COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

PLANNING STAFF REPORT SUMMARY

 

Project Name: SP2007-08 Camp Watermarks Amendment

Staff: Amy Ransom Arnold

Planning Commission Public Hearing:

June 12, 2007

Board of Supervisors Public Hearing:

August 1, 2007

Owner: Angela and Travis Critzer; Stuart Tapscot

Applicant: Angela and Travis Critzer

Acreage: approximately 201.984 acres

Special Use Permit: 

TMP: TM 136, Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E

Location: The parcel is located at 1145 James River Drive, west of Route 726 and Hatton Ferry Road

Existing Zoning and By-right use: Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

Magisterial District: Scottsville

Conditions: Yes

DA (Development Area):  

RA (Rural Areas): X

Requested # of Dwelling Units:  NA     

Proposal: The applicant is requesting to amend an existing Special Use Permit to allow a maximum of 75 campers, 20 staff, 20’ x 40’ (800 square feet) accessory building, one additional cabin, and one weekly food delivery by truck

Comprehensive Plan Designation: Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (0.5 unit/ acre)

Character of Property: The property is comprised of evergreen and deciduous forest, open pasture, agricultural fields, agricultural buildings, camp buildings, residential buildings, and a railroad crossing.  The eastern edge of the property includes a deep wooded ravine with a perennial stream draining to the adjacent banks of the James River. 

Use of Surrounding Properties: The surrounding properties consist of agricultural, forestal and residential uses.  Immediately adjacent and to the west is the Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District.

Factors Favorable:

1.   The applicant’s approach to traffic management on James River Road reduces impacts on the neighborhood. 

2.   The camp environment remains well integrated into the surrounding landscape.

3.   The camp experience contributes to Rural Areas goals by heightening awareness and understanding of agricultural processes and natural resources.

4.   Farming and forestry activities will continue at the current levels on the subject parcels.

Factors Unfavorable:

1.   Increase in overall activity levels on and around the site.

 

RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends approval of this Special Use Permit with conditions.

    

 

 

      STAFF PERSON: Amy Ransom Arnold                

PLANNING COMMISSION: June 12, 2007                                            

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: August 1, 2007

 

SP 2007-08 Camp Watermarks Amendment

 

Petition: 

PROJECT: SP 2007-08 Camp Watermarks Amendment

PROPOSED: Amend existing Special Use Permit to allow maximum 75 campers, 20 staff, 20 x 40 accessory building, one additional cabin, and weekly food delivery

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: RA -- Rural Areas: agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)

SECTION: 31.2.4.1; 10.2.2.20; 5.1.05

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Rural Areas - preserve and protect agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources/ density (5 unit/ acre)

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes____No__x__

LOCATION: 1145 James River Drive, west of Route 726 and Hatton Ferry Road

TAX MAP/PARCEL: TM 136, Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Scottsville

 

Character of the Area:

James River Road is a two lane, asphalt surfaced, and rolling road leading to the center of the near-by town of Scottsville located to the east.  The surrounding landscape is predominately agricultural fields, hedgerows, agricultural and residential buildings, and large patches of mixed evergreen and deciduous forest.  There are several ponds and local streams throughout the area.  The Hatton Agricultural and Forestal District is immediately adjacent to the Critzer property on western and eastern boundaries.  The CSX railroad tracks and the banks of the James River form the Albemarle / Nelson County boundary to the south.

 

Specifics of the Proposal:

Angela and Travis Critzer are requesting to amend an existing Special Use Permit to allow a maximum of 75 campers and 20 staff per each week long session, the addition of a 20’ x 40’ (800 square feet) accessory building for arts and crafts activities, the addition of one cabin, and one weekly truck delivery for food.  The camp would otherwise remain a camp for girls and boys from ages 8 - 18 in an agricultural/faith based setting with 16 week long sessions per year.  Both campers and camp staff will continue to travel to and from the site by a single bus.      

 

Camp activities and existing accommodations currently include nine cabins, a recreation hall / dining facility, basketball and skate boarding areas, a fishing lake, fire pit, and nearby animal paddock.  This proposal would add an arts and crafts facility, an additional cabin, and the opportunity for camp fires by the banks of the James River.  Overall, Camp Watermarks would continue to provide nature and agricultural experiences for children who normally have limited exposure to agricultural / outdoor environments.   

