STAFF PERSON:                                                               Rebecca Ragsdale                          

PLANNING COMMISSION:                                               February 21, 2006                           

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                                           March 15, 2006

 

ZMA 2005-05 Liberty Hall (Cross Property)

 

FOLLOW-UP FROM PLANNING COMMISSION WORK SESSION-JANUARY 17, 2006

 

BACKGROUND: 

The Planning Commission held a work session on January 17, 2006 to provide input to staff and the applicant on several discussion topics. (Attachment A)The applicant submitted revisions to the Plan, Code of Development, and Proffers based on input provided by the Commission. (Attachments B, C, E)  The applicant has also provided architectural drawings and has made three waiver requests. (Attachment D, H-M)

 

PROPOSAL:

The area to be rezoned is located in Crozet, near Radford Lane and Route 250, adjacent to Clover Lawn and behind the Masonic Lodge. (Attachments A and B) The applicant is requesting to rezone 8.01 acres from R-1 Residential to the Neighborhood Model Zoning District to allow for an office building of approximately 13,500 square feet in size and 53 residential units comprised of 8 apartments (7 affordable), 35 townhouses, and 10 single family detached units. Waivers have been requested for critical slope disturbance, on-street parking, and Subdivision Ordinance street section requirements for a planting strip and sidewalks

 

CROZET MASTER PLAN:

Liberty Hall includes portions of CT3 Edge and CT 4 General within Neighborhood 4 of the Crozet Master Plan. Residential densities for the project are below.

 

Liberty Hall Residential Density

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crozet Transect Density

 

Acres

Net Acres

Max Master Plan Units

Units Proposed

Density

CT 3 (3.5, 4.5, 6.5/acre)

 

5.96

4.77

30.99

31

6.50

CT 4 (4.5,12/acre; 18/acre mix use)

2.05

1.64

29.52

22

13.41

Total

 

 

 

8.01

6.41

60.51

53

 

Notes: Net acreage is 80% project area.

 

 

 

 

 

                 

 

At the Planning Commission work session on January 17, 2006, staff discussed proposed density with the Commission and the Commission generally agreed that additional density in one area was acceptable because density had not been maximized.  Staff is concerned about the density, though, in light of the comments from the staff Engineer regarding disturbance of the critical slopes and lack of adequate on-site area for erosion and sediment control measures. 

 

Staff notes that the recommended net densities from the Land Use Plan are guidelines and should be considered in the context of the full recommendations for the land use categories. For more guidance on the expectations for the CT3 and CT4 categories, staff has looked to the Land Use Table 1 in the Crozet Plan.  In that table, staff has looked for general conformity between the Code of Development and the Master Plan.  In most areas, the proposal meets the recommendations; however, in three places it does not.  In the CT3 area, the proposal shows 60% maximum lot coverage, however, the Master Plan shows 40% maximum lot coverage. In the CT4 area, the proposal shows 60% maximum lot coverage which is consistent with the Master Plan. Building heights are recommended to be 2.5 stories with 3 stories by exception. Three story buildings are shown in both the CT3 and CT4 areas.

 

Staff would suggest that the intensity of development in the CT3 area may be in excess of the expectations for these areas. However, in the case of the CT 4 area of the project, the office building is proposed immediately adjacent to the CT 5 area of the Neighborhood and the intensity of development is appropriate.

 

 

CHANGES TO THE PLAN:

At their meeting on January 17, the Planning Commission found the mixture of uses, mixture of housing types, residential density, and interconnections to be appropriate. Changes requested by the Commission are noted below by discussion topic and the applicant response and staff response is indicated.

 

Design- The Planning Commission raised concerns about the proposed front loaded garages in interior blocks of the project.

The applicant has indicated that garages have been located facing the side of lots where possible for single family units and it is stipulated in the Code of Development that the garages on the single-family lots must be recessed from the minimum front setback.

