Albemarle County Planning Commission

June 13, 2006

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, June 13, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Jon Cannon and Marcia Joseph, Chairman. Absent were Jo Higgins, Pete Craddock and Bill Edgerton. Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was present. 

 

Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Juan Wade, County Transportation Planner; Jack Kelsey, County Engineer; Amy Arnold, Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.

agenda has been approved.

 

            Public Hearings Items:

 

SP-2006-007 Thomas Jefferson Parkway Parking (Signs # 57, 58 & 65)

PROPOSED: Construction of additional parking at the intersection of Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Route 53) and Scottsville Road (Route 20) to serve the pedestrian trail accessing Monticello in accordance with Section 10.2.2.46 of the Zoning Ordinance.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA - Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); EC, Entrance Corridor Overlay to EC Entrance Corridor/overlay to protect properties of historic, architectural or cultural significance from visual impacts of development along routes of tourist access

SECTION: 10.2.2(46) which permits Off-site parking for historic structures or sites.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Institutional uses allow for a range of public uses including schools, universities and public recreational facilities.

LOCATION: The proposed parking is located on the north side of Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Route 53) across from the existing parking area for the pedestrian trail accessing Monticello.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 77 Parcel 25

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

STAFF:  Rebecca Ragsdale

 

Ms. Ragsdale summarized the staff report.

 

         This is a request made on behalf of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation who owns and operates Monticello.  They are seeking a special use permit approval for 50 parking spaces to serve the Thomas Jefferson Parkway, which includes Monticello-Saunders Trail and Kemper Park.  This would be located on the Blue Ridge Hospital site.  The proposed site for parking is northeast of the intersection of Routes 53 and 20.  The trail head that it would serve is across Route 53 in the southeast quadrant of the intersection. This area is mostly rural and wooded. The Blue Ridge Hospital site is owned by the University Foundation and is zoned Rural Areas and located in the development area Neighborhood IV.  The parking lot would be accessed by vehicles off of an existing road that goes into the hospital site called Dairy Barn Road, which is located on Route 20 just north of its intersection with Route 53 that is across from a median near the entrance to Piedmont Community College. The parking lot would serve the trail that leads up to Monticello and the Kemper Park associated with it. 

 

         VDOT has requested some upgrades to that entrance to meet their minimum standards.  It would basically be a right in and right out there onto Route 20.  The parking lot will be situated such that it wonít have any visual impacts to Routes 53 and 20, which are scenic highways and entrance corridors.  The Thomas Jefferson Foundation staffs the parkway and monitors the parking lots and gates in the evenings.  The trail and the park are open from dawn to dusk so the staff would block off access to the parking lots in the evenings.  Therefore, no lighting is proposed for the park. 

 

         The Comprehensive Plan designates the site institutional. There was a master land utilization plan prepared in conjunction with the University and the City as a joint planning area.  This parking lot would be within one of the buildable areas designated on that plan.  It would respect the buffers that are at a minimum of 200 feet along Routes 20 and 53.  Staff feels that the proposed parking lot is sited in a way that is respectful of the terrain and the buffers.  The park and the parkway provide a free recreational amenity for the community and found factors favorable along with conformity with the Comprehensive Plan in recommending approval.  There is a site plan waiver that goes along with this request.  Staff is also recommending approval of that since this request is for parking and the trigger for the site plan requirement is the VDOT upgrades on Dairy Barn Road intersection with Route 20.  Therefore, staff is recommending approval with two conditions. 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.  There being none, she opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds of Monticello, stated that since the early 1990ís he had been the project manager for the Thomas Jefferson Parkway project.  Roxanne Broyce, a principle with Rieley and Associates, is present tonight.  She not only designed the parkway, but also designed the overflow parking lot that they are seeking the Commissionís approval for this evening.  He wanted to talk a little about the history of this project and why this parking lot is necessary.  In 1992, Monticello purchased an 89 acre tract south of Route 53 from the University of Virginia.  A provision of the deed prohibited a parking lot in that area larger than 13 spaces. It is both a linear park protecting the entrance corridor to Monticello and a 2 mile trail that leads up to Monticello.  The original conception was that the overflow parking would occur at the visitorís center site along Route 20.  They wanted to go across the Blue Ridge Hospital site and then across Route 20 at the stop light that goes to the Piedmont Community College.  They did not have enough money to fund that element of the park and the trail in the mid 1990ís.  At the same time a lot of people became uneasy with crossing busy Route 20 with this very busy trail.  Also, at the same time Monticello began developing plans for a visitorís center in this site on Blue Ridge Hospital.  The end result was that in 2002 they built an underground culvert or a pedestrian culvert that would lead into the Blue Ridge property from the Monticello Parkway project.  They still at that point had a tunnel that was virtually going to nowhere.  Only recently in November of 2005 Monticello signed an agreement with the University of Virginia authorizing this 50 car parking lot on the Blue Ridge Hospital site.  This answered their need to a very dire problem because parking has been the worse issue confronting the parkway over the six years it has been opened.  People have been parking on busy Route 53 with spillover parking along their trail head.  The parking lot has been designed very carefully to be cloistered effectively into the woodlands on the Blue Ridge Hospital site.  If there are any questions, he would be happy to answer them.

