Albemarle County Planning Commission

November 22, 2005

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, November 22, 2005, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Rodney Thomas, Pete Craddock, Jo Higgins, Bill Edgerton, Chairman; Calvin Morris and Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair.  Absent was David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia. 

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Stephen Waller, Senior Planner; Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Amelia McCulley, Zoning and Current Development Director/Zoning Administrator and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.

Public Hearing Items:

 

SP 2004-004 Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center (Signs #89,92,94) - Request for a special use permit to allow establishment of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center of Virginia, in accordance with Zoning Ordinance Sections 10.2.2.49 and 13.2.2.13, which allow for a historical center, and modification to Section 5.1.42.  In addition to a 15,000 square foot building, trails and constructed exhibits are proposed. Special events and festivals may also be requested.  The park property, Tax Map 62 Parcel 23, contains a total of approx. 102 acres, and is zoned RA, Rural Areas, R-1, Residential and EC, Entrance Corridor, and Flood Hazard Overlay. The proposed site is located on approximately 18 acres at the northern end of Darden Towe Park, on the west side of Stony Point Road (Route 20 North), approximately one-half mile north of the intersection with the Richmond Road (Route 250 East), in the Rivanna Magisterial District.   The Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan designates this area as Parks and Greenways, and Neighborhood Density Residential (3 - 6 d.u. per acre) in Neighborhood Three. (Rebecca Ragsdale)

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2004-004, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, was deferred from their October 4 meeting.

 

Ms. Ragsdale summarized the staff report.  (See staff report.)

 

 

1.       The site shall be developed in general accord with all sheets of the plan entitled “Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center,” revised October 18, 2005 and prepared by Nelson, Byrd, Woltz. Setbacks indicated in the table on sheets L3.1 and L3.2 do not set increased minimum setbacks.

2.       The top of the Lookout Tower, measured in elevation above mean sea level, shall not exceed [AMSL + 35].  The approved height shall at no time be taller than the tallest tree within 25 feet of the Lookout Tower, and shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the pole above the pre-existing natural ground elevation.

3.       A maximum of 12 special events, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.i, are authorized per calendar year.

4.       A maximum of 4 festivals, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.j, are authorized per calendar year.

5.       A lighting plan and a landscaping plan shall be submitted, reviewed, and approved by the Architectural Review Board prior to final site plan development plan approval.

6.       In accordance with Section 32.7.9.9, a 20% tree canopy shall be required for the site based on the disturbed area for the historical center building, parking, and access road.

7.       Prior to any grading or construction activity, the limits of the 100-year flood plain and stream buffers, where adjacent to constructed proposed improvements including the amphitheater, timber fort, lookout tower, entrance road and retaining wall, shall be flagged at 10-foot intervals by a land surveyor to prevent encroachment land disturbing activity, storage of construction equipment or materials, and actual construction of improvements during construction.

 

 

 

Section 5.1.42.a new historical center structures:

Approval of a modification to allow the historical center structure to exceed the ordinance provision that new buildings associated with historical centers not exceed 1,500 square feet in floor area with the following condition:

 

o        The new historical center structure shall not exceed 15,000 square feet in floor area.

 

Section 5.1.42.g Accessory Uses:  Approval of a modification to allow the floor area of accessory uses within the historical center building to exceed 10% of the total floor area of the structure with the following condition:

 

o        Accessory uses identified in Section 5.1.42(g) shall not exceed 20% of the floor area of the building.                 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked on the last point if staff was recommending because of this project modify those sections of the ordinance.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that Section 5.0, Supplemental Regulations are set up so that in special circumstances where it may be deemed appropriate they can be modified.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if that would just be for this particular project.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that it was just for this particular application.  Staff’s recommendation for approval is based on the fact that it is in the development area.  Also, it is the uniqueness of their space needs with the big keel boat and all of that.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that it was a ten fold increase in what is recommended, and Ms. Ragsdale agreed.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that he was under the impression that there really was no clearly targeted Eastern Connection route, but on page 11 of the site plan there is a nice dashed line coming off of Dorrier Drive saying potential alignment of the Eastern Connector Road.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that was strictly based on the applicant’s submittal.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it was an alignment that has been proposed, but it does not have any special official designation.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that it at least shows us that it will not impair that.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the Commission did previously ask the question on whether it could be accommodated across the site in some form, which was potentially where that came from.

 

Mr. Thomas pointed out that the applicant had previously stated that they would accommodate it.

 

Mr. Morris noted that the applicant had put that in writing.

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that she did not see a condition #2 that talks about the tower.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated the conditions are shown on page 4 of the executive summary in condition #2.  She pointed out that an error was in the last sentence and should be corrected to read “tower” instead of “pole.”

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the applicant has to do filling in on the property if they will have to come back for another permit.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that our engineer reviewed the plan it looked like it may be designed so that fill won’t be required, but they have not gotten the engineering for the whole road.  So it may be that there will be some fill needed, and the applicant would have to return to the Commission.

 

Mr. Benish pointed out that it would require a special use permit for activity fill in the floodplain. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if noise was something that was regulated for special events and the festivals.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that was addressed in the supplemental regulations.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that staff referenced Section 5.1.4.2.i and j and she thought that they talked about things that would not be amplified.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that in the supplemental regulations it was 5.1.4.2.h, the operation shall be subject to daily tours, normal hours opened to the public limited to daytime hours only and outdoor amplified sound shall be prohibited at all times.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that they were assuming that with approval of this that there would never be amplified sound outdoors.  She pointed out that the city residents were very concerned about the noise when someone was contemplating an amphitheater on the river.

 

Mr. Rieley asked if the last version of this have no amplified sound as a condition.  He questioned whether it was still included as a condition of approval.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that it was in the ordinance.  So unless it was modified by the Commission it is a prohibition.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that his view was that it would be a beneficial as they often do as a condition even though it is a little redundant.

