Albemarle County Planning Commission

November 7, 2006

 

The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Second Floor, Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Jon Cannon, Marcia Joseph, Chairman and Bill Edgerton. Absent were Duane Zobrist and Pete Craddock.  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; Gerald Gatobu, Senior Planner, Bill Fritz, Chief of Current Development; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner; Joan McDowell, Principal Planner; Claudette Grant, Senior Planner; David E. Pennock, Principal Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.

 

Call to Order and Establish Quorum:

 

Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:03 p.m. and established a quorum.

 

            Public Hearing Items:

 

SP-2004-029 Holy Cross Episcopal Church (Sign 28):

PROPOSED: Special use permit amendment for expansion of an existing, non-conforming church to expand the existing fellowship hall by approximately 800 square feet.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre). SECTION: 10.2.2.35 ("church building and adjunct cemetery").

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: No.

LOCATION: Craigs Store Road (Route  635), approximately 3.5 miles south of Batesville.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 84 Parcel 61.

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Samuel Miller.

STAFF:  Scott Clark

 

Mr. Clark presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.

 

·         This is an application for a special use permit and a site plan waiver for Holy Cross Episcopal Church.  Holy Cross Episcopal Church is an existing church, which has been on Craigs Store Road southwest of Batesville since about 1905.  It is an existing nonconforming church and does not have a special use permit to this point. 

·         The proposal is for the expansion of the church’s fellowship hall, which is now about 736 square feet.  They want to add 800 square feet more and not to expand the actual level of use on the site, but to accommodate uses that right now have to be accommodated outdoors.  This includes social events for the existing congregation. 

·         There are three major issues for this application:

o        The addition itself, labeled as building #4, will be tacked on to the existing fellowship hall on the church.  This location has been moved from the original application.  The plan shows a 30” Maple.  Originally, this proposed addition was to be to the front of the existing addition, which would have required that tree to be removed. It would have placed the addition much closer to the existing historic church, which is building #1 on the detail.  The issue here is that they do not have any elevations or the designs yet for the proposed addition.  In order to make sure that the design is appropriate to the historic church, building #1, there is a recommended condition of approval that would require Historic Planner approval of the actual design once it is prepared.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked what building #3 was used for.

 

Mr. Clark replied that building #3 was probably a former dwelling although it is not used for one right now.  It is just a structure that is used for monthly food bank distributions.  It is not used for anything else at this time.  The church does not propose any other use at this time.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if building #3 was hooked up to water and electricity.

 

Mr. Clark replied that he would have to defer that question to the applicant.  He continued the staff report.

 

·         The other issues are:

o        The entrance to the site.  The site distance to that point from the top of the hill to the northeast on Craigs Store Road is about 300’.  VDOT requires 390’ to be acceptable.  So given that safety situation VDOT has asked for a new entrance location, which is shown in the detail.  It goes to the farther end of the property from the current entrance to maximize the distance from the obstructing hill to increase the site distance.  There is a significant amount of grading that would have to happen as this new entrance would cut through a tall bank to get up to the grade of the existing driveway.  However, the existing entrance could remain as a right out only exit.   It would not need to be entirely closed. 

o        The impacts of the neighboring property mostly to the west, which is tax map 84, parcel 61.   They have a letter from one of the residents asking for some measures that would reduce the impacts, some of which would be generated by this new driveway.  Because of the traffic moving to this portion of the parcel the neighbors are hoping to get some screening vegetation added there.  There is a recommendation condition of approval specifying what that would be.

o        There are existing drainage concerns at this point on Craigs Store Road.  The ditches here tend to carry loads that overwhelm the drainage facilities down hill of this site.  So again, staff has recommended a condition of approval that would require County Engineer approval of later storm water measures to be designed on the church site. 

o        The matter of lighting needs to be addressed so as not to add lighting that would not impact the neighboring properties. Staff has again specified a condition calling for full cut-off fixtures for any new lighting to be added to the site.

 

·         Staff recommends approval with the recommended conditions listed on page 5 of the staff report.

 

Mr. Edgerton was concerned about the lack of site distance at the existing entrance and the condition of the existing entrance.  Staff makes a point in the staff report that improving the entrance itself would not solve the site distance problem.  But, then when they go down the road to where they would have to go to get safe site distance they are in a situation that VDOT is unhappy with again because of the 15 percent grade.  Staff’s recommendation tends to go that route.  He asked if staff got a clear signal that VDOT was more comfortable giving up the 90 feet or the grade.  Neither of these locations meets their standards.   Therefore, he was trying to figure out how to deal with that.

