Agenda Item No. 7. ZMA-2005-0005. Liberty Hall (Cross Property), Sign #69. Public Hearing on a Proposal to: Rezone 8.01 acres from R1 (1 unit/acre) Residential to NMD Neighborhood Model District - residential (3 - 34 units/acre) mixed with commercial, service and industrial uses to allow office uses up to approx 8,500 square feet in size and up to 53 residential units in single family, townhouses, and multifamily. Proffers: Yes. Existing Comprehensive Plan Land Use/Density: Crozet Master Plan designates the property CT3 Urban Edge: single-family residential (net 3.5-6.5 units/acre) supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses, and CT4 Urban General: residential (net 4.5 units/acre single family, net 12 units/acre townhouses/apartments, net 18 units/acre mixed use) with supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and mixed uses including retail/office. Entrance Corridor: Yes. Location: TM 56, Parcels 97A, 97A1 & 97 (only a .833 acre southwest portion of the property as shown on the General Development Plan) along Radford Lane near its intersection with Rockfish Gap Turnpike (Rt 250 W). Magisterial District: White Hall. (Public Hearing advertised in the Daily Progress on February 27 and March 6, 2006.)
Mr. Cilimberg said before he begins the staff’s report, he will say that the applicant has requested that the Board not take action on this request tonight, but would still like to receive comments from the Board and the public. He said the Board had been provided with a staff report and executive summary giving an update on the status of the project based on the Planning Commission’s action (All reports are on file in the Clerk’s Office with the permanent records of the Board of Supervisors). He said he can summarize that report or go straight to hearing from the applicant and the public. He then offered to answer questions.
Ms. Thomas asked what would be required on Route 250 in terms of stoplights. She said the Renaissance Planning Group (Page 58 of the staff report) talks about the detrimental impact on Route 250 of having traffic intersections with Road “A” and having a second signal at Cory Farm Road. She said that after the applicant has spoken she would like to have more discussion of that point.
Mr. Cilimberg said today the applicant has presented an updated proffer that addresses some technicalities. He said the applicant will speak tonight about a change in the Plan they want to have considered as a follow-up to tonight’s meeting.
Mr. Rooker said if there were no further questions for staff, he would open the public hearing and invite the applicant to speak. The public will be invited to speak tonight, but this petition will be coming back to the Board at another time so the public hearing will be continued to the deferral date.
Mr. Vito Cetta of Weatherhill Homes addressed the Board. He said he will give the full presentation, and then when the request comes back to the Board, he will just address any changes. He said the growth areas of the County are focused into only small parts of the County, which he supports along with restricting development in the rural areas. This proposed development is a result of the Crozet Master Plan, is well done and accomplishes all the things expected to be accomplished. He showed on a map where the project will be located. It is near the Blue Ridge Building Supply and across the street from an approved commercial project where a Harris Teeter Store will be located along with other shops. It is also near Clover Lawn where there are commercial buildings going in the front of that property along with mixed-use commercial.
Mr. Cetta said the Crozet Master Plan suggests interconnectivity. There is a parcel behind his development and access is being given to that parcel. That is actually the reason for the deferral tonight. That neighbor did not like the relocation of a road so they will be accommodating him. The deferral is so the County can review that change and have this neighbor also approve of the change. Their property gives access to the land behind it and to the land to the right and ties the property over to the proposed Eastern Connector. He pointed out where improvements would be made to the road leading to Route 250. He said they have acquired easements for the road, and also offsite sewer easements. The road will be continued to the east, north and to the west.
Mr. Cetta said this project has 53 units, down from the 75 originally planned. The density of this project is at about 70 percent of what is recommended in the Master Plan. He said they are keeping the existing house on the property. The road is extended to the Covels property. Rather than putting in a pond for stormwater detention, it will be buried and there will be a recreation area. He noted the location of Lickinghole Creek on a map and the location of a large portion of land in that area which is undevelopable. They have provided access to that area so that someday there might be walking and hiking trails.
Mr. Cetta said there are a variety of homes proposed in the project; single-family homes, larger townhouses, a stacked flat, a townhouse with affordable stacked flats on the end, and a small office building with apartments above. He said this project was turned down by the Planning Commission because they wanted two sidewalks in all areas, and there was one area where he did not think it was needed. Also, one area of the project was located on a critical slope and the Commission did not want that slope disturbed.
Mr. Cetta said there are a variety of houses proposed in this development. The larger houses will sell for about $500,000 and the stacked flats (the affordable housing) will sell for about $140,000. He said they had changed access to the Covels property; they took the road off of the critical slope. He noted that the site is near Clover Lawn where there is a road which backs up to the Masonic Lodge and it will remain in place. He pointed out the location of the townhouses on the front of the property, the location of the stacked flats, with an alley behind these units and with the garages in the alley. He said they are proud of their Waylands Grant project (nearby) which is the first example in the County of the DISC principles in the Neighborhood Model. The features of the project that he likes are a green strip, street trees, picket fences, houses close to the road, porches, the house is raised, and they are simple houses with interesting colors and the cars will be parked in the back.
