Albemarle County Planning Commission

March 20, 2007


The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, at 4:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Jon Cannon, Eric Strucko, Duane Zobrist, Pete Craddock, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman and Marcia Joseph, Chairman.  Julia Monteith, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was present. 


Other officials present were Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; Jack Kelsey, County Transportation Planner; Sarah Temple, Environmental Compliance Manager and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.


            Public Hearing Item:


ZMA 2006-00005, Avinity (Sign #75)

PROPOSAL: Rezone approximately 9.5 acres from R-1 Residential (1 unit/acre) to PRD Planned Residential Development (3-34 units per acre with limited commercial use) for a maximum of 124 units at a density of 13.26 units/acre, with proffers.


EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Urban Density Residential (6.01-34 units/acre) and supporting uses such as religious institutions, schools, commercial, office and service uses in Neighborhood 4.


LOCATION: Avon Street Extended (Route 742) approx. 1/2 mile south of intersection with Mill Creek Drive

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TMP 91-14, 90-35J, 90-35K, 90-35I


STAFF:  Elaine Echols


Ms. Echols summarized the staff report.


§         Avinity is a mixed housing development on Avon Street, which is next to Cale Elementary School, and involves four parcels.

§         The Commission held a work session on April 18, 2006 and asked for some changes to the retaining walls and ways to mitigate impacts with cash proffers.  Since that time about a ˝ acre of property was added to the development and also the density increased.

§         The project is 124 units with 48 townhouses and 76 apartments to be sold as condominiums. It is on a little less than 10 acres.  The density is a little more than 13 dwelling units per acre. 

§         Private streets are proposed. 

§         Fifteen percent of affordable housing is proposed. 

§         Cash proffers are at $3,200 per unit for the Capital Improvements Program.

§         The ARB reviewed this project several times.  Staff distributed the ARB’s latest set of comments from yesterday. The ARB basically said they did not have a problem with the layout.  They wanted to have a full architectural review at the site plan phase.  The architecture shown in the packet is not quite what the ARB would like.  The applicant knows that there is more work to be done on that.  The ARB is concerned about the tree species in the front because of the overhead utilities.  They want to work with the applicant on that.  Also, the bio-filter at the north of unit 21 needs to be fully integrated into the surrounding landscape.

§         Mrs. Echols noted that PC members had asked about the Service Authority and sewer capacity because there had been a lot of questions about Biscuit Run.  Staff asked the Service Authority today whether or not there was capacity in the interceptor and whether any of the comments they made relative to Biscuit Run had any relevance to this particular project. Their response was that there is sufficient water and sewer capacity for Avinity as they had indicated before.  Staff believes that ACSA is interested in very large projects and the impacts of those large projects.  That is why the Service Authority gets involved with developments like Biscuit Run and Albemarle Place.

§         The Cale improvements are under construction. 

§         The fiscal impact analysis sent shows a negative fiscal impact.  Staff received an email from the applicant today that talked about the values of the units in the development that would be higher than what the Fiscal Impact Planner used for his analysis.  The Fiscal Impact Planner did not get a chance to recalculate those figures, but staff knows that the higher the value the greater the taxes and the less of a fiscal impact.  But, it will still have a negative fiscal impact because almost all residential construction or residential development has a negative fiscal impact.  That is something that is considered with all rezonings, and information that goes into the mix.

§         Staff is recommending approval of the rezoning with minor changes to the proffer language.  Also, in the staff reports provide analysis on waiver requests, which includes recommendations for approval of waiver of critical slopes, approval of waiver for interconnections except as shown on the application plan with provision that an easement is provided to the adjoining property; approval of waiver of sidewalks and planting strips on one side of the street; and also approval of the disturbance of the open space to provide what staff considers a very high quality amenity in this particular development.


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.  There being no questions for staff, the public hearing was opened and the applicant invited to address the Commission.


Mark Keller, with Terra Concepts, said that they prepared the land plan that was before the Commission tonight.  Alan Franklin, of Terra Concepts, passed out a color rendition of the plan.  Generally they feel that they have before the Commission a sensible and social layout for a community.  They created quality central common areas within this development.  They have accomplished getting a high degree of separation between vehicles and pedestrians.  They think that is one of the plan’s highest merits.  In terms of off site improvements, they have completed construction of a public water main extension under Avon Street and through this property all the way through the back and down to Kappa Sigma.  With the development of Avinity Avon Street would be widened and turn lanes installed for both right and left actions into the site.  In terms of the affordable housing, they are planning on building and selling 19 single-family attached town homes at and below the affordable housing initiative levels.  In terms of CIP they did mention $3,200 per market rate unit that they would be donating there.  An important thing in the review of previous proffers before the Commission on other projects is that they are not pro-rating these proffers down because these are town houses, apartments or condominiums.  The $3,200 applies to each and every unit that is market rate. 


Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for the applicant.


Mr.  Morris asked if they were asking for private roads because of the utility issues.


Mr. Keller replied that they were looking for private roads because they no longer needed to set up public interconnections. One of the primary reasons was that they were looking to potentially interconnect in the very back of the property to a potential road to come down from the Monticello Fire Station.  This possible future public street would provide access to a possible library opposite Monticello High School.  Their prior plan would allow a public street through their property to connect to any secondary connector road that came parallel with Avon, but behind the property.  Later on the interconnection to the south became more important than an interconnection to the east.  Mr. Keller said they also wanted to refine the layout of the community such that they were turning our backs to the perimeter of the property and focusing the front so the units into the central green by going private roads were able to depreciate the importance, size and magnitude of the roads around the perimeter edges and focus on getting more green space in the center of the property.  There may be a list of other items that he was not recollecting at this point in time.  But, those were the benefits of doing that.


Ms. Joseph noted that they have a retaining wall on the back of the property that says the average height is 7’.  Is there any reason why they could not put vegetation behind it so that the neighbors don’t have to look at a 13’ wall in some spaces?  She asked if there could be something to mitigate the retaining wall.


Mr. Keller replied that in some areas they could.  The sewer is coming to the rear property line from Kappa Sigma near the northern edge of the larger building that backs up to the rear property line.  It then makes a southerly turn and comes around the end of the retaining wall at the bottom.  The water line that they have constructed to Kappa Sigma is paralleling that in all manners.  There are some easements with the Service Authority that come into play.   There is absolutely no reason they could not put some landscaping back there where ever they would permit it.  Possibly with their permission the landscaping could go along the face of the wall as long as it is a shrub or something smaller that ACSA would permit in their easement.


Ms. Joseph suggested providing some landscaping to soften the effect on the neighbors.  She asked that the applicant work something out there.


Mr. Keller noted that the 13’ maximum height of the retaining wall is at the location where the water and sewer lines come up and then the wall tapers to zero on both ends.


Ms. Joseph said that she had some questions about the path way.  In looking at the plan the path way is not bicycle accessible from this site to Cale Elementary.  They have some steps in there. 


Mr. Keller replied that was correct.


Ms. Joseph questioned one of the proffers for affordable housing.  The 90-day rule is something that has always been troublesome.  What happened last week when the Commission talked to the applicants from Rivanna Village was that what they agreed to was to write their proffer so that when the site plan came in for review and approved that at that point in time if the County had not found a qualified buyer for that affordable housing then $16,500 would be placed in the housing fund and the requirement for that particular unit would be gone.  The biggest fear was that the County was going to lose their affordable housing if they have the 90-day clause in there.  She asked that they at least have some kind of funding for affordable housing so they would not be losing out on everything.  She wondered if that was something that the applicant would consider.


Mr. Keller felt that enough conversations were held today with the applicant, counsel and staff that her request could be met as long as internally the County with the Housing Authority, staff and the Commission can come to craft the language and the tools by which they can get to that.  He said yes that they do not want the affordable aspect to go away.


Ms. Joseph asked if anyone else has any questions.  There being none, she invited other public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.


Mr. Strucko said that he had a question about the private streets for staff.  On page 14 of the staff report it states that the Commission discussed the arrangement of the development and the corresponding street needs and have confirmed that the design of development and that private streets were needed.  He asked why they did that.  His issue was that interconnection, especially when the sole entry and exit point of this development is Avon Street and its existing level of service is “E” now.  The only way to alleviate that potential traffic mess on Avon Street would be to maintain the options of interconnectivity here between this development and something to the rear of it.  The private road on the surface does not appear to facilitate that.  He asked why the Commission affirmed the need for private roads.


Ms. Echols referenced the discussion on interconnections shown on Attachment F

Mr. Strucko pointed out that County owns several parcels that come close to the rear of this particular parcel, but does not touch it.


Ms. Echols replied that was correct. When the Commission looked at the design of the development at the prior worksession, staff brought out a lot of issues relative to the potential for interconnections.  Staff noted all of the places on the plan where connections could take place.  The Commission really liked the design and the way the roads were laid out.  Staff though it had noted to the Commission that they could not use the internal streets as public streets because of the way the parking is shown perpendicular to the streets. Staff felt like the Commission looked at the design and said that it made more sense for this to be a private street than a public street.  The Commission said that there only had to be one interconnection point, which could take a road way into the street system as shown on Attachment F.  Her recollection was that when the Commission affirmed the design they also seemed to be okay with the concept of a private street system.