 

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

 

Warren Byrd, principal of Nelson-Byrd Landscape Architects, stated that they have been working as the site planners or landscape architects with the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center Board and representatives for several years. He stated that he was present to discuss the design in a little more detail, the design changes and again, answer any design questions that the Commission might have. The plan that he was referring to was the one on the board.  The most important thing is to realize that the change in the last six weeks has been to move from an entrance that was off of Route 20, which was considered problematic, to an entry road that comes through the park and goes by the lower fields and comes back up the slope more of less paralleling where the existing cross country trail is.  Essentially, there is about 1,200 linear feet of road from the point that the gravel road ends to where it arrives at the center plus the parking area.  This change has allowed the center to come through the park, which they feel is a good one, and takes the traffic off of Route 20. It has allowed them to fit the parking into the grades a little more generously and less steeply.  The maximum slope on the parking is now 3 percent and they don’t have any site walls as part of that grading, which they had before.  The issue came up about the fill in the entry road.  They do need about 100 linear feet of fill as they see it now if they want that road to stay at 10 percent or less, which they consider to be a good thing for obvious reasons.  If one is willing to allow the road to be steeper, then they don’t need as much or any fill if they are allowed to let the road go to 15 percent.  So currently they have conceptually conceived it to be a 10 percent or less entry road coming up to the drop off for the Discovery Center.  They also included a much older section, which is probably not in their report, but was located towards their right on the board.  That was to make a point about how the building is meant to sit into the grade.  The building has not been designed in style yet, but it will be tucked into the grade.  There was an issue raised recently about the view from the river.  The idea is that it is a sight line to the river, but there will be existing trees on the river front as they can see in that section that will help filter or baffle that view, plus additional trees that they are planting.  The whole intent of this center is to fit in rather than to stand out, which was the point he was trying to make through that section as well as in the site plan.  The other thing that they have done is accommodated the cross country trails fully in this site plan and have also kept the Rivanna Trail continuous through the property and onto the adjacent property beyond.  The only principle adjustment that they had to make of existing conditions was that the dog park had to be shifted slightly up hill 10 or 15 feet to allow the same amount of square footage that they currently have. 

 

Mr. Craddock asked if shaved off of the Little League fields next to the river, and Mr. Byrd replied that it stayed outside of that area.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if it would just follow the existing trail or was it going to be constructed as new sections.

 

Mr. Byrd stated that it would probably be done for both.  They are keeping it where they can keep it in place, but where there is interruption because of what they have done they would be relocating it.  Also, they did everything they could to avoid all steep slopes or critical slopes since that was an issue.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if the plan has been worked out through the County’s Parks and Recreation Department that maintains this particular site.

 

Mr. Byrd stated yes that it has been reviewed and discussed.  In fact it was through their initiative that they came to introduce this road through the park rather than off of Route 20.  Up to this point until several months ago they were not looking at that favorably, but now they are looking at that favorable.  There was a consideration on the part of engineering that because of the critical slope issue and the fill issue that there was an alternative to come through the existing parking lot, but the Parks and Recreation staff are not in favor of that for obvious reasons.  He pointed out that a certain Master Plan had proposed that a while back. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that on the road way they showed a plan that showed the grades that were on the road, which was very helpful.  It shows a pretty extensive area of disturbance because of the fact that the road is on a steep cross grade as steep as 27 percent.  What cross slope gradients were they using in order to catch up on the side slopes.

 

Mr. Byrd replied that typically they were aiming for 3:1 or broader.

 

Ms. Slaughter pointed out that the maximum was 3:1.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that particularly in a site that totes itself as being environmentally responsive and environmentally educational as a part of its mission that he probably has some room to make the road a littler steeper if they don’t ask for a waiver to fill in the floodplains. From his perspective that would be a reasonable tradeoff.  He noted that he just wanted to put that on the table.

 

Mr. Morris agreed that it was a good point.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the staff report talks about a retaining wall.  He asked where that was located.

 

Mr. Byrd stated that they have taken all of the retaining walls off of the plan.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she had a question about the letter which was the justification for considering this as an historic site.

 

Mr. Byrd suggested that Fran Lawrence might be able to address that better.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that there were a couple of statements that talk about the fact that it is on the Rivanna, a site with archaeological and cultural remains.  She asked if anyone has done any studies on the site.  She asked if there has been a Phase One Archaeological Study done on the site. 

 

Fran Lawrence, resident of 1729 Chesapeake Street in the City of Charlottesville, stated that it was good to be here again.  As they move along with their plans he acknowledged that they would probably be back before the Commission again. He pointed out that he had addressed Ms. Joseph’s questions in an email.  He felt that they were legally connected to the Rivanna River in its entirety.  That is a stretch, but of course the river contains metal pins down where Jefferson had the ford about two miles down the stream.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that they talked about the Rivanna last time and that makes her very uncomfortable.  She acknowledged that they did not have to have this discussion here.

 

Mr. Lawrence stated that their interconnection with that is to some extent they are both a Lewis and Clark Center and an Exploratory Center.  They think that the two are interconnected. They are about the Virginia roots and were also about rivers. 

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that his letter states that the site is at and includes the location of the Montican Village, a site with historic archaeological and cultural remains.  She noted that the Commission has had other projects come before them that have been residential and they have done Phase One Archaeological Studies because they knew there were historic remains on there and they wanted to know what the impact was on the historic archaeological remains on that particular property so that they would not have problems in the future if they came upon an old grave or an old settlement or whatever. It was for Belvedere so that they could go ahead and plan the development.  So because they were basing this on an historic site she wondered if there had been done any Phase One or any sort of archaeological studies or whether they have talked to anyone.  She knew he had talked with Professor Meredise in his letter, but she just wondered had anything been done.  Regarding #4 has anything been done on that.

