COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
– Overlot Grading
Update on discussions
with Blue Ridge Homebuilders regarding an overlot grading provision being
added to the Subdivision Ordinance
Messrs. Tucker, Foley,
Davis, Kamptner, Graham
July 13, 2005
On April 20, 2005, the Board
considered revisions to the Subdivision Ordinance. One of the proposed revisions
was an overlot grading requirement, which would regulate grading and drainage on
smaller lots in the development area. This provision proved to be
controversial. Given the controversy, staff suggested tabling this provision
and allowing a work team comprised of County staff and Blue Ridge Homebuilder
Association members to see if consensus could be reached. The Board agreed with
using this approach and David Wyant agreed to facilitate this effort. This
executive summary is a status report of that team’s work.
Goal 3.3: Develop and
implement policies that address the county's growth and urbanization while
continuing to enhance the factors that contribute to the quality of life in the
Since the April 20th
Board meeting, the work team has met as a group 4 times and also done
considerable work outside of those meetings. The work team has reached
agreement on a number of key provisions, but has not finished its work. As a
result of that work, the team has agreed the lot grading concerns can be
addressed without a mandatory overlot grading plan, provided certain precautions
can be built into the development review and building inspection process. Those
Driveways and pedestrian
access can be regulated through the “safe and convenient access” provision
that currently exists in the zoning ordinance. This would be verified at the
time of certificate of occupancy (“C.O”) versus demonstrated through an
overlot grading plan. To reduce problems with issuance of a C.O., staff is
preparing a set of guidelines that will be distributed with building permits.
A copy of the current draft is attached.
Slopes and vegetation
requirements are existing requirements under the erosion and sediment control
permits. As such, staff can continue to regulate those provisions under the
Potential drainage issues
can be identified as part of the subdivision plan review. At that time, staff
can inform the subdivision applicant where potential drainage issues have been
identified. The applicant will then have a choice of either preparing an
overlot grading plan to demonstrate the adequacy of the drainage across lots
or staff will “flag” the lots of concern and require a lot grading plan as
part of the building permit application. Currently, building permit
applicants are routinely allowed to use “Agreements in Lieu of a Plan” to
satisfy erosion and sediment control requirements associated with building
permits. The County’s Water Protection Ordinance gives the Program Authority
(Director of Community Development) the authority to either require lot
grading plans or allow these agreements with these building permits. With this
recommendation, the Program Authority would require the lot grading plan to
address potential drainage concerns.
While the work team has made
significant progress, there are remaining issues. The following are some
What is an acceptable flow
of stormwater running from one yard to the next outside of a maintained
drainage structure? The previous staff recommendation would have limited this
to stormwater running across three yards before it is directed to either the
street, open space, or a drainage structure. Many on the work team believe
requirement is excessive.
Staff continues to believe that significant flows in homeowner’s yards create
the perception that the drainage is not working and that perception will result
in demands for future Boards to accept responsibility and improve the drainage
through expensive retrofits. The team has not reached consensus on what is
considered an acceptable flow.
When should overland
relief be required? Overland relief is grading such that the water will not
flood houses even if the drainage structures are clogged or prove inadequate.
For example, drainage structures are commonly designed to accommodate a
10-year storm event while the flood hazard mapping creates the perception for
many homeowners that the home is safe from a 100-year storm event. The flows
in excess of that handled by the drainage structures will flow into homes if
there are not adequate areas for that water to flow around homes (overland
relief). Staff’s perspective has been homeowners should have reasonable
assurance their homes will not flood even if a drainage structure becomes
clogged. While the team has not resolved this issue, the work team does
recognize this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
What type of drainage ways
are appropriate through yards? The primary focus of this issue is when should
rip rap ditches be allowed through residential yards. If allowed, should there
be any restriction on the size or location of rip rap ditches in yards?
Beyond the safety concern, staff believes this type of drainage way will be
considered an unacceptable nuisance by many homeowners and there will be
considerable pressure placed on future Boards to assume responsibility for
these ditches and retrofit the drainage ways with storm sewer. The team has
not reached consensus on when rip rap ditches should be allowed.
Finally, the team has not
decided how best to codify the drainage requirements. There is not currently
a requirement for this in either the Zoning or Subdivision Ordinance, nor with
the Building Code.
It is anticipated it will
take two or three more meetings to resolve the remaining issues and a team
recommendation can be presented to the Board by September.
Budget impacts will be
considered with the final team recommendation.
This executive summary is
intended as a status report. If the Board has any guidance to provide the team,
David Wyant and staff can carry it back to the team.
Attachment A – Draft guidance on “Safe and Convenient Access”