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.

           

       Public Hearing Items:                                                                     

 

SP-2006-008 SOCA South Fork Expansion (Sign #66)

PROJECT: SP 06-08 SOCA South Fork Expansion

PROPOSED: Soccer club/office with outdoor field and training courts, one indoor arena

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA - Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre); FH Flood Hazard Overlay to provide safety and protection from flooding

SECTION: 10.2.2.2 (Clubs, lodges, civic, patriotic, fraternal);  5.1.02 (Clubs, Lodges)

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (0.5 unit/ acre)

LOCATION: 1717 Polo Grounds Road (Rt. 643), 1.2 miles east of the intersection with US 29 North

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TM 46 Parcels 22 and 22C

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rivanna

STAFF:  Scott Clark

 

Mr. Clark summarized the staff report and presented a power point presentation.  (See staff report.)

 

§         This proposal is for a club use in the rural areas.  It includes an indoor soccer arena of 33,920 square feet and about 5,300 square feet of other supporting use for that building. It would be an outdoor playing field for year round use.  The use for the entire site is requested from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and 7:00 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.  However, the outdoor field would not be used after 9:30 p.m.

§         There would be 4 exceptions to the operating hours, which would extend the hours for the indoor facilities.  There are 2 outdoor training courts, a parking lot of 96 spaces and uses in the existing house to include meeting rooms and a grounds keeper residence. 

 

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.       The use would help to meet a need identified in the County’s “Community Recreational Facilities Needs Assessment Study” of November 2003, which identifies a strong need for indoor recreational facilities and recommends partnerships with other organizations to provide these facilities. The Parks Department supports this request.

2.       The applicants are proposing full-cutoff light fixtures for the outdoor athletic field.

3.       The use would be adjacent to the organization’s existing fields and temporary offices, thus reducing travel between sites, compared to developing the proposed facilities elsewhere.

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.       This request does not conform to the Land Use Plan policy that this “critical” section of the Rural Areas “is to remain in an open state as a buffer between the Urban Area and the Community of Hollymead.”

  1. The soils on the site cannot support septic fields, and the proposed use could only be supported by an extension of the ACSA jurisdictional area. The “Public Water and Sewer” section of the Comprehensive Plan clearly states that “Rural Area development will be served by individual water and septic systems only.” The “Alternative Uses” section of the Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan states that such uses should be “viable with no increase in public infrastructure or services, either at the time of approval or later.”

3.       The proposed use includes approximately 39,220 square feet of new building space for the arena and its support facilities. This is a large structure for the Rural Areas and is not in keeping with the Comprehensive Plan intent to maintain this area as a buffer between the Development Areas. Only 15 other buildings greater than 30,000 square feet exist in the Rural Areas, and 14 of those are by-right uses.

4.       With the investment needed for such facilities, they are unlikely to be “reversible” to farming, forestry, or open-space uses as recommended under “Alternative Uses” in the Rural Areas chapter of the Comprehensive Plan.

5.       The existing dwelling to the east, and other existing or future dwellings on nearby properties, would potentially be impacted by noise from outdoor activities.

 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends denial of Special Use Permit 2006-008. However, if the Planning Commission wishes to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the permit request, staff recommends that the following conditions be added to the recommended action:

 

1.       The improvements proposed under SP 2006-008 and the scale and location of the improvements shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan entitled “SOCA at South Fork New Offices, Arena and Turf Field,” prepared by Stoneking von Storch Architects, and dated Jan. 1, 2007.

2.       All outdoor lighting shall be arranged or shielded to reflect light away from abutting properties.

3.       The area labeled on the conceptual plan as “Existing Wooded Area Cleared for New Sitework” shall be replanted with species listed in the brochure titled “Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration, and Landscaping: Piedmont Plateau,” published by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Replanting shall include 80 canopy trees (1.5 to 2-inch caliper), 80 understory trees (0.75 to 1.5-inch caliper), and 80 small shrubs or woody groundcover plants (minimum 15 inches high). The final plant layout shall resemble a random and natural pattern of plants rather than an orderly pattern.

4.       All landscaping on the site shall include only native plants identified in the brochure “Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration, and Landscaping: Piedmont Plateau,” published by the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation. The new trees shown bordering the outdoor field shall be planted as a double-staggered row of a mix of evergreen and deciduous species listed in the above brochure, all a minimum of 5 feet in height when planted.

5.       No grading or tree removal shall take place within the areas labeled "Tree Protection Area" on the conceptual plan, except for construction of the patio area shown adjacent to the existing house.

6.       A tree protection plan for all "Tree Protection Areas" in accord with section 32.7.9.4 of the Zoning Ordinance and section 704 of the Design Manual (2005) shall be shown on each sheet of the site plan for this use that includes landscaping and/or erosion-control plans.

7.       The existing house on the site shall not be demolished.

8.       The facilities shall be used only for SOCA club activities, or by other athletic organizations. The facilities shall not be rented or otherwise used for commercial activities by other organizations or businesses.

