Albemarle County Planning Commission

September 13, 2005

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Chairman; Rodney Thomas, Calvin Morris, Jo Higgins; Pete Craddock; and Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair.  Absent were William Rieley and David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia.

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Elaine Echols, Principal Planner; David Pennock, Senior Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Development Review Manager; Amelia McCulley, Zoning and Current Development Director/Zoning Administrator; Jack Kelsey, County Engineer and Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Edgerton called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum. 

 

            Public Hearing:

 

SP-2005-016 Hope Builders International (Signs #30&68) - Request for amendment of a special use permit for a church and private school, to remove a condition prohibiting transfer of the permitted use to a new operator and to make possible expansion of office space within the use, in accordance with Section 10.2.2(5) and 10.2.2(35) of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for private schools and churches respectively. The property, described as Tax Map 70, Parcel 22, contains 13.473 acres and is zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The proposal is located at 7444 Plank Road (Route 692), 0.65 miles east of its intersection with Ortman Road (Route 691) in the White Hall Magisterial District.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area 3. (Scott Clark)

 

Mr. Clark summarized the staff report.

 

 

Ms. Higgins asked if staff has a copy of the conditions from the 1989 special use permit, and Mr. Clark stated that he had one copy of the conditions, which he passed around for the Commission to review.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if the building was constructed in accordance with the schematic elevation submitted in October, 1989, and Mr. Clark replied that most of those conditions are referring to the building for the private school, which was never built.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if staff was asking for that condition to be dropped, and Mr. Clark replied that staff was suggesting a new set of conditions.  He continued summarizing the staff report. 

 

 

ō       Weekly church meetings (20 to 100 people)

ō       One weekend seminar per month (up to 100 people, with up to 20 housed on-site overnight)

ō       One annual training session of six to eight weeks, with up to 30 trainees housed on-site

ō       Administrative office for the organization

ō       Residence on site (currently three people live in the house)

 

         There are two general health and safety concerns on this site.  The current entrance arrangement (one-way in, one-way out) would require a sight-distance easement on a neighboring property (Tax Map 70, Parcel 39B1) to provide sufficient sight distance for the exit.  Both one way entrances/exits go through a stone wall that is part of the historic character of the site. The applicants will need to either obtain the easement, or find another entrance/exit arrangement that will satisfy VDOTís requirements.  There appear to be other on-site options by which the applicant could create an entrance acceptable to VDOT.  VDOT has stated that those entrances can be made satisfactory, however, the applicants would either need to get a site distance easement from the parcel to the east to allow for their exit to operate safely or they would have to rearrange the direction of travel on the site to continue to use the entrance as they have now.  But, the neighbors on that side have not yet indicated that they are willing to donate that easement for this use. 

 

 

Ms. Joseph reiterated that the first issue is the entrances.  The existing entrance is one-way.  At this time VDOT has not approved the entrances and they need a sight distance easement from the eastern property owner, which they have not gotten at this point in time.  But, there is a way that they may be able to find an entrance on the site to meet VDOT standards.

 

Mr. Clark stated that the existing entrances could be made to be acceptable with some minor changes, which includes signage and the sight distance easement.

 

Ms. Joseph reiterated that the applicant needs signage and a sight distance easement and at that point VDOT may be able to approve them, but they donít have that right now.

 

Mr. Clark stated that the second issue is that the applicant needs Health Department approval.  A well was approved on the site recently for construction that is not sufficient for the number of people that will be on the site for these events.  Therefore, they would most likely need to upgrade to a larger well that is up to that standard.  The septic systems have not been inspected and there is no record at the Health Department that it has ever been inspected for the level of use that has been occurring on the site and that is being proposed now.  Therefore, the systems would have to be inspected and possibly upgraded to the satisfaction of the Health Department. 

 

Ms. Joseph stated that there may be a more intensive use on the property so the Health Department is going to be looking at the existing well and the septic, which may or may not meet todayís requirements.

 

Mr. Clark stated that was correct.  The Health Department has gone through their records a couple of times and has found no inspections on this property. There is one change in the staff report in the summary.  The applicants have requested an increase in the level of activity on the site from the original proposal.  As of the end of last week the applicants informed staff that they no longer wish to request the increase of use on the site.  Therefore, they are returning to their original request as outlined in the beginning of the staff report for 12 events, rather than 24 and 100 people instead of 150.  Therefore, the original request is what is before the Commission tonight, and the upgraded request that arrived last week is no longer being considered.

