Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 10, 2006


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, October 10, 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, Pete Craddock, Duane Zobrist and Bill Edgerton. Absent was Marcia Joseph, Chairman. Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia, representative for David J. Neuman, FAIA, Architect for University of Virginia was absent. 


Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Francis MacCall, Senior Planner; Amy Arnold, Planner, Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


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


            Public Hearing Items:


SP 2006-024 Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (Sign #39)

PROPOSAL: New church building.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: LI - Light Industrial - industrial, office, and limited commercial uses (no residential use); Airport Impact Area. SECTION: 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 (0.5 unit/ acre).


LOCATION: Earlysville Road between Route 606 (Dickerson Road), Walnut Hills Subdivision.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 31, parcel 27A (2.00 acre portion).


STAFF:  Amy Arnold


ZMA 2006-010 Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (Sign #39):

PROPOSAL:  Rezone 2.00 acre portion of 11.451 parcel from LI - Light Industrial zoning district which allows industrial, office, and limited commercial (no residential) uses to RA - Rural Areas zoning district which allows agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses and residential density of 0.5 units per acre to allow new church under Special Use Permit.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (0.5 unit/ acre). ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: No.

LOCATION: Earlysville Road between Route 606 (Dickerson Road), Walnut Hills Subdivision.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 31, parcel 27A (2.00 acre portion).


STAFF: Amy Arnold


Mr. Zobrist said that although he had never represented nor provided services to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, another member of his firm has represented the Church on these transactions.  Therefore, he was disqualifying himself from participating in this proceeding.  He left the meeting room at 6:47 p.m.  (Attachment B – State and Local Government Conflict of Interest Act Transactional Disclosure Statement dated October 10, 2006 from Duane Zobrist.)


Ms. Arnold summarized the staff report.


·         Staff has identified the following factor favorable to the rezoning request:

1.    Clarified boundary between the RA and DA, provides a less intensive use adjacent to residential property than Light Industrial zoning, and isolates the remaining Light Industrial to properties adjacent to the Charlottesville / Albemarle Airport.

2.    Establishes zoning on the 2.00 acre parcel that is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.  

3.    Reduced levels of demand on transportation infrastructure; no additional demand on local water and sewer services.


·         Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to the rezoning request:

1.       Reduction of overall area of Light Industrial zoning available in the County.


·         Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Zoning Map Amendment 2006-10.


Mr. Cilimberg suggested that staff hear the special use permit and rezoning together.


Mr. Morris asked staff to present the staff report for SP-2006-024.


Ms. Arnold summarized the staff report for SP-2006-024, Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.


This Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority and the congregation of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church are requesting a special use permit to construct a 36’ X 80’ 2,880 square foot church building with a maximum of 200 fixed seats, an entrance drive and a parking area within the rezoned 2 acre parcel, a portion of tax map 31, parcel 27A.  The congregation is comprised of approximately 35 active members.  The church would be used for worship services, group meetings, choir practice, luncheons, dinners, funerals, weddings and other expected uses associated with the church. 


·         Pleasant Grove Baptist Church and building is an integral part of the historic African American communities of Hydraulic, Rivanna and Profit.  They have historically characterized this area.

·         The construction of Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport in the 1950’s located adjacent and to the east of the proposed church site changed the existing communities.  This is now an area of contrasting new development, established residential neighborhoods and remnants of local cultural history.  The area includes the boundary between the development areas of Route 29 North and the adjacent Rural Areas to the west.  The parcels along this section of Earlysville Road include light industrial uses and land that is heavily wooded. 

·         With the construction of Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport and the subsequent enactment of the Airport Design and Safety Standards through the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 the surrounding area to the south of the Airport, including Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, was declared part of a Run-way Protection Zone to protect local people and property.  The Airport Protection Zone is by law to be devoid of human habitation or structures.  Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority has worked closely with the congregation of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church for several years to find a site suitable for a new church building that will allow the congregation to remain within the nearby community.  The Airport Authority believes this relocation will protect the safety of the public and the aircraft utilizes the airport, but most importantly protect the safety of the congregation of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. 

·         Based on the findings contained in the staff report, staff recommends approval of SP-2006-24, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church with conditions. 

