Albemarle County Planning Commission
April 3, 2007
The Albemarle County Planning Commission held a meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, April 3, 2007, at 6:00 p.m., at the County Office Building, Auditorium, Second Floor, 401 McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia. Members attending were Bill Edgerton, Jon Cannon, Eric Strucko, Pete Craddock, Calvin Morris, Vice-Chairman and Marcia Joseph, Chairman. Duane Zobrist was absent. Julia Monteith, AICP, Senior Land Use Planner for the University of Virginia was absent.
Other officials present were Wayne Cilimberg, Planning Director; David Benish, Chief of Planning; David E. Pennock, Principal Planner; Amelia McCulley, Zoning Administrator/Chief of Zoning and Current Development; Allan Shuck, County Engineer; Jack Kelsey, County Transportation Planner; Pat Lawrence, Planner; Summer Frederick, Planner; Sean Dougherty, Senior Planner; Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner and Greg Kamptner, Deputy County Attorney.
Call to Order and Establish Quorum:
Ms. Joseph called the meeting order at 6:06 p.m. and established a quorum.
ZMA 2005-00015, Hollymead Town Center Area A-1 (Signs #15, 51, 53, 73):
PROPOSAL: Rezone 31 acres from RA - Rural Areas (agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre)) to PDMC - Planned District Mixed Commercial (large-scale commercial uses; and residential by special use permit (15 units/ acre)) to allow for 278,000 square feet of office retail.
EXISTING COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY: Town Center -- Compact, higher density area containing a mixture of businesses, services, public facilities, residential areas and public spaces, attracting activities of all kinds. (6.01-34 dwelling units per acre).
ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes.
LOCATION: Tax Map 32, parcels 42A, 42C, a portion of Tax Map 32, parcel 44, a portion of Tax Map 32, parcel 45, and Tax Map 46, parcel 5, located to the south of the southern entrance to the Hollymead Town Center (Town Center Drive) and north of Powell Creek along Route 29 North.
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio. The Comprehensive Plan's Town Center designation is accompanied with the "Conceptual Master Plan & Design Guidelines for the Hollymead Town Center".
SP 2005-00027, Hollymead Town Center Area A - Drive Up Window for Bank (Signs #15, 51, 53, 73):
PROPOSED: Drive-up banking facility with three lanes.
ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE: A rezoning application has been submitted to rezone these parcels from RA - Rural Areas - agricultural, forestal, and fishery uses; residential density (0.5 unit/acre) to PD-MC Planned Development Mixed Commercial (large-scale commercial uses; and residential by special use permit 15 units/ acre). SECTION: Section 25A.2.2 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for drive-in windows serving or associated with permitted uses within PDMC.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY: Town Center -- Compact, higher density area containing a mixture of businesses, services, public facilities, residential areas and public spaces, attracting activities of all kinds. (6.01-34 dwelling units per acre).
ENTRANCE CORRIDOR: Yes.
LOCATION: Inside the Hollymead Town Center, along Town Center Drive (Southern entrance to Hollymead Town Center) approximately 300 feet from Route 29 North.
TAX MAP\PARCEL: A portion of Tax Map 32, Parcel 42A (exact location on file in the Department of Community Development) and a portion of Tax Map 32, Parcel 42C (exact location on file in the Department of Community Development) equaling .5 acres.
MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT: Rio
STAFF: Sean Dougherty
DEFERRED FROM THE MARCH 6, 2007 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING.
Mr. Dougherty summarized the staff report and gave a power point presentation to introduce the site and provide the following update:
Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for staff.
Mr. Edgerton thanked Mr. Dougherty for the great staff report and the graphics that were very helpful. On page 3 in the paragraph regarding the specifics of the proposal staff mentions the reduction from 97,000 to 88,500 square feet for the large retail store. He was trying to remember when the rezoning was granted for the Hollymead Town Center, which included this land as well, the original comprehensive plan amendment that had been approved a number of years earlier had included one larger big box that the applicant at that time said was critical for the success of this project. There were a number of Commissioners at the granting of the rezoning who was concerned about the size of that. Obviously since the comprehensive plan amendment allowed that they really had no grounds to argue that point now. Certainly the Target that has been built in Area B exceeds by a great deal the prescribed amount as in the Comp Plan. His recollection was that nothing larger than 75,000 square feet could be built.
Mr. Dougherty replied that there were three different designations there. One is regional service, which this is included in. There is neighborhood service to serve residential development. The size of the big boxes was not limited in the regional service area. It is in those other areas little bit further away from Route 29. This was anticipated. In Area A-2 that is where there is specific limitations placed on the retail.
