STAFF PERSON:                                                                  MARGARET MALISZEWSKI

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                              August 9, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                              September 14, 2005

 

CAR MAX OUTDOOR STORAGE AND DISPLAY

SP-2005-18: Special Use Permit for outdoor storage and display of vehicles

 

Applicant’s proposal:  The applicant proposes to construct an automobile dealership, including the outdoor storage/display of 184 vehicles at the site currently occupied by the White House Motel on Route 250 East. (Preliminary site and landscape plans are included as Attachments A and B. A copy of the Special Use Permit application is included as Attachment C.)

 

Petition:

 

Request for Special Use Permit to allow outdoor storage/display of vehicles in accordance with Section 30.6.3.2 (b) of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for outdoor storage, display and/or sales in the EC Entrance Corridor Overlay Zoning District. The property, described as Tax Map 78, Parcel 10, contains approximately 5.112 acres and is located in the Rivanna Magisterial District on the north side of State Route 250 East at 1448 Richmond Road, currently the site of the White House Motel. The property is zoned HC Highway Commercial and EC Entrance Corridor. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Regional Service in the Neighborhood 3 (Pantops) Development Area.

 

Character of the Area:

 

The subject parcel is located on the north side of Route 250 East at the White House Motel site. (See Attachment D for a vicinity/tax map.) To the west of the subject parcel on the north side of Route 250 are: the Hilltop Diner, Freebridge Auto, Kia Auto, the Town & Country Motel, Battlefield Ford, Goodwill and Suzuki. To the east of the subject parcel on the north side of Route 250 are: the American Legion building, the Montessori Community School, and Eckerd’s. Automobile dealerships on the south side of Route 250 in the immediate vicinity include: Crown/Porsche, Flow, Brown Toyota Subaru, Brown Mercedes, and Dennis Enterprises/Auto Superstore. Each of these auto dealerships includes the outdoor storage/display of vehicles.

 

The sites adjacent to the subject parcel to the east (the American Legion building and Montessori Community School) exhibit scales and character that differ from that of the proposed and existing auto dealerships on this corridor. Although these sites have been established for some time, they are no longer representative of the overriding character of the corridor. The site adjacent to the subject parcel to the west (the Hilltop Diner), as well as the White House motel, itself, and the Town & Country Motel, are a few of the dwindling examples of mid-twentieth century roadside architecture on this corridor that still contribute to the unique character of Albemarle. The White House motel will be demolished as part of the Car Max proposal.

 

The Fontana and Avemore residential developments are located to the north of the subject parcel. Portions of these developments are expected to have views of the completed Car Max site.

 

By-right use of the Property:

 

Although a special use permit is required for the proposed areas of outdoor storage and display on this site due to its location within the EC overlay district, this use is considered accessory to motor vehicle sales. Motor vehicle sales is one of the high intensity commercial uses permitted by right within the Highway Commercial (HC) zoning district. The focus of the Special Permit review is on the impacts to the Entrance Corridor, not on the use itself.

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff has reviewed this proposal for conformity with the Comprehensive Plan and compliance with Section 30.6.3.2 (b) of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval of the special use permit with conditions.

 

Planning and Zoning History:

 

ARB-2004-84, ARB-2005-39, ARB-2005-63: The ARB has reviewed this proposal three times. The ARB’s final recommendation on the special use permit request is addressed in this report and included as Attachment E.

 

SUB-2004-250: Boundary line adjustment approved on October 1, 2004.

 

SDP-2002-123: North Pantops Commercial Area Preliminary: Request for preliminary site plan approval for a variety of commercial uses including offices, eating establishments, warehouses, and retail establishments totaling approximately 53,635 square feet. This proposal was withdrawn by the applicant on February 10, 2005.

 

B200501999D: Demolition permit issued for the motel buildings on June 23, 2005.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Comprehensive Plan:

Requests for special use permits within the Development Areas are assessed for conformity with the recommendations that are set forth in the Land Use Plan. Auto dealers are listed as one of the several types of primary uses identified for Regional Service Areas under Table 1 of the Land Use Plan, entitled “Non-Residential Land Use Guidelines”. Those guidelines also recommend the implementation of proper screening for uses implementing outdoor areas for storage and display. Because this site is located within the Entrance Corridor Overlay District, the Architectural Review Board has reviewed the request and the proposed landscape plan for conformance with the County’s design guidelines. (See Attachment E for the ARB’s action on the proposal.)

