Albemarle County Planning Commission

October 3, 2006


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and a public hearing on Tuesday, October 3, 2006, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Room 241, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Eric Strucko, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman; Jon Cannon, Pete Craddock, Duane Zobrist, Marcia Joseph, Chairman and Bill Edgerton. 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 Benish, Chief of Planning; Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; David Pennock, Principal Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


Call to Order and Establish Quorum:


Ms. Joseph called the regular meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. and established a quorum.


                  Regular Items:


SDP 2006-081 Black Cat Road Service Station – Waiver requests for critical slopes disturbance and buffer disturbance:  Request for preliminary site plan approval for the construction of a service station and restaurant totaling 6,500 square feet 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.



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


Jeff Garnett, representative for Virginia Oil Company, said that they did not get the staff report until this afternoon.  Virginia Oil Company has a long history of involvement in this community and working with Albemarle County.  It considers itself a good corporate citizen and wants to be a good neighbor.  In light of some of the comments that were made in the staff report they would like to go back to the drawing board, meet with staff on their concerns and see if they can come up with a preliminary site plan that addresses those concerns as best as they can.  Had they received the staff report in time for staff to put the notice out he would have contacted staff immediately.  There are a number of people gathered here today and he would assume that some want to speak regarding this request.  He asked to hear their comments so that their comments can be taken into consideration. He formally requested an indefinite deferral of their request.


Ms. Joseph invited comment from other members of the public.


Ruth Dalsky, resident of 4847 Mechunk Road, said that she would like to make the County aware of a few things.  One is taken from the literature that they want to make sure that the commercial development will not be detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens.  Unfortunately, this commercial enterprise in this location violates all of those. They definitely have some safety issues.  Even though commercial was approved in 1970 the road is not adequate to handle a large commercial facility.  Her concern was with public health.  Also, she was concerned about the ground water contamination and the ground water usage.  Even minor runoff from hosing down the proposed twelve pumps would go into the ground water, which is very shallow and precarious in this area.  In fact, one of their newest residents put in a well and had to go down 400 feet and they were only able to get 3 gallons per minute.  So they have a real serious drought belt in that area.  So they have a real serious issue with ground water usage, particularly with a large commercial facility in this small residential area.


Jean Dalsky, resident of 4860 Mechunk Road, said that she had lived across the street from this proposed development for 7 years.  During that time the traffic has increased considerably.  This road serves as a major access to Lake Monticello for those persons not wanting to take Route 53.  There is already a serious traffic problem on the two-lane road.  It is very dangerous.  The other exits in our area off of I-64 all have the road infrastructure to carry the traffic.  This includes exits at Shadwell, Zion Crossroads, Route 20 and Fifth Street Extended.  All of these exits open up into four lanes and some even into divided highways.  They are talking about bringing in a major use at this location that is going to draw traffic from I-64 in order to be a successful business enterprise.  This use is not needed in the community since there are plenty of gas stations at Pantops and Zion Crossroads. They also have the Boyd Tavern Market right around the corner on Route 250, which is a little country store with a single gas pump. This is not an appropriate use for this location.  It will change the character of the residential area.  This use will be a detriment to the people in the area.


Greg Duncan, an adjacent land owner, said that in light of the applicant’s request for a deferral he had a question.  If they bring this back will there be another opportunity for public comment.  In light of that response, he would withhold his comments until then.


David Wagoner, resident of 4813 Mechunk Road, said that there were a number of concerns that he and other residents along that road have on this project.  One is the water that has already been addressed.  As stated in the staff report, all of the properties in this area are on wells. This project will also be on a well. They don’t have sewer access.  During dry times, as recently as this summer, some of the residents had problems with their wells. He was not an engineer, but he cannot imagine how a commercial operation like this would be compatible with residential well uses right down the road.  Secondly, it would be a loss of an aesthetic resource.  The reports said that it appears that the loss of aesthetic resources would be necessary.  That is a significant understatement.  From Black Cat Road, Mechunk Road and

I-64 they were talking about a tremendous change to the character of the area in terms of visual aspects, noise and road infrastructure issues.  Finally, he had concerns in the area of safety.  There are twelve school aged children who live on Mechunk Road.  The school bus stop for Stone Robinson Elementary, Burley Middle School and Monticello High School are located yards from this proposed area.  The increased traffic caused by this proposed use would put the children at risk.