9.       Hours of operation for the arena and for non-residential uses of the existing house shall be no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 10 p.m. The outdoor field shall not be used, and no outdoor lighting of the field shall be illuminated, before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:30 p.m.

10.   Verification of adequate fire flow by the Albemarle County Fire/Rescue Department.

 

Staff also recommends that, if the Commission approves SP 2006-008, they also approve the critical slopes waiver under section 4.2.3 with the following condition:

 

1.       Adequate temporary and permanent easements will be secured with a proposed subdivision of the parcels included in the special permit application to assure the construction and maintenance of the erosion control and storm water management facilities.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if in 1992 the County approved water and sewer to the site for a church.

 

Mr. Clark replied that the 1992 County approval was limited to the church use only.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if the request to extend the jurisdictional area goes directly to the Board of Supervisors and not to the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Cilimberg replied that was correct.

 

There being no further questions for staff, Ms. Joseph opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.   

 

Bill Wood, Executive Director of SOCA, asked to split the time allowed with his architect who can address some of the more technical matters. SOCA is the single largest athletic provider in our area.  They are a non-profit volunteer based community service organization.  They made 9,200 registrations in 2006.  They anticipate about 10,000 in 2007.  They have 64,000 families in their data base, which means they have participated in SOCA in some way during the past three years.  They have about 4,000 participants in their programs in any season.  All of this adds up to the fact that SOCA is big.  They give away about $21,000 in financial assistance every year to include folks who might not otherwise be able to participant.  They have an active outreach program to include folks from communities that are underserved.  SOCA is clearly a vital partner with the County. Mr. Mullaney, Director of Parks, has submitted a letter indicating so.  They consider that partnership critical.  SOCA is doing good work in the community.  They have hundreds of volunteers who are working with children week in and week out.  They add life to the community in such a way that helps make this County a great place to live.  They are hoping to build a home, a center and a place where people meet and greet and are happy to be.  It will be a place for children to come after school to be involved with healthy happy activities.  It will be a place where families will spend time on the weekend both inside and outside during the cold and warm weather.  SOCA has been around for 25 years.  They are looking for an institution for SOCA to continue their good work.  This is an expansion of an existing use.  South Fork Soccer Park was built 4 or 5 years ago, which has been a tremendous addition to the community. The expansion of the use is a by right use with a special use permit.  It is adjacent to their current use.  It is critical to the success of the project.  If they split it off in another location it will start to defeat the purpose.  They will not have the home that they are looking for.  The location is central to their users.  They have preserved the archeological resources on the site and have allowed unfettered access to the archeological experts.  They are preserving the existing house on the hill.   They are a valuable asset to the community and have proven their character and good for the community.

 

Steve Van Storch, volunteer architect for SOCA, said that Mr. Wood has explained very well why generally in the County it makes sense to consolidate this use.  It is their contribution to growth and sprawl control.  By being in the center of the population that they serve their families can come together.  They have a study hall and library planned for the kids in the building and flex space where they can get connected.  If they were to grant the special use permit their intentions for developing the property are reasonable and sound.  This site is unique.  It is in this valuable greenway that the County has identified as a resource.  This ridge extends into the greenway and really separates itself from the green way. People understand this greenway as the floodplain, the land associated with it and the river and the land on the other side of the river as well.  This sits above, separate and distinct from a perceived floodplain as a perceived outdoor room.  Their development will not be visible from the river or the floodplain.  This land carries the special use permit with it that was granted for an 800 seat church and presumably the sewer extension.  He acknowledged that does not transfer, but the special use permits are granted to the land and not to the applicant legally.  They have tried to local the large arena in the most appropriate place, which is down into the low area of the site. It is the only area of the site that is buildable.  That will lower the building 7’ on the high side from its natural grade.  It will meet the building restrictions for any building in the rural area.   So they are not asking for an exception there.  They will preserve the house and the trees around it.  They are going to preserve the large stand of trees along Polo Grounds Road that would shield this.  They have relegated the parking behind the arena away from the road.  They have been working on the lighting with Professor Ianna who has worked with the County on developing the dark sky ordinance.  They have not gotten as far as the final fixtures yet.  There is an aspect of the Code right now that does not allow lighting fixtures to be above 35’. Sports lighting does not work at 35’. So either the County Schools or SOCA will come and ask for a zoning text amendment at some point to deal with that.  The critical slopes waiver was supported by staff and the engineering staff if the Planning Commission would grant the special use permit.

 

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

 

Mr. Strucko said that he had questions about the nature and arena hours of operation, which was one of his main concerns. They are proposing hours up to 11:30 p.m. for the indoor use.  He asked if the lighting on the inside of the building would be visible from outside.

 

Mr. Van Storch replied that there would be clear windows with translucent plastic of some type on the north and south ends, but not so much on the east and west lawn sides. 

 

Mr. Strucko asked if part of the use proposed up to four times per year was potentially for non-athletic events such as trade shows, auctions and other programs.

