Albemarle County Planning Commission

December 13, 2005

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, December 6, 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; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Amy Arnold, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Amelia McCulley, Zoning and Current Development Director/Zoning Administrator; Margaret Maliszewski, Design Planner; Jack Kelsey, County Engineer; Glenn Brooks, Senior Engineer; and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Mr. Edgerton called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.  Before getting started he wanted to note that this will be Mr. Waller’s last meeting with us. He noted that the Planning Commission really appreciated Mr. Waller’s assistance and wanted to thank him for all of his good work.

 

            Public Hearing Items:

 

ZMA 2005-008 Pantops Park (Sign #14) - Request to rezone 4.87 acres (Tax Map 78, Parcel 16) from HC (Highway Commercial) to NMD (Neighborhood Model District) to allow a 42,000 square foot bank and office building and two 22,500 square foot mixed office and retail buildings with proffers. Highway Commercial zoning allows for commercial and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/ acre). Neighborhood Model District zoning is intended to provide for compact, mixed-use developments with an urban scale, massing, density, and an infrastructure configuration that integrates diversified uses within close proximity to each other. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Regional Service and Community Service in Neighborhood Three. Regional Service designates areas for regional-scale retail, wholesale, business and/or employment centers, and residential (6.01-34 units/acre). Community Service designates areas for community-scale retail wholesale, business and medical offices, mixed use core communities and/or employment services, and residential (6.01-34 units/acre). The property, described as Tax Map 78, Parcel 16 is located in the EC Entrance Corridor Overlay District and the Rivanna Magisterial District on the south side of Route 250. This property is the former Moore's Lumber site. (Sean Dougherty)

 

Mr. Craddock asked if this was just a work session.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that it was not and asked staff to explain it.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that there was some confusion and he had sent an email today, but they might not have seen. This request first came before the Commission as a work session because of an advertising problem with the zoning map amendment. So staff readvertised for tonight.  The zoning map amendment has been properly advertised and is before the Commission for public hearing based on that advertising. There was an associated special use permit that was realized late in the game that did not get advertised for tonight.  So that is on the agenda for next week. Now Mr. Dougherty will give the status of this rezoning tonight so that the Commission can consider what action that you want to take and you will receive the normal public input.  What Mr. Dougherty has suggested in the staff report is that they were not yet there in terms of the items of the items to be decided upon.  But, it will be the Commission’s choice on how to handle the action tonight. But the zoning map amendment is properly before the Commission tonight and it has been properly advertised.

 

Mr. Craddock stated that he had a call and had told the person that this request had been moved to next week because that was what was in the staff report.  He noted that person is here tonight, but he did not get the email today.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that the Commission would receive regular comment and then decide how they want to handle it.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that the Commission would hold the public hearing tonight on the zoning map amendment, but they would not be taking action until next week because there are still certain details that have to be addressed on the special use permit.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that was what they had to decide.  But, those details will be there next week.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if the details that need to be resolved between now and next week will materially change things.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that Mr. Dougherty was going to go over that information with the Commission right now.

 

Mr. Dougherty summarized the staff report:

·         This is a request to rezone 4.87 acres (Tax Map 78, Parcel 16) from HC (Highway Commercial) to NMD (Neighborhood Model District) to allow for the construction of three buildings in a Planned Development.  The property being considered is the former Moore’s Lumber property on Richmond Road. Since the last year the applicant has made some progress with the right-of-way consideration, which is one of the largest considerations of this project.

 

·         The applicant had submitted revised proffers and a document indicating a “commitment to dedicate” that establishes a mechanism to address some of the issues related to the connection with 250 and Spotnap Road.  This document was deemed to be insufficient for enforcement purposes.  At the County Attorney’s request the applicant submitted an agreement related to the dedication of this road.  This agreement was emailed to the Commission yesterday.  There is a copy of this agreement here that will be passed out.  This agreement should all parties agree and sign it along with the requested revisions to the proffers establishes a framework for Spotnap Road to be dedicated as a public road.  The applicant anticipates that this will happen. But, at this point they don’t have any real indication from all of the parties that this dedication will take place.

 

·         Regarding maintenance and enforcement issues that the Albemarle County Service Authority has raised, as well as other tenants along Spotnap Road, the commitment to dedicate as a revision to proffers would allow for Spotnap to be a complete public connection from Route 250 and South Pantops Drive. Should the applicant gain the commitment to dedicate, the proffers to improve the roads to public standards for acceptance by VDOT would eliminate maintenance and enforcement issues.

