COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Historic Preservation Committee Update

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Review of  Committee Update and Resolution of Intent on Historic Preservation Committee recommendations

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Cilimberg,  Benish; Ms.  Maliszewski

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   YES

 

AGENDA DATE:

November 2, 2005

 

ACTION:     X                          INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                               INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:      Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Historic Preservation Plan was adopted in the Fall of 2000. In April 2001 the Board of Supervisors adopted the Priority Recommendations for Historic Preservation in Albemarle County (the “Priority Recommendations”) (Attachment A) as the action agenda to be used for the implementation of the Plan. The original Priority Recommendations are taken directly from the adopted Historic Preservation Plan. The Board also approved recommendation #1 for implementation, thereby establishing a standing Historic Preservation Committee. Members were appointed and the new Historic Preservation Committee held its first meeting on January 8, 2002.

 

An overview of the Historic Preservation Committee’s accomplishments to date and ongoing work is included as Attachment B. The overview is organized around work being undertaken by subcommittees of the Historic Preservation Committee. It provides a status on the Priority Recommendations (Attachment A) and includes a discussion of recommended actions for the Board’s consideration. In summary, Priority Recommendations 1, 3 and 4 are complete. Work on Priority Recommendations 2 and 5 through 11 is ongoing. The Committee requests Board action on issues related to Priority Recommendations 2, 7 and 9, as summarized below and discussed in Attachment B.

 

On August 3, 2005 the Board of Supervisors accepted on a consent agenda the Historic Preservation Committee’s progress report (Attachment B) of June 2005, which included recommendations.  At that meeting the Board was notified that staff would provide an analysis of the recommendations provided in the Preservation Committee’s report.  That analysis is provided below.

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Strategic Direction 2: Protect the County’s natural, scenic and historic resources.

 

DISCUSSION:

The recommendations of the Historic Preservation Committee discussed below will initially require amendment to the Historic Preservation section of the Comprehensive Plan.  Some of the recommendations are simple language changes that reflect the current activities of the Committee.  Some of the recommendations are implementation measures that will require staff research and assessment as part of the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.  As such, staff has provided an assessment of the recommendations for the Comprehensive Plan amendment process as well as an initial assessment for the impacts of ultimate implementation initiatives that may result from the adoption of amendments as recommended by the Committee.  Each recommendation is addressed individually.

 

1.       Priority Recommendation #2.

Background: Following a Committee discussion about the loss of an historic resource with potential local significance and the impact a comprehensive database could have had on that situation, in early 2004 the Historic Preservation Committee discussed its role in current development review and public inquiries, noting that the Committee includes members with experience and expertise that could assist staff in various work areas.  To date, the Committee’s role in the development review process is very limited, with the Committee becoming involved when requested by the Commission or Board.  The Commission has requested the Committee’s input on the “Historic Centers” Zoning Text Amendment, and Belvedere ZMA (as it related to the Free State historic area).  The applicant for the Monticello historic district ZTA, the Thomas Jefferson

Memorial Foundation, requested review and input from the Committee during the ZTA review process.  From time to time, staff has requested Committee assistance in evaluating the historic resources on various sites and responding to public requests for information about resources on sites.

Committee Recommendation: Wanting to make use of the resources already assembled, and noting that clarification is needed regarding the specific role of Committee members, the Committee recommends that Priority Recommendation #2 be amended by adding the following text:

Historic Preservation Committee members should be available to staff for consultation, recommendations regarding significance of cultural resources, and for site inspections, as needed, in order to provide assistance in the development of the database and in staff’s review of development proposals.

Staff Analysis: This recommendation is a request for further clarification from the Board on this policy rather than a change in procedure, priority, or work flow. This would not change current practice or staff workload, but simply recognize the research, field work and insight gained by utilizing the expertise of the standing committee.  It is not the intent to forward all development proposals to the Committee for review, but rather to use the Committee to gain further insight regarding the nature of the historic resource and what aspects of the site are important to consider in protecting/documenting the resource.  This recommendation would support the Comprehensive Plan and Historic Preservation Plan by making use of already assembled committee resources to provide staff with technical knowledge and expertise.  

Additional Required Resources: Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan and implementation of the recommendation will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division.

