SP-2006-022 Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene; Northridge Preschool (Sign #79)

PROPOSED: Day Care/Pre-school; existing church; no exterior building changes proposed; SP amendment.

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

SECTION: 10.2.2.(7); 5.1.06 Day care, childcare or nursery facility.

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre).

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes.

LOCATION: 5100 Dickerson Road, Charlottesville; near Route 29 North.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TM21, Parcel 11A.

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Whitehall.

STAFF:  Amy Arnold

 

Ms. Arnold summarized the staff report.

 

·         In the spring of this year Merridale Preschool closed its doors after 46 years of operating in the community of northern Albemarle County. With the majority of the facilities and capacity to operate a preschool already in place, the congregation of the Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene is proposing to establish a half-day preschool program in the fall of 2007 to help compensate for the lose of the Merridale Preschool programs. It is the hope of the congregation that the preschool will meet the needs of parents in northern Albemarle County by providing the benefits of a locally based program.

 

·         The church is proposing a total capacity of 80 children at the preschool, with a maximum of 50 on site at one time.  The preschool would comprise a half-day program serving 3 and 4 years olds operating from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Parents would park in the church parking lot, escort their children into their class and later pick the children up from the class.  There will be no curbside pick up and drop off.  The children will bring a lunch from home; no lunches will be prepared on site, though full kitchen facilities are available at the church.  In addition, multiple classrooms totaling 2,630 square feet, space for school wide events, and a large playground are in place at the church.   

 

·         Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene is located less than a mile from the northeastern boundary of Albemarle adjacent to Route 29 North.  The surrounding area is characterized by large stands of mature deciduous and evergreen forest and open space with scattered residences, a few industrial uses and a large pond located across Route 29 North. Nearby and to the south are two large sites currently zoned industrial including the over 50 acre site of GE Fanuc Manufacturing. 

 

·         In January, 2004 the Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to SP-2000-58 to allow for the operation of a pre-school and after school programs extending as late as 6:00 p.m.  The conditions included prohibiting exterior changes to the building and the site, limiting the number of children to 80 for pre-school and 60 for the after school programs and limiting the hours of operation.  The current administration for the church was not in place when the special use permit amendment was approved.  Unaware that the church already had approval to operate a pre-school the amendment expired in January of this year and the special use permit was deemed abandoned. 

 

·         Grace Community Church located on the parcel immediately adjacent and to the north has written a letter supporting the operation of the pre-school at Northridge.  Copies of that letter have been provided for your review.  (Attachment:  Letter addressed to Amy Ransom Arnold from Donald H. Ward, Jr., Pastor of Grace Community Church)

 

·         Condition 3 states that enrollment shall not exceed 80 children with a maximum daily attendance of 50. Zoning had questioned the need to limit the maximum daily attendance.  Staff recommends the condition read simply, “Enrollment shall not exceed 80 children.”

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.

 

Mr. Edgerton questioned condition 7 and asked what may be disturbed in the woodland.  He asked for clarification by staff regarding the highest water level.

 

Ms. Arnold said that the intention was to protect the existing woodland on the site, which totals 4 acres.  But, at the same time on the edge of the woodland is their storm water management. Staff did not want to limit them being able to maintain it or take trees out if they needed to.  That is the idea.  Attachment E shows it on the edge of the wood land between the church parking lot and the wood land.  There is a semi-cleared area with a fence line. 

 

Mr. Edgerton asked if they have existing classrooms that have been approved for Sunday Schools, and Ms. Arnold replied that was correct.

 

Mr. Morris asked if they have no intention of having an after school program at this time, and Ms. Arnold replied that the applicant was only asking for a pre-school.

 

There being no further questions for staff, Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and asked the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Tracy Tucker, Pastor of Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene, said that his associate Tammy Hensley was also present.  As was already stated, Merridale’s closing was a sudden thing and left a real opening in the community.  When the opportunity was there for the church they felt as though they would like to try to fill that void left behind by Merridale Pre-school.  Tonight he invited two parents from the Merridale Pre-School who had children vested in the program.  He would like to invite them to speak for just a moment about the impact that Merridale had and the need to continue that service to the community.  Heather Johnson will speak first.

 

Heather Johnson said that she just moved to the area from Colorado nine months ago.  Therefore, they are getting adjusted to Charlottesville.  She has two pre-school children and went on a search for a pre-school.  She asked everybody that she met where they sent their children to pre-school.  Only two pre-schools came up.  Many others came up that she would not even bother calling.  Being a stay home mom she wanted actual school and not a daycare facility.  Merridale is now closed, and in her mind that left only one other.  So now she drives all the way down to the City of Charlottesville to take her children to pre-school.  She noted that she was very excited about the possibility of this pre-school opening.  She felt the dire need for a well done pre-school program.  But, the fact that it will be up north where there is such growth in the community is just going to be an awesome unbelievable experience for the children up there.  Selfishly that gives her 20 more minutes of free time.  She asked that the Commission approve the request.

