STAFF PERSON: Amy Ransom Arnold

PLANNING COMMISSION: December 13, 2005

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: February 1, 2006

 

 

SP_2005-24 Schuyler Country Store

 

Applicant’s Proposal: The applicant has requested a Special Use Permit to allow for the construction of an approximately 1,800 square foot (60’ x 30’) country store with a single entry drive onto Schuyler Road, a parking area (totaling approximately 120’ x 400’), and an area for the outdoor display and sale of plants (approximately 40’ x 130’).  The proposed hours of operation for the store are from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.  The one-story store building is proposed as a board and batten, shed roofed structure with a front porch, similar to the 12 x 24 foot storage building currently located in the northeast portion of the site. (Attachment A.) 

 

The applicant proposes to sell the following products:

·         Antiques

·         Gifts

·         Beer and wine

·         Soft drinks

·         Cheese

·         Jams and jellies

·         Food prepared on site

·         Indoor and outdoor plants

·         Tobacco products

The applicant has suggested that the Schuyler Country Store would be similar to the Greenwood store located on the south side of Route 250 West immediately west of the intersection of Routes 64 and 250.  Greenwood was approved in 1999 with the following description included in the application regarding products to be sold: outdoor displays of plants, flowers, produce, apples, pumpkins, etc.  In addition to the outdoor displays described in their submittal, Greenwood carries a wide range of pre-packaged food items, wine, beer, produce, cheeses, small gourmet items, antiques, and gift items.  Greenwood has made a commitment to offer Albemarle County and other Virginia produce and products in an effort to support local commerce and forge an economic link between the store and the community.  The applicant has indicated an intention to provide a similar outlet for locally produced goods at the Schuyler Country Store.

 

The proposed foot print of the Schuyler Country Store is 60’ x 30’.  The interior of the store is divided into three primary areas: a kitchen, central main sales area, and a smaller, secondary sales space.  The kitchen is proposed as full service and includes a stove, fryer, freezer, refrigerator, dishwasher, sinks, walk in cooler, and counter space for a total of approximately 300 square feet.  The applicant proposes to provide food to go, rather than include seating on site.  The County Zoning provisions do allow for the location of one picnic table outside the store for food service seating.  A small interior dining area is also allowed, but additional parking spaces would need to be added based on restaurant requirements. 

 

The floor plan includes a 6’ x 8’ bathroom near the front entry of the building.  The number and type of bathroom fixtures is not included on the drawing.

 

The proposal includes the retention of a second existing storage building (shown in figure b. below) located 20’ from the paved edge of Schuyler Road (Route 800) to the northeastern corner of the building. (Attachment B.) 

 

Other significant site features include a large White Oak tree (Quercus alba), located to the northwest of the proposed store location.  The tree is approximately 28” in caliper, with a canopy that extends outward from the trunk 30-45’, the total canopy spanning 70’ or more. A large, gravel parking area is located immediately to the west of the Oak (to the left of the tree in the photographs above), resulting in a substantial area of heavily compacted earth.  When viewed from the southeast, asymmetrical growth of the tree is apparent.  On the east side of the tree there is no gravel paving and less evidence of compaction.  This side of the tree has approximately ¼ more tree mass when compared to the paved side of the tree (to the west). This difference in growth patterns suggests that this parking area may have been in use for several years.  The tree, its location related to the proposed site layout, and the visible impact of the existing gravel paving on the tree’s growth are illustrated in Attachments C., D., and E.  The applicant has expressed the desire to retain the tree.  Further discussion of the preservation of the tree is included later in this report and conditions are offered to protect the tree from further damage from compacted / paved surfaces. (Condition 4.)

 

PetitionSection 10.2.2 (22.) uses allowed under Special Use Permits in the Rural Area and Section 31.2.4 Special Use Permits of the Zoning Ordinance allow for the establishment of country stores in the Rural Area.   The property, described as Tax Map 126 Parcel 34, contains 2.699 acres, and is designated Rural Area 4 under the Comprehensive Plan.  The parcel is located at 8429 Schuyler Road (Route 800), approximately 1,200 feet north of the intersection of Route 800 and Howardsville Turnpike (Route 602) in the Scottsville Magisterial District.    