 

2.       Country Stores Recommendations/Priority Recommendation #7.

Background: Following the Committee’s review of the “Rural Commercial” section of the Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan, a subcommittee embarked on a project to identify the remaining country stores in Albemarle County. A presentation on the Committee’s research and recommendations on the treatment of country stores was made to the Board of Supervisors on May 7, 2003. The Committee subsequently asked that the country store recommendations be included in the Rural Areas plan, but it was suggested instead that the Historic Preservation Plan be amended to include the Committee recommendations.

Committee Recommendation: The Committee, wanting to formalize the country store recommendations, recommends that the Albemarle County Historic Preservation Plan be amended by adding the “Position Statement on Albemarle County’s Historic Country Stores” as contained in Attachment H.

Staff Analysis: To include the “Position Statement on Albemarle County’s Historic Country Stores” in the Historic Preservation Plan will require review and approval of a Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA).  That CPA would provide more in-depth analysis of specific recommendations contained in the Position Statement. However, the following is an initial analysis of the five (5) specific recommendations in the Committee’s Country Stores Position Statement. Each recommendation is listed below with the discussion that was originally provided by the Committee, followed by staff’s analysis.

a) Revise the requirements for parking to allow exceptions to existing standards when the confines or limits of the property of one of these historic stores do not allow for the standard requirements.

Committee Discussion: Staff will necessarily work out this exception on a case-by-case basis in the spirit of returning the property to its historic commercial use. As a means of limiting abuses to these exceptions and preserving the integrity of the buildings, the Historic Preservation Committee recommends that these incentives be allowable and applicable ONLY to the store building as it stands on the property. These exceptional conditions should no longer apply if the building is demolished, moved to another property, or so altered as to render negligible its historic character.

b) Allow for the consideration of multiple uses in any of the buildings listed in Attachment H.

Committee Discussion: Allowing more than one use in a country store (by definition, a country store is a type of “retail store”) provides additional opportunities for adaptive reuse and for the ultimate preservation of the County’s country stores. Among the uses that should be considered are any uses that can be considered for home occupations. Using the store as the place for the home occupation, rather than a residence, could offer a resident greater flexibility in working near home while providing an opportunity to place a historic resource in a useful occupancy. The concept of allowing multiple uses in a country store is consistent with the building type’s evolution as the needs of the community changed throughout history.

Staff Analysis of a and b: These items are some of the many methods available for implementing one of the already adopted recommendations of the Historic Preservation Plan, which reads, “Examine existing zoning requirements to assure their consistency with the goal of historic preservation. Amend the Zoning Ordinance to allow: more varied uses

to encourage the reuse of historic structures; greater flexibility in the application of existing zoning requirements; and traditional development patterns that preserve the character of a historic district.”

 

The intent of the Committee’s recommendation is to provide flexibility to owners of historic properties regarding uses and parking requirements to address economic and physical constraints of the existing historic sites/properties.  This intent is consistent with the recommendations of the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan.  The Department work program already calls for staff to begin review of zoning text amendments supportive of this recommendation as part of the implementation of the Rural Areas section.  On the issue of uses allowed in a country store, this work may include amending the definition of country store to expand the permissible range of uses.  That work is scheduled to begin in April 2007, or once the clustering and phasing ZTA work has been completed.  Therefore, the Committee’s recommendation is not anticipated to cause an increase in the level of staff work anticipated as part of the future ZTA.  This zoning text amendment process has already anticipated the requirement of staff time from the Planning Division, Zoning Division and County Attorney’s office.

 

Additional Required Resources:  Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division.  No staff resources will be necessary for implementation of the recommendations beyond what have already been committed to Rural Area implementation.

 

c) Require that additions to stores listed in Attachment H be designed in accord with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards 9 and 10.

Committee Discussion: The preservation of the historic character and integrity of historic country stores is the Committee’s principle concern. Nonetheless, the Committee acknowledges that many of these buildings will necessitate additions to make them viable spaces for many contemporary commercial uses. The Committee believes that additions designed in accordance with Standards 9 and 10 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation (listed in Appendix B of Attachment H) will preserve the store’s historic character. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are accepted by the National Park Service, the National Register for Historic Properties, and numerous other preservation-minded institutions.

