COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP2006-42 Charlottesville Day School 

Staff: Judith C. Wiegand

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

February 13, 2007

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

March 14, 2007

Owners: Four Seasons of Virginia, LLC 

Applicant: Four Seasons of Virginia, LLC

Acreage: 8.075 acres

Special Use Permit: Expand the number of students permitted to attend the Charlottesville Day School.  Section 20.4.2.(1) of the zoning ordinance applies to this proposal. 

TMP: TM 61X1, Parcel 4A, and TM 61X2, Parcels 4B and 4D

Location: 200 Four Seasons Drive, approximately 1450 feet from intersection of Four Seasons Drive and Rio Road West.

Existing Zoning and By-right use:  Planned Unit Development – residential (3-34 units per acre), commercial, and industrial uses. 

 

Magisterial District:  Rio

Conditions: Yes

DA (Development Area):  Neighborhood 1.

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  NA              

Proposal:  Applicant requests an expansion of the number of students permitted at the private school from 85 students permitted under the current Special Use Permit to 250 students.

Comprehensive Plan Designation:  Urban Density Residential – residential (6 – 34 units/acre) and supportive uses such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses.

Character of Property: The parcels subject to the Special Use Permit are part of the Four Seasons development. This development includes single-family detached homes, townhomes, and apartments. The area where the school is located is in the recreational part of the complex near parking, a playground, tennis courts, and a pool/health spa.  

Use of Surrounding Properties:  The building in which the school is located is surrounded by recreational uses and parking. The nearest homes are located at the end (cul-de-sac) of Lakeview Drive, and their backyards abut the facility’s parking lot. There is a privacy fence separating the yards from the parking lot.

Factor Favorable:

1.   Provides opportunities for additional students to be enrolled in the school.

Factor Unfavorable: None

 

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Special Use Permit, with conditions.

 


 

STAFF PERSON:                                                                  JUDITH C. WIEGAND, AICPtc  \l 1 "STAFF PERSON\: ELAINE K. ECHOLS, AICP"PRIVATE

PRIVATE PLANNING COMMISSION:                                                  FEBRUARY 13, 2007

                                               

SP 2006-42  Charlottesville Day School

 

Applicant’s Proposal:

Applicant requests a Special Use Permit to increase the number of students permitted at the private school from 85 students permitted under the current SP 2003 -017 to 250 students.

 

Petition: 

PROJECT: SP2006-00042 Charlottesville Day School

PROPOSED: Request for special use permit to increase number of students at existing school from 85 to 250.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: Planned Unit Development – residential (3 – 34 units per acre), commercial, and industrial uses

SECTION: 20.4./2(i) private school

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Urban Density Residential – residential (6-34 units/acre) and supportive uses such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses in Neighborhood 1.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes   No  X

LOCATION: 200 Four Seasons Drive, approximately 1450 feet from intersection of Four Seasons Drive and Rio Road West.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: 061X2-4D,  061X1-4A, 061X2-4B

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio

 

Character of the Area:

The parcels subject to this Special Use Permit are part of the larger Four Seasons development. This development includes single-family detached homes, townhomes, and apartments. The area where the school is located is in the recreational part of the complex near parking, a playground, tennis courts, and a pool/health spa.

 

Planning and Zoning History:

The original rezoning for the Four Seasons Development was approved in 1969. The clubhouse was constructed in 1975. Two special use permits, SP1980-023 and SP1981-031, were approved for a day care at this site with a maximum enrollment of 175 children. The approval for the day care has expired. In 1984, the owner filed a rezoning application (ZMA1984-009) for condominiums and townhomes. The Planning Commission recommended denial of the project and the petition was withdrawn prior to public hearing by the Board. In 1985, another rezoning application (ZMA1985-015) was submitted. It requested permission to expand the clubhouse by 25,500 square feet to allow for the recreational facilities in place today. This space eventually became the ACAC facility.