·         Staff is recommending inclusion of a 50’ no disturbance zone extending the full length of the eastern boundary of the proposed church property.  Normally that is 20’ between what they consider commercial and rural areas and nearby adjacent residential property.  Given the species and the spacing of the existing stands of trees, the relatively small size of the impact of the proposed church building, the parking area and the septic field it is the opinion of staff that the 50’ buffer would provide the total depth needed for an uninterrupted stand of trees between the properties.  In addition, after visiting the adjacent Walnut Hills parcels with neighbors yesterday, staff is now aware that a minimum of about 15’ of tax map 31, parcel 27A that is adjacent to Walnut Hills is occupied by the abandoned road bed from the original location of Route 743, which has remained primarily undisturbed asphalt.  This non-treed portion of the proposed church parcel represents the importance of maintaining a full 50’ buffer between the proposed church site and adjacent Walnut Hills.  This recommendation is described in Attachment D and condition 4 of the staff report.

·         Staff has received a memorandum from Patricia Moore representing opinions of the homeowners in the adjacent Walnut Hills Subdivision.  Copies of that memorandum have been provided for the Commission. 

·         In addition the applicant has requested the following waivers.



o        The Zoning Ordinance allows 24 months for both construction and start of the new use of a Special Use Permit (18-  The applicant has requested 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.  Staff supports the applicant’s request.


o        Both waivers have been incorporated into the conditions of approval.



Mr. Strucko asked staff what the plan is for the existing 130 year old building.


Ms. Arnold replied that it was not clear at this point.  The Airport and the congregation of the church are very willing to work with anyone who would like to relocate the building.  There has been some discussion about that in the County.  The church has been fully documented by three of the Board members of Preservation Piedmont in the spring of 2004.


Mr. Strucko asked if the church proposal outlined here, however, does not involve relocation of the church and is a brand new facility.


Ms. Arnold replied that was correct.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the congregation of 35 persons wanted to go to 200 members.


Ms. Arnold replied that was correct.  There currently are 35 active members, but the congregation is larger than that and requesting 200 members for future growth.


Mr. Morris opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.


Valerie Long, representative for the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Authority, said that Bryan Elliot, Executive Director of the Airport, was present this evening.  Also, there are several members of the church congregation present, including Reverend Chapman, to provide their support and answer any questions if necessary.  She felt that Ms. Arnold gave them a very helpful summary of the proposal.  She assumed that based on that explanation and summary that the Commission understands the issues.  Essentially, they need to down zone this parcel, which is just beyond the boundaries of the designated growth area, from Light Industrial to Rural Areas.  Also, they need to obtain a special use permit, which is necessary for a church in a Rural Area district.  They also, as staff indicated, requested two waivers to extend the two year period to five years for obtaining site plan approval and also to waive the requirement for a joint entrance.  Staff does support the waiver requests given the disparity of the type of uses that would be involved between the church and the remaining industrial zoned land.  Staff has already covered all of the issues.  This proposal would be very consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.  It would actually bring this land into conformity with the Comprehensive Plan.  It was zoned Light Industrial even though the Comprehensive Plan designates it as Rural Areas.  So the proposed down zoning would bring it into conformance with that.  As the staff report notes there are other goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan that this proposal would further, particularly the preservation of historical and cultural resources.  It would protect the environmental features of the site with the 50’ wooded buffer.  In particular, it would enable the church to continue serving its congregation in the same general area that it has served them for over 100 years.  So the church and the Airport Authority have been working very closely together over the past 6 or 7 years on this proposal to come up with an area where they can relocate the church, but yet have it be in the same general area.  So they are very pleased that they have reached an agreement with them and have come forward with a solution that they think serves the interest of both parties very well. 


To answer the Commission’s questions about what will happen to the existing church building Ms. Long continued that again, the agreement between the church and the Authority is very flexible for the church.  They have the option of either relocating the church structure to this 2 acre parcel if they wanted to or they could build a new building.  Certainly the existing building could fit within the footprint that is shown on the concept plan that is proposed this evening.  They could make that work within those areas if the church chose to.  She thought that the church was leaning towards new construction.  It would be a more modern facility for them and probably better serve the needs of their congregation. But again, if the church decides otherwise the terms of the special use permit conditions are flexible enough that they could relocate their existing structure here if they decided to do that.  But, that is the church’s decision.  They are just working hard to ensure that the conditions of approval are as flexibility as possible so that they have the maximum amount of flexibility to make those decision as they move forward.  She felt that the church would be looking hard at those issues if the rezoning and special use permits are approved.  In terms of the existing church structure, if they do decide to build a new church facility, it is her understanding that they prefer not to maintain the obligation and the liability of owning the existing structure.  So that would fall to the Airport Authority, which likewise is not too interested in maintaining the existing structure.  So they are working very closely among other groups, including the County and some of its planning staff, to try to find some uses for the existing structure so that it can be maintained. There are some private landowners who have come forward expressing an interest in using it for a variety of uses.  They were hopeful that through those collaborative efforts with the County and the staff that they could find a use for it.


