SP- 2006-00038, Montessori Community School - Amendment (Signs # 49 & 50)

PROPOSED: Special Use Permit (SP) request to amend an existing special use permit for a private school to allow for replacement of modular trailers with permanent buildings for 40,700 square feet of total building area on a 6.71 acre site.

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: CO Commercial Office - offices, supporting commercial and service uses; and residential use by special use permit (15 units/ acre)

SECTION: 23.2.2.9 Private School

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY: Urban Density Residential - residential (6.01-34 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses in Neighborhood 3 (Pantops) Development Area.

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes

LOCATION: 305 Rolkin Road, adjacent to the NW of the intersection of Rolkin Road and Richmond Road (Route 250)

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TMP 78-12A and 12A1

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna

STAFF: Rebecca Ragsdale

 

Ms. Ragsdale summarized the staff report and presented a power point presentation.

 

 

 

1.      There is insufficient information to comment on architectural design, compatibility of scale, or the impact of blankness in building design on the EC.

2.      Regarding fencing:

a.      Remove the existing chain link and wooden fence that parallels the EC and remove the length of chain link fence on the west side of the site that extends from the southwest corner of the site 160’ north to the “wooded area to remain” shown on the concept plan; and

b.      Add a black picket style fence, or alternate style fence as approved by the ARB, along the side of the site that parallels the EC, and extend it from the southwest corner of the site 160’ north to the “wooded area to remain” shown on the concept plan, and

c.      This fence removal and replacement shall be accomplished as part of Phase 1 construction or by the end of August 2008, whichever is sooner.

3.      Regarding the inconsistencies in the submittal regarding landscaping:

a.      Coordinate the proposal regarding the wooded area at Building E; clarify if the trees in this area are to remain or are to be replaced.

b.      Include in each phase of construction the proposed landscaping adjacent to the area of construction.

4.      No building shall be constructed higher than the existing administration building.

 

 

·        Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.      The private school will continue to provide expanded educational opportunities to the community.

2.      The Land Use Plan suggests residential and residentially supportive uses in this area of Pantops.

3.      There will be no detrimental impacts on surrounding properties.

 

·        Additionally, staff notes that there is a zoning violation on the property regarding fencing; however, the applicant is currently working to abate the violation.

 

·           Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2006-38 with the following conditions, which replace those previously approved: 

 

1.      Maximum enrollment shall be 300 students.

2.      The site shall be developed in general accord with the plan entitled “Montessori Pantops Mountain Community School Sheets SP01-SP-03”, prepared by Neal R. Deputy, Architecture & Master Planning, last revised January 16, 2007.

3.      Fencing shall be provided at a minimum around the perimeter of the Central Lawn, Lower Elementary Playground, and Children’s House Playground, or at other locations as required by the County to ensure safety of children adjacent to Route 250 and Rolkin Road. Final design of the fence shall be subject to review and approval by the Architectural Review Board. However, to address safety concerns, the fence details shall include:

·        At least 48’’ tall

·        No more than a 2” gap under the fence

·        Openings shall be small enough that a 4” sphere will not pass through

·        No ornamental indentations that can be used as a ladder

·        Maximum mesh size for chain link fences is 2-1/4’’

·        Maximum mesh size for diagonal lattice fences is 1-3/4’’

 

·        There are no engineering concerns with the critical slopes waiver request. Staff recommends approval of this modification of Section 4.2.3.

 

·        Staff recommends approval of the waiver of Section 21.7.3 to allow construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation closer than twenty (20) feet to the adjoining residential property line, in accordance with the concept plan provided as Attachment H. Provided that:

1.   Screening requirements of Section 32.7.9.8 are met.

 

Mr. Joseph asked if there were any questions for Ms. Ragsdale.

 

Mr. Edgerton asked staff to give a little more feedback about how things went with the February 5 ARB meeting.

 

Ms. Ragsdale said that the ARB basically reviewed the plan or layout that is before the Commission and discussed the fencing issue.  They are recommending that the fencing be addressed during the first phase of development of the site.  The comments in the staff report are in regard to some of the issues staff felt could be addressed at the site plan stage or when the applicant comes back when they are further along in the design process when they would have architecture and fence details to show the ARB.  The conditions on page 6 of the report are the feedback they got from the ARB.  There was a comment regarding building height and keeping the proposed buildings below the existing house on the property. 

 

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

 

Neal Deputy, the concept planner for the Montessori Community School, made the following comments.

 

1.      It will provide a road map for replacement of temporary structures over time and in line with the school’s financial protections and current financial capabilities.

2.      To provide a phasing sequence that would allow for the school to continue their ongoing daily operations during the respective phasing and construction cycles.