Mr. Edgerton asked if this was consistent with the CPA that was originally approved.
Mr. Dougherty replied that it was. For reference the Target is 112,000 square feet whereas this is 88,500 square feet. But, he has not come across anything to indicate that it is not okay.
Mr. Morris asked for clarification on one thing regarding what they were requesting of the applicant as far as Meeting Street and the widening of it. Last time this was before us what we were talking about was a street with a median with one lane going each way with on street parking as well as a bike lane. Then there was the curb and gutter and so forth. This was so somewhere down the line if they wanted to widen this street they could remove the on street parking and bike lanes so they could have two lanes going both ways. Has that been changed or is that still what they are looking at.
Mr. Dougherty replied that he thought what he was saying was true for Area A-2, which is after the intersection of Town Center Drive and it widens. But, south of Town Center Drive this had been envisioned as basically one lane in each direction prior to recommendations coming out of Places29. Also, through the review of the rezoning it did not appear as though this section of road would be completely appropriate to have on street parking partly because the parking was internal to this development and it was also internal to the development across Meeting Street. So what they have proposed is just one lane in each direction with a median. Staff is saying what would solve this is one lane in each direction with an allowance for a bike lane that would be in place after a lane of on street parking would potentially be converted to a travel lane. But, what he thought was happening right now is there has been some rejection of the notion that Meeting Street should be a complete four-lane section the whole way through from Berkmar. Staff does not have the exact solution in place. But, the applicant has said that he was willing to work with staff through figuring out exactly what is going to be the best solution. Essentially what VDOT has said is that as long as they show a travel way in each direction and a median and bike lane that does not get erased by a future travel lane and a lane of parking, they can work with that and that would make VDOT comfortable.
Mr. Dougherty continued that the other thing to keep in mind is that when staff looked at Area A-2 there was a suggestion of a Lockwood Connector, which would have taken some of the traffic volume out of this section of road around the Town Center. With that being rejected this potential future widening of the road to have a lane in each direction and a parking lane that is converted to another lane in each direction for a total of four lanes would solve the problem. What is happening also is that they are having recommendations coming out of Places29 and people on the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors kind of adjusting that information and trying to figure out what is appropriate. Right now they can say that four lanes may be needed in the future, but there may be some other design of these road perhaps three lanes with two in each direction with a turn lane. At this point staff does not know. If the applicant can commit to the section that they have north of Town Center Drive essentially through the core for this hearing, which he says that he can, staff can work through that between now and the Board of Supervisors and get commitments to exactly what the appropriate thing would be in case the Board rejects the idea that Meeting Street should be a four-lane. That is not what has come out of the traffic modeling and the consultant’s work. Staff does not know exactly what that road is going to look like. But, at this point they have a commitment from the applicant that will allow us to get the right solution. But, they don’t have from the consultants, VDOT, the Commission and Board to exactly what the nature of Meeting Street is going to end up being.
Ms. Joseph said that the proffer does say that they have committed to two north bound and two south bound travel lanes with one north bound and one south bound bicycle lane initially. One lane in each direction will be utilized as on street parking. That is what they have been looking for.
Mr. Dougherty noted that the plan does not reflect that. All indications say that they can work this out. The answer is forthcoming, but that gives us the assurance that they can work this out.
Mr. Craddock asked if the upper north corner near the traffic circle is a true public place
Mr. Dougherty replied that it would not be public property. If the County accepted it they would have to go out there and leaf blow it and weed it. The Parks and Recreation folks do not have the time to really do that. The policy right now is that they are not incorporating small area spaces like that as true public space. It would be a public area for this shopping center that would be maintained. In the sense of public it would be open to the public, but technical not belong to the public. The county does not have a mechanism to accept it as a space that the county maintains at this point.
Mr. Craddock noted that it would still be controlled by the property owner. He asked if down on the right in and right out on 29 when this was approved was there suppose to be an extra lane the whole length of the property. From looking at it he did not think that it went from one end of the property to the other.
Mr. Dougherty replied yes, that was proffer 1A. There was a commitment in 1A to do that. That roadway ends up near Powell Creek and there would need to be some tapering.
Mr. Cannon asked is this the site that has the erosion problems.
Mr. Dougherty replied yes, that that it is the area where some erosion problems have happened. He was not sure who was responsible. Certainly there has been some erosion from this. Most of the erosion from this goes down to the sediment basin and down to Powell Creek if it goes any where. He did not think anyone had made a determination of exactly which sedimentation comes from which parts of it and where it goes. Other sedimentation goes from the sediment basin at the corner of Timberwood Boulevard and Route 29 to other areas. Certainly there has been a problem maintaining ground cover on this property. The majority of it does flow into that very large storm water management facility. It is along Route 29 and adjacent to Powell Creek as it crosses under Route 29.
