Albemarle County Planning Commission

May 24, 2005


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session and meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 4:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were William Rieley, Rodney Thomas, Calvin Morris, Jo Higgins, Pete Craddock, Bill Edgerton, Chairman; and Marcia Joseph, Vice-Chair. Mary V. Hughes represented David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Lee Catlin, Community Relations Manager; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Greg Kamptner, Assistant County Attorney; Frederick C. Dock, of Meyer, Mohaddes Associates; Philip Erickson, of Community Design Architecture and Harrison B. Rue, Executive Director of Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission and Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Edgerton called the regular meeting to order at 4:20 p.m. and established a quorum.


Public Hearing Item:


ZTA 1999-006 Special Events – Request to amend Section 3.1, Definitions; amend Section 4.12.6, Minimum number of required parking spaces for scheduled uses; amend Section 4.15.4, Signs authorized by sign permit; amend Section 4.15.8, Regulations applicable in the RA, VR, R-1 and R-2 zoning districts (signs); amend Section 10.2.2, By special use permit; add Section 5.1.43, Special events; of Chapter 18, Zoning, of the Albemarle County Code.  This ordinance would amend Section 3.1, Definitions, to add a definition of “special events,” which would be one- to three-day events such as meetings, conferences, banquets, weddings, dinners and private parties, where attendance would be by invitation or reservation, for up to 150 persons; amend Section 4.12.6, Minimum number of required parking spaces for scheduled uses, to provide the minimum number of parking spaces required for special events; amend Section 4.15.4, Signs authorized by sign permit, to establish the frequency and duration of temporary signs for special events and to expressly provide when temporary signs must be removed and no longer displayed; amend Section 4.15.8, Regulations applicable in the RA, VR, R-1 and R-2 zoning districts (signs), to establish 8 square feet as the maximum size of temporary signs for special events; amend Section 10.2.2, By special use permit, to allow special events in the Rural Areas zoning district by special use permit; and add Section 5.1.43, Special events, to establish supplementary regulations pertaining to the prerequisites for and the operation of special events.  (Rebecca Ragsdale)


Ms. Ragsdale summarized the request.  (Attachment:  ZTA-1999-006 Staff Report) 


Mr. Edgerton asked what the other four temporary signs could be used for.


Mr. Kamptner stated that the other four temporary signs would be used for the existing authorized temporary signs, which can be issued for up to four for each establishment per year.  Those temporary signs are valid up to 15 days.  The 12 temporary sign permits would only be valid for the duration of that particular event. 


Mr. Edgerton asked that the language be clarified to say these special event temporary signs would be in addition to the four temporary signs that are already allowed.


Mr. Kamptner stated that staff would clarify that language.



Ms. Joseph stated that if the applicant did not specify what they are going to use this for that it would just be like a blanket special use permit for a special event.  Then at zoning compliance time the applicant would determine what it will be used for.


Ms. Ragsdale stated that specifically the event, the date and the number of the expected attendees. During the special use permit process they would be looking at whether it is appropriate for any type of these events to occur there.  If they want flexibility to have a wedding, corporate dinner, or uses that are similar and they don’t know who their clients or customers will be that will be coming there, then that will be specified at the zoning clearance stage. The zoning clearance is also a way to track the number of people, ensure the clients and track the number of events for the year with the date of the event. 



Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any comments or questions for staff.


Mr. Joseph stated that she had talked with Jan Sprinkle regarding some of the aspects of things that would be considered accessory to agricultural use that would not be under this provision. Several examples of that would be if someone wanted to do a corn maze, pick your own strawberries or raspberries and hayrides. That type of use would not be regulated by this.  Those uses would still be allowed and considered part of the accessory to the agricultural use.


Mr. Edgerton opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Althea Hurt Randolph, applicant, stated that she was very happy that the Commission was finally hearing this request, but she was very sorry that it has taken such a long time.  In the interim, she has gotten married, moved to the site and now has a family.  The following were points that she did not have any problems with.


She pointed out that following were things that she did not like and had concerns with.

·         She never wanted to have to submit a site plan.               

·         She opposed having to file an application for every single special event.  Since she did not want to be a wedding coordinator, she disliked the idea that you would have to have a permit.  Any sort of hurdle she would like to not have.