 

Mr. Wood replied that was correct.  The idea there is that they would like to make the facility available to other groups who are putting on programs of community interest that are served by a large covered space.  They were thinking of some of the items listed in the document.  But, there was nothing specific.

 

Mr. Von Storch said that their intent was to supplement their revenue from the building and to provide community service.  They specifically ruled out concerts and loud large promoted events.  If that conversation needs to continue further with staff they are happy to do so.  If there are boundaries that the Commission feels like suggesting to staff, they would be happy to continue working on that.  It is just four events per year to supplement their income and serve the community in a non support specific way.

 

There being no further questions, Ms. Joseph invited public comment.

 

Steven Lavine, resident of 1601 Bentivar Farm Road, said that the present soccer fields located off of Polo Grounds Road represents an appropriate use of land in the predominantly residential area.  The Polo Grounds Road has experienced an increase in traffic volume.  The benefit of these facilities to the children and the families in the community far outweighs this negative consequence.  Therefore, he supports it.  However, he opposes the proposed site for this project for several reasons.  The proposed facility will increase the traffic on Polo Grounds Road dramatically by more than 600 car trips per day according to one estimate.  The complex will also be setback from the road only enough to conform to the minimum statutory requirements.  The scale of the plan is also problematic:  a 39,000 square foot structure; 35’ high lights that are likely to be higher in the near future depending on an ordinance change in the County; and expansive parking lots to accommodate patriots.  There are other reasons to oppose the use of this site including the developer’s intention to hold events as trade shows at the facility.  Simply put this complex would be a large commercial eyesore and will bring in thousands of people from outside the community and result in a significant increase in traffic congestion.  If Albemarle County is to maintain quiet residential neighborhood projects like these it needs to be realized near or in areas that are already developed commercially.  There is no reason that they can’t have facilities, such as the one being proposed and these neighborhoods.  They just need to keep them separate.  He appreciated the Commission making his letter part of the permanent public record. (Attachment)

 

Ms. Joseph said that Mr. Iachetta asked to speak for 6 minutes because the next person on the list is his wife who he will speak for.  The Commissioners all agreed.

 

Tony Iachetta said that he has lived on this road for nearly 50 years.  He agreed with what the previous speaker said and noted that he would not repeat them.  They have seen it go from a dirt road with 22 vehicle trips per day to 1,900 vehicle trips a day today.  This project brings another 35 percent over and above that.  He had no quarrel about how good soccer is and how much of a good citizen they are.  This project is a commercial project.  It belongs in a commercial zone.  It does not belong on a quiet residential area.  The RA is only applied to the south side of this road.  Everything else is going to be developed at a higher density.  There is another couple hundred acres of land on this road that will become mixed use most likely.  What is the impact on the residents along this road?  They have the large playing field right in front of their house.  They have the huge building right in front of them as they go up the road.  They will have nights at night 200’ from their front door.  They will have vehicles coming in at night until 11:30 p.m. with the parking lot lights impending on their home.  They have lived there in peace and quiet all of this time.  The impact from this facility will decrease the value of their property.  If they did have to sell it to go to an assisted living facility, they will probably not be able to realize its worth.  He could not imagine anybody that would like to live next door to this use.  He would expect the proponents of this thing would not want to live next door.  He read what he considers to be one of the significant parts of the zoning ordinance:  “Special use permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding of the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to the adjacent property.”  He and his wife contend that this is a substantial detriment to their property.  He was not a soccer fan, but it does not influence his decision to oppose this proposal.  They were asked to meet with the proponents initially about a year ago.  If they had told us all of the things that they had planned to do they would have made it clear to them then that they opposed it.  The devil is in the details.  They make the point that there are two commercial enterprises on this road.  One of those is a nursery, which he felt was a very legitimate to grow trees in a RA area.  The other commercial use is W.L.’s business.  W. A. grew up on that site and his business was originally a home occupation.  He replaced the trailer in which he and his mother lived with a very attractive house for himself and another for his mother.  Neither of those operations brings a lot of traffic.  Neither of those two businesses operates after sundown nor operates on Sunday.  These folks are going to impose on the neighborhood an operation from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. seven days a week virtually and including Sunday. He felt that would create an imposition on the adjacent property owner.  They believe that is more than they should be exposed to.  He complimented Scott Clark on his assistance with understanding the application.

