STAFF PERSON:                               Amy Ransom Arnold

PLANNING COMMISSION:            February 14, 2006         

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:            March 15, 2006           

 

 

SP 2005-31 Edward P. Allen Home Occupation

 

 

Applicant’s Proposal: The applicant currently operates two businesses at 4746 Sugar Hollow Road (TM 41 Parcel 1B), employing a total of four people, which is in violation of the Zoning Ordinance.  The applicant proposes continuance of the Home Occupation with no more than two employees on site at any one time.  On rare occasions when more than two employees may be present, the applicant has offered to reduce the visibility of parking on site by arranging for off site parking.  The applicant has indicated that in addition to the activity associated with the businesses, they expect to receive a single UPS delivery per day.  The businesses now in operation include the administrative and managerial aspects of an asphalt driveway coating service (equipment located elsewhere) and the design and production of real estate periodicals.  Business activities are confined within the house and include filing, answering / making phone calls, and computer aided graphic design.  The house includes 5,000 square feet under the roof with 3,200 square feet of finished living space, 1,000 square feet of which is dedicated to the Home Occupation.  The driveway and parking areas located near the house have been re-configured to allow for the parking of employee vehicles at the rear of the house (north side) away from Sugar Hollow Road towards Route 810. (Attachment A.)  Views of the employee parking area are limited from Sugar Hollow Road, but the parked cars are readily visible from Route 810, immediately to the east of the site.  (Attachment B.)

 

Petition: The applicant proposes to operate multiple businesses in a single family residential dwelling, employing four people.  Section 10.2.2.31 Home Occupation Class B; 5.2 Home Occupation allows for the establishment of businesses in single family residential dwellings in the Rural Area.  The property, described as TM 41, Parcel 1B is zoned Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (.5 unit/acre).  The Comprehensive Plan identifies the land use as Rural Areas (preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/density; .5 unit/acre).  The property is located at 4746 Sugar Hollow Road (Route 614); approx. 600 feet west of the intersection of Route 810 and Route 614 in the White Hall Magisterial District.   

 

Character of the Area: The immediate area is comprised of open agricultural fields, residential dwellings, hedgerows, patches of forest, and two country stores.  The Moorman’s River is located less than ˝ mile to the north of the parcel.  The Allen parcel totals 9.723 acres.  One acre of the site is dedicated to the house and environs with the remaining 8.723 acres used for the production of livestock feed.  The 8.723 acres farmed for hay is included in the County Land Use Taxation program.           

 

Planning and Zoning History: This parcel was created when TM41 – Parcel 1 (87.391 acres) was subdivided in January of 1999 into five separate properties.  As a result of this division, each resulting parcel was limited to one dwelling unit per parcel.  Mr. Allen purchased TM 41 – Parcel 1B in January of 2001. A single dwelling unit was constructed on the property in 2002 utilizing one acre for the house site.  The remaining 8.723 acres of the Allen property have remained in agricultural use.    

 

A Notice of Violation (2005-151) was sent to Mr. Allen on September 16, 2005 in response to a citizen complaint regarding increased activity on the property.  Mr. Allen has since been very responsive to the notice by meeting with County staff and by making this Special Use Permit application.                

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff has reviewed this request for compliance with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the zoning ordinance and recommends denial, based on its inconsistency with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance, the purpose and intent of the Rural Area ordinance and the Rural Commercial section of the Comprehensive Plan.   

 

STAFF COMMENT:

 

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

 

The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder.   Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property.

 

The definition of home occupation Class B states, “An occupation conducted in a dwelling unit, with or without the use of one or more accessory structures, for profit, in connection with which there are employed not more than two (2) persons other than members of the family residing on the premises, which persons may be in addition to such family members.”  Staff is convinced that the number of cars on site and increase in traffic volume associated with four employees is detrimental to adjacent properties.  The applicant has indicated that the four people he currently employs are part time.  Though the ordinance does not distinguish between full and part time employees, staff feels that the coming and going of part time employees will likely result in higher levels of traffic than employees that enter and exit the site less often during the course of the work day.  It is implicit in the ordinance that the two employee limitation applies to the operation of a Home Occupation, rather than employees of the applicant, present on site and engaged in routine home maintenance like the maintenance of lawns and other plantings.            

 

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

 

The character of the immediate context is defined by open agricultural fields, residential dwellings, patches of forest, and two country stores.  Each of these elements is distinct from one another and possesses unique characteristics.  While the establishment of a home occupation may help reduce traffic on local roads and support the proliferation of small business within the County, the scale and invisibility of home occupations is critical to maintaining the character of the Rural Areas.  It is the opinion of staff that the increase number of employees, changes in the configuration of the site, additional cars parked on site, and increased traffic constitutes activity of a scale and intensity that is inconsistent with the character of the Rural Areas.  Sensitivity to the expectations of neighbors and the nearby community in terms of traffic quantities and type is important in maintaining the character of the Rural Areas.  The applicant has indicated that no more than two employees are on site at any one time.  On rare occasions when more than two employees may be present, the applicant has offered to reduce the visibility of parking on site by arranging for off site parking.  Staff feels that this option does not address the underlying problem of the scale of the existing Home Occupation.   

