Albemarle County Planning Commission

January 23, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, January 23, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Jon Cannon, Marcia Joseph, Chairman; Bill Edgerton; 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; David E. Pennock, Principal Planner; Judy Wiegand, Senior Planner; Scott Clark, Senior Planner; Amelia McCulley, Director of Zoning & Current Development/Zoning Administrator and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


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


            Regular Items


SDP-2006-081 Black Cat Road Service Station:  Request for preliminary site plan approval for the construction of a service station and restaurant totaling 6,500 on 12.5 acres zoned C1, Commercial, RA, Rural Area and EC Entrance Corridor.  The property, described as Tax Map 94, Parcels 38 and 39 are located in the Scottsville Magisterial District in the southwestern corner of the I-64, Black Cat Road (Route 616) interchange.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area.  (David Pennock)


Mr. Pennock summarized the staff report.


Mr. Pennock summarized the staff report. 



Mr. Edgerton asked what has changed in the plan since they reviewed it in October.


Mr. Pennock replied that since that time the applicant has submitted the ground water study required.  They have now showed the landscaping strip to be within an easement, which was not shown before.  Other than that the layout and waivers requested are the same.


Mr. Edgerton asked if they have not responded to any of the concerns that were addressed in the October meeting.


Mr. Pennock replied that they have certainly not responded to all of the concerns.  Staff has not heard back from the Department of Transportation yet.  But, that is another concern on the site.  He did not know for sure if those issues have been addressed or not.


Mr. Edgerton asked if there has been any effort to reconfigure this layout to allow the undisturbed buffer to be on the commercial zoning side as required by the ordinance.


Mr. Pennock replied not to his knowledge.


Mr. Zobrist said that his recollection from the October hearing was that there was something to do with which off ramps from 64 were going to be developed and this was one that was not suppose to be. 


Mr. Pennock replied that the recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan there is an interchange development study that is included in the report as Attachment C.  The Comp Plan has changed since 1970 and this area is no longer recommended for commercial use. It is still recommended for rural area in the Comp Plan.  In addition, there is the interstate interchange development portion of the Comp Plan which shows that some interchanges in the County may be appropriate for commercial uses and uses supporting the nature of an interchange and others are no recommended.  In the Comp Plan this particular interchange is one of the roads that is not recommended for development except as provided generally in the plan as permitted under rural areas zoning regulations.  That is probably what he recalled. 


Ms. Joseph said she had a question for Ms. McCulley.  They received a letter from one of the adjacent owners.  He cited reference in the zoning ordinance that talked about special permits required for a site within the C-1 zoning district that was not on public water or sewer yet used 400 gallons per site acre per day.  Also, it said something about the kind of waste or sewage that can be treated.  She asked Ms. McCulley to elaborate on that.  The domestic sewage was confusing.


Ms. McCulley agreed that it was confusing because there was no definition in the zoning ordinance.  It is sort of written in reverse.  It is listed by special use permit if one has other than domestic sewage.  If one has more than the 400 gallons of water per site acre per day a special use permit is required.  They donít know definitively at this point the water usage. If they do end up needing more than the 400 gallons per site acre per day, they would have to come back and get a special use permit to accomplish the site plan.  In terms of the waste, she found in the County Code a section that relates to waste water and water systems.  It is chapter 16.  The term domestic goes beyond the residential use. The definition is water born waste normally discharging from a sanitary convenience of dwellings, office buildings, factories and institutions free from storm surface water and industrial waste.  It does beyond residential use.  What it is saying in reverse is if one has storm surface water that is discharged to a septic field, which is not the case here and is not a very routine practice, or if one has industrial waste that are discharged to the septic field that requires a special use permit.  As she understands it, and staff is confirming it with the health department, the waste that they are generating that would be discharged to their septic field, are not industrial waste and would qualify as domestic.  Therefore, it would be by right.  It is something that staff is confirming with the health department because they may have a slightly different understanding of domestic waste.  At this point based on their email and conversation this morning they think that it is domestic waste from the site plan.  So it would be by right.  That is something that staff would absolutely have to confirm before it could get final approval. 