 

Matt Howe, resident of 2248 Polo Grounds Road, asked to join his voice with the previous speakers in opposing this proposal as being inappropriate in scale and location.  He was not here to denigrate soccer.  There may be other places in the County for soccer, but this is not.  They have heard that four or five years ago that the first application was made.  Many of us were here then.  They did not oppose it as a recreational facility.  They asked that it be scaled back maybe to two or three fields instead of five.  At that time they told us that five fields was all they need, which they got.  Now the applicants are back.  Let not make a mistake.  This is not a public facility even if it fulfills a county need.   Our neighborhood children can not wander over there and kick a ball around.  It does not benefit our neighborhood.  He asked to express some concerns about the impact on what are essentially a rural community and a tight knit neighborhood.  First of all they have heard about traffic.  On a foggy night at 11:30 p.m. Polo Grounds Road is going to get someone killed.  It is a very unsafe road even to those who know the road.   This year he has picked up three deer out of his front yard from the traffic.  The second concern is the litter.  There had been no assistance in picking up the litter on the road.  There are environmental concerns.  This will increase the amount of paved area.  They already have a 225 car parking lot.  They are going to put another parking lot in.  They area also going to put a permanent field in that will have to have an undercover of impermeable material.  They are on the South Fork of the river. They are going to get significant run off and possible influents into the South Fork of the Rivanna River.  There is also a circular argument here because the soil is disturbed that this is a justification for further despoiling of the area by putting something inappropriate in it.  They all know how this despoiled area got in there by using a landfill.  He was glad that they acknowledged that a 35’ pole will not light a complete soccer field around the edges.  A light can be shielded, but still emit lighting to the sides in a very dark area.  The structure is located right up to road.  Therefore, the road cannot be improved without moving the building.  It is 75’ from Polo Grounds Road.  He asked that the Commission take the area residents in consideration by denying the request.

 

Fred Gercke, President of the Proffit Community Association, said that the proportions of this proposal with this large building, lights, extended hours of operation and rental opportunities are so overreaching that he easily forget that this parcel sits in the rural areas and is zoned RA.  Its impact will be more like that of a modestly sized retail venture than the park they would be led to believe in reading this application.  Even with the recently installed miles of guardrails and Montgomery Ridge Subdivision, one would still have the feel of being in the country.  The two adjoining commercial ventures are of a scale and impact to escape the noise as such.  Take Polo Grounds Road past this site towards Proffit and the road is so bad between Iachetta’s and the Bentivar Subdivision that it forces people to slow down and proceed cautiously.  The addition of more traffic at peak hours is pushing things to the edge here unless there is some remedial action taken by returning the traffic light to the one lane bridge railroad underpass.  Eventually someone’s patience and their good luck will run out.  This section was not paved until a couple of years ago.  That was not done right until just recently.  That has enabled people to go faster, which they should not.  Those of us who live in this area fought for over 20 years to preserve their rural live entity and way of life.  They will have it degraded by the impacts of this proposal.  They can dance around with the details and play semantic games with the meanings of ordinances and the intents of planning initials.  But, that does not change that this project as designed does not belong on this site.  The intent and impact of this project is for the region and not locally usage.  If they area really going to preserve our rural areas a commitment must be made to avoid taking a cut here and a nick there.  Sometimes unpopular decisions must be made if that commitment is real.

 

James Dean, resident of 2797 Proffit Road, agreed with all of the other speakers.  He would like to say that he was not opposed to SOCA as such, but just disagrees with where they are proposing to put it because of this being a residential area.  He opposed the lights, noise, traffic and the sewer problems. He opposed the site being rented out for a commercial venture.  If these same people came and asked permission to put in a grocery store, the County would turn the request down.  He did not feel there was not much difference in the uses.  This County is spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to develop Neighborhood Models.  They live in an area as Mr. Howe has said as being a tight knit committee.  They have a school, churches and businesses.  They have a neighborhood and almost a model neighborhood.  Soon they will get a firehouse and a post office.  What more could they want.  They spend a lot of time trying to justify themselves from being torn apart from commercial ventures such as this.  He hoped that the Commission would agree with staff’s recommendation to deny the request.

James Beard, a homeowner in Bentivar Subdivision, agreed with everything that has been said so far.  This is clearly not the right location for this particular use and application.  The one issue is the one lane underpass on Polo Grounds Road.  It is a one lane underpass with a blind curve on both sides so that one has to stop and blow your horn to get through that section of road.  It is very dangerous section of road.  They approached the County in order to get a stoplight put there.  They had one there temporarily.  Unfortunately, the County said they could not do anything about that since it was VDOT’s responsibility.  VDOT said that they had requirements that they could not meet, which included dealing with the railroad.  This use will add more traffic to an already unsafe road.  He asked that the Commission deny the request.

 