Mr. Dorrier asked the number of square feet in each house. Mr. Cetta said some of the houses are four stories, and since the house is raised there can be an English basement, so some of the houses are as large as 3,100 square feet. He said it was one of the first things they did using the Neighborhood Model. He said people appreciate not having a big yard, and there is a park across the street. The units are selling well so it shows these kinds of houses will do well. Originally, they were not able to sell these units because they are located next to Gray Rock which has the garages in the front and with no sidewalks. He showed renderings of Parkside because they propose having similar style homes.
Mr. Cetta said what they proposed in Parkside and what they are about to do in Liberty Hall is to have a garden club. He thinks people will appreciate that because there are a lot of small parks in their project. They have met all 12 criteria of the Neighborhood Model – mixture of housing types, variety of prices, density, as well as 15 percent affordable units and cash proffers of $3,200 per unit with the cash being made available sooner in the development process. He added that they have met with the neighbors and addressed their concerns. He said the traffic on Route 250 is less than 50 percent of capacity. They are also tying Clover Lawn’s entrance into their entrance. Eventually, when all the units are built there probably will be a need for a traffic signal. He said their road also extends over to the proposed Eastern Avenue so the signal may be needed there instead. They are contributing to the cost of the traffic signal as well.
Mr. Rooker asked how that road lines up with the shopping center across the street. He asked if it will be a “T” intersection. Mr. Cetta said that is correct.
Mr. Wyant pointed out that the entrance to Cory Farms is 150 yards away. Mr. Cetta confirmed this, stating that it might be more like 200 or 300 yards away. He said all County departments have reviewed their plans. He does not think they have missed doing anything. The density is lower than what they are allowed to do. This is a project they’re proud of.
Mr. Dorrier asked the size of the lots. Mr. Cetta said there are five different sizes according to the housing type on the site. He said if you’re a builder in the Charlottesville area, you want to buy lots. The only player in town is really the Old Trail development; there are enough problems with the cost of lots and the cost of housing. They need competition. Also, they are not out-of-town builders; they are local builders using local suppliers. Places like Old Trail do have big outside builders and they don’t use the local trades. He asked Mr. Scott Collins to address the issue of why the change was made in the plan.
Mr. Collins, civil engineer representing Weatherhill Homes, addressed the Board. He explained a few changes made to the plan since the Planning Commission’s recommendation for denial last month, and staff’s recommendation for denial, as opposed to the plan the Board has tonight in its packet. He pointed out a building in Block 1 which was a two-story commercial building of about 13,500 square feet. That building did not conform to the Master Plan. The CT4 zone does not allow a two-story office building so that was changed to a one-story live/work unit with residential units above. The square footage of the commercial aspect of the office building has been reduced to 8,500 square feet with five units above.
Mr. Collins said the old plan for Block 2 showed three residential units. The new plan has two residential units. He pointed to one unit that had bordered the critical slope area, actually having a couple of places in critical slopes in that lot, as well as the issue with the sidewalk that Mr. Cetta mentioned earlier. There was not enough room on that side of the road for a sidewalk and planting strip to create a Neighborhood Model street. One lot was eliminated, the lots moved over and none of the lots now encroach on that critical slope area so there is enough room for the sidewalk and that has been included on the new plan. The other change between Block 2 and Block 3 is a roadway connection. That connection was within 10 to 15 feet of the critical slopes area. There was not enough room to construct the road along with erosion control measures to allow the sediment to impact the critical slope areas, so the new plan eliminates that connection to the north.
Mr. Wyant asked how Mr. Collins had addressed the neighboring property owner’s concern. Mr. Collins said the new plan pictured earlier on a slide shows a new road, eliminating one lot, and bringing that road through a different area. This new road is now in excess of 50 feet from the critical slope areas instead of 15 feet. That gives room for erosion and sediment control measures. All the drainage from the roadway, the houses, the lots, and any impervious area, will be directed to the underground detention system in the back of the property and will not be discharged into the critical slope area or cause further erosion.
Mr. Rooker asked what is proposed to provide for maintenance of that underground detention area. Will a homeowner’s association do that? Mr. Collins confirmed that it will be part of the homeowner association’s responsibility.
Mr. Dorrier asked the total number of acres in the project. Mr. Collins said the entire project contains eight acres.
Mr. Collins then showed a slide highlighting the changes he just mentioned.
Mr. Rooker asked that the applicant’s presentation be concluded at this time.
Mr. Collins said there was a big change in Block 6. He pointed to the block and said it originally contained 14 town homes, but that has been changed to four single-family homes and seven town homes. That decreased the density in this area and put more density into the CT4 area. The major changes from the plan submitted to the Commission last month are: this plan conforms with the Master Plan in every aspect, it has the interconnectivity the Board wants, it has the live/work unit, it has the amenities which support the community, people can live, work and operate within this community, and although it is on a small scale, it is very similar to some of the bigger projects that have been approved under the Crozet Master Plan and it incorporates all the elements of the Crozet Master Plan.
Mr. Wyant asked that Mr. Collins point out the location of the connector road to Eastern Avenue. Mr. Collins confirmed that the connection would come through Cory Farms.
Mr. Rooker asked if that is over an existing road in Cory Farms. Mr. Wyant said there is a cul-de-sac in Cory Farms now.
