Regular Items:

 

SDP2007-00065 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center

Request for preliminary site plan approval for construction of a 15,000 square foot historical center on approximately 12 acres within existing Darden Towe Park.  The property, described as Tax Map 62, Parcel 23, is zoned RA, Rural Areas, R-1, Residential, and EC, Entrance Corridor and is located in the Rivanna Magisterial District on the west side of Stony Point Road [Rte. 20], 0.5 miles north of its intersection with Richmond Road [Rte. 250]. The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Parks and Greenway in Urban Area 3. (David Pennock)

AND

            Public Hearing Items:

 

SP-2007-00022 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center – Access Road (Sign # 49, 50, 54)

PROPOSED:  Fill in the floodplain for an access road to the proposed Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE:  R-1 Residential (1 unit/acre)

SECTION:  Section 30.3.06.1 of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for fill in the floodplain

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Parks and Greenways within Pantops (Urban Neighborhood 3)

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR:  Yes

LOCATION:  Within the northern portion of Darden Towe Memorial Park, adjacent to the Rivanna River.

TAX MAP/PARCEL: Tax Map 62, Parcel 23

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT:  Rivanna (Tamara Ambler)

 

AND

 

SP-2007-00024 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center Extension (Sign # 49, 50, 54)

PROPOSED:  Extension of Special Use permit 2004-04 to allow the establishment of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center of Virginia

ZONING CATEGORY/GENERAL USAGE:  RA, Rural Areas, R-1, Residential and EC, Entrance Corridor, and Flood Hazard Overlay

SECTION: 10.2.2.49 and 13.2.2.13, which allow for a historical center, and modification to Section 5.1.42

COMPREHENSIVE PLAN LAND USE/DENSITY:  Parks and Greenways, and Neighborhood Density Residential (3 - 6 d.u. per acre) in Neighborhood Three

ENTRANCE CORRIDOR:  Yes

LOCATION:  Northern end of Darden Towe Park, on the west side of Stony Point Road (Route 20 North), approximately one-half mile north of the intersection with the Richmond Road (Route 250 East)

TAX MAP/PARCEL:  Tax Map 62, Parcel 23

MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT:  Rivanna (Tamara Ambler)

 

Mr. Strucko noted that the three items for Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center would be heard together.

 

Ms. Ambler presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report.

 

·         This first special use permit request, SP-2007-00024 is for a time extension of a previously approved special use permit.  The original special use permit, SP-2004-04 was approved to allow the establishment of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center within the northern portion of Darden Towe Park. The historic center will consist of a 15,000 square foot structure, including an amphitheatre, outdoor interpretative trails, a timber fort, a look out tower and 83 parking spaces. 

·         SP-2004-04 was approved on January 4, 2006.  This special use permit is set to expire in January, 2008.  The applicant has requested that it be extended by an additional 12 months.  The applicant is actively moving forward with this project as can be seen by the other items on the agenda.  The applicant has submitted a request for fill in the floodplain for the access road and also a preliminary site plan for the project.  The reason the applicant has requested an extension is simply to ensure that there is adequate timing for the necessary plan revisions, plan approval and for the commencement of actual construction. 

·         The original approval had 9 conditions that addressed the site layout and design, the number of events that could be held, noise issues and floodplain protection.  Those conditions are listed in the staff report.  All of these conditions are still applicable. 

·         Staff found no factors unfavorable to this request.  Therefore, staff recommends approval with the original 9 conditions of approval plus an additional condition stating that the special use permit SP-2007-24 shall be valid 12 months from the date of its approval.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if there were any questions for staff.  There being none, he opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Donald Sours, volunteer member of the Board of Directors, offered to answer any questions.

 

There being no questions for Mr. Sours, Mr. Strucko asked for public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed and the matter before the Commission.

 

Action on SP-2007-00024:

 

Motion:  Mr. Zobrist moved to approve SP-2007-00024, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center Extension with the conditions as recommended in the staff report.

 

Mr. Kamptner said that the power point slide said that the applicant wanted to extend the special use permit an additional 12 months, which would take it to January 4, 2009.

 

Ms. Ambler agreed that the proposed condition does not do that.

 

Mr. Kamptner noted that this condition would expire about 3 months short of that.

 

Ms. Ambler apologized and noted that she would need to restate that as to extend the original special use permit application to expire January 4, 2009.

 

Amended Motion:  Mr. Zobrist moved, Mr. Cannon seconded to approve SP-2007-00024, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center Extension with the conditions recommended in the staff report, as amended, to show that the extension shall be 12 months from the date of expiration of the original approval and shall expire on January 4, 2009.