 

·         Another revision that the applicant has made is that they are proffering to construct and address the proposed changes to provide access to the Albemarle County Service Authority’s lower parking lot that would be affected by construction of this new road.

 

·         In addition, the applicant has removed a number of uses from the Code of Development based on the discussion here on November 22 and those are listed in the staff report.

 

·         Another issue was brought up, which was more of an internal issue for staff, regarding the application of parking standards and the reductions at the site plan stage. The Chief of Zoning has clarified that the reduction would be reviewed at the site plan stage and granted if the appropriate TDM tools are used at the site plan stage. She has also indicated since the last meeting that the residential density in the area, the proximity of the City of Charlottesville, a growing number of private transportation systems that serve senior housing in Pantops in addition to the availability of public transportation, make this project a suitable candidate for such a reduction.  Zoning is comfortable with the reduction in conjunction with limiting the retail in the development to 11,000 square feet.

 

·         Staff had sent a request to VDOT for a cost estimate for pedestrian safety improvements that have been identified by staff.  In other words, it simply was two crosswalks, striping for the intersection of South Pantops Drive and Riverbend Road and striping at the 250 and Riverbend intersection in addition to a pedestrian signal at that location.  Unfortunately, VDOT has not returned a cost estimate for those improvements.  However, with the applicant now working towards this dedication agreement and the associated proffers for the road to be dedicated, staff considers this a significant improvement and it may be possible for those improvements to be implemented with the capital improvement program, depending on the Commission’s response to this.

 

·         Another issue that has remained with this project is the proffering of a traffic signal in front of the former Moore’s site.  This is less than 600 feet from the intersection of Route 20 and 250.  The optimal minimum distance between traffic signals for VDOT is a quarter of mile, which is 1,320 feet.  At 600 feet this is extremely close to the existing intersection.  Staff has been told by both Chuck Proctor and John Winn of VDOT that they would never approve a intersection at this location for that reason in addition to the fact that the grade or slope in that area is steeper than what they generally approve for intersections and that there are some constraints for sight distance coming onto 250 from the east and around that bend down towards the traffic signal.  Staff had suggested that the contribution for this proffer could be used for general pedestrian improvements and/or a reconfiguring of the travel lanes moving into the Route 20 intersection to provide enough room for a right hand turn lane on to Route 20 thereby augmenting the ability to turn out of Pantops Park towards the left towards the City of Charlottesville and providing more cueing space in that lane.

 

That is a summary of the issues.  Due to the incomplete nature of the proffers and the “commitment to dedicate” unsigned and in draft form, staff cannot recommend approval at this time.  Mr. Kamptner might be able to speak more to this, but there are a significant amount of changes to be made.  Staff does not have any assurances at this point that the agreement is something that will be supported.  Staff feels that the applicant could line these issues up for approval next week.

 

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

 

Ms. Joseph asked that staff obtain written confirmation from VDOT on the traffic signal and pedestrian improvements.

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that he would obtain that documentation from VDOT.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that there is a proffer for a signal that can’t be installed based on the VDOT comments that staff has received from two different individuals.  Staff does not have that in writing, but their indication has been that there will not be a signal there.  It is being proffered, but in VDOT’s mind it cannot happen based on what they have told us.  So either that proffer goes away or there has been in other cases a more general proffer that would allow for whatever that amount that would have been put towards the signal to be used for transportation improvements in that area.  They are not contributing to all of the problems that lead to putting in new lanes or pedestrian cross walks or even a signal at this location.  So they would be contributing towards a potential project in the future that could be undertaken.  But, they have to decide whether they feel that is reasonable or not based on the information that you have.  The applicant may or may not agree to proffer for that.  Staff is just trying to lay that one out for the Commission.  In terms of the proffers that they have otherwise, they have been reviewed by Mr. Kamptner and his suggested alternative language has been provided to the applicant. 

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that he had forwarded that information to Mr. Dougherty this afternoon.

 

Mr. Cilimberg stated that if that language is incorporated into the proffers, then staff feels that would be taken care of before next week.  Regarding the agreement, if all parties sign, then that will be taken care of.  So that is why staff is telling the Commission that this is where we are now and this is what could happen. 