 

Mr. Clark replied that VDOT repeatedly said that the site distance was their major concern.  It is not acceptable as it is.  The last comment that he had from the VDOT reviewer said that although the grade is steeper than they would normally accept, they would acknowledge that there were no other options. 

 

Mr. Strucko said that the proposed use would not increase vehicular traffic in and out.

 

Mr. Clark replied that according to the applicants they will use this addition to move some of their existing activities indoors and not to increase the amount of activity on the site.

 

Mr. Strucko said that the current entrance handles a certain amount of traffic.  What the applicant wants to do is continue with the current entrance and this building will not increase the vehicular traffic at all.

 

Mr. Clark replied that is correct.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked staff to explain the chart on page 4 about the collisions for the last six years.  He asked what an angled collision is.

 

Mr. Clark replied that he believed that references the manner in which the vehicles met.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that there has been one real collision between two cars if that is correct in six years.  They have a couple of side swipes and three deer.  Then there are five fixed objects off of the road, which he did not know what that was.

 

Mr. Clark replied that was a tree or mailbox.  He noted that it was not collisions at the church site.  It was collisions from the intersection of Castle Rock Road and Route 691, which is beyond that hill that blocks the view to this site all the way southwest to the Nelson County line.

 

Mr. Edgerton noted that the applicant has represented that there have been no accidents at the entrance.

 

Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

John Grady said that he was present to represent the church in their request for a special permit and site plan waiver to expand their existing fellowship hall.   It is the member’s desire to expand the hall by approximately 800 square feet.  The area will be used for after services for special events mostly dinners and coffees.  They are not look for any expansion in membership uses or anything that would require additional parking or more trips to the site. The church is over 100 years old and is not on any historic record.  They really do not wish to be on a federal, state or local register. The church has approximately 75 members on record. There are only about 35 active members.   On any typical Sunday there will be 12 to 15 vehicles at the site with approximately 25 to 35 members. They would like to address some of the staff’s comments and recommendations of conditions.

 

1.       The church will certainly conform to the current site plan requirements that they have shown.

2.       There will be no daycare center or private school without amending this special use permit.

3.       They appreciate the 5 year extension if granted.  Certainly the church does not have the funds yet to do the addition.  If the requirement of a new entrance is imposed, it will be maybe some time before they gather the initial funds.

4.       The new entrance by VDOT.  They would like the recommendation to be removed for several reasons. There is no expansion of seating, membership or proposed uses.  So therefore they are not doing anything to increase any population or vehicular traffic to the site.

5.       To build a new entrance will require removal of several large Oak trees and getting into a 12’ to 15’ bank.  This technically will cause more detrimental harm to the environment than it is worth.  The new entrance will also take away the only remaining drain field area.  The existing drain field functions properly.  There have been no problems.   But, this has been in the ground 50 years and they don’t know what will happen.  The area in front of the church is where the well is located and can’t be used for drain fields.  The rear area cannot be used because of an existing cemetery.  They hope that condition #5 will not have to be addressed if the entrance is removed.

6.       Approval of Historic Preservation Planner.  The church has sent in a letter saying that they will use the hearty plank to match the existing sanctuary on both the existing fellowship hall and the proposed addition.  They will use the existing shingles that were just replaced on the sanctuary.  They will match the elevations with the existing church.  They did not want to be held accountable to something that they felt would be a financial burden because they did not know what would be required.  They did look to try to match the windows to the church.  Of course, they are a steeple type of window and that was somewhat cost prohibitive. 

7.       The vegetative buffer.  They hope that will not be required if they don’t have to do the entrance.  Technically putting that buffer in or if they had to put the entrance in it would just about destroy everything to the neighbor’s property.  There will be no buffer there.  Along the road there is a fairly substantial buffer right now.  The visibility of the church is somewhat blocked by these trees. 

8.       Lighting on the site.  They will certainly have a note on the site plan that all lighting will be full cut-off fixtures.

9.       Storm water management.  If the entrance is not required, that negates a lot of storm water management that they normally would have to do.  He felt that if the entrance was required it would make the drainage worse.   They will certainly use French drains and rain gardens for the existing sanctuary, the existing fellowship hall and the addition and put that underground to manage what runoff they do create. 