 

Mr. Lawrence stated that he would answer that in two parts.  One is that Professor Hankman at the University is satisfied that the Village was kind of moved in this area, which includes us.  They know that they found remains at South Ford, which was again up the river about a mile or a mile and a half.  In the same Village, they think on the same site, no there has not been a study.  And should there be study at Trevillians, for instance Trevillans Creek has some sort of concrete thing, shows it clearly came much later than the 18th or 19th century, but was it a mill, bridge or what.  That creek and that bottom should be studied. But, they were not doing any construction in that.  They certainly would be willing to have those studies done before they do any construction in that.  But, the construction would actually be in what would have been plowed fields for decades if not centuries.  But, do they think the bottom at Trevillians Creek is where Indians camped and stayed there?  He would certainly think so. They don’t have any documentation at this time and should they do that?  He replied yes.  And should they do that before there is any construction in the floodplain?  He replied yes.  If they wanted that to be a condition, they would accept that.

 

Ms. Ragsdale asked to add that is also in the supplemental regulations that they put for historic centers that it went along with the site plan process for the site plan agent.  In this case, they would envision that the historic preservation planner would review and comment on these historical centers.  As she stated it would be part of the site plan requirement of the supplemental regulations that the applicant would submit a Phase One if it was determined necessary to survey the areas of the site proposed for the historical center use prior to final site plan approval.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that this was a little different in her mind because they needed to establish that this is an historical site initially.

 

Ms. Ragsdale pointed out that she just wanted to point out that was in there.

 

Mr. Lawrence felt that the issue of whether they were an historical site that he felt that they were because they were part of that Village according to Profession Hankman.  He felt that they were also because of the connection with George Rogers’s home place.  He felt that they are because of their connection to the district of the Southwest Mountains and to Monticello.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that he was not in the district and he was not really adjacent to the Southwest Mountains Historic District.

 

Mr. Lawrence pointed out that in the ordinance that district is not really defined.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that there is a map included.

 

Mr. Lawrence stated that they were in the district that included Monticello, Shadwell and all of those estates.  He stated that he respected their view on this.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that #4 reads that the site is at and includes the location of the Montican Village, Montisumpeno, a site with historic archaeological and cultural remains.  He pointed out that they did not know that and whether that Village was actually located on this site since he had said he did not have any knowledge of any archaeological information.

 

Mr. Lawrence stated that they know from Profession Hankman that the land that is on their site was part of the extended Village.  This Village ran from somewhere around Free Bridge to the North and South Fork of the Rivanna River and that includes their site.  So they are a part of that Village.  Now whether there are architectural remains next to them or on their 18 acres, they are not certain.

 

Mr. Rieley thanked him for his information.

 

Ms. Kay Slaughter stated that in reply to her question, they could certainly have the DHR look at it.  But, according to Jeff Hankman when the park was built there was no review at that time and there was no Phase One.  That is really when the roads were put in.  Some of the roads were probably put in before that when it was a farm.  They were told then that the remains were not there.  But, that the Village is not as they think of Villages now where you say here is Rivanna or Milton, but it really was all along the river and the river was the artery and the highway.  Yes, they have found remains up at the soccer field, but the way he described it to us and the literature they have consulted choose how it extended into Fluvanna.  So it is really a whole area, but he said that there were not any remains as far as he knew on that site.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that it would really be nice to have some sort of written documentation with somebody’s signature on it that is an expert that has looked at this that will give up that.  What she is telling us is that someone told you something.  This is the first one they have done and it is really important that the County get it right.

 

Ms. Slaughter stated that there are extenuating circumstances so she could not have that document or that letter from him.  That is just the way it is.  But, she did want to explain that to them.  They can definitely have DHR come and look and do the Phase One Study.

 

Mr. Lawrence asked to make a couple of quick observations. He thought that no matter what else that was why they were there.  They looked around as to where they ought to be and were delighted that there was an opportunity to connect with the George Rogers birthplace, which is truly an historical property.  He felt that was enough for what they were doing. George Rogers Clark was one of the early explorers, and he and Thomas Walker are the guys who inspired Jefferson to do what he did when he went to Kentucky and he conquered the Northwest Territory.  He was the older brother and was asked to do it first.  The Lewis and Clark expedition started in Louisville when Lewis brought the boat down and met William Clark, who was living with George Rogers Clark.  That was a wonderful evening. He was sure that they ate and drank into the evening and they left the next morning. So George Rogers Clark and the Clark home place is the third best property in the County next to Monticello and Lewis and Clark, and Lewis’ home both at Ivy and also his home at Cloverhills.  It is fourth in line in terms of historical significance.  This has been a great process.  Even if they don’t always agree on things, they have a better idea today and they think a great idea based on their interchange with the Commission.  It has been productive.  On the plan the critical slopes are shown in cross hatches.  From the beginning of this process to today, except for the cross hatches that are on the new road, they have moved all of their development off of the cross hatches.  They have also gotten rid of all of the retaining walls.  It is a project really supportive by the County and City Park and Recreation people.  They hope that the Commission will support it.  Pat Mullaney is here and can address the Darden Towe Committee’s approval of the new access easement and reaffirm with the Commission that our landlord is going to carefully watch the steps of our development to make sure that if they should not succeed that the City and County would have a Darden Towe Park infrastructure that they would love to have. 

