Albemarle County Planning Commission

April 12, 2005 Minutes For

ZMA-2004-03 and ZMA-2004-05 Monticello Historic District

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, April 12, 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, Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair, Pete Craddock; Calvin Morris and Bill Edgerton, Chairman. Jo Higgins and David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia were absent.

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning & Community Development; Francis MacCall, Senior Planner; Amelia McCulley, Division Director of Zoning and Current Development; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; John Shepherd, Zoning Administration Manager; Glenn Brooks, Senior Engineer; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.

 

Mr. Rieley recused himself from the next hearing because of his ongoing consulting work with Monticello.

 

The Planning Commission recessed at 9:03 p.m.

 

The Planning Commission meeting was called back to order at 9:20 p.m. by the Chairman.

 

ZTA 2004-03 Monticello Historic District (MHD):  This zoning text amendment would establish a new zoning district in Albemarle County pertaining to land uses and structures associated with Monticello by amending Section 4.15.8, Regulations applicable in the RA, VR, R-1 and R-2 Zoning Districts; amending Section 7, Establishment of Districts; amending Section 8.1, Intent; amending Section 8.2, Relation of Planned Development Regulations to Other Zoning Regulations; amending Section 8.3, Planned Development Defined; amending Section 8.4, Where Permitted; and adding Section 11, Monticello Historic District, MHD; of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code.  The amendment to Section 4.15.8 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section.  The amendment to Section 7 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section and re-order the list of zoning districts.  The amendment to Section 8.1 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section and revise the purposes of planned development districts.  The amendment to Section 8.2 would clarify when a waiver or modification of a requirement of Sections 4, 5 or 32 of the Zoning Ordinance could be obtained, and revise the findings required for granting a waiver or modification.  The amendment to Section 8.3 would revise the definition of "planned development district" to exempt planned historic districts such as the MHD from certain definitional criteria.  The amendment to Section 8.4 would allow planned historic districts such as the MHD that contain and pertain to a historic site to exist in the Rural Areas of the County as designated in the Comprehensive Plan.  The addition of Section 11 and its subparts would establish the MHD as a zoning district, state its intent and purpose, identify its status as a planned development district, and establish permitted uses and associated regulations applicable within the zoning district.  The proposed MHD zoning district would allow uses specifically related to the operation of Monticello as a historic house museum and historic site, including visitor facilities; educational, research, and administrative facilities; temporary events; sales of products; cemeteries; concerts; and agricultural, residential uses, and other delineated uses similar to those permitted in the Rural Areas zoning district.  The proposed district regulations also would require that development be preceded by an application plan approved by the County and otherwise be subject to Sections 4, 5, 8 and 32 of the Zoning Ordinance. The density for new residential development authorized in the MHD would be one dwelling unit per twenty-one acres.

AND

ZMA 2004-05 - Monticello Historic District (MHD) (Signs# 38,39&41) – Request to rezone approximately 868 acres from the Rural Areas (RA) to the Monticello Historic District (MHD) (reference ZTA 2004-03), to allow uses specifically related to the operation of Monticello as a historic house museum and historic site, including visitor facilities; educational, research, and administrative facilities; temporary events; sales of products; cemeteries; concerts; and agricultural, residential uses, and other delineated uses similar to those permitted in the Rural Areas zoning district.  The properties proposed for rezoning are within the Scottsville Magisterial District in the vicinity of Monticello, south of Interstate 64 and east of Route 53, and are identified more particularly as follows: Tax Map 78, Parcels 22 (Monticello), 23, 25, 28A, 28B, 29; and Tax Map 79, Parcel 7A.  The Comprehensive Plan designates these lands as Rural Area 4, and the general usage for Rural Area 4 is as follows: land uses supportive of the character of the rural area, including agricultural and forestal uses, land preservation, conservation, and resource protection.  No density range is specified for Rural Areas 4. The density for new residential development authorized in the MHD district would be one dwelling unit per twenty-one acres.  (Rebecca Ragsdale)

 

Ms. Ragsdale summarized the staff report. The applicant, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., has requested a Zoning Text Amendment and Zoning Map Amendment to establish a planned district called the Monticello Historic District (MHD).  This application was submitted last April and is an application that has evolved from previous applications starting in 2000 when Monticello identified the need for some new facilities. They started working with the County to address their nonconforming status. The uses there now such as the house museum and the educational research activities are nonconforming and have not been addressed in the zoning ordinance.  Therefore, that is what these applications are attempting to do by establishing the Monticello Historic District as a planned district in the zoning ordinance. The site is currently zoned Rural Areas and is designated for Rural Area land use in the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed district would include approximately 868 acres. Monticello and the activities associated with its operation as a historic house museum and educational center are not in compliance with the zoning ordinance and are non-conforming uses.  The proposed MHD would bring these existing uses into compliance with the zoning ordinance and allow for improved facilities.  The Foundation is not proposing to introduce new activities but would continue the land uses that have been taking place, including education programs, research, and visitor facilities. A new visitor’s center, service center, administrative campus, and restoration to the Monticello mountain top are planned with this application. The Foundation believes that the visitor experience will be enhanced as a result of these changes. The Foundation does not anticipate visitor growth, as a result of these changes, beyond what would normally be expected to occur.