3.      Ultimately to produce a legible and cohesive campus that would further their thoughts and dedication to environment stewardship and sustainability in building design and in site development.

 

o    They are retaining historic structures on site and removing the existing trailers by the dates of their installations in a way that would embrace the terrain and natural topography of the rather hilly site on top of Pantops.

o    To consolidate the new structures around the central lawn to ease access between the various buildings and programmatic functions and allow them to share common facilities.

o    To connect the new buildings with colonnades and provide scale, protection and transitional areas not unlike Mr. Jefferson’s design of the lawn.

o    To orient the new and existing buildings in such a way as to shape and create legible outdoor spaces, such as lawns and court yards, the amphitheater, playgrounds and outdoor function areas, nature trails and the like, as well as provide appropriate orientation to the Entrance Corridor.

o    To relegate the parking to the rear of the site out of the view of the Entrance Corridor and be assessable to all of the new site functions they are planning.

o    To reforest the site as much as they are able to create an area for reforestation to further their plan for wildlife habitats and to provide a greatly improved experience from within the physical bounds of the site as well as the view of the campus from its exterior.

 

·           Others present include Wendy Fisher, Head of the School and a representative from McKee Carson, Bridge Costmary and the Chair of their Building and Grounds Committee, Janice Chapman, their Facilities Coordinator and Manager, Elli Greenspun as well as other educators and members of the Building and Grounds Committee such as Bryan Fisher, Sue Alston, Jan Elmore, etc.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if any of these buildings would be Leeds certified.

 

Mr. Deputy replied that there has been discussion among their group about Leeds certification.  There are really two camps.  There is a certain value to being a Leeds certified building.  However, with that goes associated costs for the certification process.  He is yet to make up his own mind.  He did not believe that Leeds invented sustainable design. He felt that many of the principles that are reflected in the Leeds system are in fact inherent in any responsible design that respects the landscape that tries to be a steward to the environment and is in fact sustainable with respect to the topography, the vegetation, and the landscape, the orientation of the sun and how they reuse products.  Sustainability is a life style choice that he believes expands to much more than actual building design and construction.  He felt that the Montessori School is at the forefront of that kind of sustainability in education.  They are a certified Audubon Sanctuary there on that hill.  He said that he did not know the answer to the question at this time.

 

Ms. Joseph invited public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.

 

Mr. Morris supported the proposal, but voiced concerns about clearing the vegetation closer than 20’.  But, it looks like the applicant is taking every precaution to make sure that it does not impede upon surrounding areas.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that the re-vegetation was going to occur on the critical slopes, which is something that the Commission has looked at in the past.

 

Motion for Special Use Permit, SP-2006-00038:

 

Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to approve SP-2006-00038, Montessori Community School - Amendment, subject to the conditions recommended by staff.

 

1.      Maximum enrollment shall be 300 students.

2.      The site shall be developed in general accord with the plan entitled “Montessori Pantops Mountain Community School Sheets SP01-SP-03”, prepared by Neal R. Deputy, Architecture & Master Planning, last revised January 16, 2007.

3.      Fencing shall be provided at a minimum around the perimeter of the Central Lawn, Lower Elementary Playground, and Children’s House Playground, or at other locations as required by the County to ensure safety of children adjacent to Route 250 and Rolkin Road. Final design of the fence shall be subject to review and approval by the Architectural Review Board. However, to address safety concerns, the fence details shall include:

§         At least 48’’ tall

§         No more than a 2” gap under the fence

§         Openings shall be small enough that a 4” sphere will not pass through

§         No ornamental indentations that can be used as a ladder

§         Maximum mesh size for chain link fences is 2-1/4’’

§         Maximum mesh size for diagonal lattice fences is 1-3/4’’

 

The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Craddock was absent.)

 

Motion for Screening Buffer Waiver:

 

Motion: Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve the waiver of Section 21.7.3 – 20 foot buffer zone adjacent to Residential/Rural Districts for SP-2006-00038, Montessori Community School - Amendment, subject to the condition recommended by staff, as amended.

 

  1. Screening requirements of Section 32.7.9.8 are met.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Craddock was absent.) 

 

Motion for Critical Slopes Waiver:

 

Ms. Joseph noted that there were 2 reasons she could support approval of the critical slopes waiver. One is that they were man made quite recently with site plan approval and that they were mitigating this by putting in a lot of extra vegetation. 

 

Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Strucko seconded, to approve the critical slope waiver request of Section 4.2.3 for SP-2006-00038, Montessori Community School – Amendment.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 6:0.  (Mr. Craddock was absent.) 

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-00038, Montessori Community School – Amendment would go before the Board of Supervisors on March 14, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.

 

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