 

Kay Slaughter, of 1501 Short 18th Street Charlottesville, stated that she was happy to answer any questions.  She stated that they have been working on this project for about ten years now.  The whole theme was that the trip started here.  The idea of that was because of the connections between the Lewis and Clark and Jefferson to this area and not just at Darden Towe Park or to the Rivanna, but to this area. They wanted to have an exploratory center and not a museum where people would come and just look at things, but where there could be some interaction.  They looked at a number of sites in the City and County and very seriously considered them. But, when they chose this site it was for several reasons.  One of which was the river because of the history of the river. The history in Jefferson’s time and even before that in what they were talking about earlier of it being the highway for Montanan or the Native American Village of the Montanan Nation.  The river was also important for another reason.  They wanted this to look at the east and what did they know of the east with the earlier explorers and think that they were going to find in the west in really looking at the Rivanna River, the James River and then comparing that.  What was that like for them to arrive at the Missouri and Mississippi?  The mountain views were important because the mountains that they would have know would have been the Blue Ridge.  Charlottesville at the time of Lewis and Clark was the west.  We were it.  We were where people had gone from the eastern parts of Virginia and then from there they went to the Rockies.  What they had been doing before they had this center is to involve people with an interactive experience.  Many of the people here have been involved with kids over the past several summers.  There have been hundreds of kids building a replica keel boat, which they have completed. But, they still have 25 other boats that Lewis and Clark used on their trip that they are using with children to learn a little bit about history with real hands on experience.  That is the reason that they chose this site.  They feel that the Commission’s suggestions have been good to kind of get to the basics that they want on this site.  They chose a very sensitive architect and landscape architect because they really respect this site and want to fit into the site.  They don’t want to stand out on the site. They want to use the site in a way that is respectful.  They have said that they will accommodate the eastern connector in any configuration and they hope that the Commission will recommend this and move it forward.  They certainly listened to all of the discussions over making this particular classification and have always said from the beginning that they needed this size building based on what our needs were with the keel boat and the activities that they have planned at the site.  They are supportive of the conditions that staff has recommended.

 

Mr. Edgerton opened the public hearing and invited public comment.

 

Pete Stoll, resident of Key West, stated that he had a couple of issues.  He stated that he did not see the relevance of a tower here, and he would be against the tower.  The second issue is if the eastern connector is important to the County and they really want to have one, perhaps one of the most or maybe the least costly alignments is going to be off of Dorrier Drive.  He would suggest the following to be considered.  Once the County labels this as being historic that is the end of any road ever going through there.  The second thing he would like to see considered is a phased development of this project.  He would say that the critical area is northeast of Trevellians Creek. He did not think that they ought to allow anything to be done there until they decide where the alignment is going to be. Once you do something in there that is the end of the road ever going through there.  But, he really did not have any issues with the use.  He hoped that the Commission would consider those issues.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if there were other members of the public to speak on this issue.  There being none, he closed the public hearing to bring the matter back before the Commission for consideration and action.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that he would just like to throw it on the table with the Commissioners that Mr. Rieley was on CHART and Mr. Morris currently was on CHART.  In their experiences with drawing lines on maps through CHART that probably is, as Mr. Stoll just stated, that probably is the best and most economical path for it to go across.  He asked how enthusiastic was that route accepted by the MPO or was it even accepted by MPO.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that Mr. Morris might have a different view of this, but his feeling was that it never got that far.  It was one of several general routes that were discussed.  He felt that Mr. Stoll makes a good point.  He felt that if they essentially take this route, which has a certain amount of logic to it, out of the equation, it may force the acceptance of a much more disruptive route.

 

Mr. Thomas stated that not only getting down to that point or to that point across the river is going to even be more difficult than getting it across the river with what has been put in front of them.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that there was no inexpensive way to make that connection, but it seems that a phased approach makes some sense because it would allow the expensive part of the project that is going to require a lot of fund raising to move ahead while it would hold out of the project the stick built trails there. He felt that at least one of the critical things is, and he thinks Mr. Stoll is right, an historical designation on that property would be problematic.  Second, he felt that if that land gets tied up with the federal grant money that the foundation has received for this project that it could tie the proposal up in knots for a long time.  It would be an awfully simple and painless way to address that and still let the project move forward.

 

Mr. Morris stated that in today’s CHART informal conversations, as well as some formal, that this location as well as one south of 250 has been talked about.  But, that is why CHART went forward to the MPO with a formal recommendation that we do the Eastern Connector Study yesterday.  The County and the City have forked up money on it, but was disappointed that it might come about in 2007.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that probably from the traffic perspective they could really look at the numbers and the pressure that it was the most pressing traffic pattern that they need.

 

Mr. Thomas agreed that it would relieve a lot of the traffic.

 

Mr. Craddock stated that he did not mind the phasing in part, but he felt that to think that the eastern bypass was going to go through there is probably as about as much as Meadow Creek Parkway ever was being built.  He drives 250 all the time and they have a proposal here for a lot of office buildings right at the corner of 250 and 20.  He felt that it would be irresponsible to drop off another big layer of traffic right there on the little Stony Point Road where they just spent a lot of money to put a sidewalk in instead of making an improvement to the road at least as far as the Elks Lodge.  If they want to phase it in, that is fine if they feel it is important to have a tower on that piece of property. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it may be irrelevant if they follow the idea of the phasing route as it relates to the two structures in the northern part of the park. But, normally when they have special use permits, they see there is a building, building elevations and what these things are going to look like.  He was surprised that the package, unless he missed something, did not include elevations of this tower.  There is a point in the staff report that says that it has to conform to the plan, but inside the plan there was nothing any larger than that.  He asked if there was a reason that they did not require for this project what they would have required for almost any other project.

 

Mr. Benish stated that they have had renderings and cross sections of the buildings.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he was talking about the tower and the fort.

 

Mr. Benish stated that staff felt that was of less of a detail.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that in other words that whatever went up that there would be no reviews as far as the aesthetics was concerned and it would just happen.

 

Mr. Benish stated that staff addressed the conditions of the height of the tower basically.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that height was the only item.