The applicant has provided architectural elevations of the residential units proposed for the interior blocks of the project. The townhouse units will be three stories with entry and two-car garages at street level. (Attachment D) The Crozet Master Plan suggests 1-2 stories from main entry and 2.5-3 stories by exception for building heights in the CT 3 areas. Staff recognizes that not all projects will be able to achieve a layout that allows for every residential unit to have parking/garages rear loaded. The applicant was able to provide this in Block 1. The layout for Liberty Hall has been centered around the existing house and providing a centrally located park area in Blocks 3 and 4. It appears the applicant could possibly have designed an alley for rear-loaded garages to serve the units in Block 4 but would not achieve as much amenity area in that block. The architectural elevations show an effort to add details to the garage doors to breakup the repetitiveness of the garage doors of the townhouses and add variety. This information was submitted by the applicant following the work session in January and has not been incorporated into the Code of Development. If the Planning Commission finds this an appropriate way to address the issue of the garage doors, then the applicant should provide for this in the Code of Development.

Amenities and green space- The Planning Commission indicated there should be more functional neighborhood amenities provided. It was suggested that the applicant discuss the placement of stormwater detention underground with Engineering staff and to further reduce surface parking in Block 1.

The applicant has made revisions to amenities in Block 1, Block 2, and Block 6. (Figure L2-Attachment C) Staff finds that the details provided by the applicant for each amenity area, including a tot lot, recreational playing field, and walking path, demonstrate the functionality of each amenity. The amenity acreage for the whole project has increased from 1.65 acres or 20.8% of the project area to 1.95 acres or 23.7%. Overall, the green space and amenities plan has improved with the revisions. Comments on specific changes are noted below by block.

Block 1-The applicant has reduced parking in Block 1 by 7 spaces to add to the amenities in that block to provide a picnic area adjacent to the buildings and parking lot. The amenity area in this block has been increased from 0.42 acres to 0.48 acres. The reduction in parking spaces has increased the percentage of shared parking in the block and Zoning will only approve the shared parking agreement if the picnic area is reserved for future parking if needed. In addition, the parking lot travel aisle does not meet the Zoning Ordinance requirement of 24 feet and will need to be modified to meet County standards. The alley proposed in Block 1 does meet the alley standard in the Design Standards Manual. Final plans will need revision, likely decreasing the picnic area. Staff believes, given the other amenities provided in the project, even with the loss of this picnic area, amenities are sufficient.

Block 2- The amenity area in Block 2 has been increased from 0.25 acres to 0.40 acres and now includes a trail providing possible future connection to the adjacent greenway as shown on the Crozet Master Plan Green Infrastructure Map. The proposed trail in Block 2 now provides for future opportunities to connect this neighborhood in Crozet to trails leading to Lickinghole Creek.

Block 6-The applicant has consulted with Engineering and revised the stormwater management plan to place the pond between Blocks 5 and 6 underground to now provide an open field area for play. However, staff is concerned that the grading proposed may not allow a level playing field and suggests the applicant address this in the Code of Development.

Off-site impacts and Proffers- The Planning Commission discussed the four proffers submitted by the applicant and made several suggestions at their meeting in January.  The Commission suggested that the cash proffer amount be increased for consistency with recent rezonings approved. There was discussion regarding the timeframe in the affordable housing proffer. The Commission suggested the proffer be reworded to extend the time for the County to find a buyer for the affordable units. The Commission suggested that the proffer for the contribution to a traffic signal on Route 250 be revised to also allow the contribution to be used for a possible traffic signal at the proposed Eastern Avenue location by Cory Farm. 

The applicant has submitted revised proffers which have incorporated the Commission’s comments and additional comments from staff. (Attachment E)

1.      Cash Contribution-A cash contribution to the County of $147,200 is provided for transportation, schools, libraries, fire, rescue, and parks. This proffer was revised to that increased amount following the work session.

2.      Affordable Housing-This proffer has been revised since the work session to extend the time period in which the County has to provide a buyer for the units. However, the Director of Housing has indicated that this is not necessary and will be at the Planning Commission meeting to further explain and answer the Commission’s questions. Seven units are proffered as affordable which represents slightly less than 15 percent based on the total of 53 units proposed with this rezoning. Seven is 15 percent of the 46 market-rate units. The applicant has indicated they would be willing to provide the additional unit as affordable for a total of 8 affordable units and 15 percent of the total number of units in the project, which is the strategy in the Comprehensive Plan.

