March 27, 2007
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
401 McIntire Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Re: Virginia Oil Company’s
Proposed gas station on
State Route 616
Dear Board of Supervisor’s Members:
I live in the small subdivision across the road from Virginia Oil Company’s proposed gas station on State Route 616 (Black Cat Road). This proposal went before the Planning Commission on January 23, 2007. It was unanimously defeated by the Planning Commission. The Applicant has appealed that decision and this appeal comes before you on April 4, 2007. I will be in New York and am unable to attend this meeting.
Please accept this letter as my opposition to the Applicant’s ill-conceived notion that our residential and agricultural neighborhood is an appropriate place for a modern gas station. It is not. A gas station would change the character of our neighborhood. To put the neighborhood in perspective, immediately to the west of the proposed site and adjacent to it is a farm used for grazing cattle. Directly across State Route 616 to the east are residences. Directly to the south is a small wooded parcel (approx. 10 acres) and then more residences. To the north is Interstate 64, Keswick Country Club, the Poorhouse Farm and more residences. The Old Boyd Tavern (qualified to be a historical landmark), frequented by such characters as Daniel Boone, Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette sits a short distance across Route 250 to the South. Limestone Farm, located a short distance to the southwest of the proposed site is, I believe, on the National Register of Historic Places.
It is my understanding that the Applicant has failed to address the major concerns of Staff as set forth in its letter to the Applicant prior to the last scheduled hearing on this matter before the Planning Commission. The Applicant is not entitled to the waivers requested and they should be denied. The Applicant has also side-stepped the ARB again, even though it was put on notice of the ARB’s interest when Chuck Lebo, at the request of the full ARB, appeared at the second public hearing on this application in the Planning Commission. The ARB is interested since the location is at an entrance corridor and the Applicant clear cut several acres of trees so its proposed gas station could be seen from the interstate.
It is well-known that our neighborhood has a water shortage problem. At least one of my neighbors had severe water problems in which her well went dry. Mine has almost done so on several occasions. The presence of a commercial gas station would be intolerable. This proposed Liberty gas station would invariably lead to irreversible problems for me and my neighbors. According to the Albemarle County Water Authority, the Liberty Gas Station on Pantops consumes more than 200,000 gallons of water per month, each and every month. Our water supply cannot withstand anything near such use.
Further, Black Cat Road (State Route 616) is very heavily traveled, dangerous currently and congested in the mornings and evenings. It is not unusual for me to have to wait several minutes just to get out of my driveway onto State Route 616 in the mornings. In fact, because of the traffic problems, this is the norm. Automobile accidents are common on this stretch of road (between Rt. 250 and Interstate 64). You should drive this road between now and April 4th and you will see evidence of a recent accident in which a vehicle appears to have plowed through a neighbor’s fence and yard. You will also see where a car drove off the road , into a neighbor’s yard and got stuck. If you have the chance, please drive by and see for yourself. We simply cannot withstand any more congestion or traffic. It is not unusual to see cars stacked from Rt. 250 to near the off ramp of 64 in the evenings. You may recall that Dominion Power proposed to relocate on this site recently, but withdrew its application soon after it completed a traffic study in which it learned the volume of traffic on this stretch of road.
Our community does not need another gas station or convenience store. And, we do not want one. We are situated in a RA District. Accordingly, the goals in our district, as promulgated by the Board of Supervisors are the preservation of agricultural and forestal land, water supply protection, limited service delivery and conservation of natural, scenic and historical resources. See, Section 10.1 of the Albemarle County Code.
The County’s Land Use Plan for Interstate Interchange Development is quite clear when it provides “other exchanges [including] Route 616 (Black Cat Road) are not recommended for development except as provided generally in the Plan and as permitted under Rural Areas zoning provisions.”
It should be clear from the Staff Report that the proposal should be denied. Even if the Commission were to disregard the Staff’s Report and Conclusion, however, I respectfully submit that this project cannot go forward. I am of the opinion that a Special Use Permit would be required.
Even if the Applicant had sufficient C-1 property and could meet the setback and other requirements, a Special Use Permit is still needed. Section 22.2.2(11) of the Code of the County of Albemarle provides that a Special Use Permit is required for
“[u]ses permitted by right, not served by public water, involving water consumption exceeding four hundred (400) gallons per site acre per day. Uses permitted by right, not served by public sewer, involving anticipated discharge of sewage other than domestic wastes.”
Clearly, the proposed site is not served by public water or sewer. Equally as clear, the proposed use would greatly exceed 400 gallons per site acre per day based on the current usage of Applicant’s other Liberty gas station in Albemarle County. Further still, as a matter of statutory construction, commercial wastes are not the same as domestic wastes; by definition “domestic” does not mean “commercial.” Accordingly, a Special Use Permit is required.
For all the foregoing reasons, I respectfully request that the Applicant’s proposal be denied.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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Very Truly Yours,
Gregory S. Duncan