 

Character of the Area: The immediate context is comprised of mature, mixed deciduous / evergreen woodland with scattered dwellings.  Clearings are characterized by pasture, hedgerows, agricultural buildings, and quarry sites.  Across Route 800 from the proposed store site is an entrance to ‘The Quarries’, a residential housing development established seven years ago.  The Quarries development includes building sites to the north, south, east, and west of the proposed Schuyler Country Store.  One of the original structures from the Beasley property still stands to the south of the entrance into the Quarries.  The town of Schuyler is located approximately two miles to the southwest in neighboring Nelson County at the intersection of Route 617 and Route 800.   

  

Planning and Zoning History: In 1946, Thomas Lee Beasley purchased 11.79 acres of land located on both sides of Route 800 in Schuyler.  On the portion of the property now identified as TM 126, Parcel 34 the ‘T. L. Beasley Store’ was constructed and served as a convenience/grocery store and gas station.  At that time the parcel included, in addition to the store, a residence, and 8.66 acres of orchard.  Thomas Beasley’s store was typical of country stores in Albemarle County in terms of type and scale.  The T.L. Beasley Store served the surrounding community as a country store at this location for approximately 30 years.

 

Upon the death of Thomas L. Beasley in 1969, the entire 11.79 acre property, including the country store site, was placed in a life estate for Thomas Grafton Beasley, son of Thomas Lee Beasley.  The will stipulates that upon the death of Thomas Grafton Beasley, the property was to fall to the grandsons of Thomas L. Beasley, Keith and Wilbur Goolsby.  The Goolsbys would then be free to do as they wished with the property.    

 

At some point during the 1970’s or 1980’s Thomas G. Beasley, ceased offering commercial services on the parcel and converted the store building into a residence.  Two years after the store was converted into a residence, the store lost its non-conforming status. (Chapter 18, Section 6.2.G: Discontinuance of a nonconforming use. A nonconforming use and all uses accessory thereto shall be discontinued…..if the nonconforming use is discontinued for more than two (2) years, regardless of whether the use was continuous or seasonal.)

 

Upon the death of Thomas G. Beasley in 1999, Keith and Wilbur Goolsby of Upper Marlboro Maryland gained ownership of the Beasley property.  The site of the T.L. Beasley store was severed from the larger parcel through a law suit, reducing the total size of the property to 3.969

acres including the T.L. Beasley Store.  A survey dated 11/04/03 shows the current acreage of the parcel as 2.699.

 

On April 1, 2000, a fire destroyed a significant portion of the store building.  The fire damaged structure remained in place for approximately three years.  Since the building was not rebuilt within the time limits outlined in the County Ordinance (Chapter 18, Section 6.2.G (Chapter 18, Section 6.2.G: Discontinuance of a nonconforming use. A nonconforming use and all uses accessory thereto shall be discontinued…..if the nonconforming use is discontinued for more than two (2) years, regardless of whether the use was continuous or seasonal.), the residential use of the site lost its non-conforming status.  In January of 2002, the Goolsbys were notified that in accordance with Section 5-300 of the County Code, they were required to remove, repair, or secure the fire damaged building (VIO 2001-308).  The damaged store building was razed in 2003.  The footprint of the original store building remains visible on the site.      

 

A request by Brenda Moon for a variance (VA 2003-11) was filed for the reduction in the area required for private well and septic per use from 60,000 square feet for a single use (a total of 120,000square feet for two uses) to a total of 117,568 square feet for two uses.  The applicant had sought to gain the 2,432 square foot variance in order to allow for two uses on site: a single family dwelling and a gift / craft / antique shop.  In addition, the applicant had requested a reduction in the setback from Route 800 from 75 feet to 5 feet.  By reducing the setback along Route 800, the applicant had sought to increase the potential area on the site suitable for building.  The Board of Zoning Appeals denied both requests. 

 

On October 30, 2003, Brenda and Robert Moon purchased the T.L. Beasley Store parcel from the Beasley heirs, Wilbur and Keith Goolsby. 