 

Mr. Benish stated that the other aspect that he believed that Pat Mullaney of Parks and Recreation had some oversight over was where improvements are going to be and the types of improvements that are going to be a part of this project.  It was one of the concerns that Parks and Recreation had.  So it was going to be subject to a reiteration with a review by the Parks and Recreation Department.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that it was not a part of the conditions.

 

Mr. Benish stated that it was part of the lease agreement. 

 

Mr. Rieley stated that his reason for raising it as a concern that they be consistent.  He thought about what they put Wendell Wood through on a project that was zoned correctly and he just needed a critical slopes waiver, and they insisted on seeing the buildings and the elevations of the buildings.  The fort is proposed to be a 50 foot square building, which was not an insignificant structure.  The only height limitation is with zoning of 35 feet.  So that is a heck of a building to just find out after they build it what it is going to look like.  They require so much more from other applicants.

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that this is just the special use permit review and they still have provisions that they can see the proposal at the site plan stage.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that at the site plan stage they cannot ask for that.

 

Mr. Benish stated that the Commission has had a number of work sessions and the amount of improvements that were out in this area have actually been reduced over time.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that it was minus a few Indian villages.

 

Mr. Benish stated that staff must have thought that there was a level of comfort on those issues with the Commission.

 

Ms. Joseph asked Mr. Mullaney to come forward to answer some questions.  She asked when he was present last time they talked about whether or not this would be successful for the long haul for a very long time.  She thought that they talked about taking a look at these buildings as they are being designed so that it is something that Parks and Rec could use in the future if they need be. It is kind of interesting that yesterday on the radio there was a little story about Lewis and Clark Bicentennials and how across the country the turn out for these kinds of things is very low.  So she started thinking about this in terms that it was important for him to be included.

 

Mr. Pat Mullaney stated that not just himself, but he actually brought the copy of the lease agreement between the City, the County and Lewis and Clark.  The way it was worded under development by Lewis and Clark Center is, “no improvements of any kind including roadways and parking areas shall be made to the lease ground except with the County and City’s prior written consent both as to the improvements and as to the contractors and subcontractors performing the work.”  It is not just going to be Mike Vess at the City and himself. It is going to be the County, the County Executive’s Office and the Board of Supervisors that are going to give the final approval to anything that is going to happen before it is built.  He heard the Commission talk about the tower, but he did not know what a tower should look like. He did not know how it could be used afterwards.  The tower is something that could, of course, go away.  He stated that he was more concerned about the size of the building because the tower could go away fairly easily.  But, he wanted to give the Commission comfort that it was not just going to be his judgment.  But, it is going to include the full Board of Supervisors and City Council review.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that his interpretation of the lease is that they will have to sign off on any improvements or footprint.

 

Mr. Mullaney stated that he had actually asked Mr. Davis for clarification on that and that was his feelings on that.  It is going to go to the Darden Towe Park Committee that has two Board members and two City Council members.  It will go forth to our Board of Supervisors and City Council with a recommendation from them.  So everybody will get a shot at it.

 

Mr. Rieley asked relative to this point of being able to use the building should it not meet expectations, have you in the past five or ten years every requested a building of this kind of scale and configuration as a part of your CIP process.

 

Mr. Mullaney replied no that he has not.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that this was something he would try to back into and try to make the best out of it if it came his way, but it was not something that he would ask for.

 

Ms. Higgins asked what the provisions in the lease were because this is a land lease, which obviously assumes that structures will be added to the land.  What does it say about how the buildings are handled at the end of the termination or the reversion on the lease?  She felt that should clearly be spelled out.

 

Mr. Mullaney stated that it is.  It says that any improvements to the land that were not approved by the City and the County will be removed by Lewis and Clark at their expense. 

 

Ms. Higgins asked what about at the end of its use or if they vacate or terminate the lease in any way, then they can’t take structures away necessarily.  She asked if it addressed that.

 

Mr. Mullaney stated that if the County wanted to use the structure, then they would have to come back.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that there is no guarantee that the projections for this place are going to hold up.  If they don’t there are several scenarios.   One of which is that other localities have done by supporting the ongoing operation through tax revenues.  One is to probably have more commercial type of events to raise money and other places have done that kind of thing.  Another possibility that they need to be cognizant of is that it will come back to the County and the City.  Whether or not this is a useful building or one that they would go out and generate is a significant piece of information.  He stated that he appreciated the issue being brought up.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if the 15,000 square foot building would be treated as a maximum, but even that building will have to go through the committee, go back to the Board and the City as the landowners under the requirements of the lease, and maybe they will say at this time they only want to do 12,000 square feet or 5,000 square feet.  They are only setting an upper limit.  They will have to go through that process even to approve and justify that.  Without flexibility at that limit then the property owner, which just happens to be the County in this case and not a property owner that walked in off the street, that they have a plan for this.  When she looked at the break down of the spaces and whether the building was reused or not, they might think build something at 15,000 square feet and maybe it will be a big community center in the future.  She felt that would be the board’s goal.  She felt that this was well thought through and that they were just looking at the justifiable parts.  If a tower was designated there, she had assumed that the tower was going to be composite represented at the time that they were relating to. So it is not going to be a glass tower with a tassel on top or something like that.  It has to go through the process under the lease even before it can be considered.  They don’t have an architectural element here to decide what looks historical or not.   But, she did not have a problem with that.

 

Mr. Morris stated that they have not touched on Mr. Stoll’s comment that once this is designated as historic that puts a whole new light on anything.  However, do they think it is fair to hold them up while waiting on the County and the City and VDOT to do their little thing?