Jeff Werner, with Piedmont Environmental Council, said that the PEC has for the last 30 years been dedicated to protecting the rural area of Albemarle County.  The rural area policies and zoning ordinances are a result of a lot of the hard work of the PEC.  As of last year they were up to 65,000 acres in the rural area in conservation easements.  So they take it seriously what happens there.  He did not want to say anything bad about SOCA.  They are an outstanding organization.  His son does play soccer.  He does have some issues with this.  First, when this was first proposed a couple years ago in the first special use permit they came in with a developer’s interest associated with it.  Their first question was is this it.  They are talking about the extension of sewer into the rural area.  The applicant at that time said that was all they needed.  There was no more.  Now they have a much larger facility proposed.  It is difficult to argue with the rationale for putting something like this approximate to the growth area.  But, the simple fact is that this is in the rural area.  This is not an agricultural, but a commercial use in the rural area.  Even with the discretion that is available to the County in the special use permit process, this proposal represents some serious concerns that he felt that they need to elevate the level of scrutiny to a much higher level.  In fact, maybe the best way to solve this is by having a Comp Plan Amendment and considering a growth area expansion here. At least they would not be opening the tent for this type of activity in the rural area.    There is some real concern here.  There is some legislation going through the General Assembly that will probably pass that essentially removes the locality’s ability to regulate the activities of farm wineries.  It is currently controlled by special use permit. So here they have a large indoor facility with a lit field next to it in a non-agricultural use, so what is next.  Who else will come in and say they want to do the same with farm wineries and want to build large facilities that have periodic trade shows and things like that.  They don’t have to worry about this site being residentially developed because the developers acknowledge that they so destroyed it that they can’t put septic there anyway.  There are a couple of concerns, such as traffic.  There are about 11,012 vehicle trips per day.  It comes out about a car every 50 seconds all going out to Route 29.  What is going to be the impact at that light?  Relative to the railroad bridge, the Board of Supervisors has talked about that a lot and it is an issue. There is a proper way to handle this because this being in the rural area raises some serious concerns.

 

Sally Civics, resident of Star Gate Lane, said that her resident was just off Polo Grounds Road.  She lived in a quiet neighborhood with a cow field on one side and a goat farm on the other. She loved that the kids got to play soccer.  In the evenings they hear the children cheering from the soccer field.  The voices stop at sunset.  Moving a 34,000 square foot sports arena into their quiet neighborhood would feel to be an outrageous invasion to the quality of their life.  The possibility of 30’ lights, loud speakers, a PA system, added traffic all of which would run to 11:30 p.m. week nights and midnight on Saturday would be terrible to those who go to bed at 9:30 p.m.  This kind of project seems more appropriate in a commercial area near Lowe’s or ACAC and not in the middle of their neighborhood.  It is a wonderful thing to want to create this home for children.  But, a project like this should be built in a commercial area and not in the middle of their neighborhood with a free bus system for the children.  She hoped that the Commission would consider the impact that this project would have on their rural neighborhood.

 

Rick Van Tolli, President of the Board of Directors for SOCA, said that he was one of the volunteers of this organization.  This is not a commercial organization.  It is a non-profit volunteer based organization that provides community service.  He noted that they were not asking for a rezoning of the land, but just a special use permit.  While it is a large building that in overall footprint the height of the building is about the same height as the existing house on the property.  They have done a lot on the plan to preserve the landscaped areas and to preserve tree areas so that the building will not be seen from the river or the green belt area.  They will do whatever they can to meet the neighbor’s concerns about screening, buffers and vegetation to preserve the character of this site.  The site right now is never going to be a farm again.  It is never going to be some things because of the condition of the site and what it has been used for.  This project is not feasible in a commercial area for an organization such as SOCA because of the high costs of the areas and removing it from where they are operating now from their home.  They will not be able to afford it or keep it affordable for those who participate in their program.  Again, Bill Mueller mentioned why this site is important.  Yes, traffic has increased on Polo Grounds Road for other reasons than their site.  They stand by the traffic counts in the reports, which are no where near some of the traffic counts that have been mentioned tonight.  Other residential developments in the area have increased traffic on Polo Grounds Road.  That will probably continue.  There is a great silent majority that supports this project.  They came to address the technical issues of the staff report and answer questions.  Many of the club members live in the residential areas that surround this site and support this project.  Operating hours, use of the athletic facilities is all conditions that they are willing to continue discussion with community members in the neighborhood and the County to set those.  They will go by whatever conditions are set by the Board of Supervisors for using this property.  It is not a commercial property and they are not a commercial venture.  When they talk about uses other than athletic organizations they are talking about community uses.  One of their staff members is a member of the Sister City Committee that does things with the Italian City that Charlottesville is a sister city of.  Every year they send teams to Italy.  They are one of the few organizations that maintain this city to city relationship on a regular basis.  During a committee meeting they were specifically asked if they would be willing to host members or a delegation at a Gala type event on the soccer field.  They replied that of course they would.  Because they can only come in December, they could not use their outdoor fields and need the indoor facilities.  Those are the community type of events that they are talking about.  But, again all of those things are negotiable.  They are more than willing to work with any community areas to set conditions that are amendable to all.

 

Claude Templeman, resident of 2506 Montgomery Ridge Road, said that he was not here to represent Montgomery Ridge as a community, but simply as an individual.  They have tried to become working members of the Proffit Community Association.  He was very happy to see people picking up trash along Polo Grounds Road a few days ago.  They are an organization through the Proffit Community Association and they do that twice a year.  It is coming up in the spring.  There are many children in the community that are involved in soccer and swimming.  It would be a great thing to have this facility, but this is not the right place for the facility of this size.  It might be great to have some more outdoor fields there.  It would be great to have the proposed facility in another area that would lend itself better to the traffic requirements and to the nature of the community it is in. This is not a public park. 

