STAFF PERSON:                            YADIRA AMARANTE         

PLANNING COMMISSION:                   JUNE 28, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                  August 3, 2005         

 

SP 05-014 crown Orchard – GRAY TELEVISION AMENDMENT

 

Applicant’s Proposal:

 

The applicant’s proposal is to amend Condition #1 of SP 04-003 to allow the placement of a new 30.28 ft. flush-mounted antenna for WAHU, Channel 27 - a Fox affiliate, (Attachments A & B).  The property described as Tax Map 91 - Parcel 28I, is part of a larger parcel identified as Tax Map 91- Parcel 28 which contains 234.165 acres and is zoned RA, Rural Areas (Attachment C).  This site is located in the Scottsville Magisterial District, on Carter's Mountain Trail, approximately 1 mile south of its intersection with the Thomas Jefferson Parkway [State Route 53].  This site is designated as Rural Area 4 by the Comprehensive Plan., (the property contains several tax identification numbers due to the presence of leases.  It is a single parcel for all considerations under the zoning or subdivision ordinances).

 

Petition:

 

In accordance with Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance, which allows radio wave transmission and relay towers in the RA zoning district, this petition is to amend SP 04-003, which allowed the construction of the subject tower, (Attachment D), condition of approval #1, which states: “The facility including the tower, its attachments and the new ground equipment building shall be sized, located and built in general accord with the construction plans, tower elevations and schematic drawings initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004 subject to maximum height and width restrictions in conditions three (3) and five (5). This information is provided in Attachment B of this staff report,” (those schematic drawings are provided as Attachment E in this report).

 

The proposed amendment would replace one sheet of the above referenced schematic drawings “initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004” with the proposed schematic drawings initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005 and add a new sheet, also initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005, (see Attachment F for both new drawings).

 

Gray Television, owners and operators of CBS Channel 19 and ABC Channel 16, (both channels have antennas on the subject tower), will acquire the Fox station which currently broadcasts from a different tower on the same property (a PBS tower on Tax Map 91, Parcel 28E). Gray Television desires to remove that existing antenna from the PBS tower and locate a newly purchased, more advanced and technologically appropriate antenna on the tower approved with SP 04-003 which Gray Television controls, owns, and maintains. According to the applicant, the new antenna and location would also provide a better signal to Gray Television’s studios on Elliott Avenue.

 

The location of a new antenna on Gray’s tower is prohibited by the above referenced SP 04-003 condition of approval in that the Fox Channel 27 antenna is not shown on that set of schematic drawings initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004. Attachment F, page 1, which shows the proposed Fox antenna and also revises the ‘Channel 64 Antenna’ label shown on the approved drawings. Therefore, amendment to SP 04-003 is necessary. Per the Federal Communications Commission it has since become Channel 16. Attachment F, page 2, shows a close-up of the Fox Channel 27 antenna proposed to be installed.

 

If this request is approved, once the new Fox Channel 27 antenna is installed and operational, the existing antenna on the PBS tower will be removed. Removal of this antenna will require a building permit application and any proposed new antenna will be evaluated at the time of submittal.

 

Planning and Zoning History:

 

Several towers, satellite dishes and various other communications facilities are currently located within the existing “tower farm” at the top of Carter’s Mountain.  Staff has identified that the following actions that have been taken to approve several of those facilities since 1978:

 

SP 78-42 Motorola - On October 4, 1978, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot tall communication tower.

 

SP 79-76 Jefferson Cable - On January 18, 1980, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 5-meter satellite receiving dish.

 

SP 80-02 Shenandoah Valley TV - On March 19, 1980, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request allowing the removal of an existing 230-foot tall tower, and replacement with a 186-foot tall television tower.

 

SP 88-14 Central Virginia Educational TV - On May 4, 1988, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 293-foot tall television tower.

 

SP 90-74 Charlottesville Cellular - On September 19, 1990, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 150-foot tall cellular telephone tower.

 

SP 91-23 Charlottesville Quality Cable - On August 7, 1991, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot tall wireless cable transmission tower.

 

SP 93-10 Crown Orchard Company (WVIR-TV) - On June 9, 1993, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 60-foot tall television reception tower.