 

  1. The site shall be developed in general accord with all sheets of the plan entitled “Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center,” revised October 18, 2005 and prepared by Nelson, Byrd, Woltz. Setbacks indicated in the table on sheets L3.1 and L3.2 do not set increased minimum setbacks;
  2. The top of the Lookout Tower, measured in elevation above mean sea level, shall not exceed [AMSL + 35].  The approved height shall at no time be taller than the tallest tree within twenty-five (25) feet of the Lookout Tower, and shall include any base, foundation or grading that raises the tower above the pre-existing natural ground elevation;
  3. A maximum of twelve (12) special events, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.i, are authorized per calendar year;
  4. A maximum of four (4) festivals, in accordance with Section 5.1.42.j, are authorized per calendar year;
  5. A lighting plan and a landscaping plan shall be submitted, reviewed, and approved by the Architectural Review Board prior to final site plan development plan approval;
  6. In accordance with Section 32.7.9.9, a twenty (20) percent tree canopy shall be required for the site based on the disturbed area for the historical center building, parking, and access road;

7.       Prior to any grading or construction activity, the limits of the one hundred (100)-year flood plain and stream buffers, where adjacent to constructed proposed improvements including the amphitheater, timber fort, lookout tower, entrance road and retaining wall, shall be flagged at ten (10)-foot intervals by a land surveyor to prevent encroachment land disturbing activity, storage of construction equipment or materials, and actual construction of improvements during construction;

8.       Outdoor amplified noise is not allowed on site;

9.       As stipulated in the lease agreement between the applicant and the City and County, the proposed improvements are to be reviewed by the City and County prior to construction to make sure there are alternative uses available for the improvements should the venture fail, and

  1. Special Use Permit 2007-024 shall be valid 12 months from the date of the original approval and shall be expire on January 4, 2009.

The motion passed by a vote of 4:0.  (Mr. Morris, Mr. Edgerton and Ms. Joseph were absent.)

 

Mr. Strucko stated that SP-2007-00024, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center Extension will go before the Board of Supervisors on September 5 with a recommendation for approval.

 

 

Ms. Ambler presented a power point presentation and summarized the staff report on SP-2007-00022.

·         This next special use permit request, SP-2007-00022 is to allow the placement of fill in the floodplain to construct an access road to the previously approved Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. 

·         The focus in on the northern part of Darden Towe Park.  The hashed area shows the extent of the flood plain.  The existing internal gravel access road would be extended.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if any of this activity was in wetlands, and Ms. Ambler replied no that it was in the floodplain, but not the wetlands.

 

Ms. Ambler continued review of the staff report:

·         The access road will serve the Exploratory Center.  The alignment of the proposed access road is in accord with the approved plan that was with the original special use permit allowing the use.  It is an extension of the existing internal road within the floodplain that circled the part to the east and along the Rivanna River.  The new road will extend through the floodplain and then back towards the new center.  The total length of the new access road is about 1,300’ with 580’ of which will require some amount of fill in the floodplain.  The remainder of the road will either not be in the floodplain or be able to be constructed at grade or in cut. 

·         The 2000 FEMA Flood Study Maps include this area in the detailed study and base flood elevations have been determined.  The County Engineer has determined that the placement of the fill for the road will not raise the flood plain elevation. The floodplain is very wide at this location and the fill is very small in comparison.  While the fill will not raise the floodplain elevation it will alter the cross section a tiny bit.  The road is going to be in what is currently clipped grass.  It will not go into the buffering part of the property.  The lower area is where the fill would be needed in the floodplain.  Nothing is being proposed in the floodway.

·         There were no unfavorable factors. There were a couple of conditions that are recommended by the County Engineer.  Because the FEMA Study is based upon the cross section of the floodplain in the detailed study and because the project will change the cross section staff does recommend that it be approved with condition #1, which is a typical condition that they obtain a map revision or a letter of amendment as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and County Engineer.  It is a standard requirement.  Two additional conditions are recommended by the County Engineer.  The fill slope shall be protected against possible scar row during a 100 year storm and must not exceed that shown on the application plan.  The third condition is that federal and state permits be required if necessary.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if there were any questions for staff.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if staff’s conclusion is that the fill in the floodplain will not significantly raise the floodplain elevations.

 

Ms. Ambler replied that was correct.  There is currently an established level of floodplain elevation.  Around that area it ranges between elevation 344’ and 347’.  During a 100 year storm the placement of this encroachment in the floodway won’t cause the elevation to flood anything else that wasn’t flooded before.

 

Mr. Cannon said that the significance of that is it would not be expected to exacerbate flooding conditions in the floodplain or adjacent areas.