Staff brought up the relationship to the adjourning property because there is a roadway already on the adjoining property.  Staff was concerned that the development needed to have a better relationship to the adjoining property at the south because there was already a roadway in there.  The Commission said no, that was not necessary and the access for those parcels could be taken either off of that roadway or to the rear of the parcel. That is why staff felt the Commission was affirming that was what they wanted with this particular development.   If staff has misread the Commission’s decision they can go back and revisit it. 


Mr. Morris recalled that the applicant chose not to connect to parcel to the south.  He asked if that was correct.


Ms. Echols replied that the applicant did not want to connect to the parcel to the south.


Mr. Keller pointed out that the location of the connection was where the grades on both properties were exactly the same.  In discussions about the public road versus private road conversation with Mr. Kelsey and Ms. Echols one thing that should be evident is that the two larger buildings in the central part of the site actually have parking underneath. So those buildings are actually sitting over parking lots.  One could drive across the property through the buildings just like one could walk centrally through the buildings to get to one green space to another and to several amenity areas.  Mr. Kelsey reminded them that if they were going to have travel ways that passed under those buildings there was going to be a rub about having the perimeter roads public. That was another reason that was in that list of things that he forgot.


Ms. Joseph asked what happens if it connects with an adjacent property and it is a private road.  Can they put up a tall fence?  Or can there be an easement? 


Mr. Edgerton noted that they explored this last week that they needed an easement.


Mr. Kamptner said that the County would want an easement that would allow the right of ingress and egress from the adjoining property.  The other concern always with private roads serving as interconnections is assuring that the maintenance is adequate and to be certain that the interconnection remains open. 


Ms. Joseph asked if everyone was comfortable with an easement with some sort of heavy duty maintenance agreement.


Mr. Cannon agreed noting that was what they worked through last time.  There were some benefits from the private road configuration here for the form of development.  They need to minimize the down sides.


Mr. Morris asked if staff has received any more feedback from VDOT Culpeper as to allowing contractors to put the utilities under the street.  It very specifically says “thou shall not” in what they have.


Ms. Echols said that the utility issue would not affect this particular development because the private street question was more about the arrangement of the streets.  But, the answer is that staff has not been back in touch with VDOT since last week.


Mr. Edgerton felt it was a great plan and was very excited about it.  He appreciates what the applicant did to respond to some of their concerns.  But, he was losing sleep over this fiscal impact analysis.  They have agonized about cash contribution proffers to off set the cost of development and certainly what is being offered is consistent with what the Board has accepted in recent months.  But, it is about 1 percent of the impact that it is going to be meeting.


Mr. Strucko felt that no precedent was set with Old Trail and other developments.  The County used the information it had at the time to accept the proffers.  There was an absence of a detailed analysis and study as to what the fiscal impacts of such developments are to this community.  Mr. Strucko said that the more he has become involved in the fiscal impact model the more he was convinced that certainly $3,200 per unit is not enough even to address the off site impacts that this 663 additional daily vehicle trips will have on a level of Service “E” road.  He felt that $3,200 does not come close to addressing just the traffic impact of this let alone the school impact and others.  He knew that Cale Elementary School is already being renovated, but that is still cash the County is paying.  This particular development is going to have an impact on the school.  But, he was sort of caught because in the absence of a cash proffer policy he still thinks it is unfair to apply just an arbitrary standard to these developments.  Therefore, he was anxious to get something solidified on that front.  He wanted to make a public comment that he did not view the Old Trail standard for proffers as a hard and true precedent.


Mr. Edgerton asked to add a note of caution that he was very uncomfortable about the reality that they are facing.  Their own staff has told us that they are burdening the County for the next 20 years with over 3 million dollars of costs that would not occur if they did not approve this request.  He agreed with Mr. Strucko that this calls yet again for a very clear policy to address the impacts to the community of development such as this.


Mr. Morris agreed.


Mr. Cannon asked if there was something that they could fairly request of the applicant here as just a symbolic recognition of the principle or concern that was just stated.


Mr. Edgerton suggested more money be given.


Mr. Cannon asked if there was a particular project or something that would cost more money that would be appropriate to ask the applicant to do.


Ms. Joseph noted that the Commission did not have a fiscal impact study last week when they looked at Rivanna Village.


Mr. Cannon noted that this was something new. 


Mr. Morris said that he did not feel comfortable adding on something at this particular point although he agrees with Mr. Edgerton 100 percent that this was made in good faith based upon everything that they knew up to that point.  He agreed that the County needs to adopt a policy.