 

The Foundation intends to remove 20th Century additions surrounding the Monticello mansion, including the gift shop, offices, and restrooms which are currently located in a historic building known as Weaver’s Cottage, as well as remove offices from the basement and upper floors of Monticello. The Foundation plans to relocate these uses to less obtrusive locations at lower elevations and as far from the historic house and structures as possible. The Administrative Campus would be located on a site on the south side of Route 53 adjacent to Kenwood.  A new visitor's center and parking area would replace the existing facilities. A building and grounds service area is planned in areas where existing facilities are located, further down the mountain from the visitor’s center area, near Route 53.

 

A binder containing details of the application background and ZTA and ZMA requests was provided to you in April 2004. With the resubmittal of this application on February 28, 2005, another bound notebook (Attachment B) of information was provided to you reflecting any changes from the original application. 

 

Petitions:  ZTA 2004-03 - Monticello Historic District (MHD) - This zoning text amendment would establish a new zoning district in Albemarle County pertaining to land uses and structures associated with Monticello by amending Section 4.15.8, Regulations applicable in the RA, VR, R-1 and R-2 Zoning Districts; amending Section 7, Establishment of Districts; amending Section 8.1, Intent; amending Section 8.2, Relation of Planned Development Regulations to Other Zoning Regulations; amending Section 8.3, Planned Development Defined; amending Section 8.4, Where Permitted; and adding Section 11, Monticello Historic District, MHD; of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code.  The amendment to Section 4.15.8 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section.  The amendment to Section 7 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section and re-order the list of zoning districts.  The amendment to Section 8.1 would add the MHD as a district subject to that section and revise the purposes of planned development districts.  The amendment to Section 8.2 would clarify when a waiver or modification of a requirement of Sections 4, 5 or 32 of the Zoning Ordinance could be obtained, and revise the findings required for granting a waiver or modification.  The amendment to Section 8.3 would revise the definition of "planned development district" to exempt planned historic districts such as the MHD from certain definitional criteria.  The amendment to Section 8.4 would allow planned historic districts such as the MHD that contain and pertain to a historic site to exist in the Rural Areas of the County as designated in the Comprehensive Plan.  The addition of Section 11 and its subparts would establish the MHD as a zoning district, state its intent and purpose, identify its status as a planned development district, and establish permitted uses and associated regulations applicable within the zoning district.  The proposed MHD zoning district would allow uses specifically related to the operation of Monticello as a historic house museum and historic site, including visitor facilities; educational, research, and administrative facilities; temporary events; sales of products; cemeteries; concerts; and agricultural, residential uses, and other delineated uses similar to those permitted in the Rural Areas zoning district.  The proposed district regulations also would require that development be preceded by an application plan approved by the County and otherwise be subject to Sections 4, 5, 8 and 32 of the Zoning Ordinance. The density for new residential development authorized in the MHD would be one dwelling unit per twenty-one acres

 

ZMA 2004-05 - Monticello Historic District (MHD) - Request to rezone approximately 868 acres from the Rural Areas (RA) to the Monticello Historic District (MHD) (reference ZTA 2004-03), to allow uses specifically related to the operation of Monticello as a historic house museum and historic site, including visitor facilities; educational, research, and administrative facilities; temporary events; sales of products; cemeteries; concerts; and agricultural, residential uses, and other delineated uses similar to those permitted in the Rural Areas zoning district.  The properties proposed for rezoning are within the Scottsville Magisterial District in the vicinity of Monticello, south of Interstate 64 and east of Route 53, and are identified more particularly as follows: Tax Map 78, Parcels 22 (Monticello), 23, 25, 28A, 28B, 29; and Tax Map 79, Parcel 7A.  The Comprehensive Plan designates these lands as Rural Area 4, and the general usage for Rural Area 4 is as follows: land uses supportive of the character of the rural area, including agricultural and forestal uses, land preservation, conservation, and resource protection.  No residential density range is specified for Rural Areas 4. The density for new residential development authorized in the MHD district would be one dwelling unit per twenty-one acres.  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, County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Character of the Area: The majority of the area surrounding the proposed Monticello Historic District is rural in character, with larger parcels intact and substantial open space surrounding the project areas. Most parcels adjoining the district are also owned by the Foundation and are under conservation easement. Natural features include substantial wooded portions surrounding the Monticello mansion and the Rivanna River bisects the MHD between Shadwell and the Monticello Home Farm tract. There is a residence (Pippen) adjoining the visitor center area to the east. Adjacent to the proposed Administrative Campus is the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and the Jefferson Library, both located at Kenwood. The Shadwell portion of the MHD is under two easements and adjoins Route 250 (Richmond Road); there are commercial and industrial uses adjacent to that property. Other historic uses are located in the vicinity of the Monticello Historic District, including Michie Tavern and Ash Lawn.