 

Ms. Ambler replied that was correct.

 

Mr. Strucko opened the public hearing and invited the applicant to address the Commission.

 

Kay Slaughter, a member of the Board of Directors, reminded the Planning Commission that this alternative of going through the floodplain came at the suggestion of staff and the Planning Commission.  Originally Parks and Rec had not wanted to come in that way, but then they agreed to do that so that there would be an internal road rather than another connection from Route 20.  She wanted to put that in the mix for their historical recollection.

 

There being no questions for Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Strucko invited public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed to bring the matter before the Planning Commission.

 

Action on SP-2007-00022 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center – Access Road:

 

Motion:  Mr. Craddock moved, Mr. Cannon seconded to approve SP-2007-00022, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center – Access Road with the conditions recommended in the staff report.

 

1.     The applicant must obtain a map revision, letter of revision, or letter of amendment as required from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and copy the County Engineer on all correspondence.

2.       The fill slope must be protected against possible scour during the 100-year storm, and must not exceed that shown in the application plan.

3.       Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and other necessary state and federal agency approvals must be obtained prior to issuance of grading permits.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 4:0.  (Mr. Morris, Mr. Edgerton and Ms. Joseph were absent.)

 

Mr. Strucko stated that SP-2007-00022, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center – Access Road will go before the Board of Supervisors on September 5 with a recommendation for approval.

 

SDP-2007-000065 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center

 

Mr. Pennock gave a power point presentation and summarized the staff report on SDP-2007-000065, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center.

 

This is the preliminary site plan approval and two related waivers that go along with that approval.  At the request of a Planning Commission member this item has been called up for review by the Planning Commission. There are two waivers necessary to approve the plan as submitted. 

 

Ms. Ambler presented the general site layout and explained the way it is going to function. From Route 20 the main access is through Elk Drive along the southern end of the site.  At the T intersection there is an existing parking area in the area to the right and a paved road.  Then there is a gravel drive, as discussed by Ms. Ambler, requiring the fill in the floodplain which loops around to the left to soccer fields. The proposed access extends from that point on into a parking area serving the Exploratory Center.

 

·         The current proposal is to build the project in phases.  Phase 1 would be a smaller building within the general footprint of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center and a small parking area associated with that.  Phase 3 would be the completion of the entire building and all the parking.

 

·         The waivers associated with this project have to do with the paving of the travel ways and parking areas and the provision of curb and gutter along the travel ways and the existing gravel drive that serves this site.  There are basically two items associated with this. The parking area is all going to have curb and gutter and hard surfaced ultimately as part of the Phase 3.  The only exceptions to that are some small areas where the curbing was removed in order to accommodate storm water management.  There are bio-filters, etc. proposed.  Those curbs were approved with the approval of staff as an administrative waiver. 

 

·         The travel ways accessing the parking are proposed to be built with asphalt, but not curb and gutter.  This portion of the road that comes in from the existing soccer field is also proposed to be asphalted, but not built with curb and gutter.  Leading into that portion, the existing gravel drive will remain gravel into the future.  Although it is only two waivers it is actually in various pieces. One waiver is to not pave the section of the gravel road as it exists and then temporarily not pave the parking and travel areas built with phase 1 and phase 2.  The other waiver is for curb and gutter.  Ultimately, they would not like to provide curb and gutter along the existing gravel drive or this segment of the road. 

 

·         Based on engineering review of the existing conditions and the requirements of the ordinance staff is not able to recommend approval of the waivers.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if there were any questions for staff.

 

Mr. Cannon noted that the staff report indicates that the applicant is contending that the use of gravel would achieve best practices in storm water management.  He asked if that is a contention that staff has assessed and has a view about.

 

Mr. Pennock replied that Mr. Schuck could probably speak more fully to that.  The basis of that argument in the letter that staff received was that the gravel surface would allow for a slower runoff rate and that there would be some absorption as if the gravel acted as a pervious surface rather than asphalt, which would be impervious.  All of the water would run right off.  However, the engineering standards used by the county don’t consider gravel to be a pervious surface for that type of purpose any more.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if that was because the base was compacted under the gravel.

 

Allan Schuck, Senior Engineer, noted that the existing gravel surface was heavily traveled. So engineering from a pervious of impervious area does not consider gravel travel ways any different than asphalt surface basically because over time as the vehicles go over it they will compact the soil and they will not get absorption of the drainage into there. So engineering does not consider them any different. 

 

Mr. Cannon asked if in his view on the curb and gutter issue does the lack of curb and gutter not provide a benefit for the management or absorption of run off.