Mr. Rooker asked if that is a public road in Cory Farms where that connection will be made. Mr. Collins said that is correct.
Mr. Rooker asked if that road is built to the property line. Mr. Wyant said he does not think it is, ending in a cul-de-sac soon after entering that development. Mr. Cilimberg said the cul-de-sac is not to the property line, there are lots at the end. He said Mr. Cetta’s connection is further north; it is not into a cul-de-sac. Mr. Collins pointed out a cul-de-sac that has a public right-of-way that goes north and then there is a public right-of-way (the old Route 250 right-of-way) which is an extension of the road they show as going across the property. It then goes into another public right-of-way which is not paved at this time, but it can be driven across to the cul-de-sac.
Mr. Rooker asked the width of the right-of-way (old Route 250) Mr. Collins had pointed to. Mr. Collins said he did not recall that width at this time.
Mr. Slutzky asked the number of units in the CT3 area on the revised plan. Mr. Cetta replied that five units were taken out of that section to accommodate the critical slopes and they were put into the CT4 area. That is addressed in the staff’s report.
Mr. Wyant asked the elevation of the unit which backs up to the Masonic Lodge. Mr. Cetta said it will be a two-story building. Mr. Wyant said with livable units on the top level, he is concerned about screening from the Lodge side. Mr. Cetta said there is also an original building on the site, and the trees will remain.
With no further questions for staff, Mr. Rooker invited the public to speak.
Mr. Scott Peyton said he is a lifelong resident of western Albemarle County. He is also President of Scenic 250 which is a citizen’s organization committed to the protection and preservation of the scenic, rural and historic assets of the Route 250 West corridor. He acknowledged that the Crozet community, through the master planning process, embraced 250 as a scenic bypass to the community of Crozet, not as a corridor for expanded commercial development. He drew the Board’s attention to the fact that Clover Lawn, Blue Ridge Building Supply, and the proposed Blue Ridge Shopping Center are all grandfathered highway commercial properties. They should not be taken as a precedent or a model for expanded commercial development along the 250 corridor. Consequently, Scenic 250 asks the Board to reject the commercial component of this development as being inappropriate and a negative to 250. Furthermore, they believe the overall density of this proposal would have a negative traffic impact on 250 overall.
Mr. Morgan Butler, on behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center, addressed the Board. He sent a letter to the Board yesterday regarding specific concerns SELC has with the Liberty Hall proposal. He said staff and the applicant have repeatedly suggested that the density of the proposal falls below the maximum density allowed in this neighborhood by the Crozet Master Plan. That is incorrect. The staff’s report (Page 2) contains a table setting forth the numbers dealing with net residential density. He said most of the land in the Liberty Hall plan falls into the CT3 Transect zone, with the rest in the CT4 Transect category. There are 4.77 net acres of developable land in the CT3 area, and the maximum number of residential units suggested by the Master Plan is shown as 31. In order to arrive at that number of 31, staff multiplied the 4.77 acre number by 6.5. Staff and the applicant claim the 6.5 multiplier is the maximum end of the Master Plan’s density range. However, the language in the first column of the table gives the density figures set forth in the Crozet Master Plan so the true range for residential units in CT-3 areas is only 3.5 to 4.5 units per acre. The 6.5 figure is an exception that only applies for accessory apartments, apparently meaning affordable housing, and that constitutes 50 percent of the residential units in the area. He said Weatherhill has offered 15 percent affordable housing units, and has made no indication that it will add any other accessory apartments. As a result, the 6.5 units per acre multiplier does not apply and the 4.5 figure is the true maximum end of the residential range. When you multiply the 4.77 CT3 acres by 4.5, the maximum number of units allowed in the CT3 area falls from 31 to 21. That is the true maximum for residential units the Master Plan sets for this area. Nonetheless, in the column labeled “units proposed”, 26 units are proposed for the CT3 area. Applying the correct numbers, it ends up that the Liberty Hall proposal exceeds the maximum number of units for the CT3 area by about five units. He said this change results in the maximum number of residential units allowed for the entire Liberty Hall neighborhood to decrease from 61 to 51. Looking at the bottom row of the table, it shows that 53 units have been proposed for Liberty Hall. Therefore, this project exceeds the maximum density the Master Plan suggests for this neighborhood.
Mr. Butler said if you look at the row for the CT4 area in the same table, it shows that staff multiplied the 1.64 net CT4 acreage by 18 to come up with 30 maximum units. (Time expired) He asked for an additional 30 seconds, to which Mr. Rooker agreed. Mr. Butler said staff has said that when a nonresidential building is proposed for a neighborhood, the acreage on which the nonresidential building would sit must be subtracted from the net acreage before the residential multipliers are applied. It appears that staff forgot to subtract the acreage which will be used for the Liberty Hall office building from the net CT4 acreage. When that acreage is subtracted from the 1.64 acre number it will push Liberty Hall even further over the maximum density threshold. SELC does not favor such a result. He said that while SELC strongly favors the mixed-use Neighborhood Model ideal, it does not feel any office space is necessary in Liberty Hall. There is already a large amount of office space slated for the Clover Lawn development next door, and staff has made clear that the commercial areas of Clover Lawn and the Blue Ridge Shopping Center across 250 will serve as the neighborhood focal points for Liberty Hall. The area does not need anymore office space.