 

Tom Toomey, 2268 Star Gate Lane, said that there has been a big point made here of what a good community representative this association for SOCA is.  He thought that is true, but they also do charities, pick up trash and other things like that.  He coached basketball for 13 years.  One time the game went to 10 o’clock and the neighbors complained that the kids were noisy when they left.  He just got the kids and parents together and told them it was important not to disturb the community when they left late at night.  That is the kind of community spirit that they need.  They are not going to get that when they have trade shows and large crowds and leaving at midnight.  They should be protected from that by the County since they are a residential community. 

 

Mr. Zobrist invited Mr. Iachetta to come forward.

 

Mr. Iachetta said that mention was made of the Covenant Church.  At the time that the Covenant Church asked for a special use permit, they did not oppose it.  They did not oppose it because Charles Hurt had bought the land because Ms. Morris could not sell it to anybody else at that.  She had to have the money to put her husband in an assisted living facility.  They felt that was the lesser of two evils.  He made a dump out of a pretty alfalfa field, which is now not usable for septic because of the dump.  There is concrete, rebar and who knows what else is on the site.  They did not oppose the second church, which was turned down.  Neither one of those would have brought the intensity of use that this project brings or the impact.

 

There being no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and the matter placed before the Planning Commission.

 

Mr. Craddock said that one of the speakers made mention of the special use permit running with the land.  He asked if that was a fact as does the water and sewer.

 

Mr. Clark replied that the water and sewer approval was a limited service approval.  The extension of service or connection is only permitted for something under a certain special use permit.  While the special use permit may run with the land and be available to other owners, the sewer extension is not available to other kinds of uses or other special use permit approvals unless the Board acts again.

 

Mr. Craddock asked if SOCA has applied for expansion of the jurisdictional area.

 

Mr. Clark replied that the current applicants have applied.  That will be heard the same night of the Board hearing for this item.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that the special use permit runs with the land and so does the conditions.  So there are some conditions here that if the Board were to ultimately to approve those conditions run along with the permit itself.  The conditions in this case include a reference to a particular plan and some other things.

 

Mr. Edgerton noted that the 1993 letter signed by Mr. Cilimberg references the church.  Back to the question about the water and sewer that Mr. Craddock was asking.  That special use permit even though it runs with the land would only be for the church use.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that is a separate matter.  That is jurisdictional area for water and sewer service.  That is also explicit to this case to a limited service, which a particular functions.

 

Mr. Edgerton said that the earlier representation of the water and sewer being available is not accurate. That would have to be reapplied for.

 

Mr. Cilimberg pointed out that the applicant has made application to provide the utilities they need to support this use. 

 

Ms. Joseph said that nobody here thinks that SOCA is not a good organization.  She did not hear anybody say anything about that in any statement made.  But, she felt that what she was hearing and what she felt reading the staff report is that this is just a little bit too intense for our rural areas.  The size of the building itself is 39,000 square feet.  An acre is 43,560 square feet.  So it is very close to an acre.  She felt that it is noble that they would like to do this for all of these children.  She felt that it is noble that they want to provide outdoor and indoor activities for children, but she was not so sure about the size of the building and the location in the rural areas.  The lighting is going to be an enormous issue.  The height of the lighting is an issue particularly because this is on high ground.  She felt that the impact of the lighting particularly if 35’ poles were used was going to be enormous. 

 

Mr. Strucko said that during the past week in reading the staff report he was favorably inclined to support this project.  He thought that a facility like this is certainly needed in our area.   He understands the desire for a year round active recreational facility like this.  He was persuaded by Mr. Mullaney’s letter.  But, again as he was formulating his opinion going into this meeting he was hoping that they could discuss some of the intensity of uses that Ms. Joseph mentioned.  He was concerned about the hours of operation and the 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., which he felt was late.  That is a long time, which prompted his earlier question to the applicant about what is the light visibility outside of this building.  As they also know this application involves a lighted outdoor field as well.  Then they heard that the applicant will come back at a later date asking for a more intense lighting use.  Again, the hours of operation were a concern.  He felt that the package says that the outdoor field will not be used past 9:30 p.m.  His personal opinion was that might be a little too late.   He also was adding to this intensity of use discussion the four special events per year for non-athletic use.  Again, what was swaying him in favor of this was the idea that they would have an active recreational facility for our community for not just soccer, but for lacrosse, field hockey, etc.  But, he was hoping that the Commission would get into a discussion about the intensity of use, lighting and the hours of operation and that they could weigh in on that.  He did not know procedurally how they could do that here short of a deferral perhaps to recraft this proposal a bit.

 

Ms. Joseph pointed out that the Commission was not in a work session, but a public hearing. 