 

Mr. Schuck replied that curb and gutter in the development areas is part of the standard they go by.  With the curb and gutter as opposed to this they get better direction of the flow of the run off.  With curb and gutter it can be directed better than with a gravel surface.  With the gravel surface there would be a potential for surface flow run off with sheet flow.  They would get that with the gravel surface as shown. 

 

Mr. Zobrist said that he did not see any erosion here.  He asked if there was erosion from the existing road. Mr. Pennock replied no, based on their site visits.

 

Mr. Zobrist asked how long the road has been there.

 

Mr. Pennock replied that the site plan for Rivanna Park was done in 1986.  He did not know that this road has existed since then.

 

Mr. Zobrist said that they have been able to get by with no erosion problems.  The flood waters obviously have managed it in the last 20 years without doing any bad things.  He asked if there was any benefit to maintaining a more rural feel inside the park without curb and gutter.  He felt that there might be some benefit in figuring out a way to meet all of the objectives.

 

Mr. Pennock said that this park is right on the city/county border within the development area. So it falls in a different set of standards there.  But, no the aesthetics were not part of the analysis that staff performed on this.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if the intended use would increase traffic on this road than is currently on it now, and Mr. Pennock replied yes.

 

Mr. Strucko asked if erosion could potentially become an issue if that were the case that the use intensified.

 

Mr. Schuck replied that it could become an issue.  Currently it is very well maintained.  There are no existing erosion problems from the site visit.  In the future it could be if people are running off creating ruts possibly on the side of the road.  That is always a possibility where channels are created.  That could be a potential possibility in the future.

 

Mr. Craddock asked if the proposal is to pave it from all the way from the intersection to the Exploratory Center at some point.

 

Mr. Schuck said that they want to keep the gravel section in gravel for the whole time.

 

Mr. Pennock noted that based on the plan as submitted they would pave from this portion where the existing soccer parking is and from that point up to the new Exploratory Center, including the parking ultimately, would be paved as part of phase 3.  But, the portion back to Elks Drive to the existing T intersection would remain as is forever.  There would be curb and gutter within the parking areas provided with the Exploratory Center, but not on the travel ways to get there.

 

Mr. Craddock pointed out that over the years they have used this back road to go up to concession stand and park for softball games.  A lot of cars will pull off on the side there and go down to the river.  He liked the idea of that remaining.  Lewis and Clark is kind of rustic.  He did not associate curb and gutter with Lewis and Clark.   He was glad that this portion of road was going to stay gravel. 

 

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

 

Don Sours pointed out the newly constructed parking area at the top of the photograph that was placed there by the county. That parking area is gravel and seems to be adequate.  When fund raising comes into place they will pave this area. But, for now they plan in the first phase to construct the infrastructure as shown on the site plan. That would not include a building.  In the first phase they would like to have a gravel road so they won’t tear it up with the construction traffic. In the second phase they are planning a 2,500 square foot building. Then the final phase would be completion of the 15,000 square foot building. Therefore, that is their proposal in which they are requesting these waivers.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if they have done a study of run off patterns that would be expected from the new portion of the road that would have to be built to access the site.

 

Mr. Sours replied that they have obtained an engineering consulting firm, DDR.  They are in the process of preparing the site plan.   So he could not answer that question.

 

Mr. Cannon asked if that means that they don’t have the information at this point to know exactly how run off from that new section of road would behave in the absence of curb and gutter.

 

Mr. Sours replied that is his opinion.  As a professional engineer he knows that the engineering recommendation that it be asphalt and curb and gutter would better control the run off. The first part of the road seen in the floodplain is fairly level and then it goes up a fairly steep grade.   There would be more run off associated with that. Their consultant has advised that they were not aware of these recommendations from the staff.  He asked if it would be best to defer this until they have the opportunity to work with the staff and see what can be accommodated. 

Mr. Strucko said that it was within their rights to request a deferral.

 

Mr. Cannon noted that it would be helpful to have the additional information just discussed so that there would be some ability to work through this in a sensible way.

 

Mr. Sours said on the basis of the discussion he requested to defer action on the request.

 

There being no questions for the applicant, Mr. Strucko invited public comment.  There being none, the public hearing was closed to bring the matter before the Planning Commission.

 

Action on SDP-2007-000065 Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center:

 

Motion:  Mr. Cannon moved, Mr. Craddock seconded to accept the applicant’s deferral request for SDP-2007-00065, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center until such time that the applicant has had an opportunity to develop information and have further discussions with staff.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 4:0.  (Mr. Morris, Mr. Edgerton and Ms. Joseph were absent.)

 

Mr. Strucko stated that SDP-2007-00065, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center was deferred indefinitely.

 

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