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the zoning ordinance and recommends approval, based on consistency with the Comprehensive Plan, subject to conditions of approval contained in this report.

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

31.2.4.1: Special Use Permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

 

The adjacent properties may incur temporary negative impacts during the construction process due to activity on site and increased traffic.     

 

The day to day traffic associated with the store is expected to be local.  The vehicular entry into the site is proposed at the outermost edge of the curve of this section of Schuyler Road, allowing for the maximum visibility possible.  The applicant has also agreed, in consultation with Virginia Department of Transportation, to remove groupings of trees located at the far north and south ends of the parcel to provide the required minimum site distance for safe entry and exit of vehicular traffic.   

 

The applicant has improved the property substantially over the last few years in the following ways: removal of the fire damaged store in 2003, removal of the mobile homes, removal of the underground gas tanks (including quarterly ground water monitoring for evidence of any residual contaminants),and the construction of a finished storage building. 

  

One of the owners of adjacent property has expressed concern regarding the establishment of a store at this location.  The email received by staff addressing this concern is included with this report. (Attachment G.)

 

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

 

Country stores as a rural tradition and as the center of cross roads communities, is a development feature fundamental to Albemarle County’s Rural Areas.  Country stores can provide both social meeting areas and commercial ties to the local community.  Historically multi-purpose buildings, uses diverse as providing space for community dances or providing shoe/farm tool repair were sometimes included in country stores.  Re-establishing this use at this location would allow the continuation of the country store tradition in this community.   

 

A country store the scale of the Schuyler Country Store is consistent with the long term history of the site and the character of the district.  The now demolished T. L. Beasley Store served an active role in the local community in this location for 30 years.  Historic Preservation Committee has recommendation the suspension of the non-conforming use statue in the case of country stores, eliminating the need for many vacant, or otherwise abandoned country stores to retain their Special Use Permit status beyond the two year limit.  Re-establishing the country store use on this site would support the rural types of the country store and cross road communities as outlined in the Rural Area Plan of the Comprehensive Plan.

 

The applicant has proposed a building form, scale, and material palette that is consistent with existing and historic architectural types in the nearby context.

 

The White Oak located on the site is of an age to have likely been present at the time of the T. L. Beasley Store.  The applicant’s intentions to retain the White Oak would preserve an irreplaceable element original to the store site.  The tree is located in the approximate center of the large parking area proposed on the north side of the store.  However, this proximity of the parking area to the tree would be detrimental to the long term survival of the tree.  The total area proposed for parking is well above what would be required by zoning and upon approval of the project the applicant has agreed to reconfigure the parking.  Staff recommends further protection by installing permanent fencing at the drip line of the tree as described in condition number 4. listed below.         

 

The applicant proposes to use gravel paving for parking areas, which is permitted in Section 4.2.15.a. of the County Code if the Senior Civil Engineer approves the use of alternative surfaces deemed equivalent in regard to strength, durability, sustainability and long term maintenance for the intensity of use.  Gravel and compacted earth is one typical treatment of country store parking areas indicated in the Historic Preservation Committees archives of country store photographs.  Areas of gravel paving currently exist on this site.  The Rural Areas Section of the Comprehensive Plan suggests the Implementation of policies in the Zoning Ordinance that promote the character of the Rural Areas and not urban style development such as relaxing the required parking standards and requirements for parking lot surfaces, entrance requirements, and landscape requirements.  Staff recommends, and the Senior Civil Engineer supports, the use of gravel as an alternative paving material on this site provided the total trips per week do not exceed 350.   

 

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

 

A purpose of the Rural Areas District (Section 10 of the Zoning Ordinance) is “Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources.”  The proposed country store as described in the application plan and supporting material would re-establish this historic use on this site and support a fundamental element of historic land patterning in the County.  

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

 

The property and the adjacent properties are zoned RA, Rural Areas.  Staff opinion is that the addition of a country store would not affect the uses permitted by right in the district.

 

with the additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance,

 

There are no regulations in Section 5.0 of the Ordinance that apply to country stores. 

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

 

Staff opinion is that the country store would not create traffic that is severely detrimental to Schuyler Road, due to the local focus of the business.  The location of the store may, in fact, reduce overall traffic levels in the district by helping to limit longer trips.    