 

Planning and Zoning History:  Construction of Monticello began in 1769 and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation acquired the property in 1923. Since that time, the Foundation has operated the property as a museum. As part of the 1980 comprehensive downzoning of the County, Monticello was zoned Rural Areas (RA). No land use was established within the RA Zoning District during that rezoning that accommodated the Foundation’s activities, which resulted in Monticello’s non-conforming use status.  After a facilities planning process in 1999, which identified a four-campus vision for Monticello, the Foundation began working with the County on a zoning amendment to bring Monticello into compliance and to allow for new facilities. Applications ZTA 2000-02, ZTA 2000-8, and ZMA 2001-10 were the first applications attempting to address Monticello’s non-conforming uses. At the time of those applications, new facilities were planned for the Blue Ridge Hospital site on Route 53 and Route 20. (This site is no longer a viable option for the Foundation’s facilities.)  A work session was held with the Planning Commission in August 2001 where comments were provided to the Foundation. After the work session, the Foundation decided to revisit the application and its facilities needs to provide a more detailed application. This resulted in the submittal of the ZMA and ZTA applications currently under review and withdrawal of all previous applications. The applications currently requested for approval were originally submitted in April 2004. The Planning Commission held a work session on these applications June 8, 2004 and a public hearing was scheduled for July 27, 2004. The applicant’s requested that their ZMA and ZTA requests be deferred prior to that meeting and the public hearing was not held. Since that time, the applicants and their team of professionals have been working to refine the applications, which were resubmitted February 28, 2005. These refinements include improved building and site design with respect to terrain at the Visitor Center complex. The revised application also reflects that a significant portion of the proposed MHD is now under easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

 

ZTA 2004-03: One of the key components of the proposed ZTA is that Monticello and its associated activities are unique and necessitate different provisions from other existing zoning districts in the County’s ordinance to meet their land use needs. Given this factor, and taking into account comments made by the Planning Commission during review of the previous application submittals regarding specificity of planned activities, a planned zoning district has been drafted in accordance with Section 8 of the Zoning Ordinance. The MHD provisions of the district address both Monticello’s historic and rural aspects and appropriate uses of the RA Zoning District have been incorporated in the MHD. The revised version of the ZTA is attached for your review. (Attachment C).

 

Since the proposed Monticello Historic District and plans are submitted as a planned development district, as allowed in Section 8 of the Zoning Ordinance, an application plan is required. This application plan specifies what site improvements will take place with this rezoning, including general location and limits on building square footage. Any significant deviation from the application plan would require approval of an amended rezoning application.

 

ZMA 2004-05:  No major changes in building square footage or general location are proposed with the resubmittal of this ZMA from its original version.  The applicant is proposing major improvements to three main project areas, within the MHD. These include the Monticello Mountaintop, the Visitor’s Center and Service area, and the Administrative Campus adjacent to Kenwood. The fourth project area includes the Shadwell Quarter Farm, where minor improvements are planned as the property is under easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and now also the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

 

Mountain Top (AP 2 of 4): Main improvements to this project area include removal of staff offices and service structures which are located along the second roundabout, allowing for restoration of the roundabout and possibly future historic interpretation.  The Foundation hopes to restore the house and grounds on the mountain top to their Jefferson-era appearance to the greatest extent possible without modern intrusions. There will be a need for restrooms, utilities, and some service parking, which would be moved to more appropriate locations during the restoration project. It is not expected that all improvements proposed with this ZMA plan will be completed simultaneously, but will be phased according to the Foundation. With the recent resubmittal, the Mountaintop plan has been revised to clarify that the staff offices and service structures located along the second roundabout will have to remain until the new Building and Grounds Service Area can be completed.

 

Visitor’s Center/Building Grounds and Service Area (AP 3 of 4): The visitor’s center project area currently consists of a shuttle shelter, an open air garden shop, a luncheonette, a slave cemetery, and approximately 400 parking spaces. The service area is located further down the mountain, closer to Route 53, and consists of a fueling station, a warehouse, and two existing houses used for office space. The square footage of proposed buildings is the roughly the same as the previous version of this ZMA, approximately 19,500 total for Building and Grounds service center complex and 48,750 total for Visitors Center complex.   The applicant is proposing to construct an improved visitor center that will consist of five interconnected buildings to include a museum shop, café, exhibits, and classrooms. These will be proposed in the same location as the existing shuttle station. The architects have now chosen several smaller buildings to better fit the topography the site and will result in less tree clearing. An outdoor classroom pavilion is now proposed in the wooded area adjacent to the Visitor Center to the north. The parking lot will not be regarded as was previously proposed. This will leave the existing parking lot and trees intact. The landscape link from the new visitor’s center to the slave burial grounds to create a linear park will be provided. The revised building and parking plan will result in far less tree clearing and grading than was previously proposed. This plan was revised following engineering comments to include an additional note regarding storm water management. (Attachment D)

 

In the Building Grounds and Service area, the applicant is proposing to construct office and work shop spaces, a greenhouse, equipment bays, and to provide for staff parking.  This area has also been slightly redesigned based on better topographic information. The applicant is proposing a total building area of 20,000 square feet for buildings constructed in this area. Although not highly visible from Route 53, the service area is located within the Entrance Corridor Overlay District and will be reviewed by the Architectural Review Board prior to any building construction. 


