areas is the reason.  If it was just cows, they would not be affected. But as soon as the house is there, then there are impacts.  They just never talked about this that much when they were looking at the rural areas.


Mr. Thomas stated that he would bet that where he lives would be in that zone also.


Mr. Benish stated that the area was very large.  It includes all of the Hollymead development area and Forest Lakes.


Mr. Craddock stated that it even includes Berkeley.


Mr. Rieley pointed out that those areas were not in this conical surface area, which was what these property owners were disturbed about.


Ms. Higgins stated that these properties were in the main approach surface.


Mr. Benish stated that just to clarify that the more inclement weather approach was from the south.


Action on Zoning Text Amendment:


Mr. Rieley moved for approval of ZTA-2005-002, Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA).


Mr. Thomas seconded the motion.


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


Mr. Edgerton stated that ZTA-2005-002, Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA), would go to the Board of Supervisors on June 8 with a recommendation for approval.


Action on Rezoning:


Mr. Morris moved for approval of ZMA-2005-004, Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA).


Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.


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


Mr. Edgerton stated that ZMA-2005-004, Airport Impact Area Overlay District (AIA), would go to the Board of Supervisors on June 8 with a recommendation for approval.




(Recorded and transcribed by Sharon Claytor Taylor, Recording Secretary.)


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