PRIVATE ALBEMARLE COUNTY PLANNING

STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name:  SP 06-041: Gray Television

Staff:  David Pennock

Planning Commission Public Hearing: 

February 13, 2007

Board of Supervisors Hearing:

March 14, 2007

Owners:  Crown Orchard Co., LP

Applicant: Gray Television, Inc.

Acreage: 234.16 (TMP 91-28)

(Lease Area is part of this larger piece)

Rezone from: Not applicable

Special Use Permit for: Sec. 10.2.2.6 – microwave and radio-wave transmission and relay towers, substations and appurtenances

TMP:  Tax Map 91, Parcel 281          

Location: Carters Mountain Trail, 1 mile south of Thomas Jefferson Parkway [Route #53] at top of mountain

By-right use: RA, Rural Areas;  Property also has an existing Special Use Permit, last amended as SP 05-014, for a television antenna and tower

Magisterial District: Scottsville

Proffers/Conditions: Yes

Requested # of Dwelling Lots: N/A

DA –                   RA – Yes

Proposal: Three (3) amendments to the conditions of SP 05-014:

1.    An amendment to Condition #1 to allow a change to the configuration of the antennae on the tower

2.    An amendment to Condition #1 to provide more flexibility for future modifications as changes in technology necessitate

3.    An amendment to Condition #10 in order to extend the period of time the Channel 27 antenna can remain on the PBS tower

Comp. Plan Designation: The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 4.

Character of Property:  This property is located on a mountain top.  Use is primarily agricultural and forestal, with several towers for various purposes.

Use of Surrounding Properties: Adjacent to the Carter’s Mountain Orchard and several other towers

Factors Favorable: see report

Factors Unfavorable: see report

RECOMMENDATION:

Staff recommends approval of the proposed amendments, with amended conditions as presented in the Staff Report.

 

 


STAFF PERSON:                                          David E. Pennock, AICP         

 

PLANNING COMMISSION:                      February 13, 2007

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:                      March 14, 2007

 

AGENDA TITLE:                                         SP 2006-041 Gray Television

 

APPLICANT:                                                 Crown Orchard Co., LP

PROPERTY OWNER(S):                             Gray Television, Inc.

                               

APPLICANT’S PROPOSAL:

This proposal is for three (3) amendments to the conditions of SP 05-014.  The first is an amendment to Condition #1 to allow a change to the configuration of the antennae on the tower (Attachment B, Exhibit “C”).  The second is an amendment to Condition #1 to provide more flexibility for future modifications as changes in technology necessitate.  Finally, the applicant requests an amendment to Condition #10 in order to extend the period of time the Channel 27 antenna can remain on the PBS tower until August 1, 2007.  The lease area for the tower is within Tax Map 91, Parcel 28, a 234.16 acre parcel (Attachment A) zoned RA, Rural Areas.  It is located in the Scottsville Magisterial District on Carters Mountain Trail, 1 mile south of Thomas Jefferson Parkway [Route #53] at the top of the mountain.

 

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN:

The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Areas in Rural Area 4.

 

REASON FOR PLANNING COMMISSION REVIEW:

Section 10.2.2.6 of the Zoning Ordinance, allows “microwave and radio wave transmission and relay towers, substations and appurtenances” in the RA zoning district by Special Use Permit.  Section 31.2.4.2 requires Commission review of applications for Special Use Permit.

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PLANNING AND ZONING HISTORY: 

This parcel includes a very large area; thus, much of the history is now associated with other projects in the same general “tower farm”.  The last two items in this list pertain to the tower that is the subject of this application.

 

SP 78-42 Motorola - On October 4, 1978, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot tall communication tower.

SP 79-76 Jefferson Cable - On January 18, 1980, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 5-meter satellite receiving dish.

SP 80-02 Shenandoah Valley TV - On March 19, 1980, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request allowing the removal of an existing 230-foot tall tower, and replacement with a 186-foot tall television tower.

SP 88-14 Central Virginia Educational TV - On May 4, 1988, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 293-foot tall television tower.

SP 90-74 Charlottesville Cellular - On September 19, 1990, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 150-foot tall cellular telephone tower.

SP 91-23 Charlottesville Quality Cable - On August 7, 1991, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot tall wireless cable transmission tower.

SP 93-10 Crown Orchard Company (WVIR-TV) - On June 9, 1993, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 60-foot tall television reception tower.

SP 93-15 RAM/BSE Communications - On July 14, 1993, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a multi-purpose tower not to exceed 300-feet in height.

SP 94-37 Centel Cellular - On March 13, 1995, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 200-foot cellular telephone tower.

SP 96-16 Stu-Comm. Inc. - On July 10, 1996, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 190-foot multi-purpose tower.

SP 00-88 Carter’s Mountain Emergency Communication Facility - On April 18, 2001, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow a 250-foot tower as part of the regional emergency communications system.