·         Under d) 1, it says structures used for special events, it has to be a structure that has been in existence, etc. Down at the bottom of the page it says modifications to farm buildings or structures as defined in Virginia Code, Section 36-97 shall allow the structure to revert to an agricultural use.  One of the things that she wants to do is to take an existing pool house that is near a pool that was filled in with dirt some 40 years ago.  It would be a wonderful place to convert into bathrooms.  She questioned whether the pool house was located 1,000 feet away from anything else.  It would be a modification to a structure and it would not revert back to an agricultural use. But, it was never an agricultural use.

·         Under parking, it says that the special use permit may require by condition that the applicant provide a surety or other guarantee in an amount deemed necessary by the zoning administrator to be sufficient to assure the reseeding or restoration.  That appears to be a bit overreaching.  If she wanted to pave her backyard for her agricultural use they could not do anything about it.  It just does not seem right that if she puts in gravel that she would then have to post a bond. 

·         She had some concerns regarding the number of special events a year. If the rehearsal dinner was on Friday night and the wedding was on Saturday, then that would be one event.  But if family A wanted to have a rehearsal dinner on Friday night and family B wanted to have a wedding on Saturday, then that would be two events.  So 12 events per year means that you have a New Year’s Eve party, some company’s Christmas party, some company’s Christmas luncheon, internal medicine department decides to have their retreat and then four weddings.  Due to the cost of complying with all of the requirements, she did not feel that there would be very many applicants interested in doing this for only 12 events per year.  Therefore, she suggested that the County should not make it too hard to obtain this permit because no many people will stay in this business. Therefore, she asked that the County not restrict this to 12 events per year.  In addition, she opposed the limitation of 150 people per event.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there were any questions for the applicant.


Ms. Higgins asked how many events she thought would be enough.


Mrs. Randolph felt that it ought to at least allow two events per weekend, but actually she did not think that a number should be put on it.  She suggested that the limitation be that there could only be 12 events of a certain size because a rehearsal dinner of 40 people was not a big deal. If someone goes to the expense to do this she felt that they should not be so limited.  If someone goes to the expense of getting their home ready for garden week, which she felt was similar to her proposal, that she felt that they should be able to get the people through there and have a lot of events and then be able to leave town.


Ms. Joseph asked since this was in the supplementary regulations does that mean that they change that per applicant.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there was any other member of the public present that wanted to speak on this matter.  There being no public comment, the matter was placed before the Commission.


Mr. Kamptner stated that under Section 5.1 is the ability to waive that requirement.  The applicant would need to ask to waive the limitation of 12, which was selected because that was what was in the farm winery regulations.


Ms. Joseph stated that this would not limit someone to 12.  If they could come in with a reasonable request that makes sense because it was site specific in whatever they were doing, then that number could increase.


Mr. Kamptner stated yes, and that the Commission could impose additional conditions on the waiver.


Mr. Thomas asked if the event could last more than two or more days.


Ms. Higgins asked if they could define events.


Mr. Kamptner stated that it already allows up to 3 days.


Ms. Higgins questioned if Garden Week would fall under this category.  She pointed out that it was advertised and many people visit the homes.  She questioned the wording, “lawful conforming structures” and if they were trying to limit it to structures that comply with current setbacks.  She voiced this concern because staff has to go through these concerns.  She suggested using the wording that “the exterior is maintained.”  She felt that if an existing structure is not safe and not usable that they shouldn’t encourage the structure to be restored.


Mr. Thomas stated that it sounds like this is too restrictive for the purpose that this particular applicant wants to use it.  Overall, it is just too restrictive and too broad.  If he was the planner and had to interpret this that he would probably never have someone plan a wedding.  He felt that it would not work.  It is just too restrictive for some reason.


Mr. Craddock asked if Clifton has a lot more events and a lot more people.


Mr. Benish stated that Clifton’s situation is where those types of uses are considered accessory to a by right primary use, which is an inn.  Therefore, it does not require a special use permit.  For a resident to be able to do this on a regular basis it would require a special use permit. 


Mr. Rieley suggested that the Commission go through some of these regulations and try to form a consensus.  He agreed with Ms. Higgins about d)1 and iii) on page 14 that the structure shall be restored as faithfully as possible. 


Mr. Edgerton agreed.


Ms. Joseph stated that the idea was to be able to reuse or for adaptive reuse of historic structures.  She felt that was where that came from.


Mr. Kamptner stated that the regulations as written are limited to historic structures. 