 

Ms. Joseph reiterated that the attendance shall not exceed 100 people and the events shall not exceed 12 and no more than 30 persons attending conferences shall reside on the property.  She asked if that was correct. 

 

Mr. Clark stated that was correct, except that it was 12 events and no more than 30 persons attending conferences shall reside on the property.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that she had one question about the Oak Leigh house.  There is a condition about no expansion of the existing house, but on page 4 of the staff report it talks about a house that now has a 2-story colonial style central block.  Therefore, the original house has already been expanded and now they were saying no further expansion past this.  She asked if staff has a footprint or something that tells us what that limit is going to be because it has already been expanded once.

 

Mr. Clark stated that the Department of Historic Resources has an extensive file on this property consisting of drawings, elevations, photographs, etc.  Therefore, they have a pretty good record of what is there now. 

 

Ms. Higgins asked if that included this addition, and Mr. Clark replied that it did.

 

Mr. Clark stated that staff has recommended approval subject to the 12 conditions listed in the staff report.  Those conditions will take care of the health and safety issues; the impacts on the surrounding properties by limiting the number of people; the hours of operation; the character of the outdoor activities; and preventing further changes to the historic resources on the site.  If there are any questions, he would be happy to answer them.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that condition 7 places a limitation on conferences or retreats to no more than three days up to twelve times per calendar year.  Therefore, that is once a month.  Condition 8 talks about the missionary training program lasting up to 8 weeks, which is about two months.  He asked if they were planning on doing both of those activities during a two month period so that when they are having the two month training session that they would be having the conferences and training as well.  He asked if they were going to jam those in the other ten months.

 

Mr. Clark stated that was a good question that might be better answered by the applicant.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if staff was saying that 30 people would stay in the 9 bedrooms within the house.

 

Mr. Clark stated that there were 9 bedrooms that were set up with bunk beds.  He pointed out that the original special use permit only referred to the private school.

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that condition 2 of the original approval says that the enrollment is limited to 30 students.

 

Mr. Clark stated that was for the school that was never constructed.  The conferences that were already occurring on the site were not dealt with in those conditions.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if the provision for the school goes away under these conditions, and Mr. Clark replied that the school use had already gone away because the special use permit expired since it had never been built.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if all of the people staying overnight at the site would be staying in the house and not in tents or campers.

 

Mr. Clark stated that there was no mention of tents or campers in the application.  He pointed out that there was a condition limiting overnight stays on the site to 30 people.  Therefore, it would not be possible for all 100 people at an event to stay on the site according to these conditions.

 

Mr. Edgerton suggested amending the condition to state that the people would have to stay in the house. 

 

Ms. Higgins asked about the fourth condition of the expired special use permit.  If no school is ever built, then there are no architectural limitations that will continue into the new application.

 

Mr. Clark stated that no, except for the limit on changing the footprint of the building because nothing new is being built for the use.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the applicant can change the exterior as long as the footprint stays the same.  She noted that someone thought it was important enough at the time this was done to include that condition.

 

Mr. Clark stated that his understanding was that was an attempt to make the school match the existing building.

 

There being no further questions for staff, Mr. Edgerton opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Lance Thollander, President of Hope Builders International, stated that for over 30 years or since the early 1970ís there has been a church, Oak Leigh Christian Fellowship, operating on the Oak Leigh property. He expressed the following comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if the twelve conferences or retreats being requested per year and the missionary training would be going on at the same time.

 

Mr. Thollander stated that he could anticipate that because they donít have the retreats signed up for at this period of time.  But, summer time is not a busy time for retreats.  During that eight week block they would not be doing both activities at the same time.  He pointed out that it is possible that there might be two retreats, for example, in October. 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if he still wanted to keep the twelve retreats.

 

Mr. Thollander stated that they would like to keep the twelve retreats in order to give them some lead way.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if all of the people staying on the property will be staying within the house since it was not covered in the conditions.

 

Mr. Thollander stated that they are currently developing their plans for the property.  But, if that is the condition that the Board thinks would be appropriate, then they will abide by it.

 

There being no further questions for the applicant, Mr. Edgerton invited comment from the other members of the public. 