Mr. Strucko asked if the building itself poses any impediment for the Airport activities.


Ms. Long replied that in a sense yes.  It is not technically in the way of any actual Airport activities, although it is within the Runway Protection Zones that the FAA has designated.


Mr. Strucko asked if the building would have to be moved anyway.


Ms. Long replied exactly, because under those guidelines the safety regulations require the church to make every effort to remove all structures from those Runway Protection Zones or any place that could be a place of congregation or habitation of anything.  They really want those uses out of there for the safety and protection of the general public.


Mr. Canon said that under the agreement between the church and the Airport Authority the choice whether to build a new church or remove the old church and put it into the condition that it could be used on the new site that decision in either case is going to be supported financially by the Airport Authority.  He asked if that was correct.


Ms. Long replied that was correct.  The agreement and the contract between the church and the Airport Authority provide that the church will obtain the rezoning and use its best efforts to obtain the rezoning, special use permit and subdivision plat approval.  This proposed 2 acre parcel has to be subdivided from the larger 11 acre parcel.  Then the Airport Authority would then donate that 2 acre parcel of the land to the church along with some additional resources in the form of monetary compensation that would support the church’s effort to either fund the relocation of the existing church structure or to fund the construction of a new structure.


Mr. Canon asked if the monetary allocation would be 100 percent of which ever of those alternatives the church would select. 


Ms. Long replied that it is actually a specific set amount of money.  She was not involved in the actual contract negotiations, but her understanding is that the figure that was negotiated between the parties would be sufficient for the new construction and/or relocation.  She would invite Mr. Elliot to come forward and speak to that issue since she was not involved with those contract negotiations.


Bryan Elliot, Executive Director of the Airport Authority, asked to provide a little bit of background.  This acquisition of the church property by the Airport Authority is being funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.  So really the procedure they had to follow is those of the federal government.  In our negotiations and discussions with the church they had to submit that payment amount to the FAA for approval and it on the order of about $460,000 plus the 2 acres of land that they are donating for the reestablishment of the church.  He did not know the specifics of the church’s efforts in terms of design costs and site preparation costs, but our engineers at the time did a quick take off and deemed that was close to what that number should be.   Again, it just depends on the nature of the finishes and what the actual construction costs are.  The aim was to get close to that number.


Mr. Canon asked if that number was determined by the size of the structure under some FAA guideline.


Mr. Elliot replied that they did a quick take off on constructing basically this site in providing the well, septic service, parking area and a church of similar size and the construction cost.


Mr. Canon asked if the church was not built in 5 years would the church be protected against the escalation of costs.


Mr. Elliot replied not in the existing contract.


Mr. Morris invited public comments.


Patricia Moore, resident of Walnut Hills Subdivision, pointed out that the Commission had already received their memorandum.  She lived on Elderberry Circle where there were four homes.  Two of the homes were going to be adjacent to the church with their back property lines backing up to each other.  First, they are very happy to have Pleasant Grove Church as their neighbor. Their only concern was the buffer.  They felt that if a minimum buffer was presented that there would be a severe loss of woodlands between the properties plus the impact of the old Route 743 asphalt road where there were not trees growing on it.  That runs right down the property line.  So there was some empty space there.  But, Ms. Arnold explained that to them and came out and met with us.  The memorandum was agreed upon by all of the neighbors. They support staff’s recommendations.  They support recommendations 4 and 5, which have covered all of their concerns regarding the possible detriment to the adjacent properties.  They especially appreciate recommendation 5 that has included in it a tree protection plan.  She thanked the Commission for allowing her to speak tonight and for staff’s assistance.  They look forward to their new neighbor.


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


Mr. Strucko noted that his only disappointment with this application was what is going to happen with the 130 year old building.  Other than that he felt that when it comes to the historical importance for an entity like this that the congregation itself and not necessarily the building is part of the historical preservation.  Therefore, he supported the request and saw no other concerns about this.  He agreed with Mr. Cannon that lack of financial protection was a concern, but was something beyond the Commission’s purview.