Ms. Mary Rice addressed the Board. She thanked the Board members for their service as Supervisors. She said contrary to what one might think, she will not speak against every rezoning in the Crozet growth area if she feels the rezoning really follows the Master Plan, growth is keeping pace with the Master Plan, infrastructure is keeping pace with growth and the rezoning strengthens downtown Crozet. She thinks the Crosses have a right to develop their property. Growth has been thrown right up in front of their house (Clover Lawn town homes) and she appreciates the position they are in. The main problem she has with this development is its commercial aspect. She said if one had driven on Route 250 recently, they would see the Clover Lawn commercial space which is under construction. A site plan has been approved for two 16,000 square foot commercial buildings on the Clover Lawn side of the street. Across the street is to be a 34,000 square foot grocery store, another 11,000 square foot building and a 7,000 square foot building; that is a total of 84,000 square feet. She thinks these will be destination centers.
Ms. Rice said when this area on Route 250 was designed as a neighborhood in the Master Plan, both the planners and the community knew there were grandfathered areas there and some houses should be built there to turn it into a walkable neighborhood. To add anymore non-residential uses in that area is highly inappropriate. She asked that the Board encourage the applicant to change his development. Also, she urged the Board to drop the densities to a minimum until there is the infrastructure needed to keep up with growth. She said Route 250 is a mess right now. A traffic light is needed in front of the school, and across from Old Trail. They have been told that will not happen for a year. She added that there is no public hearing sign about this request on Route 250; the only public hearing sign is at the end of Radford Lane which is a private road. Before the next public hearing, she asked that there is a sign on Route 250.
Mr. Kelly Strickland said he is a member of the Claudius Crozet Park Board. He sent an e-mail with some supporting documents to the Board members this afternoon. Up until last year Weatherhill Homes had been a wonderful neighbor for the Park and helped support the Arts & Crafts Festivals held each spring and fall. Last fall when the Park Board attempted to have Weatherhill Homes honor a promise they made when the Parkside Village subdivision was approved in 1999, Weatherhill Homes denied their request. Basically they rescinded their offer to donate the radio station building along with almost a half acre of land to Claudius Crozet Park. He said this commitment was negotiated and worked on for six months. The subdivision was first denied, then deferred, and finally approved and this was a commitment they made to the community of Crozet and the late Walter Perkins who was an ardent member of the Park Board. He said the building is a 1,600 square foot building with almost one-half acre of land. The Park Board was committed to the building until last fall when it received a deed of gift which contained many restrictions (basically, the Park could only use the building a few days each year when it was scheduled with the homeowners’ association at Parkside Village). Meanwhile, the Park Board owned the building and maintained it. It was obvious the Park Board could not keep the building with the restrictions applied. In addition, after waiting five years for Weatherhill Homes to honor their commitment, the Park Board was given one month to accept the deed of gift and when they asked for Weatherhill Homes to meet to discuss the restrictions being imposed, they would not reply. He said they filed a bill of complaint, but it was rejected by Judge Peatross because the gift did not have something in return for it. What was actually in return was the County’s approval of the subdivision. (Time Expired)
Mr. Strickland asked for a few more minutes to which Mr. Rooker agreed. He is present tonight to ask that the Board, as part of this rezoning application, ask Weatherhill Homes to fulfill their previous commitments to the community of Crozet. If they cannot fulfill the promises they made in the past, they should work out some like offer working with the Park Board and the community, to honor the commitment. He said there is a public swimming pool in the Park. The park is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and will be 50 years old next year. They have League play, Peachtree baseball, soccer, swimming, summer camp, etc. The Park Board does a lot for the community of Crozet, and they need the developers to honor their commitments. It is important that the people of Crozet do not pay for all of the costs of the new developments being built.
Ms. Barbara Westbrook addressed the Board. She said she does not have a specific problem with Liberty Hall itself, other than it is “one more straw on the camel’s back.” She asked the Board to consider the future before that camel’s back is broken. She said the increase in traffic is one of her main concerns. She counted the traffic this morning between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. right in front of the proposed Liberty Hall and it was just under 1,500 cars in those two hours. There will now be the traffic from Liberty Hall (maybe 600 vtpd) and traffic from Harris Teeter, more traffic from Clover Lawn, and much more traffic when that Eastern Connector is open. She said it seems construction of the Eastern Connector is held up by lack of funding and the need for a bridge. She said the retail space in Clover Lawn will have businesses such as Domino’s, a drycleaner, and restaurants which will in effect hurt downtown Crozet. She wants to keep Route 250 from becoming another Route 29 North. She said the schools are already overcrowded; there are trailers at Western Albemarle. She has talked with several bus drivers who are concerned about the traffic. She said to get from the stoplight at the corner of Routes 240/250 only one-quarter mile to the schools in the morning, the bus drivers say it takes between eight and twelve minutes. The school bus drivers are afraid to complain to anyone fearing retribution. (Time expired) She asked for one more minute to speak, to which Mr. Rooker agreed. She said school teachers are scared to complain because of retribution. She knows the County does not want to put a library into the school because of asbestos and stuff, so she asks the person who spoke earlier about putting old people in the library if it is not a little unethical to put old people and children in there now. She said Western Avenue would bring a lot of traffic to the interstate and would help Route 250.
