Albemarle County Planning Commission

January 9, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Eric Strucko, Jon Cannon, Calvin Morris, Duane Zobrist, Pete Craddock and Marcia Joseph.  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; Tamara Ambler, Natural Resources Manager; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Lori Allshouse, Strategic Planning Manager and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Mr. Cilimberg called the regular meeting to order at 6:05 p.m. and established a quorum.


            Regular Items:


SP 2006-034 North Pointe – Stream Crossing (Sign #8)

PROPOSED: Fill in the floodplain of Flat Branch Creek for a road crossing to provide access for residential development.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: Planned Development Mixed Commercial with which allows large-scale commercial uses; and residential by special use permit (15 units/ acre).  A special use permit exists for residential use.

SECTION: of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for fill in the floodplain

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Neighborhood Density Residential - residential (3-6 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions and schools and other small-scale non-residential uses.


LOCATION: East Side of Route 29 North (Seminole Trail) across from Lewis and Clark Drive



STAFF:  Tamara Ambler


Ms. Ambler, Natural Resources Manager, presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.


o        This is SP-2006-34, North Pointe – Stream Crossing at Northwest Passage.  The North Pointe community was previously approved as a rezoning.  This special use permit is only for the fill in the floodplain associated with the stream crossing that would be associated with that northern most entrance.  The parcel is Tax Map 32, Parcel 22K.  This location is right across from Lewis and Clark Drive.  Flat Branch is the stream that the flood plain is associated with that will be crossed.  That stream runs parallel to and very close to Route 29. 

o        In summary, the request itself is for fill in the flood plain for a road crossing in accordance with the Zoning Ordinance.  More specifically, the applicant is proposing to modify an existing stream crossing by replacing an existing 60” corrugated metal pipe with a box culvert to serve the proposed Northwest Passage entrance to the North Pointe community.

o        The 2005 FEMA Flood Study and the maps included Flat Branch in the detailed study. That means that the base flood elevations were determined as well as the 100-year flood elevation on the upstream part of the existing crossing. The upstream of the existing pipe is base flood elevation at 399.7’.  That is fairly high and is likely influenced by the existing 60” pipe.  In some cases it appears that the flood waters could impact Route 29 northbound.  The 100-year flood elevation on the downstream side is lower at 385.5’.

o        The applicant states and the County engineering staff concur that the replacement with a larger box culvert in the current design of 8’ X 6’ could reduce the flood elevation.  The applicant is stating that would reduce the upstream elevation to 392’, which would reduce or eliminate any apparent impacts to Route 29 northbound.  Therefore, it would actually be an improvement. 

o        The FEMA Flood Study has assumed that the 60” culvert is operating at full capacity.  In reality this is the upstream side standing at stream level looking at that culvert.  As shown in the slide, the culvert cannot be seen because the fill slope associated with that has failed and is blocking the culvert.  So when standing down there the stream is basically winding its way through the collapsed fill and finding its way into that culvert underneath the road. 

o        She presented the upstream conditions in a slide noting that while standing at the upstream side looking further up there is a lot of evidence of inundation there.  On the downstream side of the 60” culvert the water is actually passing through it. 

o        The applicant’s proposal is to replace that existing corrugated metal pipe with a larger box culvert. One of the issues is that the fill causes this special use permit. Of course, there would be new fill associated with the actual fill over the box culvert associated with the Northwest Passage.  In addition, there may be some additional fill required as a result of constructing that interchange associated with either turning lanes onto northbound Route 29 into Northwest Passage or turning lanes coming out of there.  It is not quite determined yet the level of improvements that may be required along Route 29 Northbound. Those designs are being coordinated now with VDOT as well as the water quality agencies.  So the intent of this special use permit is to authorize the necessary fill associated with the final lane configuration associated with this road crossing. There may be more or less fill associated with those Route 29 improvements.

o        The length of the new box culvert and the treatment and design of the fill slopes has not yet been finalized.  So one reason is that VDOT approval is still needed for the length and configurations.  The applicant is currently working with VDOT on that.  In addition, the applicant will need to get Federal and State Water Quality Permits for the crossing over Flat Branch.  Those agencies have certain requirements about the length of the stream that can be impacted.  Therefore, a shorter box culvert or a longer box culvert could be recommended, which is being coordinated with those agencies. 

o        The request is to authorize whatever necessary fill is associated with that final design for that intersection.  It is confusing because they have a couple of different options.  Staff has tried to illustrate the two different things that might happen.

§         The typical cross section with the longer culvert situation was shown in green. If a longer box culvert is used, then the fill slopes and the treatment of the fill slopes would be just the standard 2:1 vegetative fill slopes just like any other highway.