 

SP 93-15 RAM/BSE Communications - On July 14, 1993, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a multi-purpose tower not to exceed 300-feet in height.

 

SP 94-37 Centel Cellular - On March 13, 1995, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot cellular telephone tower.

 

SP 96-16 Stu-Comm. Inc. - On July 10, 1996, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 190-foot multi-purpose tower.

 

SP 00-88 Carter’s Mountain Emergency Communication Facility - On April 18, 2001 the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 250-foot tower as part of the regional emergency communications system.

 

SP 00-72 Crown Orchard (NEXTEL/Crown Castle) - On April 16, 2001, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the co-location of an additional array of antennas, on an existing 270-foot tall guyed tower owned by American Tower Corporation, and a new 9’x16’ equipment building.

 

SP 02-43 Crown Orchard (WVIR-TV) - On December 4, 2002, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the construction of a 250-foot tall lattice tower, 30 feet at its base and 5 feet at its top, for the attachment of an antenna supporting the Virginia Broadcasting Corporation’s federally mandated transition from analog to digital broadcasting.

 

SP 02-71 Crown Orchard Co. / Pinnacle Carters Mountain - On March 19, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the co-location of two additional arrays containing six (6) antennas an existing tower 205-foot tall tower.

 

SP 03-22 ECC Carters Mountain/Crown Orchard-Extension - On April 16, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to amend an existing special use permit  by extending its period of validity and allowing a minor increase in the size of an equipment building for a facility supporting the regional emergency communications with a 250 foot high lattice tower, originally approved as SP 00-88.

 

SP 03-31 Albemarle County Fire Department Communication Amendment - On April 16, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to amend an existing special use permit to allow the attachment of an antenna, consisting of two 80-inch segments supporting communications for the County of Albemarle’s Fire-Rescue services, at 148 and 165 feet on an existing tower 205-foot tall tower.

 

SP 04-003 WHSV/Channel 19 – Charlottesville – On June 2, 2004 the Board of Supervisors approved a request to remove an existing 175-foot tower and allow replacement with a 149-foot tall tower. It also allowed the expansion of an existing building to accommodate transmittal equipment supporting the establishment of a new local ABC television affiliate. This is the facility that is subject to this request. The tower and equipment building have been constructed.

 

Character of the Area:

 

This facility is located within an existing “tower farm” at the top of Carter’s Mountain on property owned by Crown Orchard Company.  Several towers ranging between 60 and 300 feet in height are located on the subject property.  The site is accessed from Carter’s Mountain Road, which begins at the east side of Route 53, south of Michie Tavern.  Although the outlying area surrounding the tower farm consists of orchards, there are no significantly sized trees within the immediate area that provides any effective screening or camouflaging of the existing towers.  There are no dwellings within 2000 feet of the Gray Television facilities and the nearest public road is approximately one mile away.

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval with conditions.

 

Comprehensive Plan:

 

This application was not reviewed for compliance with the Personal Wireless Services Facility Policy (PWSFP) because this facility does not provide wireless service. The PWSFPOther types of wireless facilities are encouraged to adhere to this policy to the extent possible.”  The analysis below incorporates provisions of the PWSFP

 

Open Space Plan and Chapter Two

 

Staff notes that the tower approved by SP 04-003 has already been constructed and that this proposal would allow the addition of one antenna to this tower. The proposal would not necessitate any further ground disturbance. Vehicular access to the site is already provided by a private access road which begins at State Route 53 and extends south to the site.  Therefore, staff’s review of this request for compliance with the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan focuses mainly on the possible impacts that could result from the presence of a new antenna on the existing tower.

 

The Open Space Plan and the Natural Resources and Cultural Assets (Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan) provide staff with guidance for the protection of the County’s natural, scenic and historic resources, and preservation and management of those resources in order to protect the environment for future use. Staff has identified the two Open Space resources that could potentially be affected by this application as the (1) Mountain Resource Area and (2) important historic sites. 