 

Browyn Bryans stated that her concern is that Plank Road is extremely narrow and already has too much traffic on it.  If the applicantís request is granted to add this number of people on this property, it will make the road even more congested.  There is an existing traffic problem on Plank Road with the trucks, school buses and speeding traffic. Currently she has to get off the edge of the road when meeting oncoming traffic.  There has been a lot more trash on that property than it was in the old days.  Also, the noise from the property is much worse at times.   

 

Kathy Coleman, resident on Plank Road, stated that she came into the office last Friday and picked up a copy of Mr. Clarkís report and would like to call several things to the Commissionís attention.  First, is about the number of days that they are requesting on the special use permit. But, before that she would ask that the Commission not extend the same special use permit to Hope Builders International.  The original special use permit in 1989 was extended to a church that occasionally had retreats. When she called one of the board members of Oak Leigh Christian Fellowships he said that yes, they did have retreats among those in their church and any other church in the area that wanted to use it.  She asked if they rented that space out to those churches and he said no, that no rent was collected.  But, they did have retreats for other churches. That is the historic reference of what went on there for the last thirty years.  For seven decades that house was a private Virginia home.  It was a large 10,000 square foot house built and used as a private large Virginia home.  Oak Leigh and Christian Fellowship took the house over in the early 70ís and was given that permit in 1989 as a church that held occasional retreats. Hope Builders International is asking to be considered a church so that they may do their work and run their business as a retreat and conference center.  When she researched this as to what is the by right use in Albemarle County, she found under our Rural Areas zoning that churches are an expected element in the rural landscape.  She asked Mr. Clark and his staff if conference centers or retreat centers was also an expected use in that RA zoning and he said no, that would probably not be allowed in a RA zoning.  Therefore, she was saying after cruising the website of Hope Builders International and looking through all of their literature that the only time that they have used the words church in relation to the Hope Builders International is when they applied to this Commission to be considered a church so that they could get this special use permit.  Also, back to the number of days, if the Commission does their math they will see that they are being asked in our Rural Areas to take twelve conferences of three days of 100 people, which is 36 days of 100 people.  Then they are being asked to have 8 weeks of conferences that may have up to 100 people coming to the conference with 30 of which can reside on site.  So now they were up to 92 days that 100 people can be in a house that was once considered a private Virginia home.  Then they add any other number of days and then they have to add 52 more days for the weekly meetings, which may go up to 100 people.  Then it is not mentioned on the number of times that they will be allowed to rent out the space for weddings or other private groups as they have for the last 2 Ĺ years since they have been up there. 

 

Diane Geyer, landowner on Plank Road, stated that she has tractors and animals. They bought their property in 1986 from John Manzano, who was the head of Christian Retreat Incorporated.  At that time he had a church there that had a service every single Sunday for the small rural area and its local people.  He said that they did weddings and retreats for local churches. At that time the people could walk to the church if they wanted to.  They did not need to drive and did not have to worry about cars.  When he left the Oak Leigh fellowship the community was still part of that and they took over the church.  According to her records that she found on the computer, the Christian Retreat Incorporated actually became incorporated in 1971.  What she would like to know is who owns the property 1774 Plank Road right now.  In 2004, Christian Retreat is not staying as a corporation because they dissolved it.  So when they dissolved that corporation didnít they dissolve all of the exemptions that the County has given them as a church, school or anything else?  Then the other question is that Mr. Thollander said that he had been there since 2003.  But, in the going through the state records he became incorporated on 10-12-01.  On that legal paper he shows 1774 Plank Road as his legal address.  So does that mean that he has been there and is he the owner or what is happening to the property.  Therefore, her concern is that this is an international organization and this is not a community organization.  This is not a church that holds a service every single Sunday.  Cars can come and go.  They could bus people in.  You are talking about hundreds of people.  On their website she found that Hope Builders International was doing some wonderful things. They are like the Red Cross in that they collect money, they keep a percentage of it and then they distribute it out.  Every sheet of paper throughout their entire website is about Africa, Turkey, Asia, and the Middle East.  Yes, they do have a site that says they are collecting for the hurricane, but there is nothing about Greenwood.  There is nothing about Charlottesville.  They are not doing anything to support our community. This is supporting an international community, which does not belong on our street.  They are rural areas and donít want the garbage or the noise from this use. She checked their financial sheets and found that they are making a lot of money.  In 2003, they made $800,000 and spent $600,000.  Therefore, they have $200,000 that who knows what they are doing with.  She stated that they do not want to have foreigners coming in and want their community to stay the same.