Ms. Higgins felt that the intent was a good one here, but she could see it being hard to interpret and more restrictive.


Mr. Rieley felt that it was reasonable to say that this should apply to uses that are now conforming within the ordinance. He stated that if you read it with medications to farm buildings or structure, it clearly does not apply to the pool house that Mrs. Randolph is talking about.


Mr. Kamptner stated that if it was not lawful and conforming, then it was illegal.  That would include a house that was built 3 years ago that is set back 5 feet from the right-of-way.


Ms. Higgins asked if the house was built 150 years ago and was 5 feet from the right-of-way if that could not be allowed.


Mr. Kamptner stated that would be a nonconforming use.  It would be allowed to continue, but there are limitations on expanding or increasing the intensity of the use.  That is why that particular class of structures is not included.  If the Commission wanted to change this they would have to go back and amend the nonconforming of these regulations in Section 6.


Ms. Higgins asked if there was a structure that was built 10 foot off the road and someone wanted to do a special use permit to do weddings if they could not allow it.


Mr. Kamptner stated that they could allow it only if the applicant could get a variance that made it lawful.


Mr. Rieley stated that if they were specifically addressing structures for special events that he would think about agricultural buildings.  There is nothing in here that talks about the structural capacity of a building to support that.  For public use you would use 100 pounds per square foot as opposed to 60 pounds per square foot for the first floor of a residence or something like that.  Is that something the Commission needs to be concerned about?


Ms. Higgins pointed out that the Building Official would address those issues anytime they received a request to reuse the building. 


Mr. Edgerton suggested that they leave that provision in.


After discussion on the parking and setbacks, the Commission was in consensus that the setbacks should be consistent with the existing rural setbacks.


Mr. Rieley agreed with Mrs. Randolph that it was sort of overkill on the parking. It seems that most of these events were going to be in a field somewhere in areas in which they are encouraging agriculture.  That area could be plowed certainly without a special use permit.  He felt that bonding, reseeding and restoration does seem to be overkill. Also, the provision that delineated spaces and bumper blocks should be required only as determined by the zoning administrator is something that they could leave out entirely.  There is not situation that he could imagine where they would require bumper blocks in a rural area.


Mr. Kamptner stated that provision is actually an exception to the general rule.


Mr. Rieley suggested that it be left out and be made clear that provisions of Section & e) does not apply because these are temporary events. 


Mr. Edgerton suggested that on page 14.d.3 that they leave in “if the parking area is on grass or in a field, the applicant shall reseed and restore the parking area site as required by the zoning administrator.”  The rest of that sentence should be deleted.  He suggested that it be made clear that it does not apply to existing paved areas.


Mr. Rieley suggested that they add something like, “suggesting stabilized turf” as sort of a model, but he did not want to encourage parking lots in the rural areas.  This language does not preclude parking in the grass or on a field.


Mr. Kamptner stated that to address Mr. Rieley’s concern it could be restated to say, “Not withstanding Section 4.12.16.d and e) the delineation of parking spaces and provisions of bumper blocks shall not be required.”  If it is a particular circumstance that they think it would be appropriate, then they could impose a condition on the special use permit.


Ms. Higgins questioned if the garden week’s events would fall under this category.


Mr. Benish stated that was by invitation.


Mr. Kamptner stated that they could ask the zoning administrator, but he did not think that she has ever determined that is a use that requires some kind of zoning clearance.


Mr. Edgerton pointed out that they do charge money.


Mr. Kamptner pointed out that there were still many uses that would fall under the accessory uses to agricultural.


Mr. Rieley suggested that the last sentence in subsection f will be changed to read, “If the parcel is so subdivided, special events shall thereafter be prohibited on the resulting parcels, without modification.”  This would allow some one if they have a large piece of property and want to subdivide off some property that does not affect their special use permit, to come in and get a modification to the special use permit. 


Ms. Joseph stated that the whole idea is that you are giving someone an opportunity to do something other than agriculture in the Rural Areas; therefore, they don’t have to subdivide.


The Commission supported changing e) 2 to increase the number from 12 to 24 events per year. 


The Commission supported deleting the noise limitation in subsection e (2) and has it regulated by the current ordinance requirements.


Mr. Kamptner pointed out that the Commission could deal with these issues through the special use permit process for the individual site.