 

Shelly Smith said that she had two sons, one of which went to Merridale for two years.  She came in support of Merridale because she felt that it was a wonderful program.  Her son has some pretty significant special needs and because of the structured curriculum that Merridale provided with the small classroom size, the Christian focus and the way the staff and the teachers worked as a team they were able to come up with some really creative accommodations for her son that allowed him to thrive.  She planned to send her two year old son to Merridale when he was old enough.  She was very disappointed when she found out Merridale was going to close.  She felt that the proposed pre-school with its format that is similar to Merridale would be wonderful wherever it was placed in Charlottesville.   It would be a much needed addition to our community.  The fact that it is going to be in northern Albemarle is terrific because that is where she lived.  She supported the request.

 

Pastor Tucker said that in addition to the pre-school itself Northridge really feels as though they have been trying to make a concretive effort to impact our community and to benefit our community.  They operated a professionally installed community playground this past year.  There are a number of folks in the community coming by and taking advantage of that.  In addition, they are a polling center for the Rivanna Magisterial District.  They support many community programs.  He submitted a packet of letters of support from Grace Community Church, GE Fanuc Automation, Bonnie Herring, Laura Evans, Tonya Shifflett and Diane L. Lame.  (Attachment:  See the attached five letters of support.) He asked that the Commission approve their request.

 

Ms. Joseph invited public comment.

 

Don H. Ward, Jr., Senior Pastor of Grace Church, said that on behalf of the leadership of Grace Community Church, he wanted to express their full support for the petition of Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene to start a preschool on their property.  Northridge is their next door neighbor and they are thrilled with this request.  They have been very kind to their church.  Their goal is not to duplicate the things that the other church is doing.  They do not plan to come with a request for a pre-school, but possibly for an after school or something like that.

 

Joan Shaw said that there were a number of persons present in support of this request who did not want to speak.  She asked that everyone present to show their support by raising their hands.  (Note:  There were 20+ plus members of the public that raised their hand in support of the request.)

 

There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and the matter placed before the Commission.

 

Mr. Strucko asked what the proposed change was to condition 3.

 

Ms. Arnold said that the condition should eliminate any limit on the daily number.

 

Motion:  Mr. Craddock moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to approve SP-2006-22, Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene; Northridge Preschool, with the conditions, as amended, recommended in the staff report.

 

1.       Special Use Permit 2006-22 shall be developed in general accord with the interior concept plan received May 30, 2006, and titled “Northridge Preschool” (Attachment A). 

2.       Hours of operation shall be limited to 7:30 am to 12:30 pm Monday through Friday. 

3.       Enrollment shall not exceed 80 children. 

4.       The church building must be approved for day care use by the Building Official.

5.       Licensure by the Virginia Department of Social Services is required.

6.       Health Department approval is required before the commencement of the use.

7.       The existing woodland shall remain undisturbed with one exception: the woodland may be disturbed within 10 feet of the highest water level in the storm water facility.  In no case shall the site be disturbed within 35 feet of the western boundary of this parcel. (Reference Attachment E)

 

Mr. Kamptner noted that looking at page 24 where it lists the hours of operation that it seems like the cut off is tight.  It would be helpful to have some extra time at the end of the day so the church will not have to come back and request an amendment to the special use permit.

 

Ms. Joseph recommended that the end time be changed to 1:30 p.m.

 

Amended Motion:

Mr. Craddock moved, Mr. Cannon seconded to amend the motion to change the end time to 1:30 p.m.

 

1.       Special Use Permit 2006-22 shall be developed in general accord with the interior concept plan received May 30, 2006, and titled “Northridge Preschool” (Attachment A). 

2.       Hours of operation shall be limited to 7:30 am to 1:30 pm Monday through Friday. 

3.       Enrollment shall not exceed 80 children. 

4.       The church building must be approved for day care use by the Building Official.

5.       Licensure by the Virginia Department of Social Services is required.

6.       Health Department approval is required before the commencement of the use.

7.       The existing woodland shall remain undisturbed with one exception: the woodland may be disturbed within 10 feet of the highest water level in the storm water facility.  In no case shall the site be disturbed within 35 feet of the western boundary of this parcel. (Reference Attachment E)

 

The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-22, Northridge Community Church of the Nazarene; Northridge Preschool, would go to the Board of Supervisors on October 4 with a recommendation for approval with the changes noted.

 

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