 

Bob French, resident of Crozet, stated that he was the former pastor of Oak Leigh Christian Fellowship and President of the Board of Christian Retreats.  He stated that he was a member of the Oak Leigh Church since 1976 when he moved to this area and became part of the church there.  In 1987, he became pastor and started Christ Community Church in the Woolen Mills area of Charlottesville.  His church now has about 600 members and is a thriving church.  He took over and was pastor for about 14 years.  At the end of those 14 years they saw as a congregation that the 13 acre estate was too much for them to handle so as Lance mentioned they looked and prayed for some group to come and take it over that would put it to Christian use.  He felt that they have found that in Hope Builders International.  When he resigned as President of the Board he believed that Lance took over.  Therefore, they had a changing of the Board of Directors.  The old Board of Directors resigned and the new Board of Directors took over Christian Retreats.  So Christian Retreats still owns Oak Leigh Estate.  He questioned if the lady had said that in 1974 the non-profit organization was dissolved.  He pointed out that it had not been dissolved and it has been totally continuous from 1971 to the present.  There is a Christian Retreats and it is the owner of the Oak Leigh Estate.  He pointed out that the property was purchased in 1969 from Truman Southall, who had a retirement home and summer day camp there.  They found signs that said Camp Oak Leigh.  So even though a large majority of the time the Oak Leigh house was privately owned by Mr. Southall, who has passed on, he tried several different venues to have a profitable go at the use of the Oak Leigh property.

 

Mark Haskins, resident of Charlottesville for 21 years, stated that he was a friend of Lance and Christy and was speaking on behalf of their petition or request.  He noted that he would like to say three things.

 

Raleigh Althacker, a resident of Charlottesville for five years, stated that he was present on behalf of Hope Builders International and Lance and Christy Thollander.  He asked to reiterate and clarify that while there is an international focus if you look at the materials that there is also a focus on using the facility to bring people together.  It has been used by many different churches for retreats.  There is a real value in the use of that property to bring the community together and to help support the ministry on an international basis.  The $200,000 is really not a profit since it is just held to go into other missions.  He stated that they were not making a whole lot of money. 

 

Dave Burton, resident of 7489 Plank Road, stated that while he has nothing against Mr. Thollander that the bottom line is that this organization is looking to expand their business and organization.  With the expansion there will be an increase in traffic and noise volume to this residential community. He urged the Commission not to pass this request bearing in mind that Plank Road is a rural community it needs to be kept way.

 

Jeff Graves, resident of Jenevan Lane, stated that the entrance to his lane was next to the entrance of Hope Builderís International. He stated that he has no reservations towards the concept of the organization, but his concerns were for the change that they were having in their rural community such as increased traffic and noise if this special use permit is expanded to include the missionary training on the site.  His parents have lived beside this property for 65 years.  He chose to build his home and raise his family beside them because it is such a peaceful, quiet rural area.  They would just like this area to remain the same. He felt that the committee is being shown a lot of smoke and merit for them to achieve what they are after.  It is a beautiful residence, which was what it started out to be and was intended to be.  They do take good care of the property in which they can see, but they are not concerned about their neighbors and what they see. When it comes down to Jenevan Lane they chose to take all of their trash, brush, cut down trees and anything that is not appealing to their site and pile it up against the lane.  His dad has worked hard all of his life to keep up the appearance of his property and it is a beautiful property. Unfortunately, the applicants donít have to look at it everyday, but unfortunately they do.  He did not think they were concerned at all about the neighbors that surround them.  He felt that they were concerned only about achieving their agenda and that is it.  The gentleman that spoke a few minutes ago resides in Crozet and the other two reside in Charlottesville. They donít reside on Jenevan Lane and donít have to put up with the noise, congestion or the traffic on that lane.  Therefore, he suggested that the Commission not give a lot of thought into what their comments were.  This use is a business and is going to greatly affect their community in a negative way.