 

Ms. Higgins stated that she was of the same mode, but was going to ask Mr. Benish one other question. Historically there was an eastern connector that preceded the early ‘90’s.  It was actually in one of the plans, but it went away.  Now the discussion of this connector has come back again.  She thought that from an earlier discussion from a Planning Commission standpoint that they wanted to make sure that it could be accommodated and that this would not be in what they perceived as a direct path.  But, there again it is a City/County owned property and if their goals and our goals are to address the transportation issue there is nothing to preclude it from going here.  Whether it ends up here based on a line drawn on a map is it is going to be years and years in the making.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that he agreed with Mr. Craddock’s comment that dumping all of that extra traffic onto Route 20 or Stony Point Road defies logic at this point.

 

Mr. Morris stated that he was absolutely right, but that was discussion for another day.

 

Mr. Thomas applauded the board and the members of the Lewis and Clark organization for even attempting to raise the enthusiastic of the Charlottesville because most don’t have any idea of what Lewis and Clark did.  He would hope that over a period of time that they could encourage the local people to find out what Lewis and Clark was all about.  He felt that it was very important for that to be part of our local area because it was all over the inside of Monticello.  Inside there are many of Lewis and Clark’s Indian antiques.   He felt that the questions that they have been asking as a Commission are very necessary.  He felt that it was an important historical part of Albemarle County.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that he felt that way, too.  He felt that the story of Lewis and Clark was an important one to convey and to celebrate locally.  He felt that it is an example of good people with good intentions coming forward with a proposal that is 735 fret with a prospect of intended negative consequences.  He has a lot of concerns about lots of aspects of this project about the specific points that are pertinent to this special use permit because that is the only reason why they are here.  His first concern and he really raised his eyebrows when he was reading the staff report because it implied that they crafted the zoning text amendment for historic centers around this proposal.  It was the exact opposite that was the case.  We had lots of discussions and went to great lengths to make the point that they were dealing with a zoning text amendment for historic centers throughout the entire RA district. Every piece of property in the RA district will be affected by this.  They made the point repeatedly that if the Lewis and Clark Center did not meet the criteria set forth in this that it might look at a different mechanism for achieving this goal, for instance, in a rezoning.  One of the important criteria that they talked about was a nexus between the site and the interpretation of the site.  He thought at the last meeting when they had heard some of the connections that were positive, he thought that they were a stretch.  He felt that Mr. Lawrence used that term appropriately a little while ago.  But, he did not fault the applicants for stretching a little bit.  It is an indication of the enthusiasm for this project. But, the last time they heard from both staff and the applicant that Lewis and Clark traveled in part by river, that this site was on a river, and therefore, that was sufficient reason to call this an historic site.  They have heard lots of other ones.  He was particularly taken by the letter that justified the tower by saying that one could view the Blue Ridge Mountains as a surrogate for the Rocky Mountains.  Once again, he felt calling that a stretch is putting it kindly.  The test for whether any site is suitable for a historic center is not whether or not you can draw some tortured connections between the physical attributes of the general area of an Indian Village that could be anywhere between here and Fluvanna County and the specific events that are being interpreted.  The test is really whether you are interpreting historic information particularly about this site.  In his view, this site does not meet that test.  Interpreting this proposal in this way he thinks will very likely come back to bite us because it is not the first one that they are going to see. If they allow these kinds of very vague connections to be their criteria, he felt that they will be eventually sorry that they did.  That being said, it is pretty clear from their conversations last week that was a minority position that needs to be articulated.  But, he also thinks if this proposal does go forward they should look very carefully at the ways in which the parameters are and what the conditions are.  He felt that the idea of requiring phasing is very sensible.  The area north of Trevillians Creek has two of the most questionable elements in this park.  He had heard someone refer to it as an historical theme park without the rides.  To delay that part of the project and let it be thought about a little bit more at the same time that the work is going on for the Eastern Connector would be very prudent.  It may turn out that there are all kinds of reasons why the Eastern Connector cannot go there or why it shouldn’t go there.  But, there may be reasons, including the reason that the Lewis and Clark Historical Center is a higher and better use than the roadway. He stated that he was certainly open to that possibility.  But, it seems that those arguments can be made and there is not rush on that part of the project.  It would be prudent and sensible if they are going to approve this to approve the part south of Trevillians Creek.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that in response to his reference to how this would affect other applications that she did not perceive at all that they were making a use consideration.  She thought they have under consideration a special use permit for a particular use in a particular zoning and that was before the Commission.  But, the way he had worded it was that he was questioning or hinting that they should be looking at the use and that it does not meet the definition in the ordinance.  Not to put Mr. Kamptner or Ms. McCulley on the post, but that is a zoning requirement or decision and she did not know if the Planning Commission could say that they don’t think it meets the definition and won’t allow it under a special use permit.  She asked that they separate this.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that when this request first came before the Commission it came as a community center and the zoning administrator approved that designation and they took issue with it.  Now the request is back before the Commission.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that now they have clearly defined what that is.  She felt that their role here is not to decide whether the use fits the definition, and she just wanted to ask Mr. Kamptner the question.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that the Planning Commission wrote the definition and were the ones who set the parameters.  He guaranteed that if this request had come to them as something that could be justified on the basis of we have a historic site because it is on a river and people used rivers to explore the west, he would never have voted for it.  That was not his understanding of what that zoning text was intended to be.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that she understands that, except the Commission crafts and recommends adoption of a lot of zoning text language to the Board of Supervisors.  But, it is not necessarily in their preview to make the designation of what meets it and what does not.  So she wanted to ask that question of Mr. Kamptner.  If they denied or recommended it unfavorably based on it not meeting the criteria, then again she felt that the assumption here is that it does.  What they are here to do is say how do they address the impacts and how do they craft it if the Commission decides to approve it within that framework.  If it does not meet the definition, then they can’t even consider it for a special use permit.  She asked to be relieved of that question.

 

Mr. Rieley suggested that Mr. Kamptner answer the question, too.  He pointed out that every time the Commission grants a special use permit or a waiver of critical slopes they are required to make a judgment about whether or not that use should be allowed.   He pointed out that she did not have to agree, but in his judgment it does not meet it.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that use determinations are made by the zoning administrator.  Therefore, he would pass the question over to Ms. McCulley.