Mr. Cannon asked what it is about the enhanced erosion and sediment control plan that needs strengthening.
Mr. Dougherty replied that the only thing that the applicant has not accepted is in terms of proffer 7. The applicant has not accepted the minimum disturbance area of 15 acres. All he could say is that the amount of space that is disturbed over time is relative to the amount of impact of any torrential down pour or any sort of storm that comes through. The extent to which that can be limited that would limit the impact he would have to defer to Jack Kelsey to really answer any more of that.
Ms. Joseph said that the entire acreage is 31 acres. So that would be one half of the site.
Mr. Dougherty agreed.
Ms. Joseph asked if there were any other questions. She asked if there was a solar collector in one of the renderings.
Mr. Dougherty replied that it looks like it, but he had not asked the architect who actually drew those. He was not sure if the applicant was committed to such a thing.
Ms. Joseph asked staff to reiterate that he has spoken to the Service Authority and they said that they have adequate capacity for this particular proposal.
Mr. Dougherty replied that he has an email that he could send around that indicates that.
Mr. Joseph asked staff to make sure that the Board gets a copy of that information. There being no further questions for staff, she opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.
J. P. Williamson, representative for the applicant HM Acquisition, LLC, said that he had a couple of points of clarification.
Ms. Joseph asked if there were any questions for the applicant.
Mr. Craddock asked what they were going to do with the house.
Mr. Williamson replied that the house was being removed. The solicited both Habitat of Humanity and other non-profits and they are attempting to reuse and recycle the components of the house that can be used. But, the house is being removed.
Ms. Joseph invited public comment.
Morgan Butler, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said that this plan no doubt has some positive characteristics. They are pleased to see in the proffers an increased commitment to green building and transit. They commend the applicant for incorporating these features into the plan. However, they feel that this rezoning is not appropriate at this time for the following reasons:
They question the immediate need for yet another regional shopping center in this area, especially when over 1.5 million square feet of new retail space has recently been approved for the 29 North Corridor. Notably, as part of the Places29 Master Plan consultants are currently working on estimates of the amount of new retail, if any, that the county can absorb over the coming decades. As they set forth in the report released last spring there are serious consequences to approving more retail space than the county can absorb. They urge the County to wait to see what comes out of the master plan process before approving new retail space in an already saturated corridor.
Waiting for the completion of the master plan would also help clarify this project’s place in the evolving transportation picture for 29 North. The Comprehensive Plan Amendment approved for the town center several years ago suggested certain transportation improvements to address impacts within and on the periphery of this site. However, the Places29 drafts released to date show a number of costly improvements throughout the corridor that are necessary to address the cumulative traffic impacts from Hollymead and other new developments. Clearly they need new development projects on 29 north to help off set these costs. They should therefore wait to approve any large project along this corridor until the Places29 Study specifies the needed improvements in the role of proffers and paying for them. Further, waiting for the Places29 Study would give County planners an opportunity to react to the removal of the Lockwood Connector from the larger western parallel road network and to devise the most appropriate solution. If they move forward with this rezoning now they are essentially forcing upon them the Meeting Street widening as a solution.
In sum, they think there are numerous reasons why this rezoning is not appropriate at this time and they urge the Commission not to recommend it to the Board. However, if the Commission is inclined to approve it they would first recommend that steps be taken to infer that the Hollymead Town Center ultimately achieved an appropriate balance between commercial and residential uses. Specifically, they recommend that the two remaining pieces of this site, Area A-1 and A-2 be reunified into a single rezoning plan so that the development of any further retail space can be more easily made contingent upon the construction of the residential units that are proposed in the A-2 plan.
Ms. Joseph invited other public comment. There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.
Mr. Dougherty added that the concerns about this section and the A-2 section in providing the right balance and that sort of things if both of these come in together they are going to have a much better balance. The idea would be that with the June 13 Board date that potentially Area A-1, which they were looking at tonight, could go before the Board with Area A-2 once it has been through the Commission. If those could be wrapped up into one final decision by the Board that would in essence be for 1,248 units or whatever the eventual number ends up being for A-2, versus the amount of retail square footage here. Staff has not done the analysis. But, they would not want to see A-1 get approved and A-2 somehow languish. They would want the two to somehow come together. The applicant is prepared and wants to work towards getting both of these to the Board by June 13. It may be a little ambitious for A-2, but that is their logic right now in terms of assuring that both of these are wrapped up and that A-2 does not come back with a completely different proposal that would not be what they are expecting now.