Staff Analysis: If this recommendation is amended into the Comprehensive Plan, it would be used as a factor in evaluating Special Use Permits for country store expansions for consistency with the Comprehensive Plan. There is some concern that the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards may not be appropriate in all situations; therefore, requiring the application of these standards for all additions may not be appropriate.  Specifically, Standard 9 states that “new work shall be differentiated from the old” structure.  There is a question as to whether this differentiation (and what extent of the differentiation) is appropriate in all situations.  Also, uniform application of these standards may require additional staff time for review and additional information to be provided by the applicant.  Staff believes that this recommendation will need to be assessed during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

Additional Required Resources:  Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division and Zoning Division.  Additional staff resources may be necessary to implement the recommendation.  This will be analyzed during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

d) For buildings listed in Attachment H whose rehabilitations are completed in accordance with all ten of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation: Institute a specific partial property tax exemption (for the structure only) that will serve as an incentive to shop-owners to open or re-open commercial enterprises.

Committee Discussion: The Committee’s recommendation is that an owner who rehabilitates one of the stores listed in Attachment H for use as a store should receive a 10-year grace period from County taxes assessed on the structure. For adaptive reuses (uses other than country store) of buildings listed in Attachment H the Committee recommends a 5-year grace period from County taxes assessed on the structure only. The Committee further recommends that this tax relief should apply to improvements to stores listed in Attachment H that are already in operation. The Committee felt that the small number of properties to which this “abatement” would apply is not expected to impede the County’s revenue. Property owners could combine this County tax “abatement” with the 20% Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit and 25% State Credit, which would amount to a substantial incentive to preserve our country stores.

Staff Analysis: Staff agrees with the Committee’s opinion that the few properties to which this item would apply are not expected to have a significant impact on the County’s revenue.  However, specific fiscal impacts cannot be more specifically determined until a tax exemption program, which would be in the form of a partial property tax exemption, is actually developed. Preliminary investigations by the County Attorney’s office indicate that such a tax exemption

program is possible.  The exemption can be for a period of time not to exceed 15 years and cannot exceed an amount: (1) equal to the increase in assessed value resulting from the structure’s rehabilitation; or (2) up to 50% of the cost of rehabilitation.  One of the priority recommendations of the Historic Preservation Plan (#11) is to “continue to pursue the implementation of financial incentives for historic preservation…”  The partial tax exemption program is consistent with this priority recommendation.  Staff believes this recommendation has merit for further consideration, but will require additional assessment during the Comprehensive Plan review.

Additional Required Resources:  Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division, Finance Department and County Attorney’s office.  Additional staff resources may be necessary to implement the recommendation.  This will be analyzed during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

e) Allow for the updating of the list of historic country stores as additional stores are identified in the future.

Committee Discussion: The Committee’s research has consisted primarily of a windshield survey, with some research into historic maps, store ledgers, and photograph collections. This research should not be considered exhaustive at this point. Previous surveys and future discoveries could expand the current list of historic country stores.

Staff Analysis: This recommendation is primarily recognition of the fact that the country stores survey was not comprehensive and that additional store buildings continue to be identified over time.  Periodically, the list of historic country stores could be updated through an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, since the list would be part of the “Position Statement on Albemarle County Country Stores” recommended to be amended in the Historic Preservation Plan (a part of the Comprehensive Plan).  It is anticipated that the Committee will continue to take the lead role in identifying additional country stores.  Staff time will be focused on the development of the updated list for adoption into the Plan and processing the necessary Comprehensive Plan amendment. The impact to staff workload would be very minimal.

Additional Required Resources: Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan and implementation of the recommendation will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division.

 

3.       Multiple Property Nominations/Priority Recommendation #7.

Background: The Committee’s work on the Country Stores project led to the conclusion that other significant building types exist throughout the County, and that the Historic Preservation Plan recommendation regarding nomination of particular County villages to the State and National Registers overlooks other significant County resources. Committee members agreed that these significant building types should be surveyed and that multiple property nominations should be completed for them. A multiple property nomination is a streamlined method for nominating groups of related significant properties to the National Register of Historic Places. It facilitates future evaluation and listing of individual resources, should individual property owners choose to pursue listing on the National Register.