 

Ms. McCulley asked that the question be clarified.

 

Mr. Edgerton pointed out that in the second to last paragraph of the staff report it says, “The zoning administrator has previously determined that the proposed Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center meets the definition of historical center as defined by the ordinance.”  The question is has that determination been made.

 

Ms. McCulley stated that determination was made.  There is not a separate written official determination.  It was made as part of her review of the special use permit some time ago.  In terms of the approach that she takes to these, she is not an historian.  It is just like reviewing a plat that a surveyor or engineer has submitted.  She is not going to check behind them on their work.  They are the professionals and they are sealing it.  She was not going to check behind and make sure that there are specific archaeological features and things like that because she was not an historian.  She is taking their word for it.  The primary thing that she heard out of their five point letter is the adjacency to the George Rogers’ Clark birthplace.

 

Mr. Rieley pointed out that he did not go on the Lewis and Clark expedition.  From his perspective it was not that pertinent at this stage of the game.  He felt what was pertinent was the kinds of conditions and the sequence or phasing.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that it may be redundant, but she felt that it would be necessary to add some sort of condition making sure that there is some kind of collaboration with the City and County Parks Department to ensure that the buildings proposed could be reused for some kind of recreational purposes for the use by the City and County.  She also felt that it was important that a Phase One Archaeological survey be done on this site to make sure where they are proposing the parking areas and everything else is not on some sensitive archaeological historic site.  She also felt that there should be some sort of condition dealing with any kind of noise, particularly the outdoor amplified noise between certain hours.  She felt it was important because what they heard last time was that the noise along the waterways travels very clearly and for great distances.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that clearly the sound ordinance applies, but in addition the Commission has often added a condition saying that no amplified noise be allowed.

 

Mr. Edgerton felt that staff had made it very clear this evening that all of this would be redundant, but at the same time he could not see any reason not to include it in the conditions.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she had extreme sympathies about what Mr. Rieley was saying that they don’t have documentation that tells us that this is a historic site.  They have someone’s renditions of conversations that they have had and it makes here very uncomfortable in designating this as an historic site and the fact that the ordinance is so clear on that.

 

Mr. Rieley stated that since this is the first historic center that it will be used as a model.  It has to be.  They are establishing the precedent by which future centers will go by.  He felt that the way in which this is interpreted and designated as a historic center has to be consistent because they can’t then tighten it back down and say no, they were just talking about places like Pine Knot where they are actually interpreting that site.   He agreed with Ms. Joseph about those conditions.  But, he would like to raise the issue that Mr. Stoll raised again for just having the special use permit cover the area south of Trevillians Creek.

 

Mr. Edgerton pointed out that the staff report on the top of page 4 reads, “It is important to remind the Commission that the special use permit procedure by its very nature predisposes that a given use may be allowed on parcel X, but not on parcel Y within the same zoning district.  Therefore, any action on this special use permit would not set a precedent in the rural areas.”  He asked if Mr. Rieley was not convinced that was the case.

 

Mr. Rieley replied no, but that was a separate issue.  The issue that he was talking about is simply designating the area for the special use permit is that part of the property that is south of the creek because it allows the majority of the project to go ahead on the intensive part of the property.  The only thing it leaves out is really a fort and a tower, which are two of the most questionable parts of this to begin with.  The trade-off between delaying the tower and the fort relative to the importance of this transportation connection he feels is pretty clear.  Therefore, he recommended that they approve the part that is not going to be a potential obstruction.

 

Ms. Higgins agreed with all of the recommendations that Ms. Joseph made, but felt that it might be splitting hairs.  A special use permit that allows a historical center she would not think is the same as saying we are identifying this as the historical site of “the site.”  That is not within our authority to do.  The Commission cannot go out and point at the ground and say that this right here is an historical site.  They are talking about a center that has a relationship and an adjacency.  So when they say giving it historical designation, she did not think that was within the Commission’s authority to do.

 

Mr. Rieley noted that was her interpretation and he felt that it was a risk.

 

Ms. Joseph stated what they needed was some sort of documentation that would substantiate the fact that this was an historic site.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that she did not conclude that by allowing a special use permit it does not make it an historical site.  When they do a Phase One Archaeological Study if they find remnants or foundations or something along the stream that may be more, but she did not think that the special use permit makes it the same as an historic building.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that he would like to add something that was nothing too technical because he has not looked at the historic site designation rules, but granting the special use permit for an historical center is not equivalent to a designated historical site.  But, a determination that a historical center can go at this site there is at least an explicit finding that there is an historical resource either on this site or adjacent to it.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that they could make the connection that the adjacency should have some sort of relevance to the historic site that is going and requesting the special use permit.

 

Mr. Rieley asked to put this in context of a little bit of history because this is not unprecedented.  When the original master plan for the park was done his office had worked with Mr. Byrd. They brought the master plan to the County. At that time Jerry Fisher was the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and he told them that a road had been planned to make a connection from the east and pointed to a couple of possibilities of ways that was planned to go.  He asked if they had taken into consideration that the park was to get federal funding. They admitted that they had not. He insisted that the designation for this park that went for the application for federal funds did not include that land, and it did not include that land.  It took out that area to the north and also the river corridor.  It was very specific for the exact same reason that he did not want to complicate the process unnecessarily.  He felt that it was very much the same issue.  It just seems that the trade-off between building this tower and fort immediately and allowing the rest of the project to move ahead as opposed to going ahead and approving the parts of it that are not going to be a potential obstruction.  They don’t know if it is going to be an obstruction or not. But, it is a potential.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that all of the Commissioners were in agreement with that, and asked that they move forward.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the existing athletic fields used microphones or amplified sound.

