COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP2006-16 Mountain View Full Gospel Church Expansion 

Staff: Amy Ransom Arnold

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

September 5, 2006

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

October 4, 2006

Owners: Mountain View Full Gospel Church

Applicant: Mountain View Full Gospel Church

Acreage: Approximately 3.951 acres

Special Use Permit:  Sections 31.2.4.1 to allow for the expansion of an existing church building.

TMP: TM 69 Parcel 37 

Location: 1005 Smith Road (Route 758), Afton; south of Route 637

Existing Zoning and By-right use: Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery; residential; game preserves; wayside stands; electric, gas, oil, and communication facilities; accessory uses including home occupation class A, temporary construction uses; public uses, etc.  

Magisterial District: White Hall Magisterial District

Conditions: Yes

Proposal:  Construction of an addition to an existing church sanctuary to increase the size of the building from 1,792 square feet to 3,584 with increased parking area to accommodate a growing congregation (Attachment A.1, 2, 3, and 4)

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  NA                           

 

DA (Development Area):

RA (Rural Area):  X

Comprehensive Plan Designation: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

Character of Property: The property is comprised of a single story church building (32’x56’; 1,792 square feet), entrance/parking area, picnic pavilion, a lawn area with scattered large oaks, and continuous mature, mixed deciduous/evergreen forest land

Use of Surrounding Properties:  The immediate area is comprised of single family residences, farms, and forest land.               

Factors Favorable:

1.   The expansion of the existing church building would support local community life at a rural scale by providing a community meeting place.   

2.   Approximately 3 acres of existing forest land on the site will remain intact, contributing substantially to local character, water supply protection, and natural resources protection.        

 

Factor Unfavorable: Staff has not identified any factors unfavorable to this proposal.

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of the Special Use Permit with conditions and approval of the associated waiver of ordinance requirements to allow more than two years for construction to commence.

 

STAFF PERSON: Amy Ransom Arnold                      

PLANNING COMMISSION: September 5, 2006                                           

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: October 4, 2006

 

SP 2006-16 Mountain View Full Gospel Church

 

Petition:

PROJECT: SP 2006-16 Mountain View Full Gospel Church

PROPOSED: Amend SP 1981-13; church expansion

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

SECTION: 31.2.4.1; 10.2.2 (35)

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (.5 unit/ acre)

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes____No__X__

LOCATION: 1005 Smith Road (Route 758), Afton; south of Route 637

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TM 69, Parcel 37

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: White Hall

 

Character of the Area:

Mountain View Full Gospel Church is located on Route 758 (Smith Road) just south of Route 637.  The surrounding area is comprised of evergreen and deciduous forest, open pasture, agricultural fields, ponds, hedgerows, and both residential and agricultural buildings.  Adjacent Route 758 is a narrow, rolling, gravel road with transitions onto private property that are characterized by compacted gravel or similar, informal driveway materials.      

 

Planning and Zoning History:

SP 1981-13: On May 20, 1981 the Board of Supervisors approved a Special Use Permit to construct a church with seating for 92, with provisions to increase the seating to 140 in the future.  At that time, the church constructed a commercial entrance based on VDOT recommendations.  There were no listed conditions of approval.     

SDP1981-22: The subsequent site plan, approved on May 5, 1981 included a church sanctuary with 96 fixed seats and schematic locations for both future additions to the church building and parking.  (Attachment D)

  

STAFF COMMENT:

The congregation of Mountain View Full Gospel Church is proposing an amendment to an existing Special Use Permit to allow for the expansion of the existing church building from 32’x56’; 1,792 square feet to 3,584 square feet, doubling in the size of the building. From the original 13 members, the congregation has grown over the 23 year life of the church to its current 80 parishioners.  In order to accommodate future increase in the number of parishioners, the congregation is requesting that the sanctuary seating be increased from its current 96 seats to 192 seats.    

 

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance as follows:

 

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

One adjacent owner expressed concern about the increase in the size of the building, which doubles the size of the existing church.  Staff was contacted by this neighbor in mid-May requesting a copy of the concept plan, but has not contacted staff with further comment since that time.  No other concerns have been voiced by neighbors regarding the proposal.

 

 

In 1981 the Board of Supervisors approved the Special Use Permit for the 92 seat church with a future congregation projected totaling 140 parishioners.  23 years later, the congregation is asking for a new total seating capacity of 192.  Staff does not feel the speed or extent of the growth of this church and the accompanying activity will negatively impact adjacent property.          

 

There are existing residences to the north, south and west of the church.  Dense hedgerows along Route 758 and wooded boundaries on the north edge of the church property will remain undisturbed, providing adequate buffering.  The concept plan includes clearing a portion of the woodland along the southern boundary of the property and behind the church to allow for expanded parking.  The concept plan includes a distance of 25’ from the edge of parking to the southern property line.  The existing forest land on this site is a mature mixed oak/hickory community with scattered evergreen patches that extends well beyond the boundaries of this parcel. (Attachment B.)  This forest land contributes substantially to the western edge of this large patch of forest.  Because of the quality and extent of the forest land and its contribution to the character of the surrounding district staff has recommended a condition limiting disturbance of the existing forest land to 5’ beyond the proposed parking area and requiring tree protection during construction.  This condition would assure that 20’ of woodland would remain undisturbed along the southern property boundary.  (Section 21.7.3 Buffer zone adjacent to residential and rural areas districts: No construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation shall occur closer than twenty (20) feet to any residential or rural areas district.)   The proposed parking has been located to necessitate the least amount of grading and allow the church to retain their pavilion.  Staff feels the proposed expansion of the church building and parking includes adequate buffering to the north and south and will minimally impact the large, contiguous stand of mixed evergreen and deciduous forest partially located on this parcel. 