 

Ms. Higgins asked if this agreement would supersede proffer 2. 

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that what that document would do is evidence for us that at some point when the triggers and proffer tools are in place that they have the agreement that they will all be dedicating the property.

 

Ms. Higgins stated that the wording in proffer 2 has a lot of provisos that talk about excluding the design requirements and things like that.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that Mr. Dougherty and he have met today and discussed that issue.  That is one of his questions as to whether or not simply paving Spotnap Road addresses that.  He felt that the sequence of the events of proffer 2 needs to be reorganized.  From talking to the applicant’s attorney today his impression was that they are making a lot of progress in getting the consent from all of the stakeholders who need to consent to the activities in proffer 1.

 

Mr. Morris felt that this is the natural egress from this site to get into Charlottesville.  He felt that a new traffic light at that intersection would be a dangerous.

 

Ms. Higgins pointed out that making Spotnap Road a public road was extremely important.  Therefore, provided that can happen and it is made very clear that it can happen makes her feel more comfortable.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that on that point he asked if there has been any effort made by staff to determine that. The last sentence of proffer 2 says, “Owner will exercise best efforts to obtain the agreement of all owners of the land on which existing Spotnap Road or any portion of the proposed extension is located to dedicate the fee interest in such land to public use without charge.”  He stated that they could have a nice agreement, but if they don’t have the authority then it is not worth anything.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that his comment to that sentence he just read is that it needs to be stricken.  There is absolutely no way that zoning could ever enforce a standard of best efforts.  It needs to lead to the written consent that allows this to happen.  But, if it does not the proffer needs to state that if this can’t happen within a certain period of time or there is a refusal by one of the stakeholders that this won’t happen that then the rezoning needs to be analyzed with that possibility.  The situation that they were dealing with in proffers 1 and 2 is pretty uncommon where they have other land owners that are involved and their participation is a contingency to both of these proffers.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that if that road does not go through, then the possibility is that this thing could happen in phases until that road goes through.

 

Mr. Kamptner stated that they need to get to the point that this rezoning would be analyzed with the contingencies that it is possible that the extension would not be constructed as a public road.  It is possible that there may not be agreement that Spotnap Road would be accepted into the state maintained system.

 

Ms. Higgins felt that would mean that they don’t make the connection.

 

Ms. Joseph questioned if not, then is any part of the rezoning viable.

 

Mr. Edgerton suggested that maybe all of these questions would be resolved before next week and they could defer action.  There being no further questions for staff, he opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Bill Dittmar, applicant, stated that others present tonight included Frank Cox of Cox Associates and Dan Goodall from Virginia National Bank.  Mark Giles was unable to attend.  He hoped to address some of the confusion on the proffers and hopefully they can resolve some of the issues.  The first as to proffer 4, they have no significant commitment to a stop light at this location whatsoever.  This came up in early discussions with the County.  There was a discussion that perhaps an intersection would occur at this location going through the Winn property and possibly connecting down to 20 at some point.  They were asked if they would want to participate at that point and they had said that they would, which was carried forth in proffer 4.   They would love to withdraw that proffer now and do so.  They have heard from Mr. Dougherty in the discussions that staff has had with VDOT that the prior owner Grant Cosner had discussions with the prior engineer at VDOT, who had also suggested that a potential stop light would occur here not only because of a potential intersection, but for traffic calming for slowing the traffic down that backs up on 250.  There seems to be tremendous confusion on what would or would not be wanted here.  They did not withdraw the proffer from the last meeting not because of a desire to have a traffic light there, but to keep it in place in case there ever was an opportunity to show our commitment to participate in that when and if it happened. It seems to be creating much more heat than light.  They withdraw it at this time. 