Administrative Campus: (AP 4 of 4): There were no changes to the Administrative Campus plan with the resubmittal of this application. The 5.5 acre site is located to the west of Kenwood and currently consists of a dwelling and several outbuildings. It is not used by the Foundation at this time for any uses related to Monticello. The Foundation is proposing a 27,121 square foot building, or mass of several buildings, for office space, meeting rooms, archeological labs, storage, and support space with a total of 86 parking spaces. It is envisioned that the new building(s) will have a connection to Kenwood.  VDOT has recommended that access to this site be through shared entrance with Kenwood, instead of creating another entrance onto Route 53. The applicant has indicated they have studied this option as to its feasibility and have provided a note on the application plan (AP-4) that indicates the entrance will be shared. This project area is also located within the Entrance Corridor Overlay district and will require further review by the Architectural Review Board.  

 

Shadwell: The 277 acre Shadwell Quarter Farm is the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson and includes several modern structures including a barn and shed. The Foundation has limited historic interpretation plans for Shadwell as permitted by the Department of Historic Resources and VOF easements (found in the Appendix of Attachment B). The application plan specifies that improvements at the site will be limited to interpretative trails, a maximum of 3,000 square feet of building area for a visitor shelter, 1,000 square feet for restrooms, and any road/entrance improvements needed.  A proffer (Attachment E) pertaining to the County’s greenway has been submitted for the Shadwell property to further Comprehensive Plan goals for the greenway and trails system. A greenway easement will be dedicated on portions of the Shadwell property that are contiguous to the Rivanna River on the north side and are part of the 100-year flood plain.

 

By-right Use of the Property: If developed under the current RA (Rural Areas) zoning, the property could be developed with agricultural uses, forestal uses, or residential development at allowed densities, subject to easement restrictions. The current Monticello operations are non-conforming and any further expansions or new facilities are not permitted under the Zoning Ordinance regulations.

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

 

Rural Area: The Guiding Principles of the Rural Area Plan are not compromised with this proposed application but have been incorporated into this proposal as it helps to further preserve unique natural, scenic, and cultural resources not found elsewhere in the County, and unique to  Virginia and the World. In addition, the proposed MHD zoning district will have reduced development potential with the VOF easement affecting a large portion of the MHD district. The land placed under easement totals 1, 060 acres and includes approximately 418 acres of the “Home Farm” adjacent to the Monticello Mountain, the 560 acre Tufton property southeast of Monticello, and approximately 80 acres along the Rivanna River.

 

Historic Preservation Plan: The goals of protecting historic resources, recognizing their value, pursuit of additional protection measures and incentives to preserve Albemarle’s historic and archeological resources are all being achieved through this proposed rezoning. It is suggested in the Comprehensive Plan that an important strategy to further the historic preservation goals of the County is to adopt a historic district overlay ordinance that would recognize and protect historic and archeological resources, including individual sites and districts, on the local level.  The County’s Historic Preservation Planner has commended Monticello on their application and has indicated that the MHD may serve as a model for future historic zoning in the County. (Attachment F)

 

Open Space Plan and Mountain Protection Plan: Monticello is an identified mountain resource in the Mountain Protection Plan. This rezoning does not cause substantial new disturbance of the mountain and actually removes obtrusive modern day structures from the ridge/mountain top area. No negative impacts to scenic resources are anticipated with this proposed rezoning, including the Rivanna River, which is designated as a Virginia State Scenic River from Woolen Mills to the Fluvanna County line.

 

Greenways and Trails Plan: Through this project, the goal of a countywide network of greenway trails is furthered with the dedication of an easement along the Rivanna River on the Shadwell property. The Rivanna River from the Ivy Creek Natural area to Fluvanna County is specifically identified as a location for river and stream trials in the Rural Area.  This will provide a trail along one of the only two State Scenic Rivers in the County.

Relationship between the application and the purpose and intent of the requested zoning district

 

The Foundation is requesting to rezone to a zoning district specifically crafted to accommodate the needs of Monticello as a unique historic resource but also recognizes its location with in the Rural Area of the County. The application is entirely consistent with the purpose and intent of the proposed zoning text amendment.