Mr. Edgerton agreed with Mr. Strucko that it would be wonderful if there would be a way to upgrade and relocate the existing church, but if it does not work there is nothing they can do about it.  His only concern was if a 50’ buffer would be enough buffer area.


Ms. Arnold noted that the boundary between the proposed church site and the two impacted Walnut Hills lots is literally defined by the road.  As is customary when they abandon a road right-of-way they split it right down the middle.  It appears that is exactly where the survey flags are located.  It looked like the full width of the road was about 30’.  So they are talking about 15’ of buffer area.  There are some knee high shrubs that have grown up in the asphalt area.  There are not trees.


Mr. Edgerton asked if everybody, including the neighbors, is happy with the 50’ being an adequate buffer.


Ms. Arnold replied yes, that was her understanding.


Mr. Cannon supported the approval of the requests.  It represents an important opportunity to keep the congregation impact and in the area where it belongs.  He would urge the Airport Authority in its stewardship capacity to do everything in its power to ensure that the move goes smoothly and if there are problems relating to an inadequacy in the estimate that the Airport Authority uses whatever means in its power to assure that those problems are overcome. 


Mr. Cannon said that his greatest disappointment was the question of the existing building.


Mr. Strucko asked if they needed 2 motions.


Mr. Kamptner replied that actually the Commission needs to make 3 motions.  He suggested that condition 7 be changed to read, “Section 14-404 is waived . . .” so that there is no confusion that “shall be” means something that has to take place in the future.


Action on ZMA-2006-10:


Motion: Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Edgerton seconded, to recommend approval of ZMA-2006-10, Albemarle Airport Authority – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.


The motion passed by a vote of 5:0.  (Commissioner Joseph was absent.)  (Commissioner Zobrist abstained.)


Action on SP-2006-24:


Motion:  Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to approve SP-2006-24, Albemarle Airport Authority – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church subject to the conditions staff recommended in the report, as amended, with Mr. Kamptner’s modification to condition 7 stating Section 14-404 “is required” deleting “shall be” required. “Section 14-404 shall be waived” be replaced with “Section 14-404 is waived”.



1.        Special Use Permit 2006-24 shall be developed in general accord with the following: “Proposed 2.000 acre division off of Tax Map 31, Parcel 27A” prepared by Kirk Hughes and Associates and Concept plan dated June 23, 2006, prepared by Kirk Hughes and Associates, and titled “Pleasant Grove Baptist Church” (Attachments A1 and A2) 

2.        A site development plan shall be required.

3.        Setbacks for the church property shall be 75 feet front, 25 feet sides, and 35 feet rear. 

4.        A 20 foot buffer (no disturbance zone) shall be maintained continuous along the boundary between the church property and TMP 31-23J to the north.

5.        A 50 foot buffer (no disturbance zone) shall be established the full length of the easternmost property boundary of the church parcel; a tree protection plan shall be required as part of site plan approval.      

6.        Sanctuary and classroom expansion, or the addition of day care and other non-worship uses, will require amendment to this petition.

7.        Section 14-404 is waived to allow for a separate vehicular entrance from Earlysville Road serving the church parcel only.  

8.        VDOT approval of vehicular entrance shall be required. 

9.        Virginia State Health Department approval of well and septic systems shall be required

10.     The applicant is required to coordinate verification of adequate fire flow with the Fire Department during the building permit process.

11.     Five years shall be allowed from the date of approval of this Special Use Permit to the commencement of the use. 


The motion passed by a vote of 5:0.  (Commissioner Joseph was absent.)  (Commissioner Zobrist abstained.)


Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-10, Albemarle Airport Authority – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church would go before the Board on November 1 with a recommendation for approval.



Action on Waiver:


Motion:  Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, for acceptance of the waiver requests from Section 14-404 to allow a vehicular entrance from Earlysville Road serving the church parcel only and the 5-year time element allowed for construction. 


The motion passed by a vote of 5:0.  (Commissioner Joseph was absent.)  (Commissioner Zobrist abstained.


Mr. Morris said that the requests for ZMA-2006-10 and SP-2006-24, Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport – Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, would go before the Board of Supervisors on November 1 with a recommendation for approval.  He noted that the two waiver requests were approved.


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