Mr. David Wayland said he would like to speak about the build-out in Crozet. He said Crozet is being flooded with people. He agrees with the changes made to the Liberty Hall request feeling they are positive. Connecting with Eastern Avenue will have a positive effect on traffic, once the bridge is built. He said if there is the opportunity not to maximize zoning, a lesser density is better if possible. He does not think it should exceed the by-right levels in the Comprehensive Plan. He said if these units are built, people will pour in. The Crozet community is slowly disappearing and he feels sad about it. He said the changes in the community are drastic.
Mr. Tom Loach addressed the Board. He said other speakers have addressed the local issues of this development, but he would like to address the broader issues. He presented a recording of a telephone memorandum prepared by Gannett Fleming, the consultant to the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, regarding Crozet. It came from Ms. Susan Thomas who was the senior planner for the Crozet Master Plan. Of interest is that when she said the projected build-out is 20 years, it is 12,000. He remembers Ms. Thomas was asked for a 50-year build-out so conversely if the number for the Crozet Master Plan was 24,000 as has been suggested, why didn’t Ms. Thomas reply as that? The answer is easy; there never was any 24,000 number and Mr. Thomas knew it as the senior planner. Also, further down in the memorandum, the number of homes that Ms. Thomas said would be built in Old Trail would be between 800 and 1,000, which was consistent with what the developer was telling the community and the 1,040 homes which was consistent with the Crozet Master Plan for that area and not the 2,600 homes the Board approved. Finally, what is also interesting is the response from Mr. Thomas Frederick (RWSA) when he said “Since the County had provided to Gannett Fleming that their 20 year projection would reach build-out” Gannett Fleming made a judgment that the 50-year population would be the same as the 20-year, in other words, when the build-out is reached, no more growth would occur in the build-out area, the same logic the community applied to the Master Plan and apparently Ms. Susan Thomas as well. He said he would like to follow-up on what the previous speaker said about the library. He finds it inconceivable to hear tonight that while the community has been talking about using the old school site for either the library or a cultural center (Mr. Wyant, when he was running for office, talked about using the old Crozet School for a community cultural center) and then “behind the community’s back” the Housing Authority has been talking about using it for JABA. He said that 1) JABA has already utilized Mountainside, and 2) Mr. Wyant said if it was not used for a library it might eventually be a cultural center, and 3) as far as the feasibility study, in the 1993 Crozet Community Study, the community asked for a feasibility study to be done on that building and no one ever got around to it, and now, oddly enough behind everybody’s back, the Daily Progress described the Board’s ability to communicate with the community as somewhat dysfunctional, but tonight it has gone beyond that to pathological.
There being no one else from the public who wished to speak at this time, the public hearing was closed; Mr. Rooker said the public hearing would be reopened on the date that this request comes back from deferral. He asked to what date this petition is to be deferred. Mr. Tucker said he thinks the applicant can help with that. He is working with his neighbors so staff has no date in mind. It can be deferred until they suggest a date and then the request will need to be readvertised.
Mr. Wyant asked about the proffers. He understands the proffers forwarded to the Board are not the final proffers. Mr. Davis said there were some minor corrections necessary on the proffers. He has not seen those corrections yet. There are some minor word changes to Proffer No. 3 that are ongoing.
Mr. Wyant asked if the Board members wanted to respond to the proffers they have seen. He thinks that some of them need to be discussed. Mr. Cilimberg confirmed that there were no substantive changes to the proffers, just some technical corrections.
Mr. Rooker asked staff to respond to the SELC’s analysis of the density recommended by the Master Plan for this area. Mr. Cilimberg replied that staff was calculating maximum and the accessory apartment 50 percent factor that leads to the 6.5 was a judgment call made with affordable housing being provided, that was a maximum for calculating in the CT3 area. He said that is a judgment call. He thinks their number of units ends up being about 5.5; it is not up to the 6.5. Obviously they are short of that. At 4.5, if there is no credit given in density for the provision of affordable housing, rather than accessory units or accessory apartments, it would be a lower number.
Mr. Rooker said the table on Page 2 of the report, says “CT3, 3.5, 4.5 acre.” He asked if that means the range is 3.5 to 4.5 without consideration of the 6.5 for apartments. He asked if that means the maximum density would be 4.5 unless credit is given. Mr. Cilimberg said that is correct.
Ms. Thomas asked if the accessory apartments have to be 50 percent in order to get the 6.5. Mr. Cilimberg said that is right. If the type of unit called “accessory apartments” is provided, there would need to be 50 percent. There are affordable units instead.
Mr. Wyant said the way he reads the chart there is a maximum of 4.5 on this parcel.
Mr. Slutzky said with the five units which were moved from the CT3, they are at 26 now so they are complying with the maximum of 4.5 in the CT3 portion based on the new configuration. He asked if that is correct.
Mr. Rooker asked the result of 4.5 multiplied by 4.77.