Mr. Craddock noted that it was a 2 acre site and would generate a lot of water for a convenience store.  He suggested that staff check the water usage for the Pantops Amoco from the Service Authorityís records since it was probably comparable.


Mr. Edgerton asked when the last time that section of the Comp Plan was amended.


Mr. Pennock replied that Mr. Cilimberg indicated that it was in 1996.


Mr. Edgerton noted that staff had mentioned the third paragraph that talks about other interchanges.  It actually lists Black Cat Road as not being recommended for development except to provide a general plan as permitted under rural areas. But, also on the next page in paragraph 4 the random individual location of highway service businesses should be discouraged.  Such use should be located exclusively in clusters with common access points on sites ranging from 3 to 5 acres in area.  He asked if staff applied that criterion to this in the review.


Mr. Pennock replied that staff considers this to be stale zoning that existed even though the Comp Plan has changed around it.  If they have a by right plan staff cannot apply the Comp Plan goals to it except that it can be a consideration in their recommendations for anything they are going for that is above and beyond by right.  That is why he included the interchange plan as an attachment.


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


Eric Wooley, engineer with Cox Company, said that they are the civil engineering consultant for the Virginia Oil Company and prepared the plan before the Commission.  Present is Kurt Hughes, local surveyor, who did a lot of the background work that he would be using in the presentation concerning the critical slopes.  Mr. Hughes was present to answer any questions.  Regarding the water usage and domestic effluent, it was their opinion that the sanitary sewer was not applicable for the special use permit. They also had a slightly different take on the water usage.  If they read the ordinance specifically it says 400 per site acre.  Granted this site is split zoned, but the site is 12.5 acres.  So they think if they read the ordinance strictly he believed that means closer to 5,000 gallons per day.  That might take an interpretation by the County Attorney.  As a part of the Tier III and Tier IV Groundwater Studies that are required for these types of development, which they have submitted, they did outline what they would be using that was under that amount and it was approved by County staff. 


Also, they discussed what issues they tried to amend with this presentation versus the last time.  He was at the last meeting and felt that all of the concerns expressed at the last Planning Commission meeting were all geared towards the final site plan level.  They did not feel that it was applicable to incorporate those changes now because they were still trying to get preliminary site plan approval.  Those concerns they did try to address a little differently than they did last time.  The real reason they deferred the last time they were here was because they got the staff report two days before the meeting and in reading through it he found that the critical slopes were recommended to be natural and not man made.  This was pretty much a 180 from their feeling having studied the site for several months.  They are aware of the fact that the County does have an exemption policy for critical slopes if one can present a plan that shows that previous development was the cause and the critical slopes are a result of that grading.  This site is in proximity to I-64.  In discussing this with people who were around when I-64 was built they have learned that this site was a major borrow area for the construction of I-64.  Anybody that studied a VDOT plan then, now and in the future knows that those plans do not show grading contours on them.  They have a little area where they canít meet that exemption policy.  So they decided to have Kirk Hughes go out in the field and find specifically which slopes qualified for that 25 percent or greater slope.  He did, take photographs and stakes them all out.  They presented this as a packet to their planner who dispersed it to the Commission.  Their feeling is yes that they donít have a grading plan that shows those, but in the full nature of that exemption they are in a sense very close or the same in terms of their situation.  He assumed that the Commission has had a chance to look over those.  He asked to point out a couple of those starting at Area A.  He presented a Power Point presentation.  That was a result of grading on site where they pushed all of the tree stumps and top soil over to the side so they could get out the material for the off site borrows area.  He presented several pictures from different angles.  The owner would like to put the buffer on the residential side in an easement so it could remain in the future even if they were to subdivide or sell the property at a later time.  The owner feels if it canít be on the residential portion that they would agree to move it back onto the commercial side as a condition of approval tonight if that would be possible. 


Ms. Joseph invited public comment.