 

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

 

County ordinance pertaining to the Rural Areas were established for the following purposes:

 

While the applicant has actively supported the intent of this ordinance by maintaining agricultural use on the majority of the property, the scale of the proposed businesses is inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the ordinance and does not meet the definition of a Home Occupation, Class B.  A Home Occupation with a high level of visibility as expressed in increased vehicular presence and changes in site configuration will detract from the intended purposes of the Rural Areas ordinance provisions. 

 

with the uses permitted by right in the district,

 

The property and the adjacent properties are zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The uses permitted by right under RA Zoning directly support agriculture, forestry, and the conservation of rural land.  While Home Occupations are allowed by Special Use Permit, the Zoning Ordinance has specifically included language that determines the scale and intensity of Home Occupations, insuring that the preferred uses of land zoned RA remain the priority.  Staff feels that a Home Occupation, Class B of this size places too much emphasis on this use and does not support the characteristic of Rural Commercial outlined in the Comprehensive Plan such as country stores and crossroads communities. 

 

with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,

 

Section 5.2 of the Ordinance applies to Home Occupation, Class B.  The following sections are of particular relevance to this proposal:

 

5.2.1. ‘Except as herein provided, no home occupation shall be established without approval of the zoning administrator. Upon receipt of a request to establish a home occupation, Class B, the zoning administrator shall refer the same to the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation for approval of entrance facilities and the zoning administrator shall determine the adequacy of existing parking for such use. No such clearance shall be issued for any home occupation, Class B, except after compliance with section 5.2.3 hereof. (Amended 3-18-81)’

 

5.2.2.1.b. ‘There shall be no change in the outside appearance of the buildings or premises, or other visible evidence of the conduct of such home occupation provided that a home occupation, Class B, may erect one home occupation Class B sign as authorized by section 4.15 of this chapter.’

 

5.2.2.1.d. ‘No traffic shall be generated by such home occupation in greater volumes than would normally be expected in a residential neighborhood, and any need for parking generated by the conduct of such home occupation shall be met off the street;’

 

5.2.3.No home occupation, Class B, shall be established until a permit shall have been issued therefore.  The provisions of section 5.2.1 of this ordinance shall apply hereto, mutatis mutandis.’

 

5.2.4. ‘The zoning administrator may revoke any clearance or permit issued pursuant to this section, after hearing, for noncompliance with this ordinance or any condition imposed under the authority of this section.’

 

The Home Occupations included in this proposal are pre-existing and have been established without the approval of the zoning administrator and without a permit.  The house site has been altered to extend the driveway around the back of the house and include an employee parking area.  While parking for employee vehicles has been accommodated off the street, employee cars are easily visible from Route 810.  Neighbor complaints indicate that activity on this site has increased beyond what would normally be expected in a residential neighborhood.  Although the applicant has proposed limiting the number of employees on site at one time to two, the zoning administrator has expressed concerns about the enforceability of this proposal and has indicated that the Zoning Division cannot support the applicants request for a Special Use Permit.  

         

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

 

Staff feels the Home Occupation proposed and associated traffic expected to be generated does not pose a threat to public health, or safety.  However, a Home Occupation Class B of this scale results in increased vehicular traffic, changes in site configuration, and activity level above those allowed for in the ordinance, and ultimately detract from perceived general welfare in the nearby community.    

  

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.       Support of small business activity in the County.

2.       Continuing support by the applicant of maintaining 8.723 acres of the property in the production of livestock feed.

     Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.       Inconsistency with the definition of Home Occupation, Class B.

2.       Inconsistency with the purpose and intent of the Rural Areas ordinance.

3.       Inconsistency with the Rural Areas section of the Comprehensive Plan in terms of scale and intensity.

4.       The impact of increased local traffic to and from the residential location on Rural Area roads.

5.       Increased presence of parked cars, above the quantity expected in a residential context, clearly visible from nearby Route 810.

6.       The inability of the County to confirm and enforce the numbers of employees on site at one time.

 

In order for staff to support this proposal, changes to the proposal were suggested to the applicant:

·         The total number of employees should be reduced.

·         Visibility of the east side of the residence from Route 810 should be eliminated by increasing the density of the existing hedgerow continuously along the fence line of the parcel immediately adjacent to Route 810.  The hedgerow should include a variety of indigenous plant species typically found in hedgerows, established at a density and height that will eliminate views of the dwelling from Route 810, throughout the year.  The suggested location of the hedgerow is illustrated in Attachment C. 

The applicant has responded to staff’s recommendation by re-stating his desire to pursue the application as submitted.

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends denial of SP 2005-31 based on its inconsistency with the provisions of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance, the purpose and intent of the Rural Area ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan.    

 

Attachments:

 

A. Changes in parking configuration to allow for employee parking

B. View of the employee parking area from Route 810. 

C. Suggested location and extent of augmentation of an existing hedgerow to minimize visibility of existing employee parking from Route 810:

D.    Letter from a neighboring property owner:  Daisy and Percy Fitzgerald

E.    Email from a neighboring property owner:  Marlene A. Condon

 

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