 

Mr. Cannon said he had a technical question relating to his interest. He asked if the arrangements that they made are with the University of Virginia or the University of Virginia Foundation.

 

Mr. Hatch stated that it was with the University of Virginia Foundation.  They signed a memorandum of understanding last November with the University of Virginia.  Then they are in the process of creating a licensing agreement with the University of Virginia Foundation, which will iron out all of the details with this particular project.

 

Mr. Cannon asked Mr. Kamptner if he could proceed.

 

Mr. Kamptner suggested that he disclose his interest.

 

Mr. Cannon stated that he was employed by the University of Virginia.  If the University of Virginia were a party in their transaction he would not participate in this matter. 

 

Mr. Kamptner noted that all he needed to do was disclose his interest.  It does not disqualify him.  He was a member of a group of people who work for the University of Virginia.  This particular project does not affect or benefit him directly.  The County Attorneyís Office will prepare a conflict of interest disclosure form for him to complete tomorrow.

 

Mr. Cannon said that he disclosed his interest because he would not be personally affected.

 

Ms. Joseph asked Mr. Hatch how they would get people to this area because it was going to be a parking lot that they canít see from the road.  She asked if there would be some sort of signage.

 

Mr. Hatch said that there would be a lot of communications through their network of people who use the parkway.  There will be a sign telling people where to go.  It will be something the people learn about.  The 45,000 people who visit the parkway every year and use Kemper Park and the trail he thought that 98 percent of them are local people who use the trail regularly. Also, there will be no where else to park.  Right now there is a spill over place.  A year ago there parking along Route 53 that VDOT banned, which he felt was rightfully so.  They feel that this is a great gift to the community of which they are very proud of.

 

Mr. Morris asked if he was traveling south on Route 20 and come to the stop light for PVCC if he turns left there is that where the entrance is. 

 

Mr. Hatch replied no.

 

Mr. Morris said that it looks like he is going to have to go all the way down to Route 53 and swing around.

 

Mr. Hatch replied yes, that actually he would end up having to come to the current trail end parking lot and turning around there and then going back to Route 20 taking a right and going to the parking lot.  Originally VDOT wanted to ban a U-turn at the current intersection of Route 53 and 20.  But, he was not sure if VDOT was going to carry through with that.  But, that was their initial reaction.  People would actually have to go to the current trail head in order to turn around and go to this overflow parking lot. 

 

Ms. Joseph invited comment from other members of the public on this issue.