 

Mr. Yohung stated that he was a resident of the property and did most of the mowing of the lawn, the prepping of the trees and so on.  He found it strange that the neighbors have not spoken to them directly about their concerns. He agreed that there were two particular occasions that trees have been cut down on the property. In one instance a couple of logs did go down the embankment into the gulley.  But, the logs were removed.  Since then they have not thrown any trash on the side of the road. Nobody that comes to our part of the world uses the lane at all. The requested maximum numbers of people are top end numbers for the possibilities that may arise in the future.  They have been on the property for a number of years and to his knowledge no one has complained about noise levels, number of vehicles or anything of the sort.

 

There being no further public comments, Mr. Edgerton closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for discussion and possible action.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that there were members of the public who did not think this use was defined as a church, but was more like a conference center.  She asked Ms. McCulley to comment on that and to explain what the applicant had proposed to staff.

 

Ms. McCulley asked Mr. Kamptner to provide a basis of the RLUPA Act, which is the context used to consider what is and is not a religious institution. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if the ordinance says religious institution or does it say church.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that it says church, but this Act essentially addresses church uses and what can be commonly associated in that context and what is not a church use.  Under this Act it uses the term religious institution instead of church because it is much broader than church.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that certainly even without the Act the word church in our Zoning Ordinance has to be applied much more broadly than church because synagogues, mosques and other types of religious institutions are certainly included within that.  With respect to RLUPA the key term is not church or religious institution, but religious exercise.

 

Ms. Joseph asked Mr. Kamptner to go back and explain what RLUPA is because there were members of the public present that did not understand it.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that it was the Religious Land Uses and Institutionalized Persons Act, which was a federal law that was adopted by Congress in 2000.  It was an attempt to go beyond the first amendmentís free exercise in the establishment of clauses to protect religious institutions.  Before Congress adopted the act they conducted three years of studies and hearings. What they found was that religious institutions were being limited to residential zones, limited to specific sites, allowed only by discretionary approvals and completely excluded from localities and treated differently from other places of assembly.  Congress also found that the denominations that are not familiar in a locality are being treated less favorably. Rigid zoning regulations failed to consider the actual impacts from a particular religious institution and religious institutions based racial or ethnic discrimination. As a result they have RLUPA.  This act deals only with local zoning decisions and the religious rights of prisoners. There is a prior act that was much broader in scope. So Congressí response was to limit the act to these two specific topics.  So the localitiesí ability to exercise their zoning powers over religious institutions is affected by this act quite significantly. He asked Ms. Joseph what her specific question was.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that the Zoning Ordinance says church and he had said that encompasses more things than more people think.

 

Mr. Kamtpner stated that encompasses all of the denominations, but it also encompasses activities that are much broader than the Sunday services.  Special use permits come before the Commission for churches perhaps for every night during the week that activities are held.  The scope of what constitutes religious exercise is quite broad, but he did not know how far she wanted him to get into it.  But, it goes way beyond the minister preaching to attendees of the congregation.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that if they allow churches they are allowing religious institutions, which goes into all of these other activities that he is talking about.  She asked if that is how their reasoning goes.

 

Ms. Higgins asked to be more specific if he would interpret that to allow or cover offices operated to oversee the training of missionaries. 

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that any kind of religious institution would be an accessory to that use.  He noted that certainly all Christian church would have offices.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that it would be an accessory use.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated, for example, if a church owned a commercial building and is leased for office space, then that would not be subject to RLUPA since it would be beyond that.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that it would cover any office that was overseeing the activities related to the religious activities.  In reading between the lines, she felt that he had clearly spelled out that it has no limitations as to the base of the religious activities being local or community related and its global nature really cannot be considered in our decision or it would be discriminatory.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that it would include all of those things, but certainly the distinction between a local church.  He stated that he was not sure what a local church is because the Catholic Church is based in the Vatican City.  A lot of churches are based somewhere other than locally and the churches actually grow and expand.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if anything that can be remotely considered a religious institution would be allowed in the Rural Area.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that there are some boundaries.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any requirements for a church service or any kind of religious church service to be held.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that he was not aware of any.  He read an example from the South Dakota Supreme Court in 1983. Religious use is not defined solely in terms of religious worship.  Case law reveals that activity related to the purpose of a religious organization has been construed to be a religious use.  This includes the church itself, a peripheral school with areas for recreation and extracurricular activity, a student dormitory, an orphanage, a center for counseling drug users and a chapel.  The scope of religious use is not unlimited, however, the classifications of religious use has been denied to the operation of day classes, to school children at location several blocks from the church, to a church which was to be used as a healing center, to a church which wanted to construct a ritual area litigious in a highly residential district which permitted churches.  More recently there are cases where activities such as community outreach, social events including a concert series, feeding members and nonmembers of the congregation, providing student lounge and meditation room may fall within religious exercise. 