3.      Contribution to traffic signal- This proffer has been revised so that the contribution can be used towards a signal on Route 250 at Radford Lane or where the future Eastern Avenue is located.

4.      An overlot grading plan has been proffered at the suggestion of staff since the work session. The language of this proffer is consistent with previous proffers and reflects staff recommended language.

 

Schools serving Liberty Hall are Brownsville Elementary, Henley Middle, and Western Albemarle High. The Fiscal Impact Analysis provided by the County’s Fiscal Impact Analyst is attached. The applicant is proffering a total of $147,200 to mitigate impacts from this development, which is about $3,000 per market rate unit. This is consistent with the proffers accepted for the recent Wickham Pond rezoning approved in Crozet.

 

The proffers appear adequate to address impacts from the development. They have been reviewed by the County Attorney but are not in their final form. Some additional minor wording revisions are needed

 

 

Waiver Requests:

Section 8.2 Planned Development District regulations allow applicants to request that any requirement of sections 4, 5 and 32, or the planned development district regulations be waived or modified if it is found to be inconsistent with planned development design principles and that the waiver or modification is consistent with the intent and purposes of the planned development district under the particular circumstances.  The applicant has submitted three sets of waiver requests for the Liberty Hall proposal under these provisions:

 

Zoning Ordinance Section 4.2 Critical Slopes

During the course of this project’s review several critical slopes waiver requests have been submitted to Engineering for review, most recently with the revised plan. (Attachment F) Critical slopes impacted that require a waiver by the Planning Commission are located in Block 2. The critical slope waiver request has been reviewed.  The engineering analysis of the request follows:

Description of critical slope area and proposed disturbance:

The critical slopes on this site are along the edges of Clover Lawn Village next to the road and stormwater basin, and at the beginning of a swale northeast of the site.  Disturbances are for the road improvements, and for residential units at the northeast corner.

 

Areas

Acres

Total site

8.1

Critical slopes

0.24

3% of site

Critical slopes disturbed

0.11

46% of critical slopes

 

Exemptions to critical slopes waivers for driveways, roads and utilities without reasonable alternative locations:

The critical slopes being disturbed next to Clover Lawn Village for the roadway improvements are exempt. The proposed disturbances are necessary to provide access to the site that meets the County standards.

 

The remaining slopes disturbed in the northeast corner are indicated in the graphic below.

 

 

The grading from the road has been reduced slightly further, and grading for the lots is no longer shown (although it may still occur with the building permit and house construction.) A diversion dike has been proposed to protect the remaining slopes by diverting water to a sediment trap on the adjacent property. The plan shows the left side of the diversion dike flowing uphill and across the road and access to the adjacent property which would be very difficult to accomplish in the field. It is likely a sediment trap will still be necessary in this corner.

 

Compliance with Zoning Ordinance 18-4.2:

movement of soil and rock”

Proper slope construction, control of drainage, and vegetative stabilization will prevent any movement of soil.  However, it is noted that a steep fill slope is being placed over the critical slopes, and thereby increases the chances for slope failure.

excessive stormwater runoff”

Stormwater runoff will be increased by establishment of yards, steep fill slopes, and impervious rooftops.  This area of the site is not captured by stormwater management.

siltation”

      This area of the site is very close to the property line.  It is doubtful whether adequate sediment trapping measures can be installed to prevent downstream erosion during construction.

 

 

 

loss of aesthetic resource”

The area to be disturbed is minimal, but the disturbance is proposed for the outer limits of a band of critical slopes shown on the Crozet Green Infrastructure Map and Open Space Plan.

“septic effluent”

            This is not a concern as the site will be serviced by public sewer.

 

Based on the review above, Engineering staff has recommended that the plan for residential units be modified so as not to disturb critical slopes in the northeast corner. Attempts have been made to fine tune the grading plan in this area and reduce critical slope disturbances.  It is unclear how effective this will be in the field.  The critical slope disturbances on the plan are fairly small.  Without moving the road and reducing the area for the lots, no other alternatives appear feasible.