 

Each of the nine cabins currently located on the property measures approximately 14 x 16 feet with an 8’ porch; the additional cabin is proposed at the same size.  Each cabin includes wall to wall carpeting and an air-conditioning unit.  Five cabins are currently provided for girls; this proposal includes increasing the total cabins provided for boys to five for a total of ten cabins. The cabins are used for storage related to the operation of the farm when camp is not in session.  Food service for the camp sessions is provided in the Recreation / Dining Hall which includes a lounge area, stage for music and dramatic performances, a large open area, and kitchen facilities. 

 

      Planning and Zoning History:

Tax Map 136 Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E have been farm and forest land owned by the same family for over 100 years.  A Special Use Permit to operate a faith based agriculture camp within the farm (SP 2005-034 Camp Watermarks) was approved by the Board of Supervisors by vote of 6:0 on May 3 of 2006, subject to ten conditions recommended by the Planning Commission.  The Board of Supervisors subsequently approved increasing the number of week long sessions allowed at Camp Watermarks from four (4) to sixteen (16) per year by a vote of 6:0 on March 14, 2007.  The conditions of this approval are included in the conditions recommended in this staff report.         

 

Conformity with the Comprehensive Plan:

The Comprehensive Plan designates the subject properties as Rural Areas emphasizing the preservation and protection of agricultural, forestal, open space, and natural, historic and scenic resources as land use options.   Under the Rural Areas Section of the Comprehensive Plan expanding the number of campers, staff, buildings, and food delivery at Camp Watermarks supports the following Guiding Principles for the Rural Areas:

 

 “Protect Albemarle County’s agricultural lands as a resource base for its agricultural industries and for related benefits they contribute towards the County’s rural character, scenic quality, natural environment, and fiscal health.”

 

“Encourage creative and diverse forms of rural production and support rural land uses that provide rural landowners with economic viability.”

 

“Preserve the County’s rural scenic resources as being essential to the County’s character, economic vitality, and quality of life.”

 

Local rural character and scenic qualities are not significantly impacted by the camp due to the low visibility of the facilities and activities from neighboring properties and near-by roads.  In addition, the operation of the camp contributes to the economic viability of the Critzer farm by providing an additional source of revenue.   

 

“Protect the quality and supply of surface water and groundwater resources.”

 

“Protect Albemarle County’s forest as a resource base for its forestry industries and watershed     protection.”

 

A total of 183.123 acres of the 201.984 acres within the six subject parcels are currently wooded. The construction of two additional buildings, increasing the number of both campers and staff, and the addition of one food delivery by truck per week will not impact the wooded acreage on these parcels.  Conducting camp sessions without disturbing existing wooded stands contributes to the overall protection and quality of local drinking water resources.  The character of the surrounding district as well as the health of the James River watershed are in large part determined by an expanse of deciduous woodland partially located on the Critzer property.  The northernmost parcels include areas of this mature mixed deciduous forest with cultivated pines located on the south end of the Critzer property. 

 

STAFF COMMENT:

Staff will address each provision of Section 31.2.4.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

31.2.4.1: Special Use Permits provided for in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,

The current special use permit provisions outline the primary system of transportation for campers and camp staff as follows: Campers and camp staff gather off site at the beginning of each session and are transported by bus to Camp Watermarks eliminating the traffic that would be generated by multiple parent drop-offs and the coming and going of camp staff.  The bus makes a maximum of five additional round trips per week long session to allow for off site field trips, each session ending by retuning campers and staff to their point of origin off site.  The total of approximately sixty four (64) bus trips each year (allowing six round trips per session: the initial pick up and drop off and five field trips per session) will continue to occur with this proposal.  Any needed additional parking is currently accommodated in three parking areas located on site. (Attachment A.).  Neither the overall approach to the transportation of campers and staff or the total number of bus trips changes with this proposal. 

 

Currently, food delivery trips are made by the Critzer family.  This amendment request includes the addition of one weekly food delivery truck bringing kitchen supplies to the camp.  Although the number of trips to and from the camp does not change, the deliveries will likely be made in a panel truck; food trips previously were made in the family mini-van.  