 

Mr. Dittmar continued that in terms of the proffer 1 for the extension of Spotnap, that he wanted to talk about what they can do and what they want to do.  If Mr. Giles was here, he would talk about things being transformational.  By transformational at this location they could have come in on the site and dropped the building back and done it under current zoning.  After much discussion and participation in the Pantops College the new zoning model seems to work better.  There is an existing easement that they can utilize to bring in a private road into their site.  There are actually three locations on 250 that connect to what was the old Moore’s site.  But, the three years that he has done rebuilding most of what he had done is adaptive reuse and this is obviously that type of project.  They are taking a hardware lumber store and creating it into the new Neighborhood Model.  That has why they have chosen this path.  As such, they have down zoned in some of the things that they have withdrawn from the by right uses because they don’t think they are appropriate for what they are trying to accomplish there.  They also wanted to create a more campus orientation and pedestrian friendly site.  One important item was the interconnectivity in the Pantops area in creating new roads that would take some of the stress off of the 250.   The extension of South Pantops is to occur.  Therefore, they wanted to participate in this.  In their proffer they are promising to build the road way on their property to VDOT specs.  That is what they can do. They specify that in the proffer and guarantee that.  What they cannot guarantee is that the Board of Supervisors would want that road into the system and that VDOT would accept it.  After hearing the Commission’s comments last time they have gone out to try to work with the other property owners and to hear their concerns.  They have spoken to Dr. Hurt and Mr. Brent of the Service Authority, and there is a willingness on their part to dedicate.  They hope that happens.  They cannot make them do that. But, they believe that they will.  If they do that and they can upgrade that road to VDOT standards and they accept it, they will do that.  But, they can’t determine at this point.  They don’t think that the project’s rezoning should hang on their ability to take a road that is already built and make that a VDOT standard to have it done.  If that is the case, then the County is going to face that everywhere there are private road systems already in place and new projects being developed.  In the extension of Spotnap they have a private right-of-way that exists that they can connect to and they are going to build the road way on their system to VDOT standards and they hope that they can bring the other road way up to that standard and that they can force the other owners to dedicate it.  But, they have had discussion with Dr. Hurt who has indicated that he will sign the agreement.  Bill Brent has indicated that he will take the agreement to his Board at their upcoming meeting.  Therefore, they think that they will be able to show that interconnection.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if there were other members of the public that would like to address this application.

 

Bill Brent, Executive Director of the Albemarle County Service, stated that they are the owners of one of the properties abutting this project.  Last week when he addressed the Commission he expressed the Authority’s opposition to this project because of the traffic concerns on Spotnap Road, which currently has traffic problems that they think will be compounded by the additional traffic.  They have looked at this time and realize that during peak periods most of the west bound traffic exiting this site is going to use Spotnap because they will be unable to cross 250.  They are also realistic and understand and accept that there is a current easement across the Service Authority’s property to this parcel that is proposed for redeveloped. He felt that to compromise that he would guess that neither party in this will be completely happy.  But, yesterday afternoon the attorney for the developer did email him a proposed agreement whereby they proposed to upgrade the existing Spotnap to meet state standards, construct the portion of Spotnap across our property to state standards and to develop the portion on their property to state standards.  Similar provisions were offered in the proffers, which he thought were confusing and contradicts what is in the contract in what is proposed to us.  But, he would trust that is something that they could work out in the coming days and weeks.  If this discrepancy can be resolved, then it is his intent to recommend to the Board of Directors of the Albemarle County Service Authority that they agree to dedicate the land necessary for them to upgrade this road so that it can be brought into the state highway system.  Any thing less than that he thought that the Board would continue its opposition to the project.  The developer has also proffered to provide an acceptable commercial entrance into our rear parking lot and they are grateful for that proposal and hope that can be worked out.  With these two issues appearing to be close to resolution it is his proposal to recommend to the Board of Directors that they lift our opposition to the project.  He will have the opportunity to bring this to the Board’s attention on Thursday.  The Board is not scheduled to meet again until the third Thursday in January so he was not exactly sure when they will have an opportunity to act on it.  But, it will be in their hands on Thursday.

 

There being no further public comment, Mr. Edgerton closed the public hearing and bring the matter back before the Commission.

 

Ms. Higgins suggested that the agreement have a signature block for Pantops, LLC.  Also in #1 in the portion on top of page 2 it talks about the owner will dedicate the deed of dedication, which she assumed would mean deed and plat because right-of-ways are usually done by plat.  Also, it should mention any associated drainage easements that go to the road.  In the previous staff report there was a lot of discussion about parking and she felt that issue needed to be resolved.  Hollymead Town Center is a Neighborhood Model District and her understanding of the commercial areas there is that they have a gross square footage that is based on a number of parking spaces per square feet and the parking space number is set.  They design the site and the buildings at site plan stage, but then after that as tenants change over they don’t have reevaluations of parking requirements.  She referred back to the 2003 modification to the parking standards where there was a lot of discussion about how much staff time it takes to reevaluate this over and over again.  She was not sure when staff read the staff report tonight how the zoning staff was doing that.  But, she knew at rezoning they could not set the exact amount, but at site plan they do.  She asked staff to provide some clarification on that issue.