§         If a shorter box culvert is utilized, then it will be, as shown in blue, with a shorter fill slope that still allows for the cross section of the roadway through a retaining wall. That retaining wall could be 7’ to 10’ in height.  So those are the two different options for the way that fill slope may be treated depending on the length of the box culvert. 

o        Since this will be visible from the Entrance Corridor staff had the Architectural Review Board provide some advisory conditions.  The ARB reviewed the request and made comments, which have been incorporated into the conditions recommended by staff.

o        Regarding the history, this site has been a subject of a special use permit in the past.  In 1997, a special use permit was approved to expand the crossing for a proposed Korean Community Church.  That permit was valid for 5 years.  That permit was extended in October, 2002 for another 5 years.  Even though it has not quite expired that special use permit would not be suitable for the level of fill that would be needed for the lane configuration on 29 north.  So it was determined that a new special use permit was needed and the existing one would not be satisfactory. 

o        In summary, factors favorable includes:

§         No impact to neighboring properties.

§         No increase in flood levels.  It may reduce flood levels.

o        Staff did not find any factors unfavorable. 

o        Therefore, staff recommends approval of this request with the conditions as stated in the staff report with one additional condition. Because the previous special use permits were valid for 5 years and given the level of coordination that will have to happen with FEMA and that sort of thing, the applicant has requested that if approved that this special use permit also be valid for 5 years.  But, it is not listed in the conditions.  Therefore, staff would ask for that condition to be added.


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


Mr. Strucko asked if the conditions for large shade trees and trees in the median are from the ARB, and Ms. Ambler replied that was correct.


Mr. Edgerton said that he did not have any problem with what was being proposed.  But, it does not sound like there is any value to going ahead and making a decision before VDOT makes a decision.  He asked if that was correct.


Ms. Ambler replied yes, that in a sense that no matter what final lane configuration is done that it will require fill in the floodplain, which would require a special use permit.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the Commission was basically being asked to approve whatever is required by VDOT or the federal agencies.


Ms. Ambler replied that was basically true.


Mr. Edgerton asked if the applicant would not be able to go ahead and do anything with this until all of those issues are resolved.


Ms. Ambler replied yes, that was correct.


Mr. Edgerton asked why the Commission was reviewing it now rather than when that has been resolved.


Ms. Ambler said that in the past there have been examples of special use permits being reviewed and actually granted when the designs were still conceptual.  Final approvals had not been given at that time and the water quality permits had not yet been obtained. 


Mr. Edgerton said that the Commission was not approving something that would authorize the applicant to go ahead and put in a culvert, which then subsequently could be determined to be shorter or longer and then have to do it again.  He asked if the applicant was not going to go ahead and do this.  Although, it looks like it would help if they went ahead and put a box culvert in yesterday.


Ms. Ambler replied that before the applicant could actually do work in the stream they would certainly need their water quality permits from the CORE and DEQ.


Mr. Edgerton asked if staff has any idea when that is going to happen.


Ms. Ambler said that the applicant could address that.  She acknowledged that the applicant was in current conversations with VDOT as well as with the federal and state water quality agencies.  So it is not something that they are waiting to initiate that conversation because that conversation is occurring. 


Mr. Morris asked if staff could explain since they were talking about a culvert why there was an ARB review.


Ms. Ambler said that it was a  policy of the Planning Department that when there is a special use permit that was within the Entrance Corridor, which this request is, that the ARB be given the opportunity to provide their opinion and advice.  Staff asked the ARB if they would like to do a review and provide that.  The ARB said that they would like to provide that review and did so.  Therefore, the ARB has provided these advisory recommendations that have been included in staff’s recommendation.


Mr. Cilimberg asked to take it a step further.  The Planning Commission had a joint meeting with the ARB a little over a year ago in which they asked to be able to give comments.  Of course, the Commission does not have to accept any of the advisory conditions or comments if they don’t feel they are appropriate.  But, staff as a matter of course has been referring Entrance Corridor projects to the ARB for that opportunity.


Mr. Craddock asked if the size of the culvert was still is up in the air depending upon what FEMA, VDOT, and other reviewing agencies decides and the Commission does not have any thing to do with that they decide.


Ms. Ambler replied yes, that certainly the length of the culvert is still yet to be determined.  In actuality the 6’ X 6’ was the original proposal.  Then after a review based upon review of the drainage area that was originally shown the county engineer made some recommendations that actually a larger drainage area was going to it.  Based upon that review the applicant increased it to an 8’ X 6’ culvert.  That was a result of staff review.  But, he was correct that the final length of the culvert certainly is not yet determined.


Mr. Craddock asked if that was why there was no specific requirement for the size of the culvert in the conditions.