 

The Critzer property currently has several legally non-conforming outdoor lighting fixtures and luminaries installed previous to the establishment of the camp and related to farming activities.  All of the lighting installed thus far directly related to camp activities meet ordinance requirements for outdoor lighting.  The Critzers intend to replace the non-conforming lighting over time, but have requested not to do so at this time.

 

Sound restrictions will remain consistent with the provisions of the existing special use permit. 

 

It is the opinion of staff that the impacts to adjacent property result from the increased intensity of activity on the Critzer farm during each single week session, rather than increased traffic volumes or outdoor lighting.  The camp facilities, however, are located deep within the site and throughout the review of the previous Camp Watermarks proposals the majority of neighboring property owners have expressed their support for the camp. Staff has received a phone call from nearest neighbor Paul Bryant (TMP 136-6E).  Mr. Bryant expressed his full support for Camp Watermarks adding he feels the camp is good for the kids, good for the community, and a good way to preserve rural land and rural character.       

 

that the character of the district will not be changed thereby and

As with the existing camp operation agricultural and forestal, activities on the Critzer property will not be reduced and will remain the context of camp activities.  The applicant has worked to minimize the presence of the Camp Watermarks within the farm and the local community in the following ways: 

 

·   The cabins and recreation hall are located deep within the site, and are surrounded on all four sides by stands of deciduous and evergreen forest.  In addition to the existing forest cover, the Critzers have planted a continuous line of evergreen screening trees along the north and eastern edges of the camp.

 

 

·   The cabins have been constructed with minimal tree removal, are tucked into the edge of a deciduous stand of trees, and closely reflect vernacular farm building architecture.  Each cabin is built on raised pilings, minimizing their construction impact, making them easily removed.  The additional 800 square foot building is proposed located on the north (wooded) edge of the camp facilities.

 

·   Recreation facilities like an existing ropes course are constructed deep in the existing tree coverage, are built to blend with the environment, and for their ease of removal. 

 

·   The surface of the entrance drive is paved with “prime & seal” (compressed asphalt emulsion & gravel), retaining the look of an informal paving characterized by near-by roads and driveways.  This material choice allows the drive to blend with the surrounding context while simultaneously meeting minimum VDOT requirements.

 

Because of these continuing efforts by the Critzers to minimize the presence of the camp, it is staff’s opinion that the operation of Camp Watermarks at the proposed increase of intensity will not impact the character of the district. 

 

that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,

Section 18, Chapter 10 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the purpose of Rural Areas zoning: “This district (hereafter referred to as RA) is hereby created and may hereafter be established by amendment of the zoning map for the following purposes:

 

-Preservation of agricultural and forestal lands and activities;

-Water supply protection;

-Limited service delivery to the rural areas; and

-Conservation of natural, scenic, and historic resources. (Amended 11-8-89)”

 

Existing levels of farming and forestry will remain constant on the subject parcels.  The camp is located within a working farm operated by the applicant and their family.  The Tapscott/Critzer family has been farming on this land for over 100 years.  Farming activities on the site currently include raising goats, cattle, and donkeys, harvesting hay, the cultivation of several crops, and tree farming. 

 

Camp Watermarks was established with, among other goals, the intention to promote the community’s awareness of agricultural processes and natural resources.  This goal directly supports the purpose and intent of this ordinance: through their camp experiences campers have the opportunity to gain understanding of the relationship of rural/agricultural land to the larger community.  It is staff’s opinion adding additional numbers of campers, necessary facilities, and support staff will create additional opportunities to increase public awareness of the importance of rural land to Albemarle through the education of local young people.    

    

with uses permitted by right in the district,

The property and the adjacent properties are zoned RA, Rural Areas.  Given the relationship between the camp and the promotion of agricultural and forestal activities and the existing measures minimizing the impact camp on the surrounding community staff feels increasing the number of campers per session to 75, the number of staff per session to 20, adding one additional cabin, adding an additional 800 square foot building, and allowing for one food delivery per week by truck would not affect the uses permitted by right in the district.

 

 

with the additional regulations provided in section 5.0 of this ordinance,

Regulations in Section 5.0 of the Ordinance that apply to the establishment of a (day or overnight) camp in the Rural Areas are as follows (5.1.05 Day Camp, Boarding Camp):

 

“a. Provisions for outdoor cooking, campfires, cooking pits, etc., shall be subject to Albemarle County fire official approval whether or not a site development plan is required;

 

b. All such uses shall conform to the requirements of the Virginia Department of Health Bureau of Tourist Establishment Sanitation and other applicable requirements.”