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the Commission was making sure that they are within the definition and that the public understands how they have to treat an application like this.  Truly the publicís concern is not about the use itself since they applauded the goals of Hope Homebuilders International, but it is really about the narrowness of the roads and the traffic on the roads.  She felt that there are several conditions that would address some of their concerns.  One condition limits the activities from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., which would alleviate some of the concerns.  She suggested that if the activities have the right parameters that it might address most of the publicís concerns.

 

Ms. Joseph asked Ms. McCulley a question about the recommended action, number 5 that says that the applicant shall present evidence of the approvals required in conditions 1 through 4 and obtain a zoning clearance for use within 6 months of the approval of this permit.  If that does not happen within 6 months of the approval by the Board of this permit would that void this application.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that it puts them in violation of the special use permit.  Staff wanted a quicker time line than the normal two years given because the applicant is in the process of wanting to change the ownership of the property. Therefore, staff wanted a tighter time line to get compliance. 

 

Ms. Joseph stated that it was such a commercial use that she felt hampered.  In her mind she found it was hard to use this blanket that it was a church.  She realized that they were not looking at churches anymore that are structured in their minds, but they were looking at some religious institution, which was tough.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that it would ease the Commissionís and publicís concern to recognize that this permit is allowing the church use which incorporates the concept of religious exercise and their use will have to remain within those parameters.  If they donít, then the special use permit does not apply.  So it would be ongoing just like any other special use permit that the use will be monitored to make sure the use classification is correct. 

 

Mr. Morris stated that it appears that actually what Hope Builders International is doing would be totally in the scope of religious activities.  That includes hosting conferences for organizations not only their own denominations, but others as well as training sessions for discipleship.  He felt that was religious in his estimation. 

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that he would like to discuss another concept regarding RLUPA, which is not substantially burdening religious exercise. But, the other companion clause that goes with it is the prohibition of discrimination.  The Rural Areas zoning district allows by special use permit a number of uses that permit public assembly.  Two recent zoning text amendments allowed historical centers and special events.  Under the special events special use permit they allow up to 150 attendees, 24 times per year.  Historical centers are allowed 12 events up to 150 attendees and 4 festivals of more than 150 attendees.  So the trend has been to allow regulated events of public assembly within the Rural Area.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that their thought behind that was to allow these large parcels to stay intact.  She thanked him for reminding her of that.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if they had been more restrictive in these conditions.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that this was what was applied for and the applicant says that these conditions are acceptable. He noted that this is a smaller parcel. 

 

Ms. Higgins stated that it was in relationship to the size of the property.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that the applicant may request an amendment, and then they will have to reevaluate that.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that right now they have a special use permit with four conditions.  A lot of those conditions donít address things like the impact on the neighborhood in terms of numbers of people, numbers of conferences and so forth. 

 

Ms. Higgins stated that would include the hours of operation and the audio restrictions. 

 

Ms. McCulley stated that it would not address that and outdoor activities and so forth.  There are twelve conditions with this special use permit that even more significantly restrict the activities on the property. 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if any other Commissioner shares his concern about where the majority of the people might be spending the night.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she did not want to see RVís or tents out on the property.

 

Mr. Craddock pointed out that the lighting ordinance would cover some of the concerns.

 

Mr. Edgerton pointed out that the applicant had indicated that he was willing to accept a condition restricting the residents to the house.

 

Ms. Joseph agreed with Mr. Edgerton that a condition was needed for that.   She asked Mr. Clark if there was anything that needed to be done to change the parking area to make it adequate for the 100 people.

 

Mr. Clark stated that there was a large gravel area at the east end of the site, which was not a traditional parking lot.  It is a graveled unmarked area with no delineated parking spaces, and he did not have the exact measurements of the area.  According to the applicants it is the same area that has been in use through the history of the similarly scaled operations on the site for the last thirty years.  The applicant is not planning on changing or adding any parking and will continue to use the existing parking on the site. 