 

The vehicular entry into the site required by the Virginia Department of Transportation for this site is a ‘Standard Private Subdivision Road/Street Entrance’ cross section.  This cross section features a hard paved surface (concrete or asphalt), without curb and gutter, extending a minimum of 25’ into the site with a shoulder and ditch along Schuyler Road.  A survey of the Historic Preservation Committees archives of country store photographs reveals paving of parking areas that ranges from asphalt, to gravel and compacted earth with large open entries of paving material consistent with the parking on site.  The Senior Civil Engineer has, however, suggested the use of the entrance detail required by VDOT, which is a single point entry into the site (24’ wide with a 3 foot shoulder, and a minimum radius of 25’), based on the safety concerns inherent when vehicular access to an adjacent roadway occurs over a long, continuous portion of the site.  Staff would support the use of gravel as an alternative paving surface for the entry if the remainder of the entry was configured based on the recommended VDOT detail.  The topographic relationship of the road, entrance, and parking area is level overall; therefore the slope conditions at the entry are not a concern.  Staff has requested VDOT review of the modified entry detail, but has not received a response at this time.   

 

The efforts by the applicant to stabilize the site with the removal of the underground gas tanks and continued monitoring of the residual impacts of the tanks have improved the environmental condition of the site and contributed to public health, safety and general welfare.

 

Given the proposed scope of the kitchen, the capacity of the septic field to handle deep fryer shall be confirmed by a civil engineer with the site plan application and is a condition of approval (Condition 5.).  The engineer may recommend including a grease trap or interceptor. 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

  1. Re-establishes a country store on a site with a history of that land use.
  2. Provides links between local producers and the community.
  3. Provides a community gathering place.
  4. Contributes to reducing the overall level of traffic in the district by providing rural-scale services that would otherwise have to be obtained by driving a further distance. 

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.        Increased traffic at this intersection during store hours (6:00 am – 9:00 pm).

2.        The applicant would remove trees to provide additional site distance.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of SP 2005-24, subject to the following conditions:

1.       Special Use Permit 2005-24 shall be developed in general accord with the concept application plan dated November 15, 2005, prepared by Brenda and Robert Moon, and titled “The Schuyler Country Store, SP2005-24” (Attachment F.).  However, revisions to the sketch plan shall be allowed for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

2.       The parking area shall be comprised of a loose gravel surface with parking spaces delineated by wheel stops, flush railroad ties, or some similar means subject to the approval of the Zoning Administrator.    

3.       The vehicular entrance into the site shall be constructed based on the VDOT Standard Private Subdivision Road / Street Entrance with the exception of using gravel as an alternative paving material. 

4.       The existing White Oak (Quercus alba) as shown on Attachment B. shall be retained, and it shall be protected by the following:

a)      Permanent fencing shall be installed at the drip line (outermost extent of the canopy) of the existing White Oak as identified in Attachment B., the full circumference of the canopy.  The fencing shall be installed before any site disturbance commences and shall be maintained for the life of the tree.  The fencing materials may include post and wire, split rail, or picket types.  The fencing shall not be comprised of chain link.  The fencing shall be subject to the approval of the Zoning Administrator.

 

b)      No materials of any sort shall be stored within the drip line of the tree.

c)      No vehicular or equipment movement or parking shall occur within the drip line of the tree.      

5.       Water and septic systems shall be subject to Health Department approval prior to site plan approval. 

           

Attachments:

 

  1. Photograph of the existing storage building that represents the material palette proposed for the store.
  2. Photograph of the existing storage building that is located 20’ from the edge of Schuyler Road.
  3. The existing large White Oak.
  4. The growth difference in the pavement and non-pavement sides of the White Oak.
  5. Drawing indicating the approximate location of the White Oak (Quercus alba) in relation to other proposed and existing site elements.
  6. Concept site configuration dated November 15, 2005, prepared by Brenda and Robert Moon, and titled “The Schuyler Country Store, SP2005-24”
  7. Email from neighbor to the west, Frances and Mark Moody to Amy Arnold, dated September 22, 2005.

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