Mr. Cannon asked if they should act on A-1 and A-2 together.
Mr. Dougherty replied that in order to get this one out of the way in terms of staff review time it probably would be helpful for the Commission to act on it now. But, the Commission could act on them both together as well. There are a couple of issues that staff said they were going to take care of before the Board. Personally, he would rather that there is some conclusion on this so that full time can be spent on A-2, which is really a big project.
Mr. Morris said that staff’s recommendations were well thought out and were good.
Mr. Craddock concurred.
Ms. Joseph said that she looks at all of the retail space out there and thinks that it is something that they don’t want to encourage. But, there are so many other things that have been offered in proffers that they don’t normally see come so readily, such as LEED Certification and money allocated to transit. The staff report was very well written, but it was also pleasing to see all of this and that there were no contentious items.
Mr. Edgerton agreed with a lot of what Ms. Joseph said. But, he shared Mr. Butler’s concern over building retail in our community and the long term implications of that. He was not sure what role they can and can’t play in that. Years ago a comprehensive plan amendment was amended to include what they are looking at right now. This applicant to his credit has done just about everything they asked him to do from the work sessions. He thought that they were very fortunate to have that kind of cooperation. He agreed with staff’s recommendation. He did not know how to solve the overbuilding of the retail issue, but he was not sure the Commission has the authority to solve once something like this has gone into the Comp Plan. It is consistent with the Comp Plan, which is supposed to be their guide. As far as the Places29 he was pretty sure that what is being proposed is consistent with the parallel network at least on the west side of 29. He did not see anything that is in conflict with the Places29 master plan. Therefore, he was not as concerned about that. With that in mind he was able to support staff’s recommendation.
Mr. Strucko said that he was in general agreement with Mr. Edgerton. The market plays a tremendous role in the commercial and residential space. He liked a lot of what he was seeing in this proposal in its entirety. It would encourage potentially an employment center, commerce centers as well as residential centers all within the same general area. This is a population center in our area with Forest Lakes, Hollymead along with other areas. He hoped that the commercial presence that eventually gets developed here will be a support of those residents. He was not terribly concerned about supporting regional retail with folks coming from other communities. They don’t represent them. They represent the residents of Albemarle County. He agreed that this applicant has done a lot of what policy, the ordinance and staff directed them to do. He was very satisfied with that.
Mr. Cannon felt strongly that the remaining issue about the surface disturbance needs to be resolved appropriately to protect from further adverse effects of sedimentation on this site. This is a big site and needs to be handled properly. He felt that it was in the capacity of the developer to do that and hoped that would be done.
Ms. Joseph noted that the Commission agrees with what the staff report says in terms of there are a couple of items that really need to be worked out. That has to do with what is exposed while they are building. She did not think there was anything else.
Mr. Dougherty noted that the Commission needs to take action on whether they support the modification to reduce the setback from 30’ to 10’ on Meeting Street.
Mr. Kamptner noted that the setback reduction was a separate item. Even though the Comprehensive Plan has planned this area for a particular use, in making a zoning decision one of the ten or so factors that the Commission can consider are the present and future needs of the community, in particular land uses. This issue came up at the Board level at North Pointe regarding the amount of retail that is out there, but it is only one among ten factors to consider.
Action on ZMA-2005-015:
Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, to approve ZMA-2005-015, Hollymead Town Center Area A-1, with all of the recommendations in the staff report dated April 3, 2007 and all of the issues that have been discussed tonight, which issues should all be resolved prior to the Board of Supervisors public hearing.
The motion passed by a vote of 6:0. (Mr. Zobrist was absent.)
Ms. Joseph stated that ZMA-2005-015, Hollymead Town Center Area A-1, would go to the Board of Supervisors with a favorable recommendation.
Action on Setback Modification:
Motion: Mr. Morris moved, Mr. Craddock seconded, to approve the modification to reduce the setbacks along Meeting Street from 30’ to 10’.
The motion passed by a vote of 6:0. (Mr. Zobrist was absent.)
Action on SP-2005-00027:
Motion: Mr. Edgerton moved, Mr. Morris seconded, to approve SP-2005-027, Hollymead Town Center Area A – Drive Up Window for Bank with the conditions as outlined in the staff report.
The motion passed by a vote of 6:0. (Mr. Zobrist was absent.)
Ms. Joseph stated that SP-2005-027, Hollymead Town Center – Area A – Drive Up Window for Bank, would go before the Board of Supervisors on June 13, 2007 with a recommendation for approval.
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