Ms. Ambler replied that was correct.  Also, the advice of the engineering staff is that if they require it down to the nth degree and if there is a minor design change, then that may require coming back for a special use permit modification.  That was an issue that was brought up by the county engineering review staff. 


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


Valerie Long, representative for the applicant, said that Ron Keeney, architect for the project, was also present to answer any of the more technical issues. 






Ms. Joseph asked Ms. Long if this was a Neighborhood Model.


Ms. Long replied no, that it was a Planned Development – Mixed Commercial development.


Ms. Joseph asked if the development did not have a code of development.


Ms. Long replied that was correct that the development did not have a code of development.  The development has an extremely detailed set of application plans.


Ms. Joseph pointed out that the Planning Commission has never seen those plans.  She had looked at some sections that the ARB had looked at, but no complete plans.


Ms. Long said that she could pass around sheets D1 and D2, but only had one copy of the application plan, which she would be happy to circulate. 


Ms. Joseph asked if it was approved as part of the rezoning.


Ms. Long replied that was correct.  There are many sheets to the application plan, which were approved with the rezoning.  She pointed out that Mr. Keeney had a large copy of the approved plans that were approved with the rezoning. By approving the rezoning with the application plan that makes for binding plans subject to any flexibility that the Zoning Ordinance may offer.  But, the development of the community must be in accord with the approved application plan.


Mr. Keeney pointed out that Ms. Ambler’s cross sections were generated from one sheet of the approved plans for North Pointe. The street used was actually taken from one of the Northwest Passage street cross sections in the main section.


Mr. Kamptner noted that these particular plans were accepted with the approval of the rezoning.


Ms. Long pointed out that the proffers state that the applicant has an obligation to submit the final detailed road plans to VDOT and to the County for review.  So certainly if they say that they want different road plans or different configurations it would still be subject to County and VDOT review.


Mr. Keeney explained the three cuts in the Northwest Passage that remain in the North Pointe Subdivision. He explained the cut where it connects to Route 29.  They had negotiated and worked out with planning staff that they wanted a 2-lane roadway at that point with bicycle lanes on both sides and street trees in the median.  That is Northwest Passage as it comes to Route 29. That is where VDOT takes over, decides and tells us how big the intersection of 29 has to actually be.  So they have taken that street section as it comes down the hill and just before it starts across the stream and gone to the 5 or 6 lane intersection that the Commission has seen their review as part of the intersection with Route 29, but not as part of the main element of North Pointe itself.


Ms. Long asked if they had answered Ms. Joseph’s question.


Ms. Joseph replied yes. The road itself was something that was to be reviewed by County staff and it was not part of the application plan that was approved by the Board.


Ms. Long noted that certain sections and basic perimeters of the road plans was a better way to say it for the road designs.  The cross sections are certainly shown. But, the final more detailed road plans that have not even been prepared yet are subject to VDOT and County approval.


Ms. Ambler noted that in the conditions the ARB would have review of those road plans


There being no further questions for the applicant, Ms. Joseph asked if there was any public comment regarding this request.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Planning Commission.


Ms. Joseph said there would be some improvements with the stream bank and that the applicant was going to do some stabilization.  It will lower the flood plain in that area and improve the existing situation.  She was reacting to the ARB’s comments because she thought that this had a code of development with it.  She thought that they were putting the applicant through unnecessary review if the code existed.  But, apparently it does not exist.  So that is a whole different item here.  She was a little concerned with the ARB looking at tinting the color for the culvert.  She did not know how important something like that is because in time vegetation will cover that up.  She was concerned with the stabilization of the stream bank. That should be in the purview of Ms. Ambler and not something that they work out regarding the vegetation size and location.  The optimum they need to get is stream bank stabilization.  If they can make it look good, that will be great. But, what is most important is that stream bank is stabilized with whatever vegetation that they choose.  She worried about that being a discussion with the ARB at any time.  She expected that DEQ and the other agencies will be involved and she wanted to avoid any confusion.  She supported the bike paths as shown. 


Mr. Craddock asked if this request would affect the Korean Church approval.


Mr. Cilimberg said that actually the Korean Church was the subject of this special use permit that exists now that would have given a certain level of crossing for them.  His understanding is that they will be taking access through this crossing.


Mr. Edgerton asked the applicant if there would be another crossing further south.


Ms. Long replied yes, there will be 2 additional entrances into the North Pointe community.  This is the one called the northern entrance.  There is a second one called the middle entrance that aligns with Northside Drive, which exists on the other side of Route 29 right now.  There will be a third entrance, called the southern entrance.


Mr. Edgerton asked if they would need additional stream crossings.