 

Public need and justification for the change

 

This application will provide the chance to improve the visitor’s experience to Monticello and provide for improved historic preservation efforts through removal of modern structures from the mountain top and administrative office located inside the mansion.   As the applicant indicates, it may also extend the length of time visitors of Monticello remain in Albemarle County and would therefore increase the tourism dollars into the local economy. Monticello is not only a tourist destination, but an educational and historic resource to the local community.

 

  Anticipated impact on public facilities and services

 

Transportation: The applicant has prepared a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) that has been reviewed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for impacts to Route 53 (Thomas Jefferson Parkway). While the TIA did not indicate a significant increase in vehicle trips associated with the rezoning request, as there will not be an increase in visitation or employees, VDOT has identified the following safety concerns with Route 53:

 

 

The applicant has been responsive to these concerns from VDOT and has placed a note on the application plan to indicate that the entrance to the Administrative Campus will be combined with Kenwood and during the site plan process it will be designed and approved by VDOT. The applicant has provided a proffer (Attachment E) indicating that the exit from the Monticello Visitor’s Center onto Route 53 will be upgraded to allow for improved vehicle turning onto Route 53 from Monticello’s exit. 

 

Water and Sewer: The Monticello mountain complex (AP 2 of 4 and 3 of 4) is the only portion of the proposed project area located within the Albemarle County Service Authority (ACSA) Jurisdictional Area and is designated for water service only. The ACSA indicates current water service to the property, including the Monticello mansion and Visitors Center.  The Administrative Campus would be supplied water by an on-site well. The water facility analysis provided by the applicant indicates that both sites should have adequate capacity to serve the proposed uses, including under fire flow scenarios. 

 

No portions of the project area are located within the ACSA Jurisdictional Area for sewer service. The applicant has proposed to serve the Administrative Campus and Visitor’s Center with an advanced wastewater treatment plant combined with drip irrigation disposal. The drip irrigation system is preferred as it can be installed to follow contours and can be place at more shallow depths (6-12”). Any proposed central systems will require approval by the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission must also review the request to ensure that it is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, as required by the Code of Virginia §15.2- 2232.  The issue of central systems will be addressed separately, after further study and staff review of detailed system design specifications have been submitted. 

 

Schools: There are no anticipated impacts to the County’s school systems as this project will not include residential components or result in additional school children.

 

Stormwater Management --The applicant has provided a stormwater analysis as part of their application which demonstrates that County requirements regarding both stormwater quantity and quality can be met. The system that will be used will combine traditional stormwater management techniques with a low impact development approach. This approach will include the use of bio-retention in the form of rain gardens. Engineering staff has reviewed the applicant’s analysis and provided favorable comments.   (Attachment G)                     

 

Fiscal impact on public facilities--It is not expected that this rezoning request will result in any negative fiscal impacts to public facilities.  Monticello provides positive impacts to the local economy, through the employment it provides and the travel expenditures associated with visitors to the museum. In December 2001, The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released a study, Monticello’s Economic Impact on the Charlottesville-Albemarle Area, which quantified the local economic impact of Monticello. Major findings of this report indicated that Monticello generates state and local tax revenues through the activities associated with the Foundation; nearly half of Monticello’s visitors choose to stay overnight in the area; and even though Monticello itself employs around 300 people, its overall impact to employment is greater and is equivalent to around 900 people.

 

 

Anticipated impact on natural, cultural, and historic resources

 

Monticello is listed on the Virginia Landmarks (State) and National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark, the highest national recognition category for historic resources. Most notably, Monticello is on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. Impacts to Monticello are expected to be positive. This application will allow the relocation of modern intrusions from the mountaintop to more appropriate sites.  The applicant will be able to heighten restoration efforts through this rezoning application and eventual completion of the application plans.  The applicant has indicated that impacts on natural resources will be minimized to the greatest extent possible. The Visitor’s Center and Service Center will be constructed in areas where tree clearing has already occurred.  The majority of the project will remain in open space and over 95% of the project area will not be disturbed, which is 831 of the 868 acres included with this application.

 

Proffers: As part of this rezoning request the Foundation has provided a proffer statement (Attachment E) to address review comments that could not be provided for on the Application Plan. The terms of the Greenway easement are included in the proffer, as well as provisions for the improvement of the existing Monticello exit onto Route 53. These proffers are in a final form and have been reviewed by the County Attorney and approved by the applicant, however they have not been signed by the owners/applicant.

 

To address comments made by the historic preservation planner, a documentation plan has been provided to ensure that the demolition, removal, or relocation of permanent structures will be recorded.  A note referring to these documentation procedures has been provided on the Application Plan (AP 1 of 4).

 

Waiver Requests:

 

The applicant has identified several waivers to Zoning Ordinance requirements that will be necessary to fully implement the application plan submitted with this ZMA.  Applicant justification and need for these waivers has been provided in the new submittal notebook (Attachment B) along with exhibits in section C of the notebook. Planning Commission approval of the waivers for Section 4.2.3.2 and Section 21.7.3 is needed.