 

Mr. Dougherty stated that one point of clarification is what is constructed out there now and the other as far as commercial uses it is PD-MC and not Neighborhood Model.  Staff will obtain an answer to her questions from the Chief of Zoning. 

 

Ms. Joseph felt that the Neighborhood Model rezoning should ask for the parking information up front.

 

Mr. Cilimberg reiterated that staff will have the Chief of Zoning address the parking issues.  They know that they at least need to know what it should be up front because it is part of the plan that they are looking at.  What they are asking is why it has to be continuously relooked at during the subsequent process.  They can ask that of zoning. 

 

Mr. Rieley suggested that the signal proffer be changed to address the pedestrian improvements.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that was something that the applicant would have to agree to do.

 

Mr. Morris asked Mr. Dittmar to come forward and address the Commission’s concern.

 

Mr. Dittmar stated that when they went back last time and looked at the undertaking to rebuild the road way that is not on their property and not part of their original estimate, which was substantial additional monies that they are coming up to.  They are looking to put forth additional money on top of that. The expansion of Spotnap is going to far exceed the $15,000. Therefore, they are not at this time offering that $15,000.  They are offering to improve the existing Spotnap, which will create not only a vehicular connection all the way from South Pantops Drive to 250, but also pedestrian access all the way from Pantops to 250 in conjunction with all of the amenity space and cross connections within their own properties.

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that clarify there was no offer for pedestrian improvements off site.

 

Mr. Dittmar stated other than what was on the full road way.

 

Ms. Higgins asked if they have had an inspection of the existing Spotnap Road and have a level of expectation of what needs to be done to get it up to state standards.

 

Mr. Dittmar stated that the problem is that they have to get with VDOT on that and have to do a survey.  They have gotten with Mr. Roell to get “as builts”, but as yet they have not found them.  They are going to have to core the road way.  Their current feeling is that by milling the edges they know they have the distances that are required and put a 2” overlay.  The gutters and sidewalks are slightly below VDOT standards currently, but they have accepted those in the past.   But, he could not speak for VDOT.  That is why the notation is in the proffer that the assumption is that they will accept that because it has been their past practice.  It has only been two weeks that realized that they were going to be responsible for the other part of the road.  They have gone out and made what they feel is great progress in getting the commitments from the four other land owners to participate.  If they had “as builts” they would be a lot further.  They don’t anticipate any thing substantial as a problem to that.

 

Mr. Thomas asked if the road from 250 all the way through to Spotnap will be VDOT standards.

 

Mr. Dittmar stated that where the existing road is now that the road will be built to VDOT specs because they have an absolute right-of-way.  Also, they have made an agreement with Mr. Brent about their entrance that is in the right-of-way.  The proffers stipulate what they can do.  What they want to do is bring the rest of the road way up to specs and get it dedicated.

 

Ms. Higgins suggested that if this agreement does not get signed, someone should ask VDOT if they will accept a road that goes nowhere.  VDOT does not typically accept segments of roads that don’t connect to other public roads.

 

Mr. Dittmar stated that this is an extremely important issue to bring up.  He would like to take this moment to address the Commissioners to say the following.  He did not think it was possible to come in here and say this rezoning is propagated upon the fact that they can get VDOT to accept a roadway.  He felt that it needs to be accepted because as a by right if they were not going through a rezoning they would build this road way maybe not to VDOT standards, but they would connect within this.  If it is stipulated that they have to have a dedication of all of the property owners and if they have to know that the road way can be brought up to VDOT specs and that they will accept it that is not possible for us as a property owner or as a developer. They don’t even know if that can be determined at the Board of Supervisors’ level, which is what he is saying.

 

Motion:   Mr. Rieley moved, Mr. Morris seconded, that ZMA-2005-008, Pantops Park, be deferred to next week. The following items need to be addressed:

 

The motion passed by a vote of 7:0.   

 

Mr. Edgerton stated that ZMA-2005-008, Pantops Park, was deferred to next week’s meeting on December 20, 2005.

 

 Go to December 20 minutes