SP 00-72 Crown Orchard (NEXTEL/Crown Castle) - On April 16, 2001, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the co-location of an additional array of antennas, on an existing 270-foot tall guyed tower owned by American Tower Corporation, and a new 9’x16’ equipment building.

SP 02-43 Crown Orchard (WVIR-TV) - On December 4, 2002, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the construction of a 250-foot tall lattice tower, 30 feet at its base and 5 feet at its top, for the attachment of an antenna supporting the Virginia Broadcasting Corporation’s federally mandated transition from analog to digital broadcasting.

SP 02-71 Crown Orchard Co. / Pinnacle Carters Mountain - On March 19, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit request to allow the co-location of two additional arrays containing six (6) antennas an existing tower 205-foot tall tower.

SP 03-22 ECC Carters Mountain/Crown Orchard-Extension - On April 16, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to amend an existing special use permit by extending its period of validity and allowing a minor increase in the size of an equipment building for a facility supporting the regional emergency communications with a 250 foot high lattice tower, originally approved as SP 00-88.

SP 03-31 Albemarle County Fire Department Communication Amendment - On April 16, 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to amend an existing special use permit to allow the attachment of an antenna, consisting of two 80-inch segments supporting communications for the County of Albemarle’s Fire-Rescue services, at 148 and 165 feet on an existing 205-foot tall tower.

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SP 04-003 WHSV/Channel 19 – Charlottesville – On June 2, 2004, the Board of Supervisors approved a request to remove an existing 175-foot tower and allow replacement with a 149-foot tall tower. It also allowed the expansion of an existing building to accommodate transmittal equipment supporting the establishment of a new local ABC television affiliate. This is the facility that is the subject of this request. The tower and equipment building have been constructed.

SP 05-014 Crown Orchard – Gray Television – On August 3, 2005, the Board of Supervisors approved the request to amend the conditions of SP 04-003 in order to allow the placement of an additional antenna on the tower.  This is the facility that is the subject of this request.

 

DISCUSSION:

As mentioned above, SP 04-003 approved installation of a new 149-foot tall tower with a 40-1/2 foot tall antenna rod extending from its top as a replacement of an existing tower.  At that time, the proposed configuration was for the top-mounted antenna (Channel 19, CBS), a side-mounted antenna rod (Channel 16, ABC), five (5) dishes, and two (2) YAGI antennae.  Subsequently, SP 05-014 was approved as an amendment to allow the relocation of a FOX antenna (Channel 27) from an adjacent tower (known as the PBS tower), for a total of one top-mounted antenna and two side mounted antennae.  Due to technical difficulties and a delay with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permitting, the applicant delayed the relocation of this FOX antenna, and instead added an additional Channel 16 antenna in its place, in order to facilitate a transfer from analog to digital broadcast.  The FCC has moved forward with a requirement that all television stations broadcast using only a digital signal by January 1, 2009.

 

The applicant still intends to pursue the original purpose of SP 05-014, which was to accommodate the relocation of the FOX antenna.  Thus, this proposal requests an amendment to Condition #1 of SP 05-014 in order to substitute a new drawing in place of the “schematic drawings initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005”.  The new configuration would reflect a very similar configuration.  However, the previously approved Channel 27 antenna (FOX analog broadcast) will be replaced with the already installed digital Channel 16 antenna.  In addition, the Channel 16 analog antenna will be replaced with a Channel 40 digital antenna (the FOX digital broadcast).  At no time will more than three antennae (one top-mounted and two side-mounted) be in place.  In addition, one previously approved dish antenna will be removed and a “tower cam” will be located.   

 

As briefly summarized above, changes in legislation and technology continually necessitate changes in equipment.  Thus, the applicant also proposes to add a statement to Condition #1 in order to facilitate small changes without the need to amend the SP each time.  The proposed new condition is “The facility including the tower and its attachments [and ground equipment] building shall be sized, located and built in general accord with the tower elevations and antenna schematic drawing dated October 20, 2006, except as may be modified by like or similar antenna and other equipment, which such antenna and other equipment may be smaller in size, and provided that no additional antenna or other equipment (other than the existing Channel 19 antenna) is mounted above the top of the tower.” 

 

The last proposed change is to Condition #10 of SP 05-041.  The previously approved language requires that “The existing Gray TV antenna on the PBS tower located on Tax Map 91, Parcel 28E shall be removed within 90 days after the new antenna authorized by this special use permit is operational.”  Due to the requirement for digital broadcasting, the applicant no longer intends to relocate the FOX analog antenna that is currently located on the PBS tower.  Instead, they will be replacing it with a digital antenna on the “new” tower.  Thus, the change would allow the operation of both antennae temporarily.  The proposed language is “The existing Gray TV antenna on the PBS tower located on Tax Map 91, Parcel 28E shall be removed on or before August 1, 2007”.

 

ANALYSIS OF THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT REQUEST:

Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance below requires that special use permits be reviewed as follows:

 

Will the use be of substantial detriment to adjacent property?