 

Jeff Wray stated that his wife and he live on Devinham Court, which was located at the very next entrance to the right at the new blinking light that is directly across from Route 53.   They want to be in support of the project.  But, they are right across the street from it.  They see natural beauty now and donít care to see a bunch of buses.  They also wanted to avoid bus pollution and smelling buses.  He knew that Monticello was ever growing.  There is a problem with that blinking light right there.  He has already seen three logging trucks that have made a right hand turn coming down Route 53.  They canít make that turn.  They turn over in the ditch.  Also, it confuses people who are going to see Monticello.  They go through the stop light and then have to look at sign after sign on the frontage on their property.  By the time it is too late that they know that they need to take a left to go up to Monticello they will come over into oncoming traffic.  There have been a lot of accidents at that intersection.  He wished that they would consider the fact that the blinking light does not do any good right there.  It is more confusing than anything.  He felt that a regular stop light would be the best thing for that intersection.  As far as the buses going all the way down and making a U-turn, he did not see how they could do that.  He asked if it was possible to see a plan of this parking lot or is this just the beginning stages of this.

 

Ms. Joseph said that a plan has been submitted. She asked if there was any one else who would like to speak to this.

 

Mary Alice Bond, resident of Albemarle County in the Mill Creek Subdivision, said that she was also concerned about the blinking light at Route 53 and 20.  As a frequent user of the trail she noted that between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. the traffic turning left onto Route 53 could extend up to Ĺ mile to almost a mile backing up on I-64.  The traffic is all stopped by the blinking light there.  As to trying to turn left it is nearly impossible unless you go down and make a U-turn.  She would like to ask when the traffic light will be put in there not only for the safety of using the trail, but also for the students at Monticello High School who have to go back and forth there.  They were also looking at the new development going in at Biscuit Run.  She would plead to please put in a traffic light there as soon as possible to prevent any further accidents.

 

Pat Wray, resident of Devinham Court, stated that her husband just spoke.  One of the things that she would like to bring up as an issue is the people that live in this subdivision that is directly across from Route 53 canít get out of their subdivision because of the blinking light.  If they do put a stop light there, which would be a good thing, she would hope that they would be taken into consideration.   Often times they have to go out and make a right and make a U-turn and come back up.  It is important that they as land owners there can get out of their subdivision when they need to.  With the increased traffic in the area it is becoming a real problem for us.

 

There being no further public comment, Ms. Joseph closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.

 

Ms. Ragsdale noted that she had discussed the stop light issue with VDOT.  VDOT said that they have a regular signalized traffic light scheduled for January, 2007. She will make sure to pass along the residents concerns to VDOT.

 

Mr. Strucko asked staff to describe the character of the intersection between Route 20 and the Piedmont Community College drive.

 

Ms. Ragsdale pointed out the location of the parking lot on the plan.  The parking lot entrance would be Dairy Barn Road coming in with the parking lot in this area.  The users of the trail would go underneath the culvert, which is underneath of Route 53, to use the trail.

 

Mr. Strucko said that if he was coming from I-64 heading south on 20 he would have to go to the current flashing light and go up Route 53 and somehow turn around and come down 53 and make a right and then turn up the Dairy Barn to get to the parking lot.

 

Ms. Ragsdale stated that was correct.

 

Mr. Morris said that in reading the report he did not get the impression that there would be bus traffic going into that because it would be for automobiles and people who are going to use the trail.

 

Ms. Ragsdale replied that was correct.

 

Ms. Joseph asked Mr. Hatch to come forward and answer what percentage of people that are from out of town that are visiting Monticello actually use this trail versus the residents of Albemarle County or repeat customers.

 

Mr. Hatch felt that it was well over 95 percent of the people using the trail are from Albemarle County or repeat users.  For a lot of people it is a daily trip to park in the lot and walk the trail.  He noted that there is not parking for buses in this 50 car parking lot.  No tour buses are planned for this parking lot.  High school buses on occasion have come and parked for the students to run the trail, but not very often.

 

Mr. Kamptner asked if the parkway was included in Monticelloís historically designated lands.

 

Mr. Hatch said that he could not answer that.  There is an easement so to speak, but he really did not know.  It is not land that was originally owned by Thomas Jefferson.

 

Mr. Strucko said that his concern was the alignment of the road Dairy Barn or the lack thereof with Piedmont Drive and having to come off of I-64 and doing a series of turns and U-turns on Route 53 to make an entrance into this parking area.  In attachment C the circulation is depicted as an alignment with Piedmont Drive.  Is that alignment intended at some point?