 

After ACAC moved to Albemarle Square, the vacant building was converted into the Charlottesville Catholic School. A rezoning application (ZMA1998-004) was approved in May 1998 to allow for day care by-right and private schools by special use permit. The rezoning also contained proffers which restricted the commercial (C-1) and commercial office (CO) activities permitted. The special use permit (SP1998-001) that accompanied ZMA1998-004 included conditions limiting enrollment to 180 students, operating hours from 7:30a.m. to 6:00p.m., and “sunsetting” the school use as of June 30, 2001. SP2000-010, approved May 5, 2000, increased the enrollment to 220 students. SP2001-009, approved June 20, 2001, allowed an early childhood education center operated by the Crossroads Waldorf School, with a maximum enrollment of 85 students.

A rezoning request (ZMA 2003-001, approved July 9, 2003) allowed administration and professional offices, libraries, museums, nurseries, day care centers, and health spas in the facility. A separate, but concurrent, special permit amendment (SP2003-017) allowed on-going school use in the facility in the name of Four Seasons of Virginia, LLC. The maximum number of students permitted under this SP was 85. (See Attachment A).

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Urban Density Residential, which supports residential (6.01 – 34 units/acre) and supporting uses, such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses in Neighborhood One. This request is consistent with that designation.

 

Neighborhood Model:

The special use permit request is for an expansion in the number of students permitted to attend a private school located within an already approved building and no site development changes are proposed. The property was previously developed under a Planned Unit Development. For these reasons, staff has not undertaken an analysis of the site in relation to the 12 Principles of the Neighborhood Model. Staff notes that there is an internal sidewalk system that provides for pedestrian connections within the site and to Four Seasons Drive.

 

Staff Comment:

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,

 

Staff believes that increasing the number of students at the school will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property because the facilities can be shared by the several users, and the applicant has addressed potential traffic and parking problems. Staff also does not believe that there will be a significant increase in the amount of noise with the increased number of students. Further, having a private school in close proximity may provide support to some nearby residential uses.

 

The facilities used by Charlottesville Day School are also home to before and after school programs and, during the summer, a day camp for children. There is also an “Outdoor Waterpark” (a health spa and pool) nearby that shares the parking and is operated from the spring through the fall. The third facility that shares the parking lot is a set of outdoor tennis courts. These courts are also accessed by users who walk in from their homes elsewhere in the development. (See Attachment B, Property Usage Map)

 

Based on information provided by the applicant, staff does not believe that there will be sufficient overlap in the use of these facilities to cause problems with parking or vehicles queuing out onto Four Seasons Drive. The summer camp is not open while the school is in operation. During the spring and fall while the school is in session, the waterpark is used primarily while the children are in school and users park at the end of the lot away from the school facility. Further, some of the users walk from their homes in the development. There are seven tennis courts, so the maximum number of players would be 28, and not all would be expected to drive to the courts. The before and after school programs are attended by some of the same children who attend class during the schoolday, so they are picked up and dropped off only once—and before the hours that school-only students arrive.

 

The applicant has provided “Current Traffic” and “Expected Traffic” charts (Attachment C) that show dropoff and pickup times for all those using the school facilities. These charts demonstrate that the arrivals and departures are spread over a period of time in the morning and afternoon, so problems with lines of vehicles waiting or queues extending out onto Four Seasons Drive are very unlikely.

 

The school’s classrooms are indoors, so the children can be expected to be outside only as they arrive/depart and during recess/recreational time. The applicant has indicated that not all the children are outdoors at the same time. Given that the school is in the middle of an active recreation area, staff does not believe that there will be a significant increase in noise that will be apparent to owners of the nearest residences. It should also be pointed out that this area has been recreational for many years and a school has been operated on the premises for many of those years, including a period of time when up to 220 students were allowed.

 

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

The area has been a school site since the early 1980s, beginning as a day care facility. Thus, the proposed increase in the number of students will merely continue this use.

 

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

Planned Unit Developments are intended to serve as neighborhoods or mini-neighborhoods within designated communities and the urban area. In order to encourage a community function, appropriate commercial and industrial uses can be provided, in addition to a variety of residential uses. Including a private school in this residential and recreational area serves a supporting function by providing a potentially desirable use—a neighborhood school.

