STAFF PERSON:                                                                  Sean Dougherty

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                              November 15, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                              December 14, 2005

 

 

SP-2005-022 Berean Baptist Church

 

Applicant's Proposal:

The applicant is requesting a special use permit to construct a two-story classroom addition, including a small gymnasium, to the rear of the existing church. The addition includes four classrooms, three offices, a nursery, a conference room, bathrooms, and a gymnasium. The gymnasium comprises the majority of the addition on the first floor and second floor, as it is open from the first floor to the ceiling off the second floor. The addition will support the existing church program, which includes a sanctuary, fellowship hall, and four small classrooms.

 

The original site plan for the church was approved by the Planning Commission in1975 when churches were permitted by-right in the Agricultural district. In 1980, an R-1 zoning designation was applied to this parcel.  There is no existing special use permit for this property. Therefore, the church is non-conforming. This special use permit will allow the church to be in conformance with the Zoning Ordinance.

 

The applicant has submitted a concept plan. The proposed expansion will be developed in general accord with that concept plan, if the special use permit is approved. The location map is Attachment A; the concept plan is Attachment B.

 

Petition:

Request for special use permit to allow for expansion of an existing church in accordance with Section 13.2.2.10 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for churches in the R-1 residential zoning district. The property, described as Tax Map 76 Parcel 51B contains 4.0 acres, is located in the Samuel Miller Magisterial District at 1284 Sunset Avenue and in the EC Entrance Corridor Overlay District. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Neighborhood Density in Neighborhood Five. General usage for Neighborhood Density is residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses. General usage within the R-1 zoning district permits low density residential development at 1 dwelling unit per acre.

 

Petitioners:

The applicant and owner is the Board of Trustees of the Berean Baptist church represented by architect Alton L. Carver.

 

Character of the Area:

The church is located at the southwest corner of Old Lynchburg Road and Sunset Avenue.

This portion of Neighborhood Five includes some residential development, with higher density housing located closer to the Charlottesville city limits, and undeveloped areas. Non-residential development in the area includes The Country Green Store, other religious institutions, and the Albemarle County Office Building – 5th Street.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of Section 13.2.2 of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval with conditions.

 

Zoning History:

The parcel was zoned Agricultural prior to the 1980 Comprehensive Plan. In 1980, a R-1 residential zoning was applied to the property.

 

Comprehensive Plan:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Neighborhood Density in Neighborhood Five. General usage for Neighborhood Density is residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses. General usage within the R-1 zoning district permits low density residential development at 1 dwelling unit per acre.

The Neighborhood Model:

Because the special use permit is for an existing property with a single building addition, only these principles of the Neighborhood Model apply:

 

 

Pedestrian Orientation

The property is served by a multi-use asphalt path along Old Lynchburg Road. 

Neighborhood Centers

Churches act as neighborhood centers.

Building and Spaces of Human Scale

The addition is two  stories and of a similar scale to the existing church.

Relegated Parking

Berming and mature landscaping from the church’s initial site plan work to relegate parking, though the parking is located between the church and the Entrance Corridor. As this addition does not trigger an addition to the parking provided, and the addition is to the rear of the existing church, a reasonable opportunity to relegate parking does not exist.

Site Planning that Respects Terrain

The addition is proposed in a location that respects terrain and generates minimal impacts to the site.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

The church’s worship and fellowship areas remain the same. The largest area of the addition is the gymnasium which is large enough to accommodate a half-court basketball court. This addition does not require more parking because the areas of assembly in the church are not expanding. In addition, a firewall is required between the existing church and the addition, such that the fellowship and worship areas cannot be expanded.

 

The Berean Baptist congregation anticipates a fundraising drive and implementing much of the work and construction for the addition themselves. Therefore, they are requesting an extension of the standard time frame from two-years to five years. This is reflected in the conditions below.

 

This review was conducted with consideration of The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 which states:

 

No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that

imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution – (A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

 

Staff’s Address of each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 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; 

Staff has not identified any detriment to adjacent property that would result from the new building. 

 

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

The proposal is compatible with the site and surrounding areas. 

           

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

An expansion of the existing use, which has been in place much longer than other uses in the vicinity, is in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance.

 

            with the uses permitted by right in the district;

Religious uses support R-1 zoning and the associated uses permitted by-right.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare. 

Staff does not have concerns regarding public health, safety, and general welfare in relation to the proposed special use permit.

 

Engineering and Zoning Comments

 

Zoning has determined that sufficient parking exists on the site. The proposed addition and the parking regulations contained in the ordinance do not require a change in the parking required. A minor site plan amendment will be required for the expansion if the special use permit if approved.

 

The application plan notes that an old septic tank and drain field will be removed, as it is located in the area where the addition is proposed. It is the church’s intent to connect to the public sewer system and abandon the existing septic drain field before construction begins on the addition. The church currently uses the septic system, but is connected to public water. The church is working with the Albemarle County Service Authority and VDOT to obtain easements that would allow them to tie into an existing public sewer line located in the adjacent Mosby Mountain subdivision (please see Attachment C for an update of the church’s efforts to tie into the public sanitary sewer). Since the proposal (addition) is intended to support existing church programs and will not significantly increase the uses on the site and given the applicant’s pursuit of a connection to the public sewer, staff believes that a condition requiring connection to public sewer is not necessary in this case.

 

SUMMARY

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

 

The proposed building makes efficient use of the existing church and  property

There is adequate parking available on site to address this use. 

The church will continue to provide a neighborhood service to surrounding residential areas.

 

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions set forth in Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance and recommends approval with conditions.

 

Recommended conditions of approval:

 

1. The improvements and the scale and location of the improvements shall be developed in general accord with the concept plan dated August 8, 2005.

 

2. The floor plan of the proposed addition will be no larger than 5,100 square feet.

 

3. The construction of the church expansion, as shown on the application plan dated August 8, 2005 and titled Berean Baptist Church, shall commence within five years of the approval of this special use permit or this special use permit shall expire.

 

4. There shall be no daycare center or private school provided on site without approval of a separate special use permit.

 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 A.                 Location Map

B.                 Concept Plan

C.                 Applicant Letter Regarding Public Sewer Connection

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