SP 2005-004 Final Touch Tree Service LLC (Sign #73) - Request for a special use permit for a Home Occupation Class B for an office use to support a tree trimming business, in accordance with Section of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for Home Occupations Class B in the RA (Rural Areas) by special use permit.  The subject parcel described as Tax Map 7, Parcel 30, contains approximately 5 acres and is located at 2985 Shiffletts Mill Road (Route 687), approximately 1 mile west of its intersection with Free Union Road (Route 601). The property lies within the White Hall Magisterial District, is zoned RA (Rural Areas) and is in the area designated as Rural Areas 1 by the Comprehensive Plan.  (Rebecca Ragsdale)


Ms. Ragsdale summarized the staff report. 

·         This request is for a home occupation; class B, which is a special use permit.  This request is to allow an office use to serve the Final Touch Tree Service business, but not include any other aspects of the tree service business, such as employees, equipment, equipment repair, customers and anything of that nature.

·         Basically, it is an office and a special use permit is required because the office is in a detached structure.  Photographs were provided in the packet on handwritten page 11. 

·         This property is located in the rural areas on Shiffletts Mill Road in the Free Union area of the County.  It is fairly rural in character around the property.  The Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as Rural Areas 1 and offers some guidelines as to how home occupations should be limited in scale and intensity so that they would not diminish character or quality of the rural areas.  Staff feels that this home occupation is very low impact. It would potentially fall under some of those that might be preferable by right as indicated in a strategy in the Comprehensive Plan.  There were no detrimental impacts to adjoining properties identified. 

·         In the course of the review VDOT did identify a sight distance issue caused by vegetation. Staff recommends approval of this special use permit with conditions that address the sight distance issue, which would allow for this home occupation to take place in accordance with the information submitted.  It would be limited to the building that is shown in the package. It is conditioned so that it could not potentially expand and include other aspects of the tree service business. 


Mr. Edgerton asked if any Commissioner had any questions for Ms. Ragsdale.


Mr. Craddock questioned condition 1 regarding the limitation that the building could only go up to 412 square feet.


Ms. Ragsdale stated that the building that they were using was 212 square feet in size. Based on the square footage of the residence, approximately 412 square feet would be allowed.  In the past staff noticed that the Planning Commission typically likes to allow the applicant some flexibility.  Therefore, she suggested 400 square feet as a number that was very close to what would be the limit of the 25 percent allowed in Section 5. That would allow the applicant some flexibility in case they wanted to make some modifications to it.


Mr. Edgerton stated that since the special use permit would go with the property he was wondering why that condition should not be worded up to 25 percent of the residence as recommended in the ordinance.  The applicant obviously qualifies with what they are applying for.


Ms. Ragsdale stated that she did not think it was necessary to include that language in the condition, but asked Mr. Kamptner to comment on it.


Ms. Higgins stated that it was a moot point because the condition specifies that it shall be limited to the building labeled utility building.  She asked what the total square footage was of that building.


Mr. Edgerton stated that building was 240 square feet.


Ms. Higgins stated that the condition needs to say that it could be in another building or it is only for the footprint of that building. She felt that it does not matter if they put the 400 square feet because that exceeds the square footage of the building that it was isolated to.


Mr. Edgerton stated that his question was since the special use permit goes with the land and is not specific to the owner, if at a later date somebody came and they needed more space rather than having to come back before the Commission that if they put an addition on that building that it would be limited up to the 25 percent of the residence.


Ms. Higgins recalled the Commission having this same kind of conversation with the author. But, if someone came in and it changed hands and they doubled the size of the house, then that 25 percent would be 25 percent of the house and would be flexible.  Therefore, she thought that they limited it with some flexibility within a number with the idea that they would come back if it ran with the property.  She asked if it would have to come back if the use changes.


Mr. Edgerton stated that he was not sure.


Mr. Kamptner stated that this home occupation was for this particular type of home occupation.


Mr. Edgerton stated that if it was any other business besides the tree service that they would have to come back.


Mr. Kamptner stated yes, because it was a different home occupation


Ms. Higgins stated that she felt that the home occupation was just for an office.


Mr. Edgerton stated that it was an office for a tree service. 


Ms. Joseph pointed out that the conditions were very specific regarding the tree materials and the equipment that was specific to a tree service.


Mr. Kamptner stated that home occupations could be issued in more of a general nature such as just for offices.  But, they are traditionally conditioned in a way that they are specific to a particular type of use.  For example, furniture making would have a number of conditions that are specific to that type of activity.


Mr. Cilimberg stated that as far as the square footage goes, the Commission usually uses square footage rather than the 25 percent of the structure because that can vary over time based on structural change and it is also more difficult for the zoning administrator to enforce than having an actual square footage listed.


There being no further questions for staff, Mr. Edgerton invited the applicant to come forward and address the Commission on this application.


Kim Umstadter stated that she and her husband own the property.  She pointed out that her husband owns Final Touch Tree Service, but she was the only person who uses that structure to carry out the bookkeeping and other day to day business.  She stated that no customers would be coming to the site.  The main reason for the application is so that they will be in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.  They were unaware that they had to have a special use permit to have their office in a separate structure. The only reason that the business was in a separate structure was that when they moved here twelve years ago the building was already in existence and the house was about 800 square feet.  Therefore, there was no room for their office in the house.  Now their house is bigger, but they moved the office so they would have extra space in the house.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any questions for Ms. Umstadter.  There being none, he asked if there was any member of the public that would like to address the Commission on this application.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for consideration.


Ms. Higgins moved for approval of SP-2005-004, Final Touch Tree Service LLC, with the conditions recommended in the staff report. 


1.       Structures used for this home occupation shall not exceed 400 square feet in size and shall be limited to the building labeled “Util Bldg” on the physical survey plat of the property dated July 17, 1996. (Attachment B)

2.       No tree service equipment or materials shall be stored on the property.

3.       No customers of the tree service business shall visit the site. 

4.  Prior to the issuance of a Zoning Clearance for the home occupation class B, the applicant shall provide sight distance at the entrance/exit to the property onto Shifflett’s Mill Road (Route 687) to the satisfaction of the Virginia Department of Transportation.


Mr. Thomas seconded the motion.


The motion carried by a vote of (5:0).  (Rieley, Morris – Absent) 


Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2005-004 would go to the Board of Supervisors on August 10 with a recommendation for approval.


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