Ruth Dalksy, property owner on Mechunk Road, spoke in opposition to the request.  She asked that they keep in mind the issue brought up about domestic waste.  Those are 12 duel gas pumps located in that one section.   Gas stations usually hose those down to remove gasoline and oil waste daily. That will part of the run off, which she did not know if that counts as domestic waste.  She asked staff to look into that because it is a health hazard.  Secondly, this is not designed to be a growth area.  It is very rural.  This road is not capable of maintaining all of the traffic, the back up and the turning off of the interchange.  There are a lot of studies that much be done before this request can be approved from that standpoint.  The water usage should be taken into consideration because it was not just a service station/convenience store, but also a restaurant.  She reminded them that although it was on 12.5 acres, the commercial area was only 2 acres.  She noted that none of the rural area neighborís concerns have been addressed since the last meeting.  The area they owned next to I-64 the owner has already denuded and clear cut it.  A member of the ARB did speak at the last hearing and quite angry.  She said that there would be some action taken. As far as she knew it is still denuded and still a mess.  The applicant has done nothing with putting grass seed on it to prevent soil erosion.  She cautioned the County to allow this activity to go on without having the conditions being met ahead of time. 


Amanda Abington, resident of Mechunk Road, spoke in opposition to the request since she shared all of the concerns of the area residents.  She noted that no one wants to live next to a convenience store/gas station.  She asked that the Commission turn the request down.


Zeta Knuckles, resident of Black Cat Road, said that she lived right across from this area.  She asked that whoever sends out the letters from the County to send her one.  She asked that the Commission to take into consideration the large amount of traffic that would be created by this use and the potential danger to the parents and school children at the bus stops.  It takes over 5 minutes to get on the road if she does not leave before 7:30 a.m. in the morning. She suggested that the applicant be required to do a traffic study for a period of 24 hours. She asked that the Commission deny the request.


Jean Dalsky spoke in opposition to the request and to reiterate all of the concerns already expressed by the others.  All of the residents have the same concerns.  She questioned where the children would be able to safely board the buses since the close location of the ramp.  The traffic would be very heavy coming off of the ramp. 


Dana Tarrant, resident of 4820 Mechunk Road, said that she has lived there for 21 years.  She spoke in opposition to the request.  She moved to the rural areas because she liked county schools and the beauty of the rural area.  She feared the additional lights in this area would destroy the beauty.  Yesterday she received a tax reassessment that went up 30 percent.  She asked who wants to pay that to live right across from a gas station. She felt that a stop light at the end of the road would be needed in order to get onto the road.  She asked that the request be denied.


Abington Hubbard, resident of the area, spoke in opposition to the request.  He voiced concerns about the increase in traffic.  He agreed that the lights would harm the rural areas.  He feared that this would turn into a truck stop with big trucks running all night releasing a lot of fumes.  He did not think that their wells in the area would be able to handle the demand and if approved should be on public water.


David Wagoner, resident of 4813 Mechunk Road, echoed the concerns already expressed.  He feared the safety primarily for the children at the school bus stop.  There would be significant safety concerns with the increased traffic.  The water is a real concern.  Aesthetically he felt that this use was out of character with the area as outlined in the Comp Plan.  The bill dozed area is not attractive and he asked that they leave it in its rural state.


Robin Ellis, resident of 1716 Union Mills Road, reemphasized that the safety, aesthetic and water concerns are also her family concerns.  She urged the Commission to consider a use for this property that is more appropriate to a rural country road that is residential only.  There are no other commercial developments on Black Cat Road.  It is all residential.  Any use on that road should be appropriate to the neighborhood.


Bill Johnson, resident of Black Cat Road for 33 years, said that in that period of time it has really growth traffic wise.  When a traffic study comes through they will find that there are over 8,000 cars daily on the road.  He felt that the proposed use would hurt the real estate in the area.  There are existing water problems in this area.  He asked that the request be denied.


Mary Beth Wagoner, resident of area across Route 250, spoke in opposition to the request.  At Exit 129 it is a beautiful peaceful place in a rural area.  There are fantastic gas stations at Exit 126, which is just 7 miles up the road.  Also at Exit 124 there are a lot of gas stations to choose from.  Therefore, she asked that the Commission oppose this request and stick to the Comp Plan.


There being no further public comment, Ms. Joseph closed the public hearing to bring the matter before the Commission.


Mr. Morris noted that there was a lot of conflicting figures with the water usage.  He definitely felt that they need to know more about the water situation.  Based upon their joint meeting with the Board he left there with a firm feeling that in the areas that are designated they are going to be extremely stingy with waivers on critical slopes.  He was against any waiver on the critical slopes.


