STAFF PERSON:                                                                              Rebecca Ragsdale

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                                          April 12, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                                       June 8, 2005                         

 

 

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

 

 

Applicant's Proposal: 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).  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. (Attachment A) 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.  (Please remember to bring these materials to the meeting on April 12, 2005)

 

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 roudabout 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 stormwater 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/travelway 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).

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

A.      Location Map

B.     Notebook titled: Monticello Zoning Map Amendment and Zoning Text Amendment Applications, February 28, 2004 (This was provided to you by the applicant. If you do not have a copy please let me know so that one can be provided to you. Please remember to bring this notebook to the meeting.)                          

C.     Zoning Text Amendment, April 1, 2005

D.     Revised Application Plan, AP 3 0f 4, Visitor Center Area

E.     Proffer Statement

F.      Historic Preservation Planner Comments

G.     Engineering Comments, dated March 14, 2005

H.     Revised Grading in Setback exhibit March 28, 2005

I.         Proposed Visitor Center Building Elevation and Section with Key

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