 

Mr. Cannon said that he had a reaction similar to the Chair’s.  He felt that this was a wonderful organization and they do wonderful things.  This is a great idea, but he was not convinced that this was in the right place.  They have worked hard to protect the rural areas from large scale development.  It has a scale and a character that is like commercial development, which is what most of the speakers were reacting to.  Before he would be comfortable supporting the request it would need to have a different scale and a different feel closer to a soccer field and not so much like office buildings and large quasi-commercial space.

 

Mr. Morris felt that with the question of sewer and water and obviously the septic is not an option here that it just cannot be supported at this time.   Being located where it is he felt that Jeff Werner was right on it when he said that it was a commercial nature pure and simple in a RA zoned area and is not appropriate.

 

Mr. Craddock concurred with the other speakers.  It was probably a condition of the other fields that they would not be lighted either just like Darden Towe Park.  He felt that it would be an error for the Commission to approve some lighting out here.

 

Ms. Joseph noted that Covesville does not have lighting.

 

Mr. Zobrist felt that it would be very difficult to redesign this project and make it acceptable to what he was hearing from the Commission tonight.  He would love to have a beautiful soccer facility and have lots of places for children to go play soccer.  It is the right project in the wrong place. 

 

Mr. Edgerton concurred with all of the statements.  He felt that the Commission was struggling with this because they all had a deep respect for what SOCA does for our community and how valuable it is.  The applicant indicated that there was room for negotiation.   He thought that they should ask if the applicant might want to ask for a deferral.  But, then thinking of the proposed program he questioned whether it could be scaled down to the point of traffic impacts, lighting impacts, intensity of use and over utilization and the obvious impacts it will have on the surrounding neighborhoods.  It is in the rural area and he doubted seriously if there is negotiation room to make what SOCA wants to do on this site acceptable to the community.  He concurred that it was a wonderful project, but in the wrong place.

 

Ms. Joseph asked to say something about filling in the rural areas.  It is a shame that this has happened in this area.  The county allows a lot of freedom in the rural areas for disturbing land because the assumption is that someone is going to use the land agriculturally and they don’t want to stop them from doing something like this.  It is a shame that this disturbance has occurred not for agricultural purposes. She appreciated that Mr. Clark put in the staff report the information about the salamander.  It made her realize that they need to consider other things when they are looking at these things.  She expected that came from the bio-diversity group. 

 

Action on Special Use Permit:

 

Motion: Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to deny the applicant’s request for SP-2006-008, SOCA South Fork Expansion, on the basis of the staff report with the addition of the significant danger in pulling people across Polo Grounds Road underneath the overpass by the railroad. 

 

Mr. Zobrist noted that this overpass by the railroad on Polo Grounds Road is probably the most dangerous overpass in the County.  It would be a serious mistake to draw people to this area since the public would travel the quickest way route.

 

The motion carried by a vote of 7:0.

 

Ms. Joseph asked if it would be possible for the Commission to give a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors about the jurisdictional area or should they just let that go.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that he did not know if the Commission has enough information to make a recommendation.  But, the Commission can always make a motion to the Board to attract the Board’s attention.  There are also two other items that the Commission needs to act on.  There is critical slopes waiver and if the Commission could also give any comments to the conditions that were recommended by staff for the Board to act on.

 

Ms. Joseph said that they were assuming that the last motion was made referencing the denial of the special use permit.

 

Mr. Kamptner said that the critical slopes waiver needs to be acted on by the Commission because this is a type of approval that is within your jurisdiction. 

 

Mr. Cannon questioned why it needed to be acted upon when without the approval of the special use permit there would be no occasion to disturb critical slopes.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that because it can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors and also because the regulations put the authority to approve or deny those waivers with the Commission.  So if they decide to approve it they could make it conditional upon the special use permit being granted or they can deny it.

 

Mr. Zobrist asked if he could amend the motion to deny or approve the critical slopes waiver.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that the Commission needs to take a separate action because this is their action and it was not a recommendation like the action on the special use permit.

 

Mr. Cannon said that the Commission would need a rationale against the staff’s recommendation that if the they were to grant the special use permit the recommendation would be to grant the critical slopes waiver.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that if that were their desire.  Staff’s finding in #3 on page 10 was that staff believes that finding can be made that granting such modification or waiver would serve the public purpose of greater import would be served by strict application of Section 4.2 because of the recognized public need for these facilities. 

 

Mr. Cannon asked if the Commission’s inclination is to deny the critical slopes waiver do they need to articulate a rational.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied yes.  In findings #1 or #2 staff was unable to find that either of those circumstances exists.  So either findings #1 or #2 would support a motion to deny. Finding #3 would support a motion to approve the critical slopes waiver.

 

Motion: Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to deny the applicant’s request for a critical slopes waiver for SP-2006-008, SOCA South Fork Expansion, on the basis of the staff’s recommendation in pointes #1 and #2 on page 10 of the staff report.

 

Mr. Strucko clarified that these critical slopes are man-made.

 

Mr. Clark said that the majority of the disturbance on this site has been from the cut and fill activity.  There may an area to the southeast portion of the property of natural slopes.  The majority of these slopes are man-made.

