SDP-2006-071 Gillispie Preliminary Site Development Plan Critical Slopes Waiver




Appeal of Planning Commission Denial of Critical Slopes Waiver




Tucker, Foley, Davis, Kamptner, Graham, McCulley, Shepherd







July 11, 2007


ACTION:     X                       INFORMATION: 



  ACTION:                            INFORMATION: 











The applicant is appealing the Planning Commission’s May 8, 2007 denial of a critical slopes waiver sought in conjunction with a site plan for a 7-unit condominium project.  The property is identified as Tax Map 61K, Section 10, Parcels A and A2 and is located at the end of Inglewood Drive in the Jack Jouett Magisterial District.  The property site is 1.71 acres in size and is zoned R-4, Residential.


This project was before the Board on an appeal once before on February 7, 2007.  At that time, the issues on appeal were the Planning Commission’s denial of a critical slopes waiver and denial of a waiver from the requirement for curb and gutter.  Related to these waivers, there was concern by the Planning Commission, County staff, and the public that drainage from the property would adversely impact a downstream property.  At the February 7, 2007 meeting, the Board deferred action on the appeal upon the applicant’s agreement to revise the plan to address the concerns expressed by County staff.


On March 15, 2007, the applicant submitted a revised plan which provided curb and gutter meeting the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance and directed drainage through the proposed entrance of the property and into an existing public drainage system.  These revisions eliminated the need for the waiver from the curb and gutter requirement and resolved the concern that drainage would adversely impact a downstream property.  The plan was also revised to reconfigure the original two buildings into one, thereby decreasing the amount of critical slopes and providing adequate area for the installation of erosion and sediment control measures.  The existing swale to the rear of the building will not be channelized into a pipe and staff determined that improvements to the existing swale should be enough to ensure adequate channels for the downstream property.  



Goal Four: Effectively manage growth and development.



On May 8, 2007, the Planning Commission denied the applicant’s revised request for a critical slopes waiver (See Attachments B, C, D) as provided below:  


The Planning Commission’s denial was based on the grounds that the three findings set forth in Section 4.2.5(b) could not be made as follows: (The ordinance sections are provided below in Italics)


1. Strict application of the requirements of section 4.2 would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public health, safety or welfare, or that alternatives proposed by the developer would satisfy the purposes of section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree; or (Added 11-15-89)


The first finding could not be made, as noted in the staff report, because there were no proposed alternatives presented by the developer that would satisfy the purpose of Section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree.


2. Due to its unusual size, topography, shape of the property, location of the property or other unusual conditions, excluding the proprietary interest of the developer, the requirements of section 4.2 would effectively prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of the property or would result in significant degradation of the site or adjacent proper ties. Such modification or waiver shall not be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare, to the orderly development of the area, or to adjacent properties, or be contrary to sound engineering practices; or (Added 11-15-89)


Regarding the second finding, the Commission was unable to make that finding for the reason that the degradation of the area would be overreaching for the area and that they could reduce the size of the disturbed area. This proposal is developing the project to the maximum extent possible under the R-4 zoning. Therefore, the applicant could scale back the scope of the project.


3. Granting such modification or waiver would serve a public purpose of greater import than would be served by strict application of section 4.2.


Regarding the third finding, the Commission could not find any immediately identifiable reasons that would be considered of greater import in granting the waiver, as noted in the staff report.


In its report to the Planning Commission (Attachment A), staff recommended approval of the critical slopes waiver because the request was consistent with the criteria in Section 4.2.5(a) (Attachment E) for the granting of such a waiver and also sound engineering practices.  Staff continues to recommend approval because:


·                     The area of land disturbance has been reduced since the original plan.  Critical slopes cover approximately 0.65 acres (approximately 36.3%) of the project site; approximately 0.34 acres (approximately 20% of the project site and 52% of the critical slopes) of the project site would be disturbed by the proposed development.  The original plan proposed to disturb approximately 0.41 acres (approximately 24% of the project site and 63% of the critical slopes).


·                     Current Development Engineering staff finds that four of the criteria in Section 4.2.5(a) are either inapplicable or can be addressed in the erosion and sediment control and stormwater management plan stages, and the fifth (loss of an aesthetic resource) is unavoidable to the extent that wooded areas would be lost.  The Current Development Planning staff found that the disturbance of the critical slopes would not be a potential loss of a critical aesthetic resource.


Staff was not able to make findings under Sections 4.2.5(b)(1) or 4.2.5(b)(2) to support the waiver request. There are no proposed alternatives presented by the developer that would satisfy the purpose of Section 4.2 to at least an equivalent degree. Furthermore, while the strict application of 4.2 would not unreasonably restrict the use of the property, it would result in significant redesign and loss of density.  Staff recommends that the Board can make the required finding under Section 4.2.5(b)(3) (Attachment E and set forth above) because the proposed project is an infill project within the development areas as identified in the Comprehensive Plan, proposes a density that is consistent with the property’s Neighborhood Density (3-6 dwelling units per acre) designation in the Comprehensive Plan, and is consistent with the urban character desired for Neighborhood 7 in the Comprehensive Plan.  Staff’s opinion is that approving the critical slopes waiver to allow the development as proposed promotes these public policies. 






Staff recommends that the Board approve the requested waiver.



A-      Staff Report to Planning Commission dated May 8, 2007

B-      Action Letter – May 8, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting

C-      Minutes – May 8, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting

D-      Action Memo – May 8, 2007 Planning Commission Meeting

E-      Section 4.2.5 a and b

F-  Minutes - February 7, 2007 (Draft) Board of Supervisors

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