 

Zoning Ordinance Section 4.12.9(a) On-Street Parking

Parking calculations are provided in the Code of Development. (Attachment B, page 30) The applicant revised their parking plan for Block 1 following the Planning Commission work session in January to provide more amenities for the block. Parking in this block is provided by a surface parking lot located in the southwest corner of the block and on-street.  The required parking in this block is 104 spaces. The parking lot provides 43 spaces (reduced from 50 spaces) to serve the apartment units 10,11, 21,22 and the office building. The Zoning Administrator has authorized a parking reduction in this block based on shared parking per Section 4.12.10 for the parking lot. Parking for town house units 3-9 and 14-15 are provided by two-car garages.  

Parking for apartment units 1,2,12,and 13 will be provided on-street. Four spaces are shown on the west side of Radford Lane (Road A) and 9 spaces are shown on the south side of Road B for a total of 13 spaces. (Attachment C–Figure 2)These spaces meet required parking for units 1,2,12,13 in the block and a waiver of Section 4.12.9(a) must be granted by the Planning Commission to allow on-street parking to meet minimum parking requirements that does not abut the lot that the space serves.  These spaces are located approximately fifty feet or less from the units. The applicant has requested that these spaces be counted as required parking. (Attachment I)

Zoning and planning are supportive of the waiver request, subject to conditions of approval related to the shared parking agreement:

 

1.      The parking calculations on page 30 in the Code of Development must be revised to indicate that the residential units require a total of 48 spaces rather than 50 spaces. Since the condominiums do not have on-site parking they require 2 spaces per unit.

 

2.      Note on the Plan that the commercial building in Block 1 is limited to uses that require no more than 1 space per 200 square feet of net office floor area.

 

3.      Note on the Plan that an instrument assuring the maintenance of the 18 shared spaces must be recorded when the Block is subdivided or converted to a condominium regime.

 

4.      A note placed on the plan that reserves the area next to the parking lot for future parking.

 

Subdivision Ordinance Section 14-422 Sidewalks and Planting Strips

The applicant has submitted waiver requests to Section 14-222 of the Subdivision Ordinance which requires an urban street section with five foot sidewalks and six foot planting strips with street trees on all new streets.  The applicant has provided a justification and has described the circumstances of the project along two road sections within the project that necessitate the waivers. (Attachment K)

The first waiver request is to the section of street that is from Radford Lane (Road A) to its intersection with Road B. The applicant is making road improvements within the existing easement of Radford Lane and is unable to use property that is not part of Liberty Hall. In this area, a sidewalk is only proposed on the east side of the street. The street section from Route 250 to Clover Lawn would not include a planting strip and the rest of the street to Road B would include a 3-foot planting strip on the east side of the street. (Attachment M)

The second waiver request is to a section along the south side of Road B from Road A/Radford Lane behind Clover Lawn to the property line. No sidewalks or planting strips are proposed on this side of Road B. (Attachment M)

 

Sidewalks

In reviewing a request to waive the requirement for sidewalks, the commission shall consider several criteria as noted in Section 14-222E(2). (Attachment L) Not all criteria will be applicable nor do all criteria have to be met for a waiver to be granted. Liberty Hall is requesting that sidewalk waivers be granted on a section of street along Road A and a section of street on the southern side of Road B. They are also requesting a waiver of the planting strip requirements on those same sections. An evaluation of how Liberty Hall meets the criteria follows. In granting a waiver, the Commission must consider whether:

 

(i)                 a waiver to allow a rural cross-section has been granted;

 

The applicant is not requesting rural cross-sections on either Road A/Radford Lane or on Road B.

 

(ii)               a surface other than concrete is more appropriate for the subdivision because of the character of the proposed subdivision and the surrounding neighborhood

 

All sidewalks provided will be concrete and 5 feet in width.

 

(iii)             sidewalks on one side of the street are appropriate due to environmental constraints such as streams, stream buffers, critical slopes, floodplain, or wetlands, or because lots are provided on only one side of the street;

 

The section of Radford Lane where sidewalks are not proposed is on the west side in front of the Masonic Lodge property. The constraint in this case is not environmental but the applicant is limited by the right-of-way of Radford Lane and the Lodge does not wish to have a sidewalk constructed by the applicant on their property.