 

Ms. Ragsdale replied yes, that when the Blue Ridge property develops that is the conceptual circulation.  The idea is that the main entrance into the Blue Ridge property would be lined up with College Drive at that traffic light.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if that would then shift the entrance to the parking area to this newly aligned road.

 

Ms. Ragsdale replied presumably so.

 

Mr. Strucko noted that would address his concern to be able to make a left hand turn off of 20 South to be able to get into this parking lot.

 

Mr. Morris asked if Mr. Hatch could come back up and clarify that.

 

Mr. Hatch said that this is a temporary entrance.  They donít know how temporary.  But, at some point the University of Virginia Foundation is going to develop this property probably into a research park.  That might be 5, 15 or 20 years away.  At that point in which they begin developing the property the entrance to both the overflow lot and into the research park will be changed to that traffic light. So it is an important point that in some ways this is a temporary entrance until the property is developed further.   This is an integral part of their agreement with the University of Virginia.

 

Mr. Cannon said that with that clarification and the other understandings that have been put forth he was in favor of granting this waiver and making this parking possible.

 

Mr. Morris concurred with that.

 

Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia said that she had no comment.  She noted that she was not a voting member of the Planning Commission.

 

Ms. Joseph felt it was important to acknowledge that this is a temporary entrance and that another entrance will be done in the future.  One of the things that they have to remember is that this has to be something that is attached to an historic property in order to have this off site parking.

 

Mr. Morris suggested that getting to that entrance to that parking lot be part of the educational process.  It is going to be confusing.

 

Ms. Joseph suggested that some sort of plan be submitted to the Board of Supervisors so that they could understand how the people were going to be able to recognize the entrance to make it so they can see it.  There is a buffer and some sort of sign is going to be needed.  They donít want to cause any problems at the entrance.  She felt more comfortable knowing that there would be a stop light in place of the blinking light within six months.  Therefore, she could support the request.

 

Mr. Kamptner asked to explain the question he asked Mr. Hatch.  As Ms. Ragsdale notes in her staff report that this is to provide off site parking for Monticello, which is the historic site.  The access leads you to the trail which takes you to Monticello.  He asked to make that clear for the record.

 

MOTION FOR SP-2006-007:

 

Motion: Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve SP-2006-007, Thomas Jefferson Parkway Parking with the recommended conditions as stated.

 

1.       The site shall be developed in general accord with the plan entitled ďConcept Plan-Thomas Jefferson Parkway ParkingĒ including the ďExisting Conditions & Demolition PlanĒ, prepared by Rieley & Associates, revised April 2006.

2.       The parking area shall be limited to 50 spaces.

3.       The parking area shall not be expanded without prior approval of a new special use permit.

4.       No lighting shall be permitted in the parking area.

5.       The parking area shall be closed and access restricted while the park is closed by Thomas Jefferson Parkway staff. The parking area shall be opened at dawn and closed at dusk.

6.       The applicants shall secure VDOT approval of the entrance from Route 20, prior to the issuance of a zoning compliance clearance for use of the site.

7.       Approval by the Architectural Review Board of final plans is required and supplemental plantings may be required to screen the parking lot from Route 20 and Route 53.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 4:0.  (Commissioners Higgins, Craddock and Edgerton were absent.) 

 

MOTION FOR SITE PLAN WAIVER:

 

Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to approve the site plan waiver for SP-2006-007, Thomas Jefferson Parkway Parking with the recommended conditions as stated.

 

  1. No development shall occur until an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan has been approved and any required bonds have been posted.
  2. The applicant shall submit a storm water management plan to provide for water quality measures to address runoff.  No development may occur until this plan is approved and any necessary bonds posted. 

 

The motion passed by a vote of 4:0.  (Commissioners Higgins, Craddock and Edgerton were was absent.) 

 

The site plan waiver was approved.

           

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-007, Thomas Jefferson Parkway Parking would go to the Board of Supervisors on July 5 with a recommendation for approval.

 

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