 

Section 4.2.3.2 -- Critical Slopes: Section 4.2.3.2 of the Zoning Ordinance restricts earth-disturbing activity on slopes of 25 percent or greater.  Section 4.2.5.2 allows the Planning Commission to waive this restriction upon finding that a strict application of this provision would not forward the purposes of the Zoning Ordinance. This waiver is needed primarily in the new parking areas to serve the Building and Grounds Service Area (Exhibit “Non-conforming Slopes” in Attachment B). Engineering staff has commented (Attachment G) on this waiver and recommends approval with a condition:

Additional erosion control measures will be required with newly constructed slopes; to include matting, wire-reinforced silt fence, sediment traps, and other measures as may be necessary, at the discretion of the county engineer.

 

Section 21.7.3 – Minimum Yard Requirements for Commercial Districts: Section 21.7.3 specifies that within the buffer zone adjacent to rural and residential districts, no construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation shall occur closer that 20 feet to any residential or rural areas district.  The Planning Commission may waive this requirement if it has been demonstrated that grading and clearing is necessary or would result in improved site design, provided that minimum screening requirements are met and the existing landscaping in excess of minimum requirements is substantially restored. This buffer is needed for grading in the setback on the side property lines at the Administrative campus property, which is somewhat narrow and adjoins Foundation owned property on one side and a use similar to that proposed for it with Kenwood to the east. The “Grading in Setback” exhibit included in the waivers package has been revised to show that this waiver is needed on both side property lines. (Attachment H) Planning and engineering staff are in support of this waiver.

 

Section 4.12.15.c -- slopes for parking areas and Section 4.12.17.a -- grades for driveways/travel way slopes

 

The Zoning Administrator is authorized by the Zoning Ordinance to grant these waivers which are not necessary for existing site conditions. The applicant has requested approval for these waivers with this ZMA application but Zoning staff has indicated that it would be more appropriate to review and approve any requests for this at the site plan stage.

 

Section 4.12.15.g—to eliminate curb and gutter requirements.

 

The county engineer may waive or modify this requirement if deemed necessary to accommodate stormwater management/BMP facility design or existing uses located in the Rural Areas (RA) zoning district. The Comprehensive Plan suggests avoiding these more urban requirements for Rural Area sites. This request has been reviewed by engineering staff and approval is recommended.

 

 

SUMMARY: Staff has identified the following factors, which are favorable to this rezoning request:

 

1.       This proposal will result in improved facilities for visitors of Monticello and also the Foundation’s employees.

2.       The Monticello exit onto Route 53 will be improved, providing a safer roadway for all users.

3.       No new entrances on to Route 53 will be created with the development of the Administrative campus, which will share access with Kenwood.

4.       Monticello has positive fiscal impacts and this proposal will not result in any burden on public facilities.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  Staff has reviewed the proposal and associated proffers for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval of ZTA 2004-03 and ZMA 2004-05, along with the waivers of Section 4.2.3.2 and Section 21.7.3 as requested by the applicant and including engineering conditions (Attachment G).

 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if any Commissioner had any questions for staff.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she just wanted to clarify on thing.  She asked if staff was only recommending for the waiver request for the critical slopes and the curb and gutter.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that staff was supportive of the waivers as far as from the planning standpoint.  The Planning Commission action is needed to approve the critical slopes waiver and the minimum yard requirements for the commercial district.  In the ordinance it kind of varies where it specifies where Planning Commission approval is necessary.  Some places it says the zoning administrator can approve it after consulting with the county engineer.  In some places it just says the county engineer can approve.  But, these two specifically refer back to the Planning Commission.  But, staff is in support of all of the waivers at this point.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that they have planning support for the travel way and the parking waiver request.  Also, they have engineering support for the critical slopes.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that engineering reviewed it as far as all four waivers that were requested, and did not recommend denial for any of them.  They provided their comments to the waivers and what they could identify at this stage as far as what they wanted to see as far as notes regarding storm water detention.  She pointed out that Glenn Brooks was present.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she was specifically referencing the parking the travel way slopes.  She asked if Mr. Brooks would like to speak to that.

 

Glenn Brooks, Senior Engineer stated that was the waiver that the zoning administrator would prefer to do at the site plan stage. But, it was consistent with the parking that was already out there.  Therefore, he thought that it was fine.

 

Mr. Joseph asked Mr. Kamptner if the Commission chose to if they could go ahead and approve those waiver requests.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that the Commission could approve all the waivers at this point.  Because this was a planned development, under Section 8 it gives the Commission and Board the authority to consider all of these waivers at the rezoning stage.  Until recently they would have been coming at a later stage in the development process.

 

There being no further questions for staff, Mr. Edgerton opened the public hearing and asked the applicant to come forward to address the Commission.