Jennifer Wagoner, resident of 4813 Mechunk Road, agreed with the concern about the safety of their children.  She noted that the school bus drivers are already frustrated by the traffic on the road when dropping off and picking up the children.  It is very dangerous for the children to cross the road to get off and on the bus. The additional traffic would make the situation worse for the children. There is no other place for the school bus to stop unless it comes down their road.  But, the school bus cannot come down their road because it is a private road.  They will be back to speak at the next meeting.


Rick Jones said that he had lived in the Boyd Tavern area for over thirty years.  He echoed what his neighbors had said about the traffic and water concerns.  Obviously, the Planning Commission has realized in recent times that this is not a commercial area. That is why the County has decided in the Comprehensive Plan that for the future it is suppose to be Rural Areas.  Part of this property is zoned commercial and the owners are certainly allowed to do what they may by right.  He would simply urge that the Planning Commission adhere to the strictest possible definition of what is allowed by right.  In terms of these waivers he would encourage the Commission not to consider them at all since this type of use is so contrary to the Comp Plan.


Chuck Lebo, member of the County’s Architectural Review Board, noted that the ARB had asked that he speak about this project tonight.  Presently there is a flaw in the development system process in the County where a project like this and some others that they have recently been made aware of can be granted a grading permit prior to review by the Architectural Review Board.  One of their main concerns is landscaping.  When the ARB reviews projects and the landscaping on the project has been wiped out it makes it very difficult.  That is the case in this situation.  It is nearly 3 acres of trees that have been stripped.  One of the things the ARB looks at is the tree preservation list at the beginning of all of their projects.  Two people from the ARB are meeting with two members from the Planning Commission and two members from the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday to decide how they can correct this matter. It is of great concern to the ARB that a project of this size can lose all of its natural trees that have been there for years and the ARB has nothing to say about it.


Robin Ellis said that her family moved to the corner of Route 616 and Route 250, which is about 800 yards from the proposed entrance for this commercial enterprise.  There is a traffic light at the corner of Routes 250 and 616.   In the five years that they have lived there at least once a month they look out from their back yard at an ambulance, wreck or near wreck at that intersection.  When they were moving in five years ago the moving truck took out the mailbox that was in front of their house on Route 616.  When they re-erected it several weeks later they got a notice from the Post Master that it was no longer safe to deliver mail to their address because they were on that corner.  Her point is that if it is not safe for the mail to be delivered at their house she could not imagine that this commercial use was going to make it any safer.


Jack Ridley, resident of 1539 Black Cat Road, said that this is the first time that he had received a letter stating that this type of use was being proposed.  His next door neighbor told him about what was going on, but they never received any type of mailing except for this one.  His house is located right across the street from this proposed entrance.  He has lived in this area all of his life.  Currently he has to sit in his driveway at least ten minutes to be able to get out onto Route 616 because of the current traffic.  If this project is put in the traffic is going to at least double or maybe triple.  The tractor trailers and dump trucks currently use the road as a connector road from Route 250 to I-64.  This would only add to that traffic and bring more.  He has an 11 year old son that goes to Stone Robinson School and he has to walk down Route 616 to the bus stop with no sidewalks or shoulders.  He fears for the safety of his son.  He acknowledged that the applicant was going to come back with some other things, but he was concerned with lighting and security for this proposed use.  Currently they have a safe community.  He feared that by bringing in this type of commercial enterprise there is no telling what could happen, particularly if it is a 24-hour operation.


There being no further public comment, Ms. Joseph noted that this project will be coming back to the Commission at a later date.  The public will be receiving notice of the meeting.  She thanked everyone for their comments.


Mr. Craddock suggested that the applicant at least have a neighborhood meeting with the residents along the way concerning this project.


Motion:  Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Edgerton seconded, to approve the applicant’s request for indefinite deferral of SDP-2006-081, Black Cat Road Service Station – Waiver requests for critical slopes disturbance and buffer disturbance.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph stated that SDP-2006-081, Black Cat Road Service Station – Waiver requests for critical slopes disturbance and buffer disturbance was indefinitely deferred.


In summary, (from the action memo) the following concerns were expressed by several members of the public:


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