              

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

The proposal includes the commitment by the church to only clear those trees necessary for the expansion of the parking area.  Located adjacent to the northwest corner of the existing church are five oak trees that range in caliper from approximately 24 to 40 inches.  These trees contribute substantially to the character of the church property, to the character of this portion of Route 758, and are an important connection to the long term natural history of this site.  Because of their contribution to local character and local history, staff recommends that the retention of these trees be assured.  Staff has recommended a condition requiring tree protection during construction of the parking lots and new church building for these five oak trees.

 

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

Section 18, Chapter 10 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the purpose of Rural Areas zoning: “This district (hereafter referred to as RA) is hereby created and may hereafter be established by amendment of the zoning map for the following purposes: (Amended 11-8-89)

-Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

-Water supply protection;

-Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

-Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources. (Amended 11-8-89)”

 

Within the total 3.951 acres that comprises the church property approximately 3 acres are forestal lands.  Extending well beyond the boundaries of this parcel, the existing mature mixed oak/hickory plant community is a primary presence in this district. The retention of the existing forestal lands would contribute substantially to water supply protection and natural resource protection.  Staff recommends that the retention of the existing forest land be assured by limiting disturbance by requiring a tree protection plan as a condition of approval.  

 

with uses permitted by right in the district,

The property and the adjacent properties are zoned Rural Areas.  The uses permitted by right under RA Zoning directly support agriculture, forestry, and the conservation of rural land.  Important to the Rural Areas is the support of agricultural and forestal communities, including community meeting places, at rural scales, that provide the opportunity to take part in community life.  The expansion of the existing church building would support uses permitted by right in the Rural Areas by providing a community meeting place at a rural scale.      

 

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

There are no regulations in Section 5.0 of the Ordinance that apply to church buildings. 

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

Mountain View Full Gospel Church is located on a low volume secondary road that carries 200 Vehicles Per Day.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has indicated the volume of traffic will change during Sunday services and for weddings and funerals, but this change will have little impact on the existing weekday traffic. VDOT does not anticipate negative impacts of increased traffic from the increased size of this church on adjacent Route 758.  VDOT has requested that selected shrubs be removed near the existing entrance to assure adequate sight distance from the existing entrance to the property from Route 758.  A representative from VDOT has met with church representatives on site to confirm that the existing entrance is otherwise adequate for the proposed intensity of use.    

 

The 65 parking spaces have been provided on the concept plan to support a sanctuary seating for 192 people.  The Zoning Division feels that the exact number of parking spaces can be accommodated at the site plan amendment stage.

 

The Fire Department has no objection to this proposal, but has requested the location of the nearest hydrant be identified and verification of adequate fire flow be coordinated with their department during the building permit process.  The applicant has indicated the nearest hydrant is located approximately seven miles from the church property, but a large farm pond exists ¼ mile from the church and permission may be negotiated for emergency access to the water supply.

 

SUMMARY:

Staff has identified the following factor favorable to this application:

1.        The expansion of the existing church building would support local community life at a rural scale by providing a community meeting place.   

2.        Approximately 3 acres of existing forest land on the site will remain intact, contributing substantially to local character, water supply protection, and natural resources protection.        

 

Staff has not identified any factors unfavorable to this application.

 

Waiver Request:

The Zoning Ordinance allows 24 months for both construction and start of the use of a Special Use Permit (18-31.2.4.4.).  Staff has found that churches often need more time to accomplish their fundraising prior to building.  Staff recommends that the time allowed for construction and start of the use of this Special Use Permit, should it be approved, be increased to five (5) years. 

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2006-16 Mountain View Full Gospel Church with the following conditions:

 

1.        The  site plan amendment  shall be developed in general accord with the concept plan  received August 24, 2006, prepared by Glenda Atkins, and titled “Mountain View Full Gospel Church Concept Plan” (Attachment A.1 and 2) 

2.        The sanctuary area shall be limited to 192 fixed seats. 

3.        A tree conservation plan in accord with Section 32.7.9.4b is required to be submitted, reviewed and approved prior to approval of a building permit for any structure shown on this concept plan.

4.        Tree removal shall be limited to 5’ beyond all parking areas. 

5.        A 20’ (minimum) width of existing woodland along the southern property boundary shall remain undisturbed. 

6.        Five large oak trees located off of the northwest corner of the existing church building shall be included on the tree conservation plan.    

7.        VDOT approval of the entrance including the sight distance requirements is required to be granted prior to building permit issuance.   

8.        This use shall commence within 5 years of the date of approval rather than the 24 months stated in section 31.2.4.4.

9.        There shall be no day care center or private school on site without the approval of a separate Special Use Permit. 

 

Waiver Request: Staff supports the applicant’s requested waiver of Section 18-31.2.4.4. to allow five years from the date of approval of this Special Use Permit to commence construction.   

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A –Concept Plan received August 24, 2006 prepared by Glenda Atkins, and titled “Mountain View Full Gospel Church Concept Plan”; proposed church sanctuary layout and perspective view.

Attachment B – Site photographs, forest context, site topography

Attachment C - Action letter, staff report, and VDOT comments for SP1981-13

Attachment D – Excerpt from SDP 1981-22 showing future additions

Attachment E - Vicinity aerial, pond location

Attachment F – Vicinity aerial, hydrant location

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