 

Michael R. Matthews, Jr., P.E., of Matthews Development Company, LLC, spoke for the request.  It is my distinct honor to represent the Thomas Jefferson Foundation on the three applications that are before the Commission tonight. It is also a special day for the folks at Monticello. He pointed out that tomorrow is Mr. Jefferson’s 262nd birthday.  They will celebrate that tomorrow in Albemarle County with Founder’s Day.  That is a special day for them.   He introduced the following persons Mr. Weller Davis, member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee at Monticello; Kat Imhoff, Vice-President of Thomas Jefferson Foundation; Mike Merriam, Director of Buildings and Grounds; Valerie Long, of their legal team; Ashley Hardwell, also of McGuire & Woods; Adam Gross, of Aire, Saint, Gross; and Sandra Vixeo, project architect. He presented a brief over view of the project with a short power point presentation.

 

There are three parts to their application. The zoning text amendment is the amendment that creates the district.  Right now the district does not exist in the Code. It is a planned district under Section 8.0, which is a very important distinction from what has come before us. The district is about 868 acres.  This is an area where either the foundations has either programmed now or is planning a program that is not recognized in the rural area.  In 1980 when the County comprehensively rezoned the County there was not special provisions made for Monticello and what has been happening there since the foundation took over in 1923.  They tried to make the boundaries of the district very simple and wanted them to be commensurate with the tax map and parcel numbers so that they would be easy to administer. Ninety-six percent of the district is going to be left in open space.  They wanted to have a very narrow definition of the district.  All of the properties need to be owned by the foundation, have been owned by Jefferson, and are partially within the World Heritage designation.  As you know the Monticello house is the only residence in the United States that is on the World heritage list.

 

The zoning map amendment is the second part of this application.  It breaks down their plans into three pieces.  Once the district is established, under Section 8.0 they create application plans, which will be binding on us for all development of any of the precincts.  The three precincts that were identified were the mountaintop, where the goal is to basically return the mountaintop to the original Jefferson presentation by removing the 20th Century from the mountaintop; the visitor’s center where they play into the enhanced visitor’s experience and the administration campus, which will enable them to achieve the other vision of removing the 20th Century from the mountaintop and appropriately house the staff functions.  All of these districts must comply with the application plan that will be binding on them. 

 

Planning Commission approval is required for the critical slopes waiver and the buffer disturbance. They chose the setbacks from section 21.0 that will apply to them in the rural areas, which are the commercial setbacks that are very rigorous.  In order to create the development shown in the application plans, they need the waiver of the buffer disturbance, which will then be replaced. 

 

The other three waivers that were discussed today were the travel way and slopes, the parking slopes and the curb and gutter.  They would certainly welcome the Planning Commission to approve those.  They have done their homework on those and they are primarily existing conditions or conditions that they think are respectful of the site.  He displayed a picture of the African American burial area.  He stated that they could not imagine surrounding it with curb and gutter and the grading that would be necessary for that sort of activity. 

 

As a brief history, they started this application in 2000.  There was a work session in 2001 with the Commission in which they received some valuable feedback.  They went back to the drawing board.  The last 3 years have been spent in some pretty intense planning in rethinking what the future of Monticello needs to look like.  They refilled the application in 2004 under this planned district approach.  They felt that answered the Commission’s questions about certainly what may in a fairly open ended text amendment.  Now it will be tied to the application plan, which was something that they were very comfortable with.  Last year they had a very good work session with the Planning Commission last June.  They went through a number of issues and made a number of changes to their plan.  They had a great staff report in July of last year.  But, Kat had called him one day and said that they needed to talk about a deferral.  Monticello is one of the more self critical organizations that he had ever been evolved with.  They just were not happy with the master plan and some of the land use issues that they were dealing.  So they said let’s stop and let’s get this right.  They took a six month pause and during that time really made some substantial changes.  These changes were made in how a visitor would experience the mountain. 

 

The district itself, shown in green area is unchanged from their original submission.  What is significantly different is the area that is in the cross-hatched.  That is the 1,000 acres that was added into the VDOF easement since they were last before the Commission.  Shadwell’s 215 acres had always been in easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  So now the vast majority of the district is entirely within some form of perpetual easement. 

 

In summary, according to the application plan now there are three pieces on the plan.  The mountaintop plans are unchanged from what the Commission saw previously.  Again, it is an effort over the years to remove the 20th Century intrusions on the mountaintop and replace them in more appropriate locations.  The administration/campus plan is also unchanged from what the Commission saw last time.  The big change was in the visitor’s center itself.  Originally they had a building situated they felt nicely situated into the hillside.  It was not a small building.  They had all of these areas in the parking lot being completely regraded and they had a green connection with the visitor’s center and the African-American Burial area, which will incorporate that into the primary experience.  That element has changed.  Also, the building and grounds service area and the lower section of the site is part of their plan.  From a big picture speculative the dynamic change that has occurred is in the parking.  All of this parking now is to be left as is in its current scenario.