 

The motion carried unanimously (6:1).  (Commissioner Strucko voted nay.)

 

Mr. Kamptner said that the next item is to consider discussion of the jurisdictional area issue.

 

Mr. Cilimberg suggested that one thing that the Commission did not do in their action on the special use permit is acknowledge that if the Board were to approve this.  Possibly it could be in the same motion that the Commission would be recommending that these conditions be applied if the Board were to approve.  The Commission could be advising the Board so they would not recommend or recommend the jurisdictional area if the Commission feels like they need to.  He questioned whether that should be two motions or one advisory motion.

 

Mr. Kamptner said that it could be combined into a single set of dual recommendations.  Either way would be fine.  It could be by voice vote.

 

Mr. Cilimberg said that there are ten conditions, which are not all conditions consistent with the applicant’s request. 

 

Mr. Cannon asked if the Commission were compelled to respond to conditions that they don’t think are relevant and to let the Board wrestle with that.

 

Mr. Kamptner noted that historically the Board has asked for comments and recommendations regarding conditions if they were to approve.  So this is the exercise that they go through with every denied action.

 

Mr. Edgerton noted that the Commission had a unanimous finding for a recommendation to deny this special use permit.  He asked why the Commission would propose a group of conditions that would go contrary to that.

 

Mr. Kamptner replied that historically the Board has asked simply for recommendations.  It is not that the Commission is endorsing or recommending approval of the project, but, only in case they have any questions or concerns about the conditions.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that he was uncomfortable making a recommendation to the Board.  He felt that the Board was going to have to deal with the political issues of SOCA.  If they do that the Board will probably send the request back anyway.  He felt that the Commission should let the Board wrestle in with it.  The Commission has weighed in on what they think.  He felt that resolves the issue.

 

Ms. Joseph said that the Commission does not want to recommend the conditions.  She asked if the Commission wants to discuss the jurisdictional area or just assume that since they are recommending denial that the Board will assume that they are recommending denial of extending the jurisdictional area also.

 

Mr. Zobrist agreed that the Commission does not need to weigh in on it.

 

Mr. Cannon felt that it was explicit in what the Commission has done in the decision.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-008, SOCA, South Fork Expansion, will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on February 14, 2007 with a recommendation for denial.

 

Steve Von Storch said that each of the Commissioners probably had their list of concerns for a project like this.  He asked how an applicant goes about engaging in a dialogue.

 

Ms. Joseph replied that the Commission holds work sessions, which comes before the public hearing. So this could have been done in a work session where they could have had that dialogue.

 

Mr. Von Storch noted that they have been working with the county on this for over a year.  He asked if it was up to the applicant to figure that out.  They have emailed all of the Commissioners asking for an opportunity for dialogue.

 

Ms. Joseph replied that since they have received a recommendation for denial for this that they need to ask the Board of Supervisors for a work session before the public hearing.

 

Action on Special Use Permit:

Motion: Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Cannon seconded, to deny the applicant’s request for SP-2006-008, SOCA South Fork Expansion, on the basis of the justification stated in the staff report with the additional comment concerning the significant danger in pulling people across Polo Grounds Road underneath the overpass by the railroad. 

 

Mr. Zobrist pointed out that this overpass by the railroad on Polo Grounds Road is probably the most dangerous overpass in the County.  It would be a serious mistake to draw people to this area since the public would take the quickest route to the facility.

 

The motion carried by a vote of 7:0.

 

Action on Waiver Request:

Motion: Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to deny the applicant’s request for a critical slopes waiver for SP-2006-008, SOCA South Fork Expansion, on the basis of the staff’s recommendation in points #1 and #2 on page 10 of the staff report.

 

The motion to deny the waiver was approved by a vote of 6:1.  (Commissioner Strucko voted nay.)

 

Mr. Kamptner said that the next item is making recommendations to the Board regarding the conditions.

 

Ms. Joseph said that the Commission does not want to recommend the conditions. 

 

 

Ms. Joseph asked if the Commission wants to discuss the jurisdictional area or just assume that since they are recommending denial that the Board will assume that they are recommending denial of extending the jurisdictional area also.

 

Mr. Zobrist agreed that the Commission does not need to weigh in on it.

 

Mr. Cannon felt that it was explicit in what the Commission has done in the decision.

 

Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2006-008, SOCA, South Fork Expansion, will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on February 14, 2007 with a recommendation for denial.

 

Steve Von Storch said that each of the Commissioners probably had their list of concerns for a project like this.  He asked how an applicant goes about engaging in a dialogue.

 

Ms. Joseph replied that the Commission holds work sessions, which comes before the public hearing. So this could have been done in a work session where they could have had that dialogue.

 

Mr. Von Storch noted that they have been working with the county on this for over a year.  He asked if it was up to the applicant to figure that out.  They have emailed all of the Commissioners asking for an opportunity for dialogue.

 

Ms. Joseph replied that since they have received a recommendation for denial for this that they should to ask the Board of Supervisors for a work session before the public hearing.

 

 

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