As a result of the antenna’s location on an existing tower with similar facilities, it is staff’s opinion that the proposal would not impose any additional substantial detriment to adjacent property.  None of the proposed changes will increase the height or visual impact of the tower.

 

Will the character of the zoning district change with this use?

There are three existing television broadcasting antennae on this tower.  The reorientation of these antennae should not impact the character of the district. 

 

Will the use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of the zoning ordinance?

Staff has reviewed this request as it relates to the “purpose and intent” that is set forth in Section 1.4 of the Zoning Ordinance, and as it relates to the intent specified in the Rural Areas chapter of the Zoning Ordinance (Section 10.1).  Generally, this request is consistent with both sections.

 

Will the use be in harmony with the uses permitted by right in the district?

The location of this tower is within a “tower farm” on Carter’s Mountain that has been in continual operation since 1978.  An orchard continues to operate in and around these towers.  It is not anticipated that any of the proposed amendments to this tower will restrict or any other by-right uses within the Rural Areas district.

 

Will the use comply with the additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance?

Section 5 contains no additional regulations for this type of request.

Although television broadcasts are not provided by public utility companies, the supporting facilities that they both implement are often comparable.  Section 5.1.12(a) of the Zoning Ordinance addresses the installation of public utility structures such as towers and antennas by stating, in part, that those items shall not endanger the health and safety of workers and/or residents, and will not impair or prove detrimental to neighboring properties.  In order to operate this facility, the applicant is required to comply with all of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) guidelines that are intended to protect the public health and safety from high levels of radio frequency emissions and electromagnetic fields that are associated with wireless broadcasting and telecommunications facilities.

 

Will the public health, safety and general welfare of the community be protected if the use is approved?

The public health, safety, and general welfare of the community are protected through the special use permit process, which assures that uses approved by special use permit are appropriate in the location requested.  In this case, as television broadcasts provide various forms of information such as public affairs issues, emergency announcements and weather advisories, with the capability for broadcasting live, they may be considered as contributing to the public health, safety and welfare on a regional level.

 

SUMMARY OF STAFF REVIEW OF SP 06-041

Approval of this proposal would allow the applicant to proceed with plans to complete the transfer of the FOX antenna from the PBS tower to this tower as previously approved and to finish the necessary improvements to enable the ABC affiliate and FOX affiliate to begin digital broadcast.  Further amendments to the previous action would allow small changes to occur on the tower without subsequent review.  In all cases, the tower would have a maximum of three antennae and would not exceed the previously approved height restriction.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Staff recommends approval of the proposed amendments, with the resultant conditions as follows:

1.         The facility including the tower, its attachments and the new ground equipment building shall be sized, located and built in general accord with the construction plans, tower elevations and schematic drawings initialed SBW and dated May 5, 2004 and initialed YQA and dated June 16, 2005 revised tower elevations and antenna schematic drawing dated October 20, 2006 and initialed DEP, subject to maximum height and width restrictions in conditions three (3) and five (5), except as may be modified by like or similar antenna and other equipment, which such antenna and other equipment may be smaller in size, and provided that no additional antenna or other equipment (other than the existing Channel 19 antenna) is mounted above the top of the tower

2.         Prior to the issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall submit the final revised set of site drawings construction of the facility.  Planning staff shall review the revised plans to ensure that all appropriate conditions of the special use permit have been addressed.

3.         The height of the tower structure shall not exceed one hundred fifty (150) feet and the top of the antenna, including the lightning rod, shall not exceed one hundred ninety (190) feet above ground level.  No equipment, with the exception of any FAA required flight safety lighting, shall extend higher than the tallest portion of the top-mounted antenna.

4.         Antennas supporting services other than television broadcasting shall not be attached to extend above a total height of the tower itself.

5.         The width of each side of the tower shall not exceed fifty (50) inches in width.

6.         The existing guyed tower that currently supports this facility shall be removed within sixty (60) days of the completion of the new tower.  This condition has been met as of 6/28/05.

7.         The short existing tower, owned by Adelphia Cable Company shall be removed within ninety (90) days of the discontinuance of its use and in any case no later than October 31, 2004.  This condition has been met as of 6/28/05.

8.         The new ground equipment building shall be painted a natural, dark brown color, and screened on its eastern and western sides with evergreens or a mixture of trees deemed acceptable by the County’s Landscape Planner.  This condition has been met as of 11/28/06.

9.         No building permit for additional antenna installation or modification shall be issued until the unauthorized microwave dish is removed.  This condition has been met as of 11/28/06.

10.     The existing Gray TV antenna on the PBS tower located on Tax Map 91, Parcel 28E shall be removed within 90 days after the new antenna authorized by this special use permit is operational on or before August 1, 2007.

 

ATTACHMENTS

  1. Location/Detail Maps
  2. Applicant’s Request and Justification
  3. Photograph of Existing Tower
  4. SP 05-014 BOS Action Letter
  5. New Elevations and Schematic Drawing dated October 20, 2006

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