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that the Commission got into concerns about that when they talked about events in the Rural Areas, such as weddings, and did not want to go in the direction to start creating parking lots for 100 people that may be used for 20 people.  She felt that avoidance of that disruption could be a concern.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the daily vehicle trips would be increased, and if the staff had any idea what that number would be.

 

Mr. Clark stated that assuming that the two kinds of uses for the long term residential training session and the events did not overlap, and assuming that no one stays on the site, then they had 200 vehicle trips per day for the events.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that comparatively speaking it was a parcel that has been intact for 13 acres that has 5 division rights with the ability to support residential.  When the Commission reviewed special events one of the primary goals was to keep historic structures and properties intact. An alternative to this use could be a traffic generation greater than these events if you want to look at an alternative analysis of that many houses for five (5) two (2) acre lots. 

 

Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Thomas seconded, that SP-2005-00016, Hope Builders International be approved subject to the twelve conditions recommended by staff.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if he would accept a friendly amendment to one of the conditions that makes it very clear that the 30 persons on number 9 would be staying within the house and that there would be no recreational vehicles or tents.

 

Mr. Morris accepted the friendly amendment, and Mr. Thomas accepted the friendly amendment.

 

Mr. Clark asked that condition 8 be clarified to state that all of the people participating in the training program would be residing on site and would be limited to 20 people. 

 

Ms. McCulley suggested that the condition say that a maximum of 20 people may be enrolled in the training program.  She noted that was what staff intended, but did not say that directly.

 

Ms. Joseph asked that condition 8 be changed, also.

 

Ms. Higgins suggested one more friendly amendment that should the size of the parcel change, then the permit has to come back to the Commission.  In other words, the applicant could not reduce the size of the parcel, which was why they were supporting these events.

 

Mr. Kamptner suggested that the condition read that the parcel shall not be subdivided or reduced in size.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that if the applicant wanted to subdivide the property, they would have to come back to the Commission if that condition was added.

 

Ms. Higgins suggested that the Commission ask the applicant if he understands what that means and if the condition was acceptable.

 

Mr. Edgerton invited Mr. Thollander to come back up and address the Commissionís question.

 

Ms. Higgins asked Mr. Thollander if the proposed condition was acceptable.

 

Mr. Thollander stated yes, that the condition was acceptable.  If they wanted to sell off any of the division rights that were on the property it would invalidate the special use permit or at least they would have to come back for approval. 

 

Motion:  Mr. Morris accepted all three friendly amendments to the motion, Mr. Thomas seconded, that SP-2005-00016, Hope Builders International be approved subject to the conditions recommended by staff as modified.

 

1)       Health Department approval of well(s) and septic system(s) for all proposed church, conference, residential, and office uses;

2)       Fire and Rescue Department approval of the structure for all proposed church, conference, residential, and office uses;

3)       Building official approval of the structure for all proposed church, conference, residential, and office uses;

4)       Virginia Department of Transportation approval of entrance and exit;

5)       The applicants shall present evidence of the approvals required in conditions 1 through 4 and obtain a zoning clearance for the use within 6 months of the approval of this permit.

6)       Seating capacity in any area of assembly shall not exceed 100 persons;

7)       Conferences or retreats, each limited in duration to no more than three days, may occur up to twelve times per calendar year. Attendance shall not exceed 100 persons;

8)       Once per calendar year, a missionary training program may be held on the site, for a single continuous time period not to exceed 8 weeks.  A maximum of 30 people may be enrolled in the training program.

9)       No more than 30 persons attending conferences, retreats, or missionary training shall reside on the property at any one time.  All attendees shall be housed in the Oak Leigh house.

10)   No outdoor amplified sound systems shall be used on the property.

11)   Outdoor group activities (meetings, services, recreational activities, and other similar events and activities) shall not occur between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.,

12)   The footprint of the existing Oak Leigh house shall not be expanded, and no other structures shall be used or constructed for this use, without amendment of this permit.

13)   This parcel shall not be subdivided or reduced in size.

 

The motion passed unanimously by a vote of 6:0.  (Commissioner Rieley was absent.)

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that SUB-2005-00016, Hope Builders International will go forward to the Board of Supervisors on October 5, 2005 with a recommendation for approval.

 

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