 

The ARB reviewed this project on June 20, 2005. At that time the ARB, by a vote of 5:0, forwarded the following recommendation to the Planning Commission:

The ARB has no objection to the request for the Special Use Permit with the following condition: 

1.      Provide site planting to the satisfaction of the ARB.

 

Zoning Ordinance Review

 

Following is an analysis of how the request for outdoor sales and display complies with the requirements of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance:

 

The board of supervisors herby 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, that the character of the district will not be changed thereby

 

The subject parcel is located in the HC zoning district. The dominant character of the segment of the Entrance Corridor in which the subject parcel resides is that of a dense commercial strip. Many of the properties in this corridor have already been developed as automobile dealerships (as described above under “Character of the Area”). The proposed use is compatible with other existing auto dealers in the immediate vicinity.

 

Residential development lies to the north of the subject parcel and smaller scale uses are established immediately to the east and west. Although these sites reflect a different scale and use, they no longer reflect the overriding character of the area and the proposed use is not considered a substantial detriment to these adjacent properties. The ARB has reviewed this request for impact on the Entrance Corridor and has recommended approval with conditions.

 

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

 

Staff has reviewed this proposal for compliance with the purpose and intent as set forth in Section 1.4 of the Zoning Ordinance and finds no conflict that would arise from the approval of the special use permit. According to section 30.6 of the Zoning Ordinance, the intent of the EC Overlay District is, in part, to ensure a quality of development that is compatible with the county’s important scenic, architectural and cultural resources through the architectural control of development. The ARB has applied the County’s adopted guidelines for development within the EC to the review of this request and has recommended approval with conditions.

 

with the uses permitted by right in the district,

 

Although a special use permit is required for the proposed areas of outdoor storage and display on this site, this request is for an accessory use to motor vehicle sales, which is already allowed by right within the Highway Commercial (HC) zoning district. Other automobile dealerships exist in the immediate vicinity. Therefore, the sales and display use is compatible with other existing uses.

 

with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,

 

There are no additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance related to vehicle storage or display.

 

and with public health, safety and general welfare.

 

The intent of the special use permit requirement for outdoor storage and display is based on the need to mitigate the potential negative impact of this use on the aesthetics of the Entrance Corridors and to mitigate the potential for development that is incompatible with the historic resources of the County. This intent is directly related to the promotion of public health, safety and welfare. The ARB has reviewed the proposal with this intent in mind and has recommended approval with a condition regarding appropriate landscaping. The applicant’s plan shows a utility easement across the Route 250 frontage of the property. Trees and shrubs that are required by the ARB Design Guidelines and that are considered critical to mitigating the display use are proposed within this easement. Staff is recommending a condition of approval to ensure that the landscaping required by the ARB can be accomplished in the easements.

 

In addition to the ARB’s landscaping issue, staff is concerned about the manner in which vehicles may be stored and displayed on site. Elevating vehicles for display purposes is not considered appropriate, and double- or triple-parking vehicles is also considered to have a negative visual impact. Staff is recommending standard conditions of approval to address these issues.

 

The Site Review Committee has reviewed the site plan for compliance with the relevant development review regulations that are also set forth to protect the public health, safety and general welfare. Therefore, a combination of proper site design and implementation of the recommended conditions, along with the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness by the ARB, would sufficiently address this objective.

 

Summary:

 

The intent of the special use permit requirement is based on potential impacts to the Entrance Corridors. The ARB has reviewed this proposal for its impact on the Route 250 East Entrance Corridor and had no objection to the request for the Special Use Permit with the following condition: 

1.      Provide site planting to the satisfaction of the ARB.

 

Staff has additional concerns regarding landscaping within utility easements and the manner in which vehicles may be stored and displayed on site, and recommends additional conditions of approval to address these issues.

 

Staff has identified the following factors that are favorable to this request:

 

1.      Motor vehicle sales is a by-right use in the Highway Commercial District and the proposed use is accessory to that use;

2.      The Architectural Review Board has reviewed the request for outdoor storage and display and recommends approval with conditions.

 

The following factors are relevant to this consideration:

 

1.      There are several automobile dealerships with outdoor sales/display of vehicles in the immediate vicinity along the Route 250 East Entrance Corridor.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

 

Staff recommends approval of this special use permit with the following conditions:

1.      Final site plan approval is subject to ARB approval of the landscape plan (submitted with the site plan). Landscaping shown on the plan may be required to be in excess of the ARB guidelines or the Zoning Ordinance.

2.      Vehicles shall not be elevated anywhere on site.

3.      Vehicles shall be displayed only in areas indicated for display shown on the plan entitled “Car Max Preliminary Site Plan” prepared by Charles J. O’Brien, Architect and dated July 18, 2005. Display parking shall be only in designated parking spaces, as identified on this plan.

4.      Prior to final site plan approval, the applicant shall provide documentation that all easement holders do not object to proposed construction, grading, planting, etc. in their easements.

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

A.     Car Max Preliminary Site Plan

B.     Car Max Preliminary Landscape Plan

C.     Special Use Permit Application

D.     Vicinity/Tax Map

E.      ARB Action

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