Mr. Strucko acknowledged that Cale Elementary School has a number of modular units and will need additional monies.  There is going to be 200 to 300 more residents in this area and the Monticello Rescue Station’s operating costs potentially will increase because of this development.  There will be 663 additional daily vehicle trips on Avon Street, which is a level “E” service road now.  Schools, roads and fire/rescue have additional needs.   He could not in good faith venture even to guess what those impacts would be.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that the Commission has seen fiscal impact analyses on a number of projects.  The one for Rivanna Village had not been prepared for their review.  What they were looking at for Avinity is pretty typical for a residential project depending on the size.  He felt that Mr. Strucko was aware that if there is a policy, the application will only be able to be made to the capital part of the impact.  Some of the dollars here are operating costs. The model is not showing all capital needs.  The capital impacts are a slightly lower amount, which could be off set in cash proffers.  The bottom line is that this is going to be a pretty typical kind of thing with residential development in the development areas. What is unfortunate is that the same thing is happening in every bit of residential development by right in the rural areas and in the other parts of the development areas.  So rezonings are at a real disadvantage when the County starts talking about how to apply cash proffer policies in an equitable way.  There is no way to address that for all of the by right residential development that might occur in lieu of this.  He was talking about by right development County wide. 


Mr. Cannon noted that Mr. Cilimberg was talking about where development could go cheaper because by right development occurs without proffers.


Mr. Cilimberg noted that there is going to be that struggle in developing a cash proffer policy.  It has been difficult in the past and it will be again.  Part of what Mr. Strucko is involved with in the Fiscal Impact Committee is to try to get a way to measure impacts.  There is still going to be the whole discussion about the policy that goes with it.  It is correct that developers don’t get the density in the rural areas and with by-right development that they would with a rezoning   which may be very attractive.  But, it is that struggle.  Impact fees would remove that to a large extent.  Unfortunately, in Virginia the General Assembly has not seen fit to give our local government that ability.


Mr. Craddock agreed with Mr. Cilimberg. This development is located right next to Cale School and provides more walking trails for the children to get to the school.  The affordable housing could be right on a bus line if there is a bus line coming out assuming Biscuit Run would come through.  It is in the development area.


Ms. Joseph asked if the Commission could go through this starting with the land use plan itself or the layout.  She asked if everyone was good with that.


Mr. Cannon felt that they had responded to their earlier concerns.


The Planning Commission was okay with the land use plan or the layout.


Ms. Joseph asked that the Commission go through the proffers that were offered as follows:


§         Affordable housing proffer  to include the language about the cash in lieu of unit additional language

§          $3,200 per market rate unit for the CIP

§         The additional of a proffer that the easement for residents to use non-private roads.  (Staff recommended that it be a condition of the interconnection waiver.)

§         Public water improvement, pavement and fencing.

§         The Commission noted the need for a correction in the staff report to change the reference for pavement width from 5’ to 6’ to match the proffers.


Mr. Strucko said that he liked the degree of open space, which was a nice balance.


Mr. Morris said that he agreed with the proffers.


Ms. Joseph said that at site plan stage if there has not been an applicant identified for the affordable housing unit that in lieu of that the County is given $16,500 for the Housing Fund.


Mr. Edgerton noted that the applicant had agreed to that.


Ms. Joseph asked if the Planning Commission was all right with the proffers with that added.


Mr. Kamptner said that there was one correction to the cash proffer that essentially stated the same thing twice, which could be corrected.


Ms. Joseph assumed that all of this language would be run through the County Attorney’s Office before it goes to the Board of Supervisors.


Mr. Kamptner agreed.


Motion on Rezoning:


Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, for acceptance of ZMA-2006-00005, Avinity, with minor wording modifications to the proffers.


Mr. Cannon asked if it would include the changes that were just mentioned by Ms. Joseph and staff.


Mr. Morris agreed that it would include the changes recommended by staff and mentioned by Ms. Joseph.



The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Motion on Waivers:


Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to accept the recommendation of staff on ZMA-2006-005, Avinity, to approve the waivers with respect to the following:  the critical slopes, the disturbance of the open space, sidewalk and street trees on one side of the street, and any other requested waiver with the conditions defined in the staff report with the exception of the private street interconnection. 


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Motion on Interconnection:


Mr. Cilimberg asked if the Commission’s expectation was that there would be interconnection that would be available for public access as an easement and a maintenance agreement should be provided to assure perpetual maintenance.


The Planning Commission agreed with Mr. Cilimberg that the intent was that the public would have open access that will not be gated in the future.


Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, to accept the recommendation of staff on ZMA-2006-0005, Avinity, to approve the waiver to Section 14-409 to allow the interconnection as shown on the plan with the following conditions:


  1. An easement must be provided to include the maintenance and that it will remain open for public access. 
  2. The applicants must submit a maintenance agreement that meets the requirements of County Code Section 14-3.1.7.


The motion passed by a vote of 7:0. 


Ms. Joseph stated that ZMA-2006-00005, Avinity, would go before the Board of Supervisors on April 11, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.


Mr. Edgerton asked staff to make sure that they get the word “open” in the Rivanna Village approval from last week.


Mr. Kamptner agreed that the word would be in that approval.


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