Committee Recommendation: The Committee recommends that, to the Historic Preservation Plan recommendation that currently reads, “The County should encourage or actively seek designation on the Virginia and National Registers of all potentially eligible villages (Advance Mills, Crozet, White Hall, and Yancey Mills) as identified in the Historic Architectural Survey of Albemarle County Villages,” the following text should be added:

The County should encourage or actively seek multiple property nominations for building types significant to the history of the County, such as country stores, schools, barns, churches, etc

Staff Analysis: As worded, the recommendation does not specify who must perform the recommended tasks. The Historic Preservation Committee was established as a work committee to implement the recommendations of the plan. Adoption of the recommendation would allow this item to be accomplished by the Committee, once incorporated into the Committee’s action agenda, and by private parties, at the encouragement of the County. As evidenced by the work of the Committee on the country stores, the bulk of the research, fieldwork and analysis can be done by Committee members.  There is already a commitment of staff support (Historic Preservation Planner and Design Planner) to the work of the Committee; this item is not expected to cause a significant increase in required staff support. In terms of National Register nominations, using the multiple property nomination would implement an efficiency in the overall nomination process.  The Committee has suggested that surveys on schools, barns, and churches be undertaken in the future.

Additional Required Resources:  Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division. To implement the recommendation, there may be need for funds to complete some of the future surveys. Associated costs will be analyzed during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

4.       Monticello Viewshed/Priority Recommendation #9.

Background: In the Spring of 2004 the Committee discussed viewsheds and questioned the equity of singling out one viewshed – Monticello -- in the County. While Monticello is a unique resource, the Committee noted that its significance does not diminish the importance of other existing viewsheds. Such viewsheds contribute greatly to the character and quality of life in the County. Members discussed the possibility of expanding the priority work item to include consideration of additional significant historic viewsheds throughout the County.

Committee Recommendation: The Committee recommends that the wording of Priority Recommendation #9 be revised to add the following text:

Identify significant publicly accessible viewsheds in the County associated with a historic resource or a theme central to the history of the County. Develop recommendations on the treatment of those viewsheds.

Staff Analysis: As worded, the recommendation does not specify who must perform the recommended tasks. The Historic Preservation Committee was established as a work committee to implement the recommendations of the plan. Adoption of the recommendation would allow this item to be incorporated into the Committee’s action agenda. The Committee has not specifically recommended any additional viewsheds at this time, but the Committee can play a lead role in researching and identifying future possible viewsheds. It is anticipated that this item would require staff support at its current level (Historic Preservation Planner and Design Planner).  Also, the recommendation represents an update to the Plan to meet current “state of the art” thought in preservation circles regarding viewsheds.  The full impact to staff, public and development community of designating additional viewsheds is difficult to accurately gage until the number and location of those additional viewsheds are determined. 

Additional Required Resources: Amendment of the Comprehensive Plan will utilize existing staff time/resources from the Planning Division.  Additional staff resources may be necessary to implement the recommendation.  This will be analyzed during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

It is anticipated that existing staff will undertake the Comprehensive Plan amendment as part of the ongoing work program, so no additional budget impact is expected.  There may be ultimate costs associated with implementing several of the recommendations, particularly the requirement that additions to historic stores be designed in accord with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, and the recommendations for property tax exemptions, multiple property nominations for State and National Registers and viewsheds.  These potential costs will be analyzed as part of the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Staff recommends approval of the attached Resolution of Intent (Attachment I) to consider the recommendations of the Historic Preservation Committee for amendment to the Historic Preservation section of the Comprehensive Plan.  Staff has identified several Committee recommendations in the Discussion section, above, which will need to be further analyzed during the amendment process for their implementation and additional resource requirements.  Based on current work program commitments and available staff resources, it is anticipated that the Comprehensive Plan amendment process will begin in January, 2006 with recommendations presented for review by the Planning Commission no earlier than October, 2006.

 

ATTACHMENTS

A – Priority Recommendations for Historic Preservation in Albemarle County

B – Albemarle County Historic Preservation Committee Progress Report, June 2005

C – Definition of “Historic Resource”

D – Rules of Procedure

E – Database Subcommittee Action Plan

F – Heritage Education Subcommittee Action Plan

G – Demolition Subcommittee Action Plan

H – Country Stores Recommendations

I  – Resolution of Intent

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