 

Mr. Craddock stated that they did not.

 

Mr. Rieley suggested that they include both his and Ms. Joseph’s suggested conditions.

 

Mr. Kamptner asked before a motion was made that staff get clarification on either the phasing or what is being done with the area north of Trevillians Creek.  He asked if it was being phased of if the recommendation was that the fort and the tower not be approved as part of this special use permit. 

 

Mr. Rieley suggested that the Commission be very clear about that.  He did not think there were any objections to building trails in that area that was consistent with the Byrd Nelson Woltz plan.  However, they should be built by the County.  They should not be spending money that can be attached to federal funds on that property.  So the special use permit should only apply to the area south of Trevillians Creek, which was his view.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that Mr. Rieley had made a very convincing argument that a prohibition of applying or using any federal grants in that area, which was consistent with what previously was required when they planned the original park.

 

Ms. Higgins questioned whether the Commission can actually carve out a piece of property and exclude it.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that really what they were doing is delineating where the special use permit activities can take place.  Related to that, he stated that condition 1 needs to be correspondingly revised once it gets to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the end of condition 1 should say, “the improvements shown on the referenced plan that are north of the creek are not covered under this permit.”

 

Mr. Kamptner agreed that it would be towards that effect, but that staff can craft some condition language between now and the Board.

 

Mr. Morris moved for approval of SP-2004-004, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center with all amendments that are stipulated by staff and that have been discussed.

 

Ms. Higgins seconded the motion.  To clarify the motion she stated that it included the five conditions that are in the staff report with the following three changes:

 

Ms. Joseph asked that the condition concerning the collaboration between the City and County Parks be added.

 

Ms. Higgins reiterated that the lease agreement collaboration language be inserted as a condition.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that she was very specific that they look at these buildings proposed so that they could be constructed if they need an alternative use at some point in time to include both the County and City.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that she did not think they could require that because the City has not even responded to this based on the input.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that the City owns part of this and they were just being nice.

 

Ms. Higgins agreed.

 

Mr. Morris amended the motion to include the additional conditions just discussed.

 

Ms. Higgins seconded the motion.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that she could not support this because she cannot see the connection between the historic aspects of this site and what is going to happen on the site.

 

Mr. Rieley agreed with Ms. Joseph’s point, but really applauded their hard work.  He felt that the motion that was coming out of the discussion was sensible.

 

There being no further discussion, the role was called.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5:2.  (Commissioners Joseph and Rieley voted nay.)    

 

Mr. Kamptner suggested that the Commission take separate actions on the two modifications.

 

Mr. Morris moved to approve the two modifications as requested.

 

Ms. Higgins seconded the motion.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5:2.  (Commissioners Joseph and Rieley voted nay.)   

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2004-004, Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center, would go to the Board of Supervisors on January 4, 2006 with a recommendation for approval.

 

In Summary from the Approved Action Memo:

 

Regarding Action on SP-2004-004:

                 

Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Ms. Higgins seconded that SP-2004-004, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, be approved only to include the portion of the request south of the creek and subject to the following conditions recommended by staff and amended by the Planning Commission:

 

  1. The site shall be developed in general accord with all sheets of the plan entitled “Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center,” revised October 18, 2005 and prepared by Nelson, Byrd, Woltz. Setbacks indicated in the table on sheets L3.1 and L3.2 do not set increased minimum setbacks. The improvements shown on the referenced plan that are north of the creek are not covered under this permit.
  2. The top of the Lookout Tower, measured in elevation above mean sea level, shall not exceed [AMSL + 35].  The approved height shall at no time be taller than the tallest tree within 25 feet of the Lookout Tower, and shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the tower above the pre-existing natural ground elevation.
  3. A maximum of 12 special events, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.i, are authorized per calendar year.
  4. A maximum of 4 festivals, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.j, are authorized per calendar year.
  5. A lighting plan and a landscaping plan shall be submitted, reviewed, and approved by the Architectural Review Board prior to final site plan development plan approval.
  6. In accordance with Section 32.7.9.9, a 20% tree canopy shall be required for the site based on the disturbed area for the historical center building, parking, and access road.

7.       Prior to any grading or construction activity, the limits of the 100-year flood plain and stream buffers, where adjacent to constructed proposed improvements including the amphitheater, timber fort, lookout tower, entrance road and retaining wall, shall be flagged at 10-foot intervals by a land surveyor to prevent encroachment land disturbing activity, storage of construction equipment or materials, and actual construction of improvements during construction.

8.       Outdoor amplified noise is not allowed on site.

9.       As stipulated in the lease agreement between the applicant and the City and County, the proposed improvements are to be reviewed by the City and County prior to construction to make sure there are alternative uses available for the improvements should the venture fail.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5:2.  (Commissioners Joseph and Rieley voted nay.)    

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that SP-2004-004, Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center, would go to the Board of Supervisors on January 4, 2006 with a recommendation for approval.

 

Action on Modifications to Sections 5.1.42 and 5.1.42.g:

                 

Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Ms. Higgins seconded, to grant the following two modifications from Section 5.1.42 and 5.1.42.g as follows:

 

Section 5.1.42.a new historical center structures:

Approval of a modification to allow the historical center structure to exceed the ordinance provision that new buildings associated with historical centers not exceed 1,500 square feet in floor area with the following condition:

 

1. The new historical center structure shall not exceed 15,000 square feet in floor area.

 

Section 5.1.42.g Accessory Uses:

Approval of a modification to allow the floor area of accessory uses within the historical center building to exceed 10% of the total floor area of the structure with the following condition:

 

1. Accessory uses identified in Section 5.1.42(g) shall not exceed 20% of the floor area of the building.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5:2.  (Commissioners Joseph and Rieley voted nay.)    

 

 

The Board took a break at 8:01 p.m.

 

View May 24, 2005 minutes

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