       

with uses permitted by right in the district,

Uses permitted by right in a Planned Unit Development include residences, parks, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities, public buildings (including schools), and other related uses. A school can complement these uses.

 

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

There are no additional regulations in section 5.0 that address private schools.

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

Providing a private school within walking distance of residences supports the public health by encouraging students to walk to school. The applicant has demonstrated a concern for the safety of the students and neighbors by requiring the supervised dropoff, as described below.

 

Increasing the number of students from 85 to 250 is almost a three-fold increase. Staff initially expressed concern about the number of cars that would be dropping off/picking up students, about the possibility that a queue of cars would extend out onto Four Seasons Drive as parents waited to drop off students, and about parking lot safety issues. The applicant has indicated that parents do not “drop off” children at the school door or in the parking lot. Parents are required by the school to park and walk their children into the appropriate classroom. This eliminates one of the staff’s concerns: young children walking unescorted across a parking lot as other parents arrive in their vehicles.

 

The applicant also indicates that some of the students are children of teachers and staff at the school and some are siblings (meaning that two or more are dropped off from the same vehicle). In other words, just as each of the current 85 students does not arrive in separate vehicles, there will be fewer than 250 vehicles dropping off students if the requested increase is approved. The following chart gives the applicant’s breakdown of student arrivals with the current 85 students and the projection of the breakdown of students with a 250-student maximum enrollment:

 

Students

85 Total

250 Total

Children of Teachers/Staff (arrive prior to other children)

15

25

Siblings

(at least 2 children /vehicle)

44

(22 or less)

100 

(50 or less)

Individual Children

26

125

 

The applicant notes that the school has open arrival hours that allow for staggered arrival times. Based on current experience, this means that no more than 75 of the 156 available parking spaces (196 spaces less 40 teacher/staff spaces) are expected to be occupied by parents at any one time. In short, there is no period of the day when all of the parking spaces are expected to be needed or used.

 

Staff requested traffic information from the applicant, who contracted with a consultant to prepare the report (with transmittal letter) included in Attachment D. The consultant notes the hours of arrival and departure, confirms the method of “dropping off” students, and includes the information about the number of teacher/staff children and siblings. The consultant does not believe, based on the information included in his report, that there will be problems with lines of vehicles extending out onto Four Seasons Drive. County Engineering staff has reviewed the consultant’s assessment of school operations. Based on the assumptions and operational methods stated included in the report, the consultant’s conclusions are a valid justification for the proposed increase in students independent of any empirical or engineering analysis.

 

SUMMARY:

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.      Provides opportunities for additional students to be enrolled in the school.

 

Staff has identified one factor unfavorable to this application:

1.      Concern has been expressed by owners of nearby properties that there may be some additional noise, but staff believes that the request is comparable to the number of students that have previously been approved for the site (see Attachments E and F).

 

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2006-042 Charlottesville Day School, with the following conditions (the original conditions listed in SP 2003-017, approved July 9, 2003, are given below, with proposed additions in boldface italics and deletions in strikethrough type):

 

1.      Maximum enrollment will be eighty-five (85) two hundred fifty (250) students;

2.      Normal hours of operation for school shall be from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with occasional uses in the evenings and weekends; and

3.      The applicant shall construct a pedestrian pathway connecting the school and pool buildings to Four Seasons Drive, to a standard acceptable to the Departments of Planning and Engineering and Public Works. The pedestrian pathway shall be complete by December 31, 2003. [This condition has been met.]

 

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A – Letter stating approval of SP 2003-017, dated July 17,2003

Attachment B – Property Usage Map

Attachment C – Charts on Dropoff/Pickup Data

Attachment D – Dominion Development Traffic Information

Attachment E – Letter from Mrs. Richard M. Cox, dated December 6, 2006, expressing opposition to the request to increase the number of students at the existing school.

Attachment F – Memo, dated February 5, 2007, indicating opposition of Martha Cox.
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