Mr. Kamptner pointed out that if you were on a small parcel surrounding residences they could impose conditions that prohibit outdoor amplified sound and put other restrictions on it. Therefore, they could deal with it through the special use permit process.


Ms. Joseph stated that the scale was really going to govern this.


Mr. Thomas stated they had not discussed the number of participants.  If the applicant can come back and up the number of participants with a special use permit it would be fine.


Mr. Cilimberg stated that the number was specified in the definition.


Mr. Kamptner stated that number was outside of that.  He suggested that the number be deleted from the definition and put a cap on the number of participants in the special events regulations.


In consensus, the Commission supported Mr. Kamptner’s previous suggestion.


Regarding the event count, Ms. Higgins asked if it would be prudent to say that events less than 40 people don’t count against their event number.  This would get around the frequency of impact.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that the one thing to keep in mind is that the winery is a use associated for the purposes of the rural area.  Some of this is to actually supplement the purpose of the rural areas.  He felt that it was a distinctive point between wineries and getting into more commercial activities that are not related to agricultural purposes.


Mr. Rieley asked if staff has considered the tier approach.


Mr. Benish stated that enforcement of tiers regarding these numbers would be very difficult.


Mr. Rieley agreed that they need a benchmark in order to have something to measure the activity by if there is a problem.


Mrs. Randolph stated that she would like to encourage Ms. Higgins’ suggestion that events with less than 40 people not count against the 24 total events allowed.  She acknowledged the enforcement problem with the tier approach.  She thanked the Commissioners for dropping the regulation on noise at weddings because it would be difficult to tell people that they could not have any amplification at all.


Mr. Kamptner stated that this request may come back to the Commission in mid- to late June if staff has to readvertise the ZTA because of these changes.  If not, it will come back in a couple of weeks for action with a draft noting the changes the Commission requested.  But, it will not delay the item getting to the Board of Supervisors.


Mr. Rieley asked if there was any advantage to the Commission taking an action and giving Mr. Kamptner direction to do the final language to avoid getting into a situation that they have to readvertise.  He asked Mr. Kamptner to go over the changes that he had noted.


Mr. Kamptner stated that the changes that he noted are as follows:

·         In the definition, delete the number of 150 and move that to make it a regulation in 5.1.43.

·         Adjust handwritten page 11 (typed page 3) to clarify the temporary signage and increase the number so that it corresponds with the number of events allowed.

·         Adjust handwritten page 14 (typed page 6) in Section d(1) to delete (ii), clarify section (iii) so that it refers to farm buildings or farm structures as those terms are defined so that there is no ambiguity there.

·         Section d(2) make the yard setbacks consistent with the RA yard requirements and they will have those requirements comply to tents and the portable toilets.

·         Parking in d(3) will read the number of off-street parking for a special event shall be as required in Section 4.12.6 notwithstanding Section 4.12.15.a - g the additional parking areas for special events shall consist of or be constructed of pervious materials and include a reference to stabilize turf to be approved by the County Engineer.  Asphalt and impervious materials are prohibited and continue all the way up to the semi-colon and the deleting the requirement for bonding.  Then continuing with the next sentence, “In addition to the requirements of section 4.12.5, the parking area shall be onsite and be screened from abutting parcels by topography, structures or new or existing landscaping.  Notwithstanding section 4.12.16(d) and (e), the delineation of parking spaces and the provision of bumper blocks shall not be required. 

·         Change subsection e(1) to include a limit of 24.

·         Delete the noise limitation in subsection e(2).

·         Change portable toilets in subsection e(4) to simply cross reference the minimum yard requirements.

·         Subsection f will be revised at the end of the first sentence to include a clause, “without amendment of the special use permit.”

·         The last sentence in subsection f will be changed to read, “If the parcel is so subdivided, special events shall thereafter be prohibited on the resulting parcels, without modification.”

·         Change subsection e(5) Portable toilets to read, “If required, portable toilets shall be located no closer than whatever the minimum yard setbacks are.”


Mr. Rieley moved for approval of ZTA-1999-006, Special Events, as modified according to what Mr. Kamptner just read.


Mr. Morris seconded the motion.


The motion carried by a vote of (7:0).


Mr. Kamptner stated that this matter would only come back to the Commission if the request has to be readvertised.


(Recorded and transcribed by Sharon C. Taylor, Recording Secretary)


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