 

(1) Mountain Resource Area: The site is located in the resource area for Carter’s Mountain which begins at the 700 foot contour on the USGS maps and peaks at an elevation of approximately 1,400 feet above sea-level (ASL).  The Comprehensive Plan designates mountains as major open space systems that provide scenic views, naturally forested areas and wildlife habitat, and are recommended for protection in the Rural Areas.  Staff has identified the following general standard that has been set forth for protecting mountain resources.

 

·        Locate houses and structures to make them unobtrusive in the landscape.

            -           (a) Do not build structures taller than the natural tree canopy.

            -           (b) Do not locate houses and structures where they will be “skylighted” against the horizon.

-                     (c) Do not alter the continuity of the ridgeline.

 

(a) There is no existing tree canopy within close proximity that could provide assistance in mitigating existing facilities within the tower farm. Because of its relative size to the tower, the antenna should be indistinguishable from other equipment on this particular tower or any other tower on the property.

 

 

(b) The addition of one antenna to the existing tower would not have additional adverse visual impacts because of its location on an already skylighted tower.

 

(c) Taking into account that the continuity of the ridgeline has already been altered by the facilities which currently exist within the tower farm, the addition of one antenna will not alter the continuity of the ridgeline

 

The Open Space Concept Map identifies several historic sites on properties that are located on adjacent parcels and other nearby properties.  This includes the Nationally Registered Historic Properties of Monticello and Michie Tavern, both of which are located to the north of Carter’s Mountain, and Simeon which lies east of the site.  Because of the different distances and changing topography, the visibility of this site from each of those historic properties varies. The proposed antenna would have no additional adverse visual impacts to these historic properties due to the antenna’s relative size as compared with the tower itself and similar equipment already located on the tower.

 

Staff opinion is that this request is generally consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.  This request does comply with the principles of the Personal Wireless Service Facility policy to make use of existing facilities provided that the increased use does not create a negative impact on the community or surrounding areas.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder.  Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

 

As a result of the antenna’s location on an existing tower with similar facilities it is staff’s opinion that the proposal would not impose any additional substantial detriment to adjacent property.

 

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby,

 

There are already two existing television broadcasting antennas on this tower, the proposed addition of a single antenna alone should not have the effect of changing the character of the district because it does not require any changes to the design of the existing tower nor does it increase its height. Also, any additional ground equipment needed to support the broadcast of Fox Channel 27 can be accommodated in the existing equipment building approved with SP 04-003 and since constructed.

 

and that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

 

Staff has reviewed this request with consideration for several of the purposes and intents that are set forth in Sections 1.4 of the Zoning Ordinance could be seen as relating to this request.  Staff recognizes that this is a request to locate a single antenna onto an existing tower. Furthermore, the design of the proposed antenna is consistent with that of another antenna attached at the same elevation.

 

Section 1.4.3 states that one of the intents of the Ordinance is, “To facilitate the creation of a convenient, attractive and harmonious community.”  The existing facilities on Carter’s Mountain provide a wide range of services to County residents and other people throughout the area.  This includes support for television and radio broadcasts as well as emergency and personal wireless telecommunications.

 

The proposed antenna would accommodate the relocation of a nationally affiliated broadcast television station transmission intended to serve the County Albemarle, and the rest of the Charlottesville metropolitan area. Approval of this proposal would allow Gray Television to consolidate all of its local television facilities within a single compound for maintenance purposes.

 

The purposes and intents set forth in Sections 1.4.5, 1.4.7 and 1.4.8, deal with the protection of historic areas, overcrowding of land and preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and other lands of significant importance to the natural environment, respectively.  Again, because this proposal would not result in increasing the height of the tower or the number of total antennas on Carter’s Mountain staff has identified no significant conflict in this particular request and these purposes and intents.  Therefore, it is staff’s opinion that this request could be seen as being harmonious with the relevant purposes and intents of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

            with the uses permitted by right in the district,

 

Because the orchards located on the subject parcel represent the nearest example of by-right uses that have been used continually in the presence of the existing facilities within the tower farm, it is anticipated that the ‘relocation’ of an antenna from one tower on the site to another tower on the site would not have the effect of restricting any other by-right uses within the district.