Mr. Wyant said it is 4.77 and the Board was told that is 21. He does not think that is the way to multiply. He said that is how the misunderstanding with the Crozet Community Association came about, these things need to be communicated much better to the community. He said it is really 4.5 times the net acreage of 4.77. Mr. Cilimberg said that is correct, the 4.77 times the 4.5 if there was no credit for the 6.5 would be the maximum. That is 21.
Mr. Rooker asked about the point on the commercial footprint being eliminated from consideration for residential density.
Ms. Rebecca Ragsdale, Planner, said the 18 dwelling units per acre provision would only be applied if mixed use is provided. Staff has not been doing any reductions in acreage other than establishing the net acreage for calculation purposes. She is not sure what Mr. Butler was referring to as far as taking out additional acreage for calculating residential density when there is a mixed use. Mr. Cilimberg said mixed-use could be an over/under situation where there would be an office with a residence above so it would not be taking acreage out of CT4. He said staff would need to revisit that in the next version of the report on this application. He thinks the tables should show the Board the full ranges, not just maximums. The Board would then be able to see where it fits under the full ranges, not just shown against one maximum amount. In that way, the Board would be able to make a better judgment as to how a project like this one fits.
Mr. Wyant said in order to make it clear, it should show how the numbers were derived. He thinks the full thing is needed.
Mr. Rooker said if there were a mixed-use in the same building, the question is whether it is still at a maximum density of 18 residential units if there are commercial units in that same building. Mr. Cilimberg said he understands the question.
Mr. Slutzky said Mr. Butler questioned the appropriateness of the office space given what else is around it. He asked if the other Board members had any thoughts about the Neighborhood Model being the goal when it is being satisfied by the other commercial space. Does the Board want to suggest to the developer that that is fine or not fine since he is asking for feedback.
Ms. Thomas said she thinks that is a fair question. She had originally felt it would be good to have the over/under, work/live type of situation because there is not much of that in the County. The great thing about public hearings is that you get new ideas. She said someone mentioned earlier that it is 84,000 square feet of commercial and that is a lot of commercial. She does not know whether the County needs any more commercial especially if it going to be a regional attractor type of commercial. In the request just heard, the applicant wanted a live/office type of situation rather than a retail/live situation and the County does not have that use either.
Mr. Dorrier said he thought the commercial was being reduced from 13,500 square feet to 8,500 square feet. Several Board members agreed that was right. Mr. Dorrier noted that the Neighborhood Model calls for a mixture of residential and commercial so he is doing what the County wants.
Mr. Slutzky said he clearly is. He is just raising the question that the SELC raised when they said this is next to other developments where there are already significant provisions for commercial, an objective of the Neighborhood Model. He wondered if the design of this project within the Neighborhood Model might be unwittingly over-saturating the area. He said there might be a preference for the retail/residential mix that this project proposes. In the context of the marketplace it might make one of the other projects not be built.
Mr. Cilimberg said to clarify the situation, the commercial development in Liberty Hall will be office, not retail, with residences above or live/work units.
Mr. Rooker said he does not feel it is the time to approve developments at the upper range density called for in the Crozet Master Plan, as there is a substantial stock of approved residential in the Crozet area. The property might be right for development at some time, he said, but it is on the fringe of Crozet and does not connect to the downtown area. He said Mr. Cetta is a good developer and he’s done some good projects. He said the Board sets the time for approval of rezonings, and that needs to be done in a thoughtful way with respect to the entire community, not just a piece at a time in isolation. He described this as a cul-de-sac development that would enter onto Route 250 and it would exceed the densities called for in the Master Plan. He will not support the petition as presented.
Mr. Wyant expressed concern about the maximum density overall for Crozet, as the community has been upset by it. He agreed that there needs to be a balance and a mix with each development regarding commercial properties, connectivity, trails, etc.
Mr. Tucker said staff has given some thought to this, and it is not just for Crozet, but in all of the development areas, particularly the ones where master plans are being drafted now. The Board may want to consider a policy that evaluates the infrastructure provided with the phasing and rate of development. He emphasized that developments don’t always happen quickly, but for some reason the public assumed all will occur at one time. It would be helpful to provide something the community can see regarding how the developments will be phased. It also helps staff define the CIP for infrastructure needs over a period of time.
Mr. Slutzky said within the growth areas he is concerned about the rate of development relative to infrastructure. The Board cannot move forward with phasing and build-out strategies without taking an aggressive stance on constraining development in the rural areas. It is hard for him to vote against anything in the growth area because of what it means in terms of pushing that development out into the rural areas. He said the Board needs to have that discussion, and when it does he wants the Board to consider the relationship between the growth area and the rural area.
Mr. Tucker said the conceptual plans for the rural area (phasing, clustering and the MOD) will be on the Board’s agenda in April.
Mr. Slutzky asked if those plans speak directly to his point.