 

Mr. Grady noted that they did receive something from VDOT, which said that 811 trips a day with 11 accidents.  They would like to note that Mr. Massie has been at that church for 70 years along with a couple of other members who have never seen an accident at or near this entrance.  The road is about 5 miles from Batesville.  There are certainly worse places in the road where it narrows and turns.  He did not understand the 811 vehicle trips per day.  They just had a study done this past year with Malone and Associates on 8/30/05 and 8/31/05, a Tuesday and Wednesday respectfully.  Their study, which they gave VDOT, shows 446 trips on a Tuesday and 438 on a Thursday.  He questioned if VDOT possibly might have forgotten to divide it by 2.  The minister and one of the parishioners are present to answer questions.  The biggest obstacle they face is the entrance.  Making that go away would be a major help.

 

Reverend Anthony Andrews thanked the Commission for being so patient.  He also thanked staff, John Grady and Massie Hughes, their Building Chairman.  He pointed out that they need the expansion for several reasons.  When they have a dinner they can hardly fit the 35 members in the small parish hall.  When they have homecoming once a year everything has to go outside.  There are certain areas of ministries that they cannot do.  They are part of a 15 member region.  He would love to have that region gather there once a year just to see what the ministry in the mountain church is like.  But, they cannot hold that many people in the parish hall.  The second function is their church functions.  While they do alright on Sunday, when they have a major event such as baptism or funeral the place cannot fit everyone in there.  So it limits their church functions.  The third is education.  They cannot have a nursery for the three babies due to limited space.  So they are really restricted in their ministry right now.   They urge the Commission to help them get the addition built.

 

Mr. Grady pointed out that the church membership had agreed and it was mentioned by someone on site a couple of weeks ago that if VDOT would not be opposed to it they would certainly be willing to put some type of signage on the north side as you approach the church area.  This could be a flip sign that says church service in progress or a solar panel flashing sign that says church entrance.  That might answer some of the questions about the upcoming entrance.

 

Ms. Joseph invited other public comment.  There being none, she closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.  She noted that 800 vehicle trips were not that large of an amount.  Since they don’t have anything in writing from VDOT she felt that the new entrance has been a suggestion on their part as they have been reviewing this special use permit.  She was not so sure this was something that they could require. 

 

Mr. Strucko agreed with Ms. Joseph.  He pointed out that he had visited the site and met with the gentleman.  His main concern coming here tonight was if he could adequately represent to the Commission the severity of the proposed second entrance.  He was glad that they provided the photograph with the gentleman standing on top of the bank because he did not have to say a thing.  He felt that the compelling argument here is that the number of vehicle trips in and out of this will not change with this addition.  Since that entrance has been there as long as the church and since there have been no accidents of the result of that entrance he had no problem with maintaining the existing entrance and not be concerned with the additional one.  He agreed that it looked like a clerical administrative decision on VDOT’s part.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that there was another issue that the Commission needs to discuss dealing with the review of the architecture.  In a lot of things that the Commission asks staff to review there are guidelines.  There are no guidelines with this.  This is just open ended.  She did not feel comfortable requiring that sort of review for this addition to this building.

 

Mr. Morris agreed.

 

Mr. Strucko requested to ask the applicant a question.  Regarding condition #3, he asked if the applicant was satisfied with the 5 year limitation.

 

Mr. Grady replied that the church is close to getting some of the funds together.  If the entrance is not going to be a problem they can work well within the 5 years to get the building done.  That is not a problem if the church does not have to go back and redo the entrance.

 

Motion:   Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve the applicant’s request for SP-2004-029, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, subject to staff’s recommended conditions as amended, with the deletion of conditions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9.

 

1.       The church’s improvements and the scale and location of the improvements shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan entitled “Application Plan SP 2004-29” ,” prepared by Lum’s Land Surveys, Inc., and [insert new date when a new dated plan is submitted.]

2.       There shall be no day care center or private school on site without approval of a separate special use permit;

3.       Construction of the proposed addition shall commence within 5 years of the date of approval of this special use permit or the permit shall expire.

4.       The proposed new entrance must be approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The note requesting approval of continued use of the existing entrance shall be removed from the conceptual plan.

5.       The existing entrance may be used as a right-turn-out-only exit, provided that directional signage is provided to VDOT’s satisfaction.

6.       The design of the addition is subject to review and approval by the Historic Preservation Planner. This review shall occur with the building permit application. The Historic Preservation may require roof pitches, exterior materials, and window designs similar to those of the existing church, as well as minor changes to the footprint of the addition, as compared to the footprint illustrated on the concept plan, for the purposes of protecting the historic character of the existing church and/or providing sufficient visual compatibility with the existing church.

7.       The applicants shall provide a vegetative buffer consisting of a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, including some fast growing species, along the west property line to provide year-round screening. The buffer shall extend from the edge of pavement of Route 635 southward 130’. The buffer shall have a minimum width of 20’ except that the planting width may be reduced as necessary at the entrance to the site from Route 635 to accommodate sight distance. The vegetative buffer shall be planted prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy for the addition. The vegetative buffer shall be shown on a site plan and is subject to approval by the Landscape Planner.