 

with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance, and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

 

Although television broadcasts are not provided by public utility companies, the supporting facilities that they both implement are often comparable.  Section 5.1.12(a) of the Zoning Ordinance addresses the installation of public utility structures such as towers and antennas by stating, in part, that those items shall not endanger the health and safety of workers and/or residents, and will not impair or prove detrimental to neighboring properties.  In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with all of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines that are intended to protect the public health and safety from high levels of radio frequency emissions and electromagnetic fields that are associated with wireless broadcasting and telecommunications facilities.

 

By providing various forms of information such as public affairs issues, emergency announcements and weather advisories, with the capability for broadcasting live, local television stations may actually be considered as contributing to the public health, safety and welfare on a regional level.

 

SUMMARY

 

Local broadcast television provides a wide range of services that are important to the community. Approval of this proposal would allow the installation of a new Fox antenna to a tower which is owned, operated and maintained by the owner of the Fox affiliate. With three (3) television transmission on this one tower, this relocation should ease Gray Television’s access and maintenance to all its broadcasting equipment.

 

During a recent field visit to the site staff noticed that a second microwave dish has been installed right next to the one shown at the 100’ elevation on Attachment F (SP 04-003 only allows one dish on this tower). This second microwave dish was installed last summer without County approval. According to the applicant, it was to be a temporary back-up dish to be removed when the permanent dish was acquired and installed. The removal of the second dish was intended but was forgotten due to a rush to meet FCC deadlines and turnovers at Gray Television. It is not a necessary dish and as of the writing of this report the applicant has assured staff that it will be removed the week of June 20th, 2005. Staff has included a condition of approval that would prevent the installation of the Channel 27 Fox antenna until the unauthorized microwave dish has been removed (see Condition #9 below).

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

 

It is staff’s opinion that this request is in accord with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 and should not impose any substantial detriment to adjacent properties or change the character of the surrounding Rural Area.  Therefore, staff recommends approval of the request with amendment to Condition #1 as provided below:  [Staff notes that Conditions #6 and #7 were time sensitive at the time SP 04-003 was approved. Since both conditions have since been satisfied the commission may want to recommend their deletion.]

 

Recommended conditions of approval:

 

1.      The facility including the tower, its attachments and the new ground equipment building shall be sized, located and built in general accord with the construction plans, tower elevations and schematic drawings initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004  and initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005 subject to maximum height and width restrictions in conditions three (3) and five (5).  This information is provided in Attachment G of this staff report.

 

2.      Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall submit the final revised set of site drawings construction of the facility.  Planning staff shall review the revised plans to ensure that all appropriate conditions of the special use permit have been addressed.

 

3.      The height of the tower structure shall not exceed one hundred fifty (150) feet and the top of the antenna, including the lightning rod, shall not exceed one hundred ninety (190) feet above ground level.  No equipment, with the exception of any FAA required flight safety lighting, shall extend higher than the tallest portion of the top-mounted antenna.

 

4.      Antennas supporting services other than television broadcasting shall not be attached to extend above a total height of the tower itself.

 

5.      The width of each side of the tower shall not exceed fifty (50) inches in width.

 

6.      The existing guyed tower that currently supports this facility shall be removed within sixty (60) days of the completion of the new tower.

 

7.      The short existing tower, owned by Adelphia Cable Company shall be removed within ninety (90) days of the discontinuance of its use and in any case no later than October 31, 2004.

 

8.            The new ground equipment building shall be painted a natural, dark brown color, and screened on its eastern and western sides with evergreens or a mixture of trees deemed acceptable by the County’s Landscape Planner.

 

9.            No building permit for additional antenna installation or modification shall be issued until the unauthorized microwave dish is removed.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

A -       Application and Original Request for Special Use Permit Amendment (8 pages).

B -       Revised Request (2 pages).

C -       Tax/Location Maps (1 page).

D -       SP 04-003 BOS Action Letter (2 pages).

E -        Complete “Drawings initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004” referred to in Condition #1 of SP 04-003 (11 pages).

F -        Replacement drawings initialed YQA and dated June16, 2005 (2 pages).

G -       Combined drawings “initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004 and initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005” referenced in Condition #1 this SP 05-014 (12 pages).

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