Mr. Craddock commented that at the last meeting he asked that the applicant meet with the neighbors and he did not believe that occurred either.  As Mr. Morris pointed out about the rural interchanges and the critical slopes, he feels that is a major obstacle.  The water usage is a real concern.  Even in Davidís report it says that the average would be less than 2,000 gallons a day.  Also, in the report it notes 900 gallons per day that is more than the ordinance is talking about.  He noted that they have had water problems at Keswick Club, Running Deer and some other locations in that area.  He felt that it was just asking for trouble to approve this.  Therefore, he supported the motion for denial.


Mr. Kamptner asked to address a couple of issues that came up in the hearing. 



Ms. McCulley, Zoning Administrator, agreed for some of the same reasons that Mr. Kamptner gave for the buffer.  The well is an accessory use to the primary use and as an accessory use has to be on property zoned for the primary use on the same lot.  Just in terms of trying to accommodate development on property that is zoned properly it really does not make sense that they could take some properly zoned property of some amount of acreage, such as 2 acres here, and add lots of other acres to it to increase the capacity or intensity of that commercial use just by the addition of rural areas property.  That is not their intent at all.  


Ms. Joseph noted that it sounds as if this will require a special use permit anyway.


Mr. Kamptner agreed that was a possibility.


Mr. Cannon noted that the Commission does not need to decide that to rule on the two things that are before them today.


Mr. Edgerton said that he had one question on the buffer.  In the language of the buffer he had learned a couple things tonight.  One was that along a public road they donít have to worry about a buffer even if everything around it is a totally different zoning.  In reading the requirements of the buffer zone it says that adjacent to residential or rural area district no construction activity including grading or clearing of vegetation shall occur closer than 20í to any residential or rural area.  Even if they move this buffer on to the 2 acre piece they could not accomplish that and still grade the rest of the site if the applicantís reason for the severe grading is because of our requirements.


Ms. Joseph asked to speak that grading aspect because she did not feel that it was because of their requirements, but because of what the applicant wants to do.  In grading that site they could certainly come down with a 2 to 1 slope and hit the existing grade a lot quicker than going all the way to the edge of the property and leaving the 20í buffer at the edge of the property.  


Mr. Edgerton agreed.


Ms. Joseph noted that they could put in a retaining wall or whatever.  This is a classic use of putting too much on the 2 acres.  The applicant is putting too much on the 2 acres if the 20í buffer will not fit on the 2 acres. She said that the applicant can grade as much as they want to on the rural area piece because it is in the rural areas.  The applicant can remove whatever they want to on that.  But, they canít grade on the C-1 district.


Ms. McCulley clarified that there is a provision for the Commission to waive that to allow grading in that area providing they reconstitute a substantial buffer.  But, that is only within the commercially zoned 20í buffer strip.


Mr. Kamptner noted and with the waiver.


Ms. McCulley agreed and with the waiver.


Ms. Joseph said that whatever they do in removing that vegetation from the rear on the rural area district they are going to make it much more visible from I-64.


Mr. Kamptner asked for one last clarification for the record.  There has been discussion about the appropriateness of the use and the portion of the Comprehensive Plan that is in the staff report.  At this stage of the process focusing on the site plan the Comprehensive Plan is no longer relevant to the consideration, but the criteria that the Planning Commission needs to apply in making the findings for the waivers does reference public health, safety and welfare.  So to that extent the provisions of the Comprehensive Plan are relevant in helping the Commission make their findings for those waivers. 


Motion:  Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Morris seconded, for denial of the applicantís request for SDP-2006-081, Black Cat Road Service Station to construct a convenience store with fuel pumps and the two waiver requests for critical slopes disturbance and disturbance of the buffer between zoning classifications for all of the reasons stated in the staff report.


The motion carried by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph stated that SDP-2006-081, Black Cat Service Station Preliminary Site Plan waiver requests were denied. The applicant has ten days to appeal the request to the Board of Supervisors.


The meeting recessed at 7:15 p.m. and reconvened at 7:25 p.m.


Go to PC minutes of October 3, 2006
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