Ms. Long replied yes, that the applicant knows that they will need one more stream crossing.  In fact, they are in the process of preparing the application for the middle entrance.  There will be fill required in the flood plain there.


Mr. Keeney pointed out that they were not present asking for permission to cross the stream.  They were here because of having to fill within the flood plain line.  The original lake and that sort of thing that was designed in North Pointe are going to alter the flood plain line.  They are unfortunately asking for the first one, which is going to be at the bottom of all of the construction.  That is why the size of the pipe is rather vague.  They have to guess the size to get the mouth of that bottle large enough to make certain that it handles everything else that happens above it.  Most of the flood plain will actually disappear.  In other words, when the lake is put in that gathers the water coming off of the Airport Road area it is designed to stop the flooding down stream.  The flood plain line at Northside Drive may disappear to the point where they may no longer have to come back to the Planning Commission for fill in the stream bed at that point.


Ms. Long asked to respond to Mr. Craddock’s question about the Korean Church.  She did not represent the Korean Church, but her understanding was that part of the delay may have been due to the expense of constructing Northwest Passage.  It was going to be very expensive to build a road to access the property.  This could help facilitate it.  But, she did not know what their current or present plans may be.  This will obviously build a very high quality road that could perhaps provide some access for them if they were still interested in that area.


Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to approve SP-2006-034, North Point – Stream Crossing, subject to the conditions, as amended with the addition of condition 11 regarding the 5 years.


1.       County and VDOT approval of the final lane configuration for the Northwest Passage over the stream crossing with the final road plans

2.       County and VDOT approval of final design plans and hydrologic/hydraulic computations for the stream crossing.

3.       The applicant must obtain a map revision, letter of revision, or letter of amendment as required from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and copy the County Engineer on all correspondence.

4.       County approval of a grading and an erosion and sediment control plan prior to the issuance of a grading permit for modification of the existing stream crossing.

5.       Natural Resources Manager approval of a stream buffer mitigation plan prior to the issuance of a grading permit for modification of the existing stream crossing

6.       Provide an informal planting of mixed tree and shrub species and sizes to compensate for removed vegetation, and low-growing plants to stabilize slopes in the “proposed landscaping areas” shown on the plan submitted for  ARB review entitled “Proposed Entry Layout with Landscaping North West Passage Intersection @ Route 29 North” with revision date of 12-04-06.

7.       Provide large shade trees on the north and south sides of Northwest Passage, along the sidewalk and space reserved for the sidewalk, 2½” caliper minimum at planting, 40’ on center, for a minimum distance of 400’ from the existing edge of pavement of Route 29 North.   

8.       Provide trees in the median of Northwest Passage, beginning at the point closest to Route 29 North that can be approved by VDOT and extending for a minimum distance of 400’ from the existing edge of pavement of Route 29 North. The planting shall take the form of a continuous informal mix of large, medium and small deciduous trees ranging from 1½” to 2½” caliper and evergreen trees ranging from 4’–6’ in height.

9.       All of the above-noted landscaping shall be shown on the road plans submitted for Northwest Passage. The plans shall include a complete planting schedule keyed to the plan. The plans are subject to review of the ARB.   

10.   Design details of the retaining walls, including column cap design, pier design, stone finish, other materials, etc., culvert color, plant size and planting configuration shall be shown on the road plans and are subject to ARB approval as part of the review and approval of the road plans.

11.   If the use, structure, or activity for which this special use permit is issued is not commenced within sixty (60) months after the permit is issued, the permit shall be deemed abandoned and the authority granted there under shall thereupon terminate.


Mr. Kamptner suggested that the motion leave open conditions 9 and 10 so that staff can look at those two conditions.  He did not know if the culvert was visible from the Entrance Corridor and if there is a site plan that is going to be reviewed that will include this crossing or a building permit.  Staff’s position has always been that special use permit conditions cannot expand the authority of the ARB.  They understand the concepts that they are trying to address and staff can massage those conditions if necessary by the time it gets to the Board.  There will be some review by County staff in particular to take into Ms. Joseph’s comments about stabilization being the primary focus of the conditions.


The Commission also ruled that conditions 9 and 10 shall remain open for the applicant and staff to review at and revise if necessary before the Board of Supervisors public hearing date.


Ms. Joseph said that she appreciated Mr. Kamptner saying that because when she went back and looked at the ordinance and saw what the ARB was responsible for and it was not for roads or culvert colors.  So if that can happen, she would really appreciate that. 


Mr. Morris added that amendment to the motion, which was seconded by Mr. Cannon.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph said that SP-2006-034, North Point – Stream Crossing, would go before the Board of Supervisors on February 14, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.


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