Mr. Cilimberg said the plans will be concepts; they will not give numbers. In reality, there are only a certain number of dwelling units being built each year. Normally, it is within the 800 to 1,000 range each year spread over the County. To deal with the development areas staff evaluates them based on what the Comprehensive Plan says should happen (this includes the land use and density element, the design element, the Neighborhood Model element, and the master plans). Staff does not have a guideline stating how much development there should be, and where it should occur first. When building an inventory, the question is where that inventory should be built so the development areas capture what the County wants in those areas versus having that growth fall out into the rural areas. He said staff has nothing that says how the development that is occurring should be phased. He said the Board discussed this a little when first working on Hollymead Towncenter and North Pointe. He said Crozet was master planned around the concept that there would be a significant increase in employment there, so people were living, working and shopping in that downtown. The employment pace is not close to what the residential pace has been up until now. Does the Board want that to be a factor in consideration of what happens in Crozet? A lot of factors play into how the Board might want to guide developments in these areas and phase them over a period of time.
Mr. Rooker said he feels the Board and staff should have those discussions. There is a large inventory of approved lots in the development areas for residential. If there were no inventory there, it would force development out into the rural areas. He said there are about 2000 people moving into the County each year, and there is a demand for 900 homes each year. He said there is a significant inventory in the development areas of residential lots.
Mr. Slutzky said there are 1,000 new houses in the rural area in some years. Is that inventory enough to forestall it?
Mr. Rooker said he does not think it is 1,000. Looking back at the number of annual building permits they have been running about 800 per year.
Mr. Slutzky said the Comprehensive Plan contemplates none, so if there is that much activity is there too much supply in the growth areas?
Mr. Rooker said that is one argument. There is a need for a healthy supply of lots in the growth area or otherwise prices ratchet up quickly. Because there is an existing significant supply of lots in the growth areas today, there is not that problem. He thinks it is time to be thoughtful with additional rezoning approvals in an area like Crozet where there have been several rezonings already that have created a significant inventory. He said there needs to be a reasonable balance around the County so that everyone moving to the County is not forced to move to Crozet. He said that at this time there are Belvedere, Hollymead Towncenter, Albemarle Place, and other things going into other areas of the County. He thinks the Board needs to take its time on this petition. The Comprehensive Plan is a twenty-year plan and that does not mean that everything that matches the Comprehensive Plan needs to be approved today.
Mr. Dorrier said he may be missing something, but he thought the plan was going to be deferred while the applicant worked with the neighbors on a problem. He asked if that was correct. He was not sure the Board was going to debate whether or not the project should go forward and whether or not there should be phased development. He thinks the Board has put that front and center and is changing the direction of the whole operation. He is not sure that is fair to the developer and the public. He said there is a need to talk about phasing and there is a need to talk about whether this development fits in with the scope of building in Crozet. He said the developer developed a plan that is in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan so he is doing what the County asked him to do. He used all 12 parts of the Neighborhood Model plan. What is he supposed to do? Is he supposed to reduce automatically the density to satisfy the Board? First, he wonders whether it is appropriate to talk about this at this time, and second, whether phasing is the right thing to consider at this time.
Mr. Wyant agreed with Mr. Dorrier, but said if all the development occurring in Crozet is only one side, it is not really a community. He wants to tie all areas together; there is a problem in Crozet with the railroad track dividing the area. He thinks the Board needs to work to build the community and bond all the community within the development area. He wants to keep Crozet as Crozet and fears that unless the Board is careful, it could end up being like the downtown Charlottesville mall. He wants the whole development of Crozet to be done in a systematic way that builds a community for the people. He has been concerned about the employment side and thinks that is something the Board needs to look at.
Mr. Rooker said if Mr. Wyant wants to build a community around Crozet, would it make more sense to have the projects being approved closer to downtown Crozet instead of being located on Route 250 West. There are only so many homes that will be bought next year. If that total for next year is 900 for the entire Albemarle County and 100 of those homes will be in the Crozet area, should the areas on Route 250 use up that demand as opposed to areas that are closer to downtown Crozet. He thinks that generally what is before the Board is a thoughtful plan. He thinks it has exceeded even the upper end of the densities recommended in the Master Plan. He thinks the Board should approve projects which contribute a significant amount to the infrastructure needed so everything else in the area can work. It might make sense to approve things that will help build a sense of community quicker that are closer to downtown. On Route 250, there are a number of projects using old zoning going forward now. There will be a substantial amount of building over which the Board has no control. He thinks the Board should think long and hard about approving additional rezonings in that area.
Mr. Wyant said some developers had talked to him about doing by-right development, but giving the County something a little beyond what they are required to do. He thinks the Board needs to discuss whether this is something it would want to do, let them develop at a lower density in order to get something to help with infrastructure needs.
Mr. Slutzky said there is by-right development activity in the growth area, and there is by-right development in the rural area and that creates conflicting dynamics. He said the people living in Crozet and the Rivanna Village have expressed concern because the rate of development in their areas is getting ahead of infrastructure. He thinks there is a temptation to reel back the pace of approvals inside the growth areas out of deference to the practical reality of inadequate infrastructure. Unless the Board is able to downzone or constrict development opportunities in the rural area, there will be more and more pressure to develop in the rural areas. To him that is the worst disaster the County confronts. Until some meaningful constraints on the rate of development activity in the rural areas can be implemented, the Board will not have the luxury of rejecting anything in the growth areas for fear of continuing to push development into the rural areas. He said 800 is too many houses to be built in a year in the rural areas.