 

Due to the improved topographic information they were able to put the buildings in locations that are more sensitive. Basically, they have been able to do more engineering on that part of the site.  The building itself is a lot difference.  He pointed out that the picture more than anything from their original submission is what resulted in their deferral.  That building was pretty big.  Their goals were to nestle this building into the hillside.  They felt like they had achieved that, but still the amount of area sticking out up the natural grades on a sloping site just gave pause to a lot of folks at Monticello.  There is a phrase that came about in some of early planning that they had somewhat departed from.  That was that they felt like they had departed from a collection of dependencies that defined Monticello.  They had probably strayed further from that than they were comfortable.  They reground themselves on their philosophy that resulted in this plan.  The buildings are now being broke up into six much smaller components that are smaller in scale and much more open. It allows them to create a courtyard area that has many benefits to the program and to the feel of the site.  They have a new pavilion.  In this area it is an area that is already cleared.  The existing septic area will be changed in its current configuration.  That will be a bit of an overflow place and a place where classrooms can come and meet for educational purpose.  There will be four times less grading than they had originally planned in the parking area.  After they rethought it they had basically been regarding the site to accommodate a bus circulation pattern that on second thought was not really necessary to accommodate it.  They still have maintained the philosophy of taking cues from the existing building for materials and for open design. They want to draw from the strengths and materials and some of the open forums.  He pointed out that they had been successful in putting some of the areas underground at the visitor’s center.  He completed the power point presentation and pointed out the changes made to the plan. He stated that the pause that the Commission was kind enough to grant allowed them time to look back at this goal of going lightly on the land that has been the buzz word in all of the design meetings in nestling this building nicely into the terrain. He felt that they have done a much better of achieving that.  He stated that they have appreciated all of the efforts and the guidance that staff has given along the way.

 

Kat Imhoff, Vice-President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, thanked everyone for their comments and patience throughout this process, particularly the staff and the Planning Commission.  She felt that they have had to remind ourselves why we are doing this.  It is really the dual mission of education and preservation. She felt that they were really going to improve the experience for visitors and also for the visitors of the community that utilize Monticello. 

 

Mr. Thomas congratulated the Foundation for changing their original plans, particularly the parking lot. 

 

Mr. Morris commended the Foundation for the wonderful plan.  He felt that it was a beautiful plan.  He asked if it was handicap accessible.

 

Mr. Merriam stated yes, that it was definitely handicap accessible.

 

Mr. Edgerton invited comment from other members of the public.

 

Joe Andrews, representative for Luck Stone Corporation, stated that Ms. Ragsdale and Mr. Mathews have both been very helpful in assisting him in understanding what this proposal is all about.  Certainly Monticello is a very valuable asset to Albemarle County and the State of Virginia.  He felt that they most likely need the required flexibility that they are asking for as a part of this zoning text amendment and rezoning.  A recommendation of approval would certainly seem appropriate by this Planning Commission.  The only question that he still has deals with the easements.  He stated that he would like to understand a little bit more about the easements sometime between now and the Board of Supervisors.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if he was referring to the conservation easements on the land that adjoins his land and the impacts of it.

 

Mr. Andrews stated that was correct.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if there was anybody else who would like to address this application.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for discussion and a possible action.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she would like for the Planning Commission to go ahead and approve all of the waivers that have been requested because it is more appropriate than asking the applicant to come back at site plan stage.  It would be extremely uncomfortable for the Commission to say that they approved a rezoning based on this incredibly detailed plan that the applicant has gone through a lot of reiteration and thoughtful process to try to preserve as many trees in that parking area and then to come back and say no that they did not think it was going to work now.  She asked to make one comment about the critical slopes.  The Planning Commission gets a lot of requests for critical slopes and they really need to point out that the area proposed is a very small area that they are grading with the critical slopes and she felt that it was also keeping them out of some more sensitive areas to just do it in that smaller area. Therefore, the benefit to the community is that there is less disruption on the site as result of that.  Therefore, she could support this with the waiver request and the proffers as submitted and recommended by staff. 

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that the first action should be the zoning text amendment.

 

Action on ZTA-2004-03:

 

Ms. Joseph made a motion to recommend approval of ZTA-2004-03, Monticello Historic District (MHD).

 

      Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.

 

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

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that ZTA-2004-03 Monticello Historic District (MHD) was approved and would be heard by the Board of Supervisors on June 8, 2004.

 

Action on ZMA-2004-05:

 

Mr. Morris made a motion to recommend approval of ZMA-2004-05, Monticello Historic District (MHD), with proffers along with the five waivers as requested by the applicant and including engineering conditions (Attachment G).

 

Mr. Craddock seconded the motion.

 

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

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that ZMA-2004-05, Monticello Historic District (MHD) was approved and would also be heard by the Board of Supervisors on June 8, 2004.

 

 

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