 

Conditions of approval have been included to address each of these supplemental regulations. (Conditions 2, 3, 4, and 11).  Both the Department of Fire and Rescue and the Virginia State Department of Health have provided staff with documentation of approvals for fire safety, septic, and water use for the proposed increase in intensity.     

 

and with the public health, safety and general welfare.

The VDOT Charlottesville Residency has reviewed the applicant’s proposal and has approved the existing entrance drive for the proposed intensity of use. 

    

Camp nursing, EMT, trained camp counselors, and a youth minister will continue to travel to the site on the bus, along with the campers, and remain throughout the course of each session as with previous camp sessions.  Given the continuing approach to transporting campers and staff to and from the site the need for permanent parking areas is minimal; however there are three existing paved areas near-by or within the camp facilities should additional parking be needed. (Attachment A.) 

 

SUMMARY:

Staff has identified the following factors favorable to this application:

1.    The applicant’s approach to traffic management on James River Road reduces impacts on the neighborhood. 

2.    The camp environment remains well integrated into the surrounding landscape.

3.    The camp experience contributes to Rural Areas goals by heightening awareness and understanding of agricultural processes and natural resources.

4.    Farming and forestry activities will continue at the current levels on the subject parcels.

 

Staff has identified the following factors unfavorable to this application:

1.    Increase in overall activity levels on and around the site.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: 

Based on the findings contained in this staff report, staff recommends approval of Special Use Permit 2007-08 Camp Watermarks Amendment with the following conditions (changes as compared to SP2006-37 are noted with strike through and in bold italics):

 

1.       The improvements, and the scale and location of the improvements authorized by Special Use Permit 2007-08 Camp Watermarks, shall be in general accord with the concept application plan dated February 22, 2006 May 29, 2007, prepared by Angela and Travis Critzer, and titled “Watermarks Christian Ministries Camp” (Attachment D) (Attachment A).  However, the Zoning Administrator may approve revisions to the concept application plan to allow compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. 

 

2.       Compliance with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code shall be verified by the Fire Marshall prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearance and the commencement of the special use. 

3.       Prior to issuance of the zoning compliance clearance, compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding minimum septic requirements shall be required. prior to the commencement of the special use.  The VDH shall re-review the status of septic standards within one year of the date of the approval of the special use permit.  At that time, and if necessary, systems shall be upgraded or enrolment reduced based on VDH recommendations.

4.       Prior to issuance of the zoning compliance clearance, compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding kitchen and food service approvals shall be verified. by the Health Department prior to clearance and the commencement of the Special Use Permit.

5.       Total number of staff (in addition to the applicant and their family) on site at one time shall be limited to ten (10) twenty (20).  

6.       Camp sessions shall be limited to a maximum of sixteen (16), each one (1) week long, overnight sessions per year.

7.       The maximum number of children per session shall be limited to forty five (45) seventy five (75).

8.       The maximum number of bus or van trips (round trips) to and from the camp, each week long session shall be six (6).  Bus or van trips shall be the primary means of transportation for the children.

9.       Five food deliveries by truck shall be permitted per week long session.

10.   Camp activities are permitted on Tax Map 136, Parcels 6B, 9, 9A2, 9D, 9D1, 9E.

11.   Outdoor amplified sounds or bull horns shall be prohibited.

12.   Compliance with the Virginia State Department of Health regarding water supply shall be verified by the Health Department prior to issuance of a zoning compliance clearing and the commencement of the special use. The VDH shall re-review the status of water standards within one year of the date of the approval of the special use permit.  At that time, and if necessary, systems shall be upgraded or enrolment reduced based on VDH recommendations.

13.   This special use permit does not include approval for additional lighting subject to Chapter 18, Section 4.17 of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A – Concept application plan

Attachment A1 – Non-Watermarks buildings and site context

Attachment B – Camp Watermarks: aerial detail

Attachment C – Camp Watermarks: aerial context

Attachment D - Site photographs

Attachment E – Board of Supervisors action letter for SP 2005-34

View PC minutes of January 9, February 6 and June 12, 2007

Return to PC actions letter