STAFF PERSON:                                                                              Rebecca Ragsdale

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                              May 24, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                           July 13, 2005



ZTA 99-06:  SPECIAL EVENTS (Althea H. Randolph)  




This ZTA proposal was initiated by a Zoning Text Amendment (ZTA) application which was submitted in August 1999 (Attachment A) requesting that Tourist Lodging in the Zoning Ordinance be amended to allow for weddings, special events, corporate meetings, or other events.  This request was tabled by the Planning Commission in April 2000, following staff’s recommendation that this request be deferred until completion of the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan. The Rural Areas Plan was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in March 2005. Following the applicant and the Planning Commission’s request to reactivate this ZTA, a resolution of intent to amend the ordinance was passed on January 18, 2005. (Attachment B)




This ZTA would provide opportunities for Rural Area landowners to have additional income producing land uses that are intended to offset financial pressure to subdivide their land. The County would benefit from the reduced fragmentation of land and the resulting protection of potential agricultural and forestal production, as well as natural and historic resources. This would implement the Guiding Principles of the Rural Areas Plan by providing alternatives to land fragmentation.




Currently, the Zoning Ordinance only provides provisions for special events as an accessory use to a farm winery (Section 5.1.25) in the Rural Areas Zoning District. As with the supplemental regulations for farm wineries, this ZTA would allow special events of up to 150 guests as a secondary use on Rural Area properties with an existing rural area use. However, this ZTA would add a separate definition of Special Events to the Zoning Ordinance and allow it as a use by special permit in the Rural Areas Zoning District.  Supplemental regulations are proposed to ensure that the impacts to the Rural Area are minimized and these uses are scaled and sited appropriately. Provisions for parking, signs, concept plans, setbacks, structures that can be used for events, reversibility and limiting events to 12 a year have been included. This ZTA would provide an ancillary use for Rural Area structures, such as barns, that may be in need of rehabilitation. During the special use permit process, the adequacy of roads serving the sites for these events would need to be determined through VDOT and county staff review.




Comprehensive Plan: Protection of the Rural Areas’ historic, archeological, and cultural resources is identified as a Guiding Principal for policy development in the Comprehensive Plan. The Plan offers specific recommendations to provide alternatives land uses to rural landowners to relieve pressure to subdivide.


Strategies of the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan addressed with this ZTA:



The Zoning Ordinance has been reviewed based on the applicant’s specific request for special events but future zoning text amendments will follow that address other by-right and special use permit uses in the Rural Areas.



The definition of special events limits the number of participants to 150 and states that events will typically be on a single day but may include up to three consecutive days.

The supplemental regulations include provisions such as increased setbacks and limit the number of events to twelve per year. Parking areas would be pervious and screened. It is not intended that new structures be built to accommodate this use but existing rural area buildings such as barns would be rehabilitated.



It is expected that the current County policy addressing the Albemarle County Service Authority Jurisdictional Area and requests for central/alternative systems would be applied in this case. Substantial upgrades to existing systems to accommodate these uses or approval of central systems would not be consistent with policies in the Rural Area.  The Health Department would be included in review of special use permits for these uses. Portable toilets would be an option to property owners to provide additional restroom facilities that are easily removable.



A provision has been added to the proposed ordinance, Section 5.1.43.f that prohibits development of the property to a more intensive use if the approved special use permit is to remain valid on the property.



Information regarding lighting, as with other aspects of the special event use, would be provided and reviewed during the special use permit process.




Administration / Review Process:

Adoption of these regulations would allow an additional use by special use permit in Rural Areas zoning district. The review process will be that of any other special use permit application. This would be an additional use that requires a zoning clearance.


Housing Affordability:  The proposed amendment would not affect housing affordability.


Implications to Staffing / Staffing Costs:  New special use permits add incrementally to the overall staff effort and eventually lead to increased staffing needs. Some staff costs are associated with any special use permit that is approved for special events.  Current review fees may not actually cover the full staff time required to review special use permits.   Zoning clearances for each event will add additional staff time/cost.  Given the supplemental regulations there is potential for issues with any particular event or site, which would require follow-up by zoning to identify violations. However, a substantial volume of these requests are not expected.



STAFF RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends adopting the regulations as provided in Attachment C.




Attachment A:             ZTA 99-06 application submitted by Althea H. Randolph

Attachment B:             Resolution of Intent

Attachment C:             Draft Ordinance dated 3/17/05

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