Mr. Rooker said it has actually been at the 200 or 300 level and that number is not changing. He said if there was not a reasonable inventory of lots in the growth area, the demand would push people out into the rural area. He is saying today that there is a reasonable supply of lots in the growth areas.
Ms. Thomas said there are many lots in the urban area that are “almost” approved. She believes that is why Crozet has seen so much growth in the last year. There are these others where houses cannot be built today: Belvedere, Albemarle Place and Hollymead Towncenter. She said these places are not quite approved, whereas Old Trail was approved. She said her constituents see that urban sprawl. There is another kind of sprawl she does not want to see and that is to have 11 units on the Liberty Hall property, because that’s what the owner could do by-right. One thing that has gotten lost in the discussion is “why should we care?” Why is not low density inside a development area a great idea? She said the County’s only way to keep down the traffic congestion and the amount of asphalt put down, and the destruction of many natural resources, water and air, is to have a compact development pattern. She said that sprawl is not just because people don’t like the look of it. It will affect every single person in the County using Route 250 if the Board has allowed sprawl to be the pattern of development there. There is a lot she likes about the reworked plan – the form of the units, especially the units over the offices, the greenway connections, reuse of the old house, plans to protect the trees, the mix of housing types, – but she also agrees with Mr. Rooker that this is the wrong approval to do at this time because of some of the things that were brought out in the public hearing.
Ms. Thomas said the traffic from this project is going onto Route 250 going east, it is not going out to I-64 because there is no stoplight to make passing the schools any easier. The Eastern Connector is not built yet. It is going to be more of the suburbs without there being a central downtown, particularly in the face of all that commercial development that may take place in this neighborhood. She thinks the County Executive’s idea of talking more about phasing is a discussion the Board needs to have quickly. She said it is possible to have nice plans, which this one is, and to have it be the wrong time and the wrong place. If she had to vote tonight, she would probably vote against it. However, she would be sorry if there were only the 11 houses on that property; it would be a very bad idea to get low density suburbs before getting a viable downtown. She said she had spent a great deal of time thinking about what calculates a small rezoning because it is so symbolic of a lot of the questions which are before the Board now.
Mr. Rooker commented that for this proposal the applicant will need to decide when he brings it back before the Board. He thinks a majority of the Board wants to have a discussion about the pace of residential approvals looking at the County as a whole in the individual development areas. He suggested that a work session be scheduled for that discussion in the next month or two.
Mr. Wyant asked if that discussion will include commercial zoning and employment centers, not just residential. He said those office spaces might be needed.
Mr. Slutzky said another aspect to consider is the impact approval of the commercial in this development (he does not know how he would vote if he had to vote tonight), would have on the commercial development near this project. He does not think the Board can look at just the residential, and not the whole proposal.
Mr. Tucker said his comments earlier were not related just to this development. He was talking about master planning in general.
Mr. Dorrier said he understands that. The Board has talked about phasing before and has always put off doing so. Now, the Board wants to bring it front and center. He would be interested in finding out how other counties are doing it.
Mr. Tucker said phasing is always an option for a developer. Many large developments will be phased anyway. What he is talking about is being proactive and discussing it with a developer during discussion of their proffers so it is given consideration. It is harder for small developers to phase. The larger a development, the easier it is to phase that development. The developer has an idea of his market, and what his development activity should be over the next several years.
Mr. Cilimberg said there was no phasing proffer for Old Trail other than what was to be done commercially based on the amount of residential happening. Old Trail is the size of many, many of these small developments added together and they can propose to phase because they know they’re only going to be developing so much each year.
Ms. Thomas said she heard the developer of Old Trail has talked about a 30-year build-out for that project. Mr. Cilimberg said that is a real possibility. For little developments like Liberty Hall phasing means the development will or will not happen now. The development will either make sense now whereas it might not make sense five years from now. There is a different dynamic when the developer owns the property.
Mr. Wyant said all of Old Trail developed so far has been by-right. Mr. Cilimberg said all they have done has been by-right through subdivision plats or site plans. Nothing has been submitted for the rezoned area.
Mr. Rooker said he thinks this is as far as the Board can get tonight. He said some action needs to be taken on a deferral.
At this time, Mr. Wyant moved for an indefinite deferral.
Mr. Davis said staff will have to readvertise this petition when it comes back to the Board, so another 21 to 28-day delay is needed for the advertising period. Mr. Cilimberg said when staff receives the information from the developer it will take four weeks to get the request to a meeting.
Mr. Wyant asked if staff can get information on this thing the Board has talked about today ready in a month. Mr. Cilimberg asked if Mr. Wyant was referring to phasing or the more general discussion. He does not think that could happen before May at the staff level.
Mr. Rooker commented that the applicant can bring the plan back at anytime; they do not have to wait for the Board to have the broader discussion. He thinks the Board needs some guidance from the applicant.
Mr. Collins said the applicant needs to discuss when this request should come back to the Board so they agree to an indefinite deferral.
Mr. Wyant moved again to defer ZMA-2005-05 indefinitely. Mr. Slutzky seconded the motion, which passed by the following recorded vote:
AYES: Mr. Rooker, Mr. Slutzky, Ms. Thomas, Mr. Wyant, Mr. Boyd and Mr. Dorrier.
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