STAFF PERSON:                                                                                    Rebecca Ragsdale

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                                    June 28, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                                                 August 3, 2005





Applicant’s Proposal: The applicant is requesting approval of a special use permit for a Home Occupation, Class B to allow a home office for the Final Touch Tree Service business. The home office would be located in an accessory building detached from the residence on the property. There would be no employees, other than members of the household, or customers visiting the site. This request is for the home office use only and all other aspects of the tree service business, including storage and maintenance of equipment, are at another location.


Petition: 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.


Character of the Area: The area immediately surrounding the site is rural with the rear of the property wooded. There are other residences along Shifflett’s Mill Road, the closest one being adjacent to the east of the applicant’s property, over 200 feet away . The Free Union Agricultural and Forestal District is located about half a mile to the west of the property and Buck Mountain Creek runs parallel to Shifflett’s Mill Road across from the applicant’s property.


Site History:  There is no history of previous planning or zoning applications on this property. The residence on the property was constructed in 1932, with several additions since 1996. 


Comprehensive Plan: The Comprehensive Plan identifies this site and surrounding areas as being located in the Rural Areas.  The Rural Areas Plan of the Comprehensive Plan offers guidance to how home occupations should be reviewed in the Rural Areas. Specifically, the plan indicates home occupations should be limited to a scale and intensity that will not diminish the character or quality of life in the Rural Areas, encourage suburban development patterns or density, or significantly impact natural or cultural resources.  This office request is of a scale and intensity that would not be counter to this Rural Area policy. This special use permit is an example of a home occupation that would be appropriate to allow by-right to meet the comprehensive plan strategy in the RA Plan (page 26-27):  Revise the definitions and standards relating to home occupations to streamline approvals for low-impact uses (preferably by right), require special use permits for uses with higher impacts, and clarify which uses will not be permitted as home occupations.



 Staff Comment: Staff will address each provision of Section 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.


No detrimental impacts to adjoining properties have been identified. 


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


This home occupation would not result in any increased levels of activity on the site that would be inconsistent with the character of the area. The office use is conducted by a resident of the property and there are no employees or customers visiting the site or equipment storage.


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


Staff has reviewed the purpose and intent as contained in Chapter18, Sections 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6 of the Albemarle Zoning Ordinance.  In the opinion of staff, the proposed use would not conflict with the purpose and intent as described in the Zoning Ordinance.


with the uses permitted by right in the district,


This use would not prevent by-right use of the adjacent properties.


and with the public health, safety and general welfare.


The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community are protected through the special use permit process, which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested.  VDOT has provided the following comment on this special use permit:

· Entrance needs to be upgraded to private street entrance standard as shown in the Minimum Standards for Entrances to State Highways to accommodate the use;

· Sight distance is minimal and can be met by removal/cutting of the vegetation.


VDOT has indicated, after further information was provided after these review comments were received, that if traffic is limited to residential only and that this is conditioned and monitored by the special use permit, then the requirements of the first bullet would not be necessary. The site distance at the entrance is a safety concern for any user of the property and VDOT has indicated this condition can be improved by removing the vegetation at the entrance. (Attachment E) The required site distance for the residence is 250 feet but with the obstruction it is approximately 50-75 feet.  Route 687/Shifflett’s Mill Road had around 50 vehicle trips per day when last counted in 2003. Staff has recommended a condition of approval for the applicant to address the sight distance satisfactory to VDOT, given safety concerns.


 with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,


Home occupation permits are governed by Section 5.2.2 of the Zoning Ordinance (Attachment C).  The applicant has not requested any modifications to the provisions of this section of the Zoning Ordinance. The requirements are either met or are not applicable to the limited use proposed as a home occupation. Regarding Section, because an accessory structure is used for the office use the use is considered a Home Occupation Class B that requires approval of a special use permit. The accessory structure is approximately 240 square feet in size, currently the upstairs of the building is the only portion used for the office. This is less than 25 percent of the 1649 square feet floor area of the dwelling, which would be approximately 412 square feet.


The accessory building is in compliance with Section 5.2.2.b as the accessory structure is compatible with the residence and surrounding barns on the property. The accessory building is painted in the same color scheme, including matching roof, as the residence.  (Attachment D)



Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:


1.            There would be no additional traffic generated from this proposal.

2.            There would be no noise or lighting impacts on surrounding neighbors.


Staff has not found any factors that are unfavorable to this request. 


Staff Recommendation:


Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP 2005-004, subject to the following conditions:


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.





A.      Application

B.     Physical Survey Plat, dated July 17, 1996, prepared by Kirk Hughes and Associates

C.     Section 5.2.2 of the Zoning Ordinance

D.     Photos of accessory building, residence, and view from Shifflett’s Mill Road

E.     Photo of entrance to property/vegetation

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