 

The southern side of Road B from its intersection with Road A eastward is the other place where sidewalks are not proposed.  Road B is proposed as a 45 foot right-of-way at this location and as 54 feet in the portion of Road B westward from its intersection with Road A/Radford Lane. In this case the ROW is less and sidewalks are not provided because the applicant has tried to maximize the number of units that can be achieved in Block 2 by shifting them down out of the critical slopes in the northern part of the block. Staff believes that, for this section, the applicant could expand the right-of-way to provide a sidewalk. The applicant desires to achieve greater density in this block. Staff is sympathetic to this but notes that density alone is not a sufficient reason to exclude sidewalks from the street section.  

 

(iv)       the sidewalks reasonably can connect into an existing or future pedestrian system in the area;

 

The sidewalk is provided on one side of Radford Lane to Route 250 on the east side but is not provided all the way to Route 250 on the west side adjacent to the Lodge. If the Lodge property develops in the future, than the sidewalks provided by the applicant can easily connect to those that would be built on the Lodge property.

 

For the section on Road B, sidewalks could connect into future development behind Clover Lawn to the east of Liberty Hall.

 

(iv)             the length of the street is so short and the density of the development is so low that it is unlikely that the sidewalk would be used to an extent that it would provide a public benefit;

 

In both portions of roadway involved, a sidewalk is provided on one side of the road. It is anticipated that a sidewalk along Radford Lane/Road A would be used to reach future shopping planned for the neighborhood. The portion of Road B from its intersection with Radford Lane/Road A does not connect to a destination but to a CT 3 area of the neighborhood which abuts the Rural Area boundary. It is possible that the CT3 area may develop in such a way that sidewalks on both sides of the street would be needed.

 

(vi)       an alternate pedestrian system including an alternative pavement could provide more appropriate access throughout the subdivision and to adjoining lands, based on a proposed alternative profile submitted by the subdivider;

 

Alternate pedestrian access is not proposed. Access on one side of the street will be provided.

 

(v)               the sidewalks would be publicly or privately maintained;

 

All sidewalks in the development will be in the public road right-of-way.

 

(vi)             the waiver promotes the goals of the comprehensive plan, the neighborhood model, and the applicable neighborhood master plan; and

 

In the case of Radford lane, the request is not promoting the applicable goals but is being made due to right-of-way constraints. In the case of Road B, however, the only goal would be to promote density. Not requiring sidewalks to provide greater density seems counter-intuitive and the greater the density, the greater the need for sidewalks.

 

(ix)       waiving the requirement would enable a different principle of the neighborhood model to be more fully achieved. In approving a waiver, the commission shall find that requiring sidewalks would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; and granting the waiver would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, to sound engineering practices, and to the land adjacent thereto.

 

The waiver for Radford Lane/Road A is a result of the lack of right-of-way at this location and the need to upgrade the road to public standards. Sidewalks are desirable at this location but one is provided on the other side of the road and the opportunity exists to have the sidewalk constructed in the future. Staff believes the criteria are met.

 

Regarding the waiver of the sidewalk requirement on one side of Road B, staff is unable to find adequate criteria at present to recommend approval of this waiver with the rezoning.

 

Planting Strips

Waivers to the requirement for planting strips are requested in the same sections as the sidewalk waiver requests and along a section of Radford Lane where a sidewalk is provided. In reviewing a request to waive any requirement for planting strips, as authorized by Section 14-222F(2),  the commission shall consider whether:

 

(i)                 a waiver to allow a rural cross-section has been granted;

 

The applicant is not requesting rural cross-sections on either Road A/Radford Lane or on Road B.

 

(ii)               a sidewalk waiver has been granted;

 

A sidewalk waiver is requested for the portion of Road A/Radford Lane on the west side adjacent to the Masonic Lodge and a sidewalk waiver is requested for a portion of Road B located behind Clover Lawn.