8.       Any new outdoor building and site lighting shall be provided by full cutoff fixtures. The note regarding the current lighting provisions shall be removed from the conceptual plan.

9.       The applicants shall provide storm water management facilities to reduce the impact of site drainage on properties downhill along Route 635 to the satisfaction of the County Engineer. The facilities shall be shown on a site plan.

 

The motion carried unanimously (5:0).  (Commissioners Zobrist and Craddock were absent.)

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-029, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on December 6.

 

Amended Motion:

 

Mr. Edgerton questioned whether the wording of the first condition needs to be changed.  It says church improvements . . . shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan, which shows that entrance. 

 

Mr. Cilimberg suggested that the referenced plan be changed before the Board meeting to reflect the removal of the conditions.

 

Mr. Edgerton suggested that the site plan could be redrawn. 

 

Mr. Grady noted that he would have the site plan amended to show the approval of tonight.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if the Commission needed to amend that motion.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that it should be amended.

 

Motion to Amend:

 

Mr. Edgerton, Mr. Morris seconded, to amend the motion.

 

The motion carried unanimously (5:0).  (Commissioners Zobrist and Craddock were absent.)

 

Motion to Amend Special Use Permit:

 

Motion:   Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve the applicant’s request for SP-2004-029, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, subject to staff’s recommended conditions, as amended, with the deletion of conditions 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 and to amend condition 1 to leave the date open for now until a new dated plan is submitted.

 

1.       The church’s improvements and the scale and location of the improvements shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan entitled “Application Plan SP 2004-29” ,” prepared by Lum’s Land Surveys, Inc., and [insert new date when a new dated plan is submitted.]

2.       There shall be no day care center or private school on site without approval of a separate special use permit;

3.       Construction of the proposed addition shall commence within 5 years of the date of approval of this special use permit or the permit shall expire.

4.       The proposed new entrance must be approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation. The note requesting approval of continued use of the existing entrance shall be removed from the conceptual plan.

5.       The existing entrance may be used as a right-turn-out-only exit, provided that directional signage is provided to VDOT’s satisfaction.

6.       The design of the addition is subject to review and approval by the Historic Preservation Planner. This review shall occur with the building permit application. The Historic Preservation may require roof pitches, exterior materials, and window designs similar to those of the existing church, as well as minor changes to the footprint of the addition, as compared to the footprint illustrated on the concept plan, for the purposes of protecting the historic character of the existing church and/or providing sufficient visual compatibility with the existing church.

7.       The applicants shall provide a vegetative buffer consisting of a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, including some fast growing species, along the west property line to provide year-round screening. The buffer shall extend from the edge of pavement of Route 635 southward 130’. The buffer shall have a minimum width of 20’ except that the planting width may be reduced as necessary at the entrance to the site from Route 635 to accommodate sight distance. The vegetative buffer shall be planted prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy for the addition. The vegetative buffer shall be shown on a site plan and is subject to approval by the Landscape Planner.

8.       Any new outdoor building and site lighting shall be provided by full cutoff fixtures. The note regarding the current lighting provisions shall be removed from the conceptual plan.

9.       The applicants shall provide storm water management facilities to reduce the impact of site drainage on properties downhill along Route 635 to the satisfaction of the County Engineer. The facilities shall be shown on a site plan.

 

The motion carried unanimously (5:0).  (Commissioners Zobrist and Craddock were absent.)

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-029, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on December 6.

 

Motion on Site Plan Waiver:

 

Mr. Clark noted that condition 1 in the recommendation for the site plan waiver was for field run topography to more closely identify the grades on the new entrance.  That condition is not longer relevant because the Commission removed the requirement of a new entrance.

 

Motion:   Mr. Strucko moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve the applicant’s request for SDP-2006-0085, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, with staff’s recommended conditions as amended, with the removal of condition 1.

 

1.       In accordance with Section 32.7.2.7, field run topography is to be provided for the entrance in order to verify grades.  If necessary, an alternative alignment to lengthen the entrance drive is to be provided in order to lessen the grade.

2.       In accordance with Section 32.6.6.j. outdoor lighting information including a photometric plan and location, description, and photograph or diagram of each type of outdoor luminaire shall be submitted for any proposed lighting on the site.

 

The motion carried unanimously (5:0).  (Commissioners Zobrist and Craddock were absent.)

 

 Return to exec summary