 

(iii)             reducing the size of or eliminating the planting strip promotes the goals of the comprehensive plan, the neighborhood model, and the applicable neighborhood master plan; and

 

Eliminating the planting strip and sidewalk requirement on Radford Lane does not foreclose on the opportunity to develop it at a future date when the Lodge property redevelops. The east side abutting Clover Lane includes sidewalks of standard width and a reduced planting strip of 3 feet is provided.  The east side adjacent to the Clover Lawn Basin does not include a planting strip and this is the widest portion of Road A.

 

Eliminating the planting strip on Road B does not promote the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. It is a result of the applicant maximizing the lots that can be achieved in that block.

 

(iv)             waiving the requirement would enable a different principle of the neighborhood model to be more fully achieved. In approving a waiver, the commission shall find that requiring planting strips would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; and granting the waiver would not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, and to the land adjacent thereto.

 

Streetscape elements are important to create the Neighborhood Model goal of neighborhood friendly streets and paths. Trees, usually planted in grassy strips of land between the curb and the sidewalk, provide a softened appearance to streets and enhance the quality of the walk for pedestrians. Trees also provide a barrier between the pedestrian and a moving car.

 

Since a sidewalk is provided on the both sides for half this section of street and a sidewalk will extend on one side to Route 250 and may be provided in the future if the Masonic Lodge redevelops, staff feels the waiver is appropriate for this section. The applicant does not have room to provide the required six feet of planting strip so the waiver of the planting strip requirement with the condition that the shrubs be provided as shown is appropriate

 

The waiver will also enable a public road to be constructed at this location. In addition, the ARB indicated a preference for no street trees on Radford Lane at its intersection with Route 250 and Entrance Corridor. No detrimental effects have been identified that would result from the lack of street trees at this location.

 

Road B-The waiver at this location does not forward a different principle of the neighborhood model. No detrimental effects have been identified that would result from the lack of street trees at this location

 

SUMMARY

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to the rezoning request:

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this request:

 

RECOMMENDATION:

 

Staff cannot recommend approval of this rezoning of 8.01 acres from R1 to NMD at this time because critical slope and stormwater management issues have not been adequately resolved with the latest revised plan. The intensity of development may need to be scaled back to accommodate measures in portions of the site.

 

Should the Planning Commission choose to recommend approval at this time, the following changes should be made:

o       Proffers should be revised to include 15 percent affordable housing units and other minor changes to the wording of the proffers should be made.

o       The code of development should be revised to reflect parking changes and incorporate architectural details provided.

o       The application plan should be revised to reflect the Ordinance required parking lot dimensions and Zoning notes regarding parking.

 

Waivers:

 

Staff cannot support the waiver of Zoning Ordinance Section 4.2 for critical slope disturbance.  

 

Staff recommends approval of the waiver to allow on-street parking to meet required parking for units 1,2, 12, and 13 in Block 1of the project, in accordance with Zoning Ordinance Section 4.12.9(a) On-Street Parking.

 

Staff recommends approval of the Subdivision Ordinance Section 14-422 for Radford Lane/Road A:

Staff supports the waiver to sidewalks and planting strips for the section of Road A/Radford Lane adjacent to the Masonic Lodge and recommends approval of a waiver of Section 14-4222(A) for this portion of the street.  Staff supports the planting strip waiver for the east side of Radford Lane/Road A to its intersection with Road B and recommends approval of the waiver of Section 14-222(D).

 

Staff does not recommend approval of the Subdivision Ordinance Section 14-422 waiver requests for Road B:

Staff does not support the waiver of Section 14-4222(A) and 14-222(D) for the southern half of Road B adjacent to Clover Lawn and does not recommend approval at this location.

 

ATTACHMENTS:

 

  1. Planning Commission Executive Summary and Staff Report, January 17, 2006
  2. Liberty Hall Code of Development
  3. Liberty Hall General Development Plan
  4. Architectural Figures
  5. Liberty Hall Proffers
  6. Fiscal Impact Analysis
  7. Traffic Impact Analysis
  8. Critical Slopes Waiver Request
  9. Parking Waiver Request
  10. Section 4.12.9(a) Zoning Ordinance
  11. Subdivision Ordinance Waiver Request
  12. Section 14-222